Search Results for: Florida

Few Fla. doctors using prescription monitoring system: report

Florida has been fighting its statewide prescription drug epidemic with a number of measures, including a prescription drug monitoring database. But a recent investigation by the Tampa Bay Times found that the vast majority of medical practitioners don’t even use the system, because they are not required by law to check it to see where and when their patients filled previous prescriptions, the type and quantity of drugs they got and who prescribed them.

Since the system was launched last September, more than 48 million prescriptions have been written in Florida for controlled substances — about 2.5 for every man, woman and child in the state — but prescribers checked the database before writing just 2% of them, the article says.

Meanwhile, TCPalm reports that Florida’s crackdown on painkiller abuse has had an unintended effect: some patients with documented cases of chronic pain say they are being turned away from pharmacies because of the medication they are seeking, according to this article.

The state also continues to grapple with the fallout of prescription drug addiction in its hospital delivery rooms, with a dramatic spike in children born dependant on opioids, a condition known as neonatal abstinence syndrome, this article reports.

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DEA bans Walgreens from shipping Oxy in Fla.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has barred Walgreens from shipping oxycodone and other controlled drugs from its Jupiter, Fla., distribution center after finding that the company failed to maintain proper controls to ensure it didn’t dispense drugs to addicts and drug dealers.

According to the DEA, the distribution center has been the single largest distributor of oxycodone products in Florida since 2009. In 2011, 16 of the top 25 largest oxycodone purchasers by Walgreens retail pharmacies, including the top six purchasers, were in Florida and supplied by the Jupiter center, the agency said.

The strike against Walgreens comes just after the DEA revoked the controlled substances licenses for two CVS pharmacies in Sanford, Fla., after also accusing them of dispensing excessive amounts of oxycodone.

Separately in May, Cardinal Health reached a deal with the DEA that blocked its Lakeland, Fla. facility from distributing controlled substances for two years following similar accusations.

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Taking action on International Overdose Awareness Day

Today is International Overdose Awareness Day. Drug overdose death rates in the U.S. have more than tripled since 1990 and have never been higher: in 2009, more than 37,000 people died from drug overdoses, and many of these deaths were caused by prescription painkiller opiate drugs, such as OxyContin.

As this editorial notes, today is a difficult day for those who have lost loved ones to drug addiction.

So, what can be done?

Several things:

Share your personal story. Unless you live on an island in the middle of the ocean, I guarantee you know someone who has struggled or is currently struggling with addiction. Fear and shame keep too many of these stories hidden. Start talking. End the silence. My brother Pat was addicted to prescription painkillers and later heroin, but he kept much of his addiction hidden from his family because he felt ashamed. After he died of a heroin overdose in 2009, I found some of his journals and learned how deeply he struggled with feelings that he had let us down. I wish I had known this before he died. I wish he wasn’t the reason behind this website.

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Fla. goes after dirty doctors, but some say it’s not enough

In Florida, where prescription drug addiction is rife, authorities are trying to crack down on unscrupulous doctors who inappropriately prescribe painkillers after implementing legislation targeting “pill mills” last year. But according to some critics, these efforts come too little, too late. This article in the Orlando Sentinel discusses how one such doctor, Riyaz Jummani, may ultimately face only six months at the Orange County Work Release Center if a judge approves a sweetheart plea deal the Office of Statewide Prosecution will recommend.

Meanwhile, dozens of pill mill suspects have been arrested in the state, including the George brothers, who were recently sentenced to 15 and 17 years in jail for running the largest illegal pain clinic network in the country, raking in $40 million in two years.

In Florida, the death rate from oxycodone increased 265% from 2003 to 2009, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read more about Florida’s struggles with prescription drug addiction here.

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OxyContin Activists: Abby Beaulieu

“OxyContin Activists” are regular people who are fighting back against the painkiller and heroin epidemic.

Abby Beaulieu, 26, has a great life: she lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. with her husband and four-year-old son. But just six years ago, she was hopelessly addicted to OxyContin. Now, she’s on a mission to spread the word about the dangers of prescription drug addiction. Through her blog, My Life. My Story., she aims to break down the stigma surrounding painkiller addiction and show that it really can happen to anyone. Oxy Watchdog caught up with Beaulieu to learn more about her story and what she hopes to accomplish with her blog.


Watchdog: Tell us about the path that led you to OxyContin. When and how did you fall into your addiction?

AB: My father is an alcoholic, and at age 11 my parents got a divorce. At age 13, my father was alone dealing with his addiction, and I felt the need to go be with him. I get serious anxiety when I feel somebody is feeling lonely, or is lonely. I thought that if I was with him and he wasn’t alone, he would not drink. That was not the case. At 13, I became the adult, while he was the child, picking up beer cans and liquor bottles, not going to school for fear what I would come home to, helping him detox when his binges were over. At 16, I met a guy who was abusive in every aspect. He was over 21, so I started enabling my father and buying him alcohol because in return he would write me a check for over $300, not knowing he was fueling my addiction as well: I had started smoking pot at 12.

Prior to meeting my boyfriend, he had been a serious car accident and broke both of his feet. His doctors had him on pain pills for a year and a half and cut him off rather than weaning him off, so he was deeply addicted. A couple days after we met, he introduced me to Roxicodone and I snorted my first pill. The next pill I snorted was OxyContin. When I first started using Oxy I was doing two 40-milligram pills a day, which gradually lead to me shooting about three 80-mg pills a day. After not feeling the effects the way I wanted to, I started shooting them up because the high was better. My using was so much deeper than the addiction: it was the everyday pain that numbed me from feeling, numbed me from worrying about my father and the betrayal I put my mother through. My father (with whom I have no communication today) was clueless to the fact that I was using, even though I weighed 85 pounds soaking wet, until the day I called him to give me a ride to rehab. He did not take me.

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Cardinal settles with DEA over painkiller distribution

Cardinal Health has reached a deal with the Drug Enforcement Administration that will block one of its Florida facilities from distributing controlled substances for two years. The company also said it will take steps to improve anti-diversion procedures designed to prevent prescription drugs from being abused.

Earlier this year, the DEA suspended Cardinal’s license after finding that the company – which is one of the nation’s largest distributors of pharmaceuticals – sold excessive amounts of oxycodone to four Florida pharmacies. (The suspension related 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 challenged the suspension in federal court, and both the company and the DEA filed documents that gave an inside look into how prescription painkillers have flooded the black market.

Cardinal was initially 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 said 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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Cardinal loses round in DEA painkiller distribution fight

A federal judge has ruled that the Drug Enforcement Administration can block Cardinal Health from distributing controlled substances from one of its Florida facilities. Earlier this month, the DEA suspended Cardinal’s license after finding that the company – which is one of the nation’s largest distributors of pharmaceuticals – sold 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 challenged the suspension in federal court, and both the company and the DEA filed documents that give an inside look into how prescription painkillers have flooded the black market.

Cardinal was granted a temporary restraining order blocking the suspension after convincing a different judge that the move would disrupt drug shipments to more than 2,500 pharmacy customers in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. The company said 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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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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Ohio sees spike in opiate-addicted babies

In Ohio, where prescription drug addiction has a strong foothold, some hospitals are seeing as much as a four-fold increase in newborns born addicted to opiates like OxyContin – resulting in longer hospital stays for the affected babies and higher public health care costs, according to this article. One Ohio hospital treated 80 opiate-addicted newborns in 2010, up more than 400 percent from 15 newborns in 2005, the article says.

Newborns being born addicted to painkillers is yet another disturbing trend stemming from the rampant abuse of prescription drugs, and has become an issue in several other states, including Florida.

Read about birth defects caused by opiate abuse here.

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CVS yanks oxycodone from some Fla. pharmacies

Pharmacies have taken different approaches to some of the problems raised by the prescription drug epidemic, such as doctor shopping and the risk of pharmacy robberies. Walgreens, for example, installed time-delayed safes in all of its Washington stores to hold supplies of OxyContin. Now, CVS has notified some Florida doctors and the state’s surgeon general that it will no longer fill prescriptions written for strong narcotics, including oxycodone (read the letter here.) A recent report found that deaths caused by oxycodone in 2010 were up by 27.9% as compared with 2009.

Read more about Florida’s struggle with prescription drug addiction here and here.

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