Tag Archives: education

Naloxone awareness can combat opiate deaths: WRCPC


Although opiate overdoses are skyrocketing in the U.S., many people still don’t know about naloxone, which literally reverses the dangerous effects of taking too much OxyContin or heroin by counteracting the depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system. (This always amazes me, but I myself didn’t know about naloxone until well after my brother’s heroin overdose death in 2009. It took less than 10 minutes for me to get trained in Narcan use by the wonderful folks at the D.O.P.E. Project, a nonprofit whose mission is to reduce fatal overdose deaths by providing overdose prevention education and naloxone to drug users and their loved ones — and if you live in the Bay Area, I highly suggest contacting them to get trained.)

In Canada — which is second only to the U.S. in per-capita consumption of prescription opiates — naloxone costs less than $12, but isn’t widely distributed or acknowledged, according to the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council. In a powerful new short film, the WRCPC explains how naloxone can help save lives and highlights the need for expanding overdose prevention.

Distributing the life-saving opioid overdose reverser naloxone can save one life for every 227 naloxone kits distributed, a study found earlier this year.

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Calif. medical board under fire amid rising OD deaths

computerpillsParents whose children died of drug overdoses urged California’s medical board on Monday to utilize a tracking database of prescriptions to help identify doctors who over-prescribe powerful narcotics amid the state’s growing addiction epidemic. The testimony came from members of advocacy organizations, including the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse, and other individuals and experts who said the board’s failure to investigate complaints of physician misconduct in a timely manner has often had deadly results.

By the time parents were allowed to start their testimony, several of the board’s members had wandered out of the hearing, leaving only five active listeners (the board currently has 15 members.) When one of the parent speakers – a registered nurse whose son was addicted to pills and died of a heroin overdose last year – asked when the full board would be available, one of the members replied “soon” and added that everyone’s testimony would be transcribed.

Not very reassuring.

Among the powerful speakers were Bradley DeHaven, whose son was previously addicted to OxyContin; April Rovero, the founder of NCAPDA after her son died of a prescription drug overdose; and Jodi Barber, producer of the short film Overtaken who lost her son to an Opana overdose.

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Prescription drug abuse rally in Sacramento, Calif.

angry fistIf you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, please consider attending a rally being held this Monday, March 11 in Sacramento by the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse and other organizations and individuals throughout California. The rally will aim to educate the public about the dangers of abusing and misusing prescription drugs and to raise awareness about what actions need to be taken in California to manage the state’s prescription drug abuse crisis.

More information about the rally can be found here.

In addition, NCAPDA is sponsoring an event on Sunday, March 10 in Concord, Calif. that includes a showing of “Behind the Orange Curtain” and a panel presentation of experts in the area of prescription drug abuse. More info about that event can be found here.

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CVS pays $650K to fund painkiller abuse education

pharmacyCVS-Caremark will shell out $650,000 to help New Jersey authorities establish an education and enforcement campaign on prescription drug safety and abuse, a payment that settles charges that the drug store chain co-mingled prescription pills in several of its pharmacies in the state.

The payment will help fund a public education campaign that will remind consumers to check their medication, learn about it through available resources and, whenever they have questions about the medication, to ask their pharmacist or physician. It will also address the dangers of prescription drug abuse, according to this report.

This isn’t the first tangle CVS has had with officials over prescription drugs. Last year, the DEA revoked the controlled substances licenses for two CVS pharmacies in Sanford, Fla. after accusing them of dispensing excessive amounts of oxycodone.

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FDA mulls stronger controls on opioid prescribing

PillsLast week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration held a two-day hearing to determine if more controls need to be placed on opioid prescribing. The hearing was the result of a citizen’s petition filed by the Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing (PROP) and other advocates.

The petition asks the FDA to change the indication on opioid analgesics like OxyContin from “moderate to severe pain” to “severe pain” and to include a suggested duration of 90 days of continuous use. Current labels on opioid analgesics simply indicate that opioids are to be used for “moderate to severe pain,” without further qualification.

The FDA is still taking comments before it makes its decision regarding this issue, and you can let it know what your views are here.

To hear impact statements from those who testified at the meeting, go here.

Separately, the FDA is considering reclassifying hydrocodone-containing painkillers like Vicodin from Schedule III drugs to the more restrictive Schedule II. In January, an expert panel advising the FDA voted 19 to 10 in favor of the more stringent prescribing requirements. During a two-day hearing last week, the panel heard testimony from proponents who noted hydrocodone’s abuse potential (such products are currently the most-abused prescription medicine behind oxycodone), while critics argued that the move would hinder legitimate pain patients from obtaining treatment.

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Chicago officials dub heroin ‘a suburban epidemic’

heroinfoilThe Chicago area has long had a problem with prescription drug abuse, and recently it’s been battling the latest incarnation of the painkiller addiction trend: heroin. The Chicago Tribune reports that heroin is no longer an inner-city issue, noting that more people die from overdose deaths than car accidents in Illinois and that it costs state taxpayers around $225 million a year to incarcerate drug offenders.

Separately last July, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that a more powerful version of heroin had made its way into the Chicago suburbs. As in other areas of the country, kids who are hooked on prescription drugs like OxyContin are turning to heroin because it’s cheaper and provides a similar high. Because of the heightened potency of today’s heroin, users need not inject the drug, but instead can smoke or snort it – making it more attractive to those who might otherwise be turned off by the fear of dirty needles.

And according to CBS Chicago, the Eisenhower Expressway has been dubbed the Heroin Highway – a drive where suburban kids can easily score the drug.

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Must-see video wrap-up

About every 19 minutes, someone dies of an accidental prescription drug overdose. To learn more about this epidemic, here’s a compilation of some recent must-see video clips.

CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta shares his special report about accidental overdose and witnessing the epidemic first-hand in Washington State:

The Denver Post follows the lives of several young heroin addicts on the streets of Denver:

Los Angeles Times reporters Scott Glover and Lisa Girion discuss their investigation into prescription drug deaths. Their research revealed that in nearly half of the accidental deaths from prescription drugs in four Southern California counties, the deceased had a doctor’s prescription for at least one drug that caused or contributed to the death.

California Watch/The Center for Investigative Reporting reports that with the steady rise of prescription drug abuse in California, young pill addicts are succumbing in increasing numbers to heroin:

“Overtaken,” a short documentary about prescription drug and heroin addiction in Orange County, Calif.:

Current TV investigates painkiller and heroin addiction in Massachusetts:


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Renewing the fight in the new year

Visiting my brother Pat’s grave on New Year’s Day, I wished for two things. First, for resolution, a sense of peace with Pat’s death. And second, for a sign from him that he would want me to continue the fight.

On both counts, I came away empty-handed.

As I mentioned in Oxy Watchdog’s most recent weekly newsletter (if you haven’t signed up already, you can do so by clicking the link below our video on the right), the end of 2012 saw signs of progress in the fight against prescription drug addiction. But the battle is far from over. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the feeling that all of this is just a drop in the bucket – that even with the wonderful efforts of advocacy organizations like the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse and Advocates for the Reform of Prescription Opioids (to mention just two) and stellar investigative reporting from major media outlets like the Los Angeles Times and CNN, the addiction and deaths continue to mount. On average, one person dies every 19 minutes from an accidental prescription drug overdose, and heroin abuse is on the rise.

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Pill addiction treatment admissions up by 569%: report

A new government report has found that treatment admissions for people addicted to both benzodiazepines and narcotic pain relievers jumped 569.7% between 2000 and 2010. According to the report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), overall substance abuse treatment admissions increased 4% during the same time period.

In 2010, 33,701 people received treatment for addiction to both medications, according to the report. Nearly 40% of those with this combined addiction began using both drugs in the same year, while about 34% first became addicted to narcotic pain relievers and 27% started with benzodiazepines.

In addition, almost half of patients treated for the combined addiction also had a psychiatric disorder, and people ages 18 to 34 represented 66.9% of those treated, the report found.

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Web-based tool aims to educate doctors on opioids

The Office of National Drug Control Policy has launched a new web-based program aimed at helping doctors more safely and effectively prescribe prescription painkillers. The training materials are part of an initiative created to help medical professionals understand and address prescription drug abuse, the agency said.

The move comes after a recent report found that few physicians are following recommended treatment guidelines when prescribing prescription painkillers for injured workers.

Nearly one in 12 injured workers who are prescribed narcotics are still using them three to six months later, according to the report.

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