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.

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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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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Opioid painkillers increase risk of birth defects

Use of opioid painkillers during pregnancy increases the risk of certain birth defects, shows new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to this article from the LA Times, use of drugs such as OxyContin doubles the risk of congenital heart defects, which is already the primary birth defect leading to infant death in the U.S. Other increased risks include gastrointestinal, spine and brain defects.

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Wall Street banks on OxyContin and spin-off generics

As if $3 billion in sales of Purdue Pharma’s OxyContin wasn’t enough, investors are now focusing on successful generic versions of the opioid painkiller for promising returns. According to this article from SeekingAlpha.com, Pfizer is the upcoming superstar, with its painkiller drugs Lyrica, Remoxy, Embeda, and Acurox totaling over $2 billion in annual sales and with an estimated growth potential of another $1 billion.

Realizing how much money is being made off of America’s obsession with prescription drugs makes these stories all the more tragic.

Read about Pfizer’s buyout of Oxy generics here.

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U.S. government shutdown could halt DEA’s efforts

As the March 4 deadline to pass a national spending bill looms, the U.S. is facing the very real possibility of a government shutdown, which would affect federal agencies like the Drug Enforcement Agency. According to this report from National Public Radio, funding cuts would include initiatives such as “buy money,” which the DEA uses to purchase contraband in undercover operations to catch OxyContin and heroin dealers. Despite the fact that prescription drug abuse causes more American deaths per year than terrorism – or the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined – in the event of a shutdown, the government will continue funding border patrol and the Department of Homeland Security.

Read about U.S. causalities in Operation Iraqi Freedom here.
Read about U.S. deaths from drug overdoes here.

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Purdue donates big bucks to find pharmacy robbers

Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, has fronted $2,500 to help solve a pharmacy robbery in Phoenix, Ariz., under its program RxPATROL, according to this article from Phoenix News Times. Three bandits made off with 62,000 Oxy pills, worth $175,000 on the street, in late January. Such cases are a reminder that while drug store robberies are an increasing epidemic, they’re also an opportunity for good PR.

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