Monthly Archives: April 2011

Teens think prescription drugs are harder to come by

One in five teens may be using prescription drugs for recreational purposes, but according to a new survey on attitudes toward drug abuse, more teens believe prescription drugs are harder to obtain than in previous years.  According to the 22nd annual Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, though abuse of painkillers such as OxyContin remains high, the number of teens using may be leveling off. Small gain though it is, increased awareness of prescription drug abuse in recent years may be having an effect.

Read about another recent survey monitoring teen drug use here.

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Much-debated Fla. prescription database gets green light

Despite the governor’s best efforts to block the prescription monitoring program for the sate of Florida, the newly-appointed surgeon general has given the database the go-ahead, reports this article from the Florida Times-Union. Earlier this month, Gov. Rick Scott created a prescription drug task force in lieu of the database, despite a $1 million gift from Purdue Pharma to get the database up and running, claiming the monitoring system would be too expensive for the state to maintain.

Read Watchdog’s coverage of Florida’s database troubles here.

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Study: doctors refilling opioid prescriptions too often

More than half of patients prescribed opioid painkillers like OxyContin are being issued refills less than a month apart, according to this release from Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America. The new analysis of opioid prescription practices from the National Institute on Drug Abuse provides further evidence that doctors are routinely over-prescribing highly addictive narcotic drugs.

Read Watchdog’s take on doctors’ prescribing practices here.

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Higher doses of opiod drugs equal greater chance of death

It may seem obvious, but patients prescribed higher doses of opioid painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin are more likely to die of overdoses than those at a lower dose, reports this study from The Journal of the American Medical Association.  However, there was no increased risk of death when patients took the appropriate, regularly scheduled amount of the drugs, according to this article from HealthDay News. The fact that these drugs are highly addictive, Schedule II narcotics makes it difficult for patients to stick to a low dose or a prescribed regimen.

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Univ. research defends big pharma, aids addiction epidemic

The medical school at the University of Wisconsin conducts research in favor of pharmaceutical companies in exchange for millions of dollars of funding from companies like Purdue Pharma, makers of OxyContin, found a new investigation by Journal Sentinel/MedPage. Beginning in 2006, when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report connecting deaths from prescription drugs to a 500 percent increase in prescriptions, the university began issuing their own warnings against any attempt to increase regulation of the drugs. According to the investigation, the school’s reports liberalized the prescribing practices of highly-addictive Schedule II narcotics and may have directly influenced the addiction epidemic currently raging in the U.S.

Some advocacy groups are now calling on Chancellor Biddy Martin to shut down UW’s Pain and Policy Group, which lobbies for the de-regulation of narcotic pain medicine. If you’d like to weigh in, email the chancellor or call (608) 262-9946. Here is a sample letter from Pete Jackson, the president of Advocates for the Reform of Prescription Opioids.

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Doctor’s murder charge may stunt script writing, MDs claim

Nevada doctors are coming forward to defend their colleague who was charged of murder last month for a patient’s 2007 prescription drug overdose. According to this article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, several doctors say the charge will have a chilling effect on the practitioners who prescribe painkillers such as OxyContin for chronic pain management. Watchdog’s take? A little more precaution with the prescription pad is a good thing.

Read Watchdog’s recent editorial on doctors’ careless prescribing practices here.

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Lawmakers to mull Oxy abuse issue

If you’re like a growing number of Americans, chances are that you or someone you know has been affected by prescription drug abuse. Here’s your chance to weigh in on the problem.

Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Ca., is spearheading a hearing this month on prescription drug abuse in general, with a specific focus on OxyContin. Her aides are currently seeking personal stories and photographs of those whose lives have been affected by the Oxy abuse epidemic. While it can be emotionally difficult to share these stories, Oxy Watchdog urges anyone with an interest in this issue to contact the Congresswoman’s office. Lawmakers need to know how serious this problem is.

To share your story of Oxy abuse and have your voice heard, contact staffer Courtney Creedon via email at courtney.creedon@gmail.com.

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Prescription drug abuse discussed at global level

The U.S. is not the only country plagued by opiate abuse

Though we’re well aware that prescription drug abuse continues to be an epidemic in the U.S. and other Western countries, it is also a growing health concern in developing countries. Last week, the annual United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs met to analyze the global drug situation and issued their findings in this report. We’ve digested some of the more disturbing trends into the following factoids:

  • Areas of greatest consumption of prescription drugs (like the U.S.) are seeing the correlated trend of a decline in “traditional” drug abuse such as cocaine
  • Half the world’s 15-20 million opioid users are in Asia and the most commonly used opioid is heroin
  • Europe has had the largest economic gain from the opioid market
  • In the U.S., non-medical use of prescription drugs increased from 6.1% to 6.4% among the general population
  • In Canada, 6.1% of 15-to-19-year-olds report using prescription opioids to “get high”

The UN’s recommendation? “Trends of increasing abuse of … prescription drugs should be monitored, especially in regions with currently low prevalence rates.” Not very helpful, but at least we know it’s being monitored. Right?

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