Tag Archives: doctors

Pharmacy employees contributing to Maine painkiller thefts

pharmacyMore than one-third of the prescription drugs stolen from Maine pharmacies are taken by employees, a new report has found.

According to this article, an investigation by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting of state disciplinary records has revealed that from 2003 to 2013, 16 pharmacists and 41 pharmacy technicians lost their licenses for stealing drugs from pharmacy shelves or from the patients whose prescriptions they filled.

There are 1,866 pharmacists and 2,461 pharmacy technicians in Maine, so the percentage of pharmacy employees caught stealing drugs is small – although much of pharmacy drug theft likely goes undiscovered and unreported, the article notes.

The American Pharmacists Association has said that pharmacists’ easy access to powerful painkillers often encourages them to take the drugs.

While Maine is seeing some progress in terms of curbing prescription drug abuse, substance abuse specialists in the state say there has been a sharp uptick in heroin addiction as pill addicts make the switch to the illegal street drug.

Posted in Informational, Pharmaceutical Industry, Trends | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Nv. medical board eyes over-prescribing doctors

RXNearly two dozen doctors in Nevada are under investigation by the state’s medical board for allegedly over-prescribing the powerful painkiller OxyContin. The crackdown comes after Sen. Richard “Tick” Segerblom (D-Las Vegas) asked OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma to reveal the names of physicians contained in a database that includes some 1,800 doctors who showed signs of dangerous prescribing.

The Nevada medical board of examiners then met with Purdue and was provided with a list of doctors throughout the state who are suspected of criminal activity, according to this article.

Purdue claims it no longer promotes its product to the doctors at issue, the article says.

The company has taken the stance that the painkiller addiction epidemic was fueled largely by pharmacy robberies, doctor-shopping patients and teens raiding home medicine cabinets, but has admitted that a small number of physicians might account for a “substantial portion” of the nation’s black-market supply of prescription painkillers,

Posted in Crime, Informational, Pharmaceutical Industry, Trends | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lawmakers seek reckless prescribing info from Purdue

DRUG BANNEDIn the wake of a Los Angeles Times report describing a decade-long effort by Purdue Pharma to identify potentially problematic prescribers of OxyContin, two state lawmakers are requesting that the company turn over the names of doctors it suspects recklessly prescribed the pills to drug dealers and addicts.

Sen. Richard “Tick” Segerblom (D-Las Vegas) and California state Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) want Purdue to reveal the names of physicians contained in a database that includes some 1,800 doctors who showed signs of dangerous prescribing, according to the LA Times.

Purdue has taken the stance that the painkiller addiction epidemic was fueled largely by pharmacy robberies, doctor-shopping patients and teens raiding home medicine cabinets, but has admitted that a small number of physicians might account for a “substantial portion” of the nation’s black-market supply of prescription painkillers, the article says.

According to the article:

Beginning in 2002, Purdue trained its sales representatives to report “red flags” in doctors’ offices, such as young patients, long lines, people nodding off in waiting rooms and frequent cash transactions. Purdue attorneys review their reports, and if a doctor’s practice is deemed too risky, the company bars sales representatives from marketing to the physicians. The suspect doctors are removed from the company’s numbered sales territories and assigned to the database, known as “Region Zero.”

Posted in Crime, Informational, Pharmaceutical Industry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Most heroin addicts initially started on pills: report

bunchofpillsHeroin use and overdose deaths have skyrocketed in recent years, and emerging information suggests this is the result of prescription painkiller addicts transitioning to the hardcore street drug. According to statistics recently released by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, most people reporting heroin use initially started on pills.

According to the NCBI:

Between 2002-2004 and 2008-2010, past year heroin use increased among people reporting past year nonmedical use (PYNMU) of opioid pain relievers, but not among those reporting no PYNMU. Frequent nonmedical users – people reporting 100-365 days of PYNMU – had the highest rate of past year heroin use and were at increased risk for ever injecting heroin and past year heroin abuse or dependence as compared to infrequent nonmedical users (1-29 days of PYNMU).

In 2008-2010, 82.6% of frequent nonmedical users who used heroin in the past year reported nonmedical use of opioid pain relievers prior to heroin initiation compared to 64.1% in 2002-2004.

Posted in Informational, Surveys & Statistics, Trends | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cheap, high-grade heroin floods New England

needle ODRecent restrictions on doctors in prescribing painkillers has led to a rise in the amount of low-cost heroin in New England states that is increasingly purer and thus more potent and dangerous. According to this article in the New York Times, though heroin was once seen as an urban drug, it has been making an alarming comeback in the smaller cities and towns of New England.

Heroin killed 21 people in Maine last year, three times as many as in 2011, while New Hampshire recorded 40 deaths from heroin overdoses last year, up from just 7 a decade ago, the article says. In Vermont, officials reported that 914 people were treated for heroin abuse last year, up from 654 the year before, an increase of almost 40%, according to the article.

A $6 bag of heroin in New York City nets $10 in southern New England and up to $30 or $40 in northern New England, the article adds, citing law enforcement officials.

According to the article:

Heroin is one of the most addictive drugs in the world. About a quarter of everyone who tries it becomes dependent on it. Users can quickly develop a tolerance, prompting them to seek more and more until the pursuit takes over their lives and, often, leads to ruin.

Posted in Informational, Trends | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

N.J. opiate epidemic driven by network of corruption: report

gunAn investigation into prescription pill and heroin abuse in New Jersey has revealed the operation of illicit medical practices run by unscrupulous entrepreneurs and corrupt physicians, some with ties to organized crime.

The report by the state’s Commission of Investigation found that the painkiller and heroin abuse epidemic has taken an unprecedented hold in the suburbs that is far more serious than the heroin crisis of the 1960s and ’70s. According to the commission, a network of corrupt doctors — some feeding Russian organized crime by bilking Medicaid and Medicare — has created a proliferation of painkillers and heroin, with open-air drug markets in cities and at malls in affluent communities. For example, in the span of 19 months in 2010 and 2011, one local pharmacy had 3,100 prescriptions for pills, nearly all with various quantities of oxycodone, the report found.

In 2011, there were 1,008 drug deaths in New Jersey — a 20% increase over 2010, and nearly half were people 25 or younger, according to this article. Of those, 337 involved oxycodone, and 368 involved heroin mixed with other illicit drugs, the article says.

Posted in Informational, Surveys & Statistics, Trends | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Painkillers over-prescribed to Medicare patients: study

bunchofpillsA new study by the Department of Health and Human Services highlights a variety of problems concerning prescription medication practices among doctors and pharmacies servicing Medicare patients, including over-prescribing, over-billing, and over-medicating.

The review identified more than 2,200 doctors whose records stood out in one of five areas: prescriptions per patient, brand name drugs, painkillers and other addictive drugs or the number of pharmacies that dispensed their orders, according to this article.

More than half of 736 physicians studied wrote prescriptions for extremely high amounts of controlled substances that have the potential for addiction and abuse, the article says.

All told, the drugs ordered by the doctors labeled “extreme outliers” cost Medicare $352 million, according to the study.

In 2008, more than 36,000 people died from drug overdoses, and most of these deaths were caused by prescription drugs, according to the CDC.

Nearly three out of four prescription drug overdoses are caused by prescription painkillers. The unprecedented rise in overdose deaths in the U.S. parallels a 300% increase since 1999 in the sale of these medications, which were involved in 14,800 overdose deaths in 2008, more than cocaine and heroin combined, the CDC says.

Posted in Informational, Pharmaceutical Industry, Surveys & Statistics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

13% of Americans take prescription painkillers: study

pill bottlesA new study has found that 7 out of 10 Americans take at least one kind of prescription medication, and more than half take two — and 13% of them take painkillers that can be highly addictive. The study by the Mayo Clinic said that opioids, antidepressants, and antibiotics were the most commonly prescribed type of pills, and that women receive more prescriptions than men across several drug groups, especially antidepressants.

The percentage of people who took at least one prescription drug in the past month increased from 44% in 1999-2000 to 48% in 2007-08, the study found. Spending on prescription drugs reached $250 billion in 2009 the year studied, and accounted for 12% of total personal health care expenditures, and drug-related spending is expected to continue to grow in the coming years, according to the researchers.

In 2008, more than 36,000 people died from drug overdoses, and most of these deaths were caused by prescription drugs, according to the CDC.

Nearly three out of four prescription drug overdoses are caused by prescription painkillers. The unprecedented rise in overdose deaths in the U.S. parallels a 300% increase since 1999 in the sale of these medications, which were involved in 14,800 overdose deaths in 2008, more than cocaine and heroin combined, the CDC says.

Posted in Informational, Surveys & Statistics, Trends | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Staten Island Oxy supply dwindles, opening door to heroin

DRUG BANNEDAs the prescription drug epidemic in New York’s Staten Island gets more attention, addicts and criminals are discovering it increasingly difficult to get doctors here to write new prescriptions for oxycodone, or find pharmacies willing to fill those scripts for new patients, which is pushing people elsewhere to obtain the painkiller, according to this article. An analysis of state health department data showed that in 2012, borough residents received 141,481 prescriptions for the drug; Staten Island physicians were responsible for writing out 110,327 of those prescriptions, meaning at least 31,000 of Islander’s scripts, possibly more, come from off-Island doctors, the article says.

Similarly, pharmacies in the borough filled out 122,048 oxycodone prescriptions in 2012, indicating that residents went off-Island to fill at least 19,400 of their scripts, the article says.

By comparison, Manhattan residents received just 264,271 prescriptions for oxycodone last year, but doctors there wrote out nearly twice as many scripts there — 514,819 in total, according to the article.

And unfortunately, the dwindling supply of pills may start to push people towards other dangerous opiates, according to one treatment director quoted in the article:

Everybody who’s been using for the past 10 years, they aren’t going to stop. They’re going to heroin.

Posted in Informational, Trends | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Minn. medical group wants MDs to take action

RXThe Minnesota Medical Association is considering requiring doctors to take continuing education courses on pain management and addiction and increasing use of the Minnesota Prescription Monitoring Program in order to deal with the state’s prescription drug abuse issue, according to this article. As of March 2013, only 40% of pharmacists and 30% of doctors in Minnesota were using the monitoring system, according to the article.

Posted in Informational, Policy & Regulation, Trends | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment