About Dana Owens

Dana Owens is San Francisco-based writer, editor and blogger who works on diverse projects from holistic health research to record label promotion. In addition to lending her editorial eye to Oxy Watchdog, Dana also acts as copyeditor for 99 Series, Inc. and executive assistant/project coordinator for Heartline Productions.

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Author Archives: Dana Owens

About Dana Owens

Dana Owens is San Francisco-based writer, editor and blogger who works on diverse projects from holistic health research to record label promotion. In addition to lending her editorial eye to Oxy Watchdog, Dana also acts as copyeditor for 99 Series, Inc. and executive assistant/project coordinator for Heartline Productions.

Prescription drug abuse-addled states target pill mills

Last week, Ohio’s governor signed a bill to combat pill mills, which help supply the state with illegal prescription pain medications like OxyContin. Meanwhile, Florida drug enforcement agents closed another prescription drug outlet as part of “Operation Pill Nation,” a long-term investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and local law enforcement. According to this release from the DEA, the effort is part of a “concerted effort to keep South Florida from drowning in pill mills.” In Ohio, the bill comes just in time, as the number of prescriptions are steadily rising among the state’s residents, reports this article from the Columbus Dispatch.

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DEA’s second prescription Take-Back Day tops first attempt

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s second Prescription Drug Take-Back Event which took place April 30 collected 181 tons of unwanted medications, reports this release. The first national event held in September collected 121 tons and was herald as a success. According to the release, the large amount of drugs taken for proper disposal indicate the need and potential for pills like OxyContin to be disseminated illegally.

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

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Online pharmacies play significant role in painkiller abuse

Illegal online pharmacies contribute to the ever-growing prescription drug abuse problem in the U.S., reports this article from New York Daily News. A new study shows that states with the largest expansion of high-speed Internet access also had the greatest increase in admissions for treatment of prescription drug abuse. According to the article, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of Southern California believe Internet expansion partially explains the boom in abuse of painkillers like OxyContin from 2000 to 2007, the study’s time frame.

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Watchdog Editorial: Government’s answer to pill abuse? Let Big Pharma handle it

Last week, President Barack Obama released a survey on prescription drug abuse that called for new measures in prevention, including enlisting pharmaceutical companies to train doctors on prescribing practices for narcotic drugs.

This call for action comes a couple of years too late – after all, the prescription drug abuse epidemic has been raging since the late 1990s. Nevertheless, it’s nice to see a real attempt by the White House to address the growing problem of prescription drug abuse.

First, the good news: the major goal of the plan is to cut the abuse rate by 15 percent by the year 2015 through doctor and patient education. The plan also proposes a strategy to increase state-run prescription drug monitoring programs, which are currently active in 35 states.

Prescription monitoring systems provide an online database for pharmacists and doctors to research patients’ past and current prescriptions – an effective tool to prevent doctor shopping. However, most databases are limited to information within a single state and are not mandatory for drug prescribers to check when writing or filling a prescription.

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Mass. legislature overturns Big Pharma, doctor bribery law

In Massachusetts, pharmaceutical companies can once again “wine and dine” physicians to influence their prescribing practices. According to this article from Policy and Medicine, a state law was overturned last week which required doctors to report any gifts over $50 from pharmaceutical companies like Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin. The reasoning behind throwing out the law had to do with inhibited physician education provided by drug makers. Of course, it may also be tied to the White House’s new plan to further utilize Big Pharma in educating doctors. Conflict of interest, maybe?

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Ohio bill proposes program to limit Medicaid doctor shopping

A new Ohio bill proposes a “lock-in” program for prescription drugs that would require Medicaid recipients to see only one doctor or pharmacy to receive high-risk medications such as OxyContin. The Stop Trafficking of Pills Act is modeled after a similar North Carolina act which reduced the statewide use of prescription pain medication by 43 percent, according to this article from Lancaster Eagle Gazette. A step in the right direction for sure, but what if such limits were extended beyond Medicaid?

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Fla. drug abuse measures rests on legislative compromise

Long plagued by prescription drug abuse and an endless debate on how best to get a handle on the situation, Florida’s legislature is reviewing a bill today that would make strides toward curbing abuse. In addition to finally legitimizing the state’s prescription drug monitoring program, the bill would prohibit doctors and small pharmacies from distributing addictive pain medication like OxyContin. However, it would also lift a cap on the amount of medication a person could receive. According to this article from the Sun Sentinel, if the bill is not approved by both the House and Senate by the end of the day tomorrow, a drastically scaled-back version could take its place.

Meanwhile, this article from Local12 WKRC reports that a massive “pill pipeline” running from Florida to Ohio has been uncovered. If the bill passes tomorrow, it wouldn’t be a moment too soon.

Read about Florida’s prescription drug abuse problem here.

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Third time’s the charm: Purdue sues again for OxyContin patent

For the third time in two months, Purdue Pharma is suing the makers of a generic version of OxyContin over patent rights. According to this article from the Economic Times, Purdue filed suit against India’s Ranbaxy Laboratories for its low-cost version of the opioid painkiller. Purdue currently holds exclusive rights on its $3 billion-per-year patent for OxyContin, which expires in April 2013, and has been notoriously litigious in protecting that exclusivity.

Read more about Purdue’s recent suits against Watson Pharmaceuticals and Impax Laboratories.

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Oxy addiction shows up in reality TV with devastating effects

Hank Tolers from "Coal" on Spike TV

In case there was any doubt about the pervasive effects of Oxy abuse in modern culture, reality TV show “Coal” on Spike TV featured a story about a miner addicted to oxycodone last week. During the show, which follows miners with Cobalt Coal in West Virginia, CEO Mike Crowder discovered miner Hank Toler was taking painkillers without a prescription. Like many who are addicted to narcotics, Toler became hooked on the drug after an injury in 2004 and was unable to quit despite his attempts with suboxone, a low-dosage opiate that is often used to treat OxyContin and heroin addiction. Unfortunately for Toler, his inability to address his addiction cost him his job and he was fired by the end of the episode.

“Coal” airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on Spike TV. To see the full episode, go here.

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White House takes action to reduce prescription drug abuse

Acknowledging America’s prescription drug abuse epidemic, the White House released a plan today to reduce the rate of abuse by 15 percent within five years. According to this article from MedPage Today, the reduction will primarily be achieved by educating patients and doctors on the proper use and prescribing of painkillers such as OxyContin. In addition to supporting prescription drug monitoring programs, take-back days, and further education of patients and healthcare providers, the plan also suggests the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will move forward with a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (REMS) which was rejected in 2010.

The REMS will require drug companies to provide further training and materials to physicians prescribing the drugs. According to the article, the plan precedes a similar bill which will be introduced to Congress and would require physicians to undergo training provided by pharmaceutical companies in order to write prescriptions for extended-release prescription narcotics.

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