Monthly Archives: March 2011

Fla. launches prescription drug task force

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is finally stepping up to the plate on at least one front, announcing a new statewide task force to combat abuse of prescription drugs, mainly OxyContin, to be funded by $800,000 in unused federal law enforcement grant money, according to this article in the Tampa Tribune. Scott recently drew criticism for roadblocking funding for Florida’s long-delayed prescription monitoring program.

Read the press release from the governor’s office here.

To read more about Florida’s trouble implementing the monitoring program, go here. For background on the state’s battle with prescription drug abuse in the form of a timeline, go here.

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W. Va. pill addiction hotline in peril

The West Virginia Prescription Drug Abuse Quitline, a hotline that helps West Virginians find treatment for prescription drug abuse, may be forced to shut down due to funding issues, according to this article in the Charleston Gazette. The free and confidential hot line, which was launched in September 2008 with the help of $1 million from a lawsuit against OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma, will require an additional $156,000 a year to remain active in a state where nearly 400 people die annually at the hands of prescription drugs, the article says.

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Purdue files suit to edge out generic Oxy competitor

Purdue Pharma sued Watson Pharmaceuticals this week, claiming the generic drug maker’s application to manufacture oxycodone hydrochloride extended-release tablets infringes on its patent for OxyContin. According to this article from Bloomberg Businessweek, though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration won’t approve Watson’s application until the case is cleared up, the agency did sign off on the company’s generic form of oxycodone and aspirin. Of course, this is not the first generic opioid painkiller Purdue has tried to edge out of the market to protect its $3.1 billion-per-year pill – and as longs as profits sore for the privately-held company, it certainly won’t be the last.

Read about other OxyContin spin-offs here.

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U.S. taking more Oxy, by force and prescription

Americans just can’t get enough OxyContin. Despite the skyrocketing number of prescriptions being written for the opioid painkiller, pharmacy robberies targeting the drug also increased in 2010. According to this article from the Washington Times, states from Oregon to Maine more than doubled their number of robberies last year, while the number of prescriptions increased by an even larger factor.

Read about New York’s growing number of prescriptions for drugs like OxyContin here.

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Watchdog Editorial: Severe penalties, strict rules for doctors needed to curb prescription abuse epidemic

With prescription painkiller abuse rampant among teens and adults alike, everyone’s trying to escape the blame-game. From pharmaceutical companies to government agencies, it seems the responsible parties are more willing to throw money at the problem than address the underlying causes. It’s time to take a closer look at one of the most elemental factors in this disturbing trend: addicted patients and the doctors who get them that way.

Accountability on the rise?

Last week, three U.S. doctors were accused of over-prescribing highly addictive painkillers such as OxyContin that have been linked to patient overdoses and even deaths. While it’s not unprecedented for doctors to be held accountable for such occurrences, it is unusual. And the fact that three similar, unrelated incidents took place last week makes us wonder: are doctors’ over-zealous prescribing practices finally getting the attention they deserve?

It’s significant that in each case, neither the doctors nor those receiving the prescriptions were found to be illegally distributing the drugs. In other words, the doctors were careless with their prescription pads, and the patients were uneducated in the dangers of the drugs they were taking.

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Doctors not adhering to addiction prevention measures

Doctors are not taking adequate steps in preventing prescription drug addiction and abuse of painkillers such as OxyContin, reports a new study from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center. According to this article from ABC News, the study looked at three primary methods of abuse prevention and found that more than half of the patients did not undergo appropriate measures and tests from their physicians to prevent misuse of the drugs they were prescribed. It should come as no surprise then that most people who become addicted to painkillers do so through legitimate prescriptions, according to the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

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Purdue tests oxycodone on children for new version of drug

For the past year, Purdue Pharma, makers of OxyContin, has been conducting clinical trials for the possible release of Oxycodone for children with moderate to sever chronic pain. According to this release from ClinicalTrials.gov, Purdue is currently recruiting study participants for the trails, estimated to wrap up in September this year. Apparently, Purdue plays by the adage, “Get ’em while they’re young.”

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N.Y. in throes of Oxy addiction crisis

The number of prescriptions for oxycodone – the active ingredient in OxyContin – in New York City has doubled over the past three years, with one in every eight people per capita addicted to the highly potent painkiller, according to this article in New York Magazine. The phenomenon is largely being driven by skyrocketing Oxy addiction in Staten Island, where nearly 30% of residents have prescriptions, the article says. NYC’s special narcotics prosecutor, Bridget Brennan, called Oxy “pure opium.”

Read more about Oxy addiction in New York here.

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National Drug Take-Back Day, round 2

Following the success of last September’s Prescription Pill Take-Back Day, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America have announced another national take-back event April 30, according to this release. Last year, the event collected a total of 121 tons of prescription drugs at nearly 4,100 sites across the country.

Local and national take-back efforts are important in raising awareness and preventing prescription drug abuse since most teens who abuse prescription medications like OxyContin obtain the drugs through a friend or relative who had a legitimate prescription and left-over pills. However, it’s worth noting that the CADCA receives government support as well as financial backing from pharmaceutical companies like Purdue Pharma and King Pharmaceuticals. While helpful, take-back days in no way harm drug-makers’ bottom lines.

Read about last year’s Prescription Drug Take-Back Day here.

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Fla. governor snubs $1M offer to fund drug database

Despite an offer from Purdue Pharma, makers of OxyContin, to help fund Florida’s long-delayed prescription monitoring program with a $1 million donation, the state’s governor Rick Scott rejected the much-needed assistance. According to this article from the Sun Sentinel, the infusion would keep the database up and running for at least three years – more than enough, many believe, to find long-term funding for the program despite the state’s financial troubles. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, 34 states currently have prescription drug monitoring programs up and running, raising questions about the real motives behind Scott’s refusal to implement the long-overdue and critically needed system.

To read more about Florida’s trouble implementing the program, go here. For background on the state’s battle with prescription drug abuse in the form of a timeline, go here.

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