Tag Archives: DEA

Lawmaker appeals to DEA in wake of pharmacy robberies

Senator Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., is calling for beefed up security measures in order to curb the growing number of pharmacy thefts by people desperate to get their hands on prescription painkillers like Oxycontin. The lawmaker wants the DEA to share data collected on pharmaceutical and prescription drug theft with local law enforcement, and has put forth a bill that would increase maximum sentences for pharmacy-related crimes to 20 years per offense. The move comes in the wake of the latest deadly pharmacy robbery on New Year’s Eve in Seaford, N.Y. and in the face of the quadruple homicide that occurred at a Medford, N.Y. pharmacy last year.

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DEA upped Oxy supply amid addiction epidemic

The Drug Enforcement Administration has the power to decide how much of a particular drug can be legally manufactured and sent to market each year. But even as the prescription painkiller addiction epidemic skyrocketed, the agency officially sanctioned a 1,200% increase in oxycodone production, according to a former DEA agent quoted in this article. In 1997, one year after OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma brought the drug to market, the total oxycodone production quota approved by the DEA was 8.3 tons, but by 2011, it had risen to 105 tons, the article says. And while the DEA claims that limiting the supply of the prescription painkillers will not reduce abuse, the agency is being heavily influenced by the pharmaceutical industry, which employs more lobbyists in Washington than there are members of Congress and has spent more than $20 million annually on lobbying since 2007, the article notes.

Pretty sickening.

Read more about the pharmaceutical industry’s rising production quotas here.

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What’s behind the prescription drug shortage?

President Obama has signed an executive order instructing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to address a growing shortage of prescription drugs that are used to treat cancer patients, heart attack victims, and other ill people. The shortages have reached record levels and include some of the most commonly used drugs used in hospitals, according to this article. The move raises the question of why there never seem to be any shortages of highly addictive, powerful narcotics with a high potential for abuse. Cancer patients are being shorted on life-saving treatments while commonly diverted drugs like OxyContin are a dime-a-dozen on the streets? Something is seriously wrong with this picture.

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Pill production quotas rising amid addiction epidemic

Pharmaceutical companies like to claim they’re addressing the prescription drug addiction epidemic head-on, in part by reformulating addictive painkillers like OxyContin to make the drugs less abusable (more on that here). But this claim seems questionable given that they are continually asking the Drug Enforcement Agency for higher production quotas, which are based on the expected need for such medications. For example, this year’s production quota for oxycodone manufactured for sale is 105.5 million kilograms, up from 94 million in 2009 and 70 million in 2008, according to this article. The DEA says it has bolstered its oversight of Big Pharma, but given the prevalence of pill addiction, why is the agency signing off on MORE drugs, not less?

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New bill would require painkiller training

Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack, R-CA, has introduced legislation aimed at ensuring that powerful prescription painkillers like OxyContin are only prescribed for their intended use – the treatment of severe pain. 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.”

The bill was named in honor of Ryan Creedon of Palm Desert, Calif., who suffered from a chronic addiction to OxyContin that ultimately resulted in his Feb. 2009 death. Read more about Ryan’s story here.

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Watch it: Dr. Oz show on prescription drug abuse

Dr. Oz just did a show on prescription drug abuse, with one expert guest calling the pill epidemic “a tsunami.” Careless and overly broad prescribing practices, doctor shopping, and pill mills are discussed. Check it out online in three segments:

View Part 1 here.
View Part 2 here.
View Part 3 here.

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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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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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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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