Tag Archives: OP

Tenn. tops charts for pill sales, overdose deaths

Tennessee is ranked in the top one percent of states that sell prescription painkillers, and is also in the nation’s top ten for overdose deaths, according to this article. Since the state’s establishment of a prescription drug monitoring database in 2004, 1,059 Tennesseans died of prescription drug overdoses, the article says. Unintentional drug overdose is now the leading cause of death in Tennessee, exceeding death rates for motor vehicle crashes, homicides and suicides.

Meanwhile, doctors in Tennessee prescribed 17 retail pain prescriptions per capita in 2009, versus the national average of 12, the article notes. In fact, one of the state’s doctors wrote more than five million prescriptions for opiates like oxycodone among 3,600 patients in 2011.

Read more about prescription drug addiction in Tennessee here.

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U.S. drug officials fear flood of generic Oxy

U.S. drug officials are warning police and border guards to be on the lookout for Canadian generic versions of the widely abused painkiller OxyContin after the Canadian government gave the stamp of approval to six generic versions of the drug. According to this article, the warnings have come from U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske and Montana’s attorney general Steve Bullock, and the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy has issued a notice stating that “the potential exists for diversion into the United States because the old formulations, which are easier to abuse, are unavailable in the United States.”

Health Canada opened the door for generic versions of OxyContin in November following the expiration of the patent held by Purdue Pharma for its long-acting formulation of oxycodone, the active ingredient in OxyContin. The move came despite urgings from some of the country’s leading pain doctors and researchers to hold off, according to this article.

OxyContin in Canada was phased out earlier this year by Purdue and replaced by an abuse-resistant version known as OxyNEO. But the newly-approved generics will use the same older formulation in the now discontinued Oxy-Contin, the article notes.

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Canada OKs generic Oxy that isn’t abuse-resistant

The Canadian government has given the stamp of approval to six generic versions of the widely abused painkiller OxyContin, despite urgings from some of the country’s leading pain doctors and researchers to hold off, according to this article.

The green light from Health Canada came just after the expiration of the patent held by Purdue Pharma for its long-acting formulation of oxycodone, the active ingredient in OxyContin, the article says.

OxyContin in Canada was phased out earlier this year by Purdue and replaced by an abuse-resistant version known as OxyNEO. But the newly-approved generics will use the same older formulation in the now discontinued Oxy-Contin, the article notes.

Canadians are the second-largest consumers of prescription narcotics and other controlled substances per capita in the world, according to the International Narcotics Control Board.

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FDA urged to block generic non-tamper-proof pills

Painkillers without added safety features are expected to flood back into communities in the coming weeks unless the U.S. Food and Drug Administration takes preventive action, according to a national organization dedicated to reducing prescription drug abuse. Many popularly abused prescription painkillers, including OxyContin, have been reformulated in recent years to allegedly make them abuse-resistant. But many generic manufacturers are vying to bring their own versions of such drugs to market that don’t include tamper-proof properties. The FDA could allow these generic versions of the old formulations of the drugs to return to the market as early as January 2013, CLAAD says.

Earlier this month, CLAAD and nine other public health and safety organizations sent a letter to the FDA urging the agency to prevent the marketing of generic versions of the drugs that lack abuse-deterrent features.

The reformulation of OxyContin has prompted painkiller addicts across the country to switch to other opiates as well as heroin, recent research has shown.

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Opana follows in Oxy’s wake, with deadly results

Purdue Pharma‘s reformulation of OxyContin was supposedly meant to curb abuse of the product, although it’s questionable how successful that attempt has been. While some have already found ways to abuse the new version, known as OP, other ramifications include more people turning to painkillers like Opana. Now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning that abusers who inject Opana into their bloodstream risk developing a serious blood disorder that could result in kidney failure or death. The blood disorder, thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, resulted in kidney failure requiring dialysis in some cases and at least one death, the agency said.

Another effect of Oxy’s reformulation has been a spike in heroin abuse, with painkiller addicts turning to the hardcore street drug when pills become too expensive or scarce, according to a letter published in July in the New England Journal of Medicine. Three researchers examined the effect of the abuse-deterrent formulation on the abuse of OxyContin and other opioids, surveying 2,566 people seeking treatment for abuse of or dependence on opioid drugs. Although 24 percent found a way to defeat the tamper-resistant properties of the abuse-deterrent formulation, 66 percent indicated a switch to another opioid, with heroin the most common response.

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Unraveling Big Pharma’s web of deception

If you want to learn more about the pharmaceutical industry’s role in the “pain management” movement and the powerful marketing scheme behind highly addictive opioids, read this article, which focuses on the evolution of Purdue Pharma’s OxyContin. The article notes that while it’s not news that Purdue defrauded the public concerning the safety of its drug – paying a $634.5 million fine in 2007 – what’s disturbing is how commonplace the practice of deception and data suppression is throughout the industry. And it asks an important big-picture question:

“As a generation of Oxy addicts suffers, as Purdue continues to make billions a year in sales of the drug, and cheaper versions are bound for pharmacies next year, what have the rest of us learned? When the next miracle pill comes along, with all its easy promises and assurances, how low will the highs go?”

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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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Painkiller addiction leads to rising sales of black-market suboxone

The rise in addiction to powerful prescription painkillers like OxyContin, as well as heroin, has led to an increase in the number of patients seeking suboxone, a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone that is used to treat opiate addiction. According to this article, only 26 percent of physicians are licensed to prescribe suboxone, and the majority of those doctors are limited to treating only 30 patients a year. But access isn’t the only issue: some physicians charge massive fees, deny insurance, or accept only cash, so depending on the severity of the individual’s addiction and black market resources, buying suboxone on the streets can be much cheaper than from a doctor, the article says.

Another article discusses how the social stigma of addiction has helped create a thriving black market for suboxone —one that poses real dangers for addicts trying to stay clean.

Meanwhile, there is controversy over whether suboxone is all it’s cracked up to be, with critics saying the drug is causing its own epidemic of addiction.

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In Calif., rise in young painkiller abusers leads to more heroin overdoses

Today, Oxy Watchdog founder Erin Marie Daly has a report produced with the California Report, a project of the Center for Investigative Reporting, on the rising prescription drug epidemic in California. While few hard statistics are available on the number of people moving from prescription drugs to cheaper heroin in the state, interviews with drug treatment experts and public health officials suggest a marked increase in heroin use that is accompanying the steady and dramatic rise in prescription opioid abuse among young people, the article says.

The report includes two radio stories produced with KQED, San Francisco Bay Area’s National Public Radio station, as well as an audio slideshow.

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‘Tamper-proof’ Oxy has curbed abuse, but at what price?

Purdue Pharma has long claimed that its reformulated version of OxyContin, OP, is safer because it is “abuse-resistant” – although critics have pointed out that many opioid-addicted people simply swallow the pills whole. (Addicts are also already finding their way around allegedly tamper-proof versions.)

Now, the company has come out with a series of new studies which found – unsurprisingly – that the reformulated version of the painkiller has appeared to reduce abuse of the product. The studies, which were presented at the annual meeting of the American Pain Society, found that after reformulated OxyContin was introduced, there was a 49% reduction in the number of individuals abusing OxyContin among prescription opioid abusers. Within this population, the number of people who abused OxyContin orally declined by 30% and abuse by injection and snorting of the drug declined by 73%, Purdue said.

What the studies didn’t note was that ramifications of the reformulation include addicts turning to other painkillers like Opana and an increase in heroin addiction, according to a letter published last month in the New England Journal of Medicine. Three researchers examined the effect of the abuse-deterrent formulation on the abuse of OxyContin and other opioids, surveying 2,566 people seeking treatment for abuse of or dependence on opioid drugs. Although 24 percent found a way to defeat the tamper-resistant properties of the abuse-deterrent formulation, 66 percent indicated a switch to another opioid, with heroin the most common response.

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