Monthly Archives: February 2012

Prescription drug abuse casts worldwide net: report

Prescription pharmaceuticals were second only to marijuana as the substances abused by the largest number of new drug abusers in the U.S. aged 12 or older, according to a new report by the International Narcotics Control Board. But pill abuse has also become problematic elsewhere, the report says: in South Africa, for example, about 7 percent of patients in treatment for drug abuse reported prescription opioids or tranquillizers to be their primary or secondary drug of abuse.

In addition, the report says, the annual prevalence rate of abuse of prescription analgesics among persons aged 14 years and older in Australia has increased considerably, from 3.7 percent in 2007 to 4.2 percent in 2010 – the second highest rate since 1995.

Meanwhile, South Asia is experiencing increasing problems related to the abuse of and trafficking in prescription drugs due to their low cost, high profit margin and easy availability, as well as the misperception that they are less harmful than illicitly manufactured drugs. South Asia is a major source of most of the pharmaceutical preparations containing narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances that are sold throughout the world by illegally operating Internet pharmacies, the report adds.

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DEA, Cardinal Health face off over painkiller sales

Earlier this month, the Drug Enforcement Administration suspended Cardinal Health’s license to distribute controlled substances, accusing the company – which is one of the nation’s largest distributors of pharmaceuticals – of selling excessive amounts of oxycodone to four Florida pharmacies. (The suspension relates only to the company’s license to distribute controlled substances from its Lakeland, Fla. facility, which the DEA claims shipped 50 times as much oxycodone to its top four customers than it has shipped to its other Florida retail customers.) Cardinal has challenged the suspension in federal court, and both the company and the DEA recently filed documents that give an inside look into how prescription painkillers have flooded the black market.

The DEA alleges that Cardinal knew or should have known that the pharmacies were inappropriately filling prescriptions issued by DEA-licensed physicians for non-medical reasons.

Meanwhile, Cardinal has been granted a temporary restraining order blocking the suspension after convincing a judge that the move would disrupt drug shipments to more than 2,500 pharmacy customers in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. The company says it has “robust controls and performs careful due diligence,” noting that in the past four years, it has stopped shipping controlled medicines to more than 350 pharmacies it determined posed an unreasonable risk of diversion, including 160 in Florida alone.

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Mack resumes painkiller regulation efforts

Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Ca., is resuming a series of Congressional hearings on prescription drug abuse that began last year. While Mack says painkillers like oxycodone have become too available, some patient advocates and addiction experts contend that a congressional committee is not the appropriate forum for addressing the conditions under which such powerful drugs should be prescribed.

Among Mack’s proposals are the Stop Oxy Abuse Act, which would restrict the use of any pain-relief drug containing oxycodone to “the relief of severe-only instead of moderate-to-severe pain,” and the Ryan Creedon Act of 2011 would require anyone who prescribes controlled substances to be educated on the risks such drugs pose to patients before they can register with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. DEA registration is already required by federal law. Unlike President Barack Obama’s recent plan to curb prescription drug abuse – which allows pharmaceutical companies themselves to “educate” doctors on the risks of their products – the bill specifies that this training should be provided by a medical society, a state medical licensing board, an accredited continuing education provider, or “another organization that the Secretary [of Health and Human Services] determines is appropriate for providing such training or certification.”

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Overdose antidote has saved 10,000 lives: report

Although opiate overdoses are on the rise, many people still don’t know that there is a way to literally reverse the dangerous effects of taking too much OxyContin or heroin. It’s called naloxone, and it can save the life of an overdose victim by counteracting the depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system. Since 1996, naloxone has successfully saved the lives of more than 10,000 overdose victims, according to new data published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, only 15 states and the District of Columbia currently have naloxone distribution programs. This, despite the fact that nearly 40 Americans die per day from overdoses of prescription painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin, according to a recent CDC report.

Learn more about what to do in the event of an opiate overdose here (courtesy of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene), or watch the video below to learn more about Narcan administration. Or contact The DOPE Project.

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In Ohio, pills and heroin prompt action

In Ohio, where prescription drug addiction has a strong foothold, state officials are planning to unveil a new protocol in order to treat opiate addiction. The number of people overdosing on heroin and OxyContin has reached epidemic levels. Meanwhile, the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services recently launched a new campaign, Don’t Get Me Started, designed to educate young adults about prescription opiate abuse and addiction.

According to the campaign’s website, 27% of the state’s high school students use illegal prescription drugs, and there has been a 335% increase in Ohio’s death rate due to unintentional drug poisonings. Ohio is also ranked third in the nation for pharmacy-related robberies.

The site also has a series of powerful videos with personal stories of how painkiller addiction has affected the lives of Ohio residents.

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