Tag Archives: Opana

Drug fatalities rose 3% in 2010: CDC

imgname--prescription_drug_abuse_on_the_rise---38647165--images--flickr_2931207680Drug fatalities increased 3% in 2010, driven largely by prescription painkillers such as OxyContin and Vicodin. The latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that overdose deaths involving prescription painkillers rose to 16,651 in 2010, comprising 43% of all fatal overdoses, according to this article citing the CDC’s research. The article quotes CDC director Tom Frieden as saying about the prescription drug addiction epidemic:

“While most things are getting better in the health world, this isn’t. It’s a big problem, and it’s getting worse.”

He adds:

“The data supporting long-term use of opiates for pain, other than cancer pain, is scant to nonexistent. These are dangerous drugs. They’re not proven to have long-term benefit for non-cancer pain, and they’re being used to the detriment to hundreds of thousands of people in this country.”

In February, the CDC found that drug overdose deaths increased for the 11th consecutive year in 2010, and that most of those deaths were accidents involving addictive painkillers.

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

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.

Posted in Informational, Personal Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How did we get here?

pillflagThe numbers are staggering: in the United States, the number of overdose deaths from prescription opioids has more than tripled in the past decade, resulting in nearly 15,000 fatalities in 2008 alone and now accounting for more than 40 deaths every single day – not to mention the fact that estimated annual health care costs from this epidemic are as high as $72.5 billion.

How did we get here?

In the latest issue of Emergency Medicine News, Dr. Leon Gussow, a physician and editor of The Poison Review blog, examines how opioid analgesics – once feared as dangerous medications with high risk for addiction and overdose – became the drug class most frequently prescribed in the U.S., with four million patients a year receiving scripts for these powerful medications.

Posted in Editorial, Informational, Pain Advocates, Pharmaceutical Industry, Trends | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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.

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

Student’s OD death highlights dangers of pill ‘speedballing’

overdoseThe recent overdose death of a 24-year-old law student at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. underscores the dangers of speedballing – the combination of stimulant and depressant drugs. In this case, the student died after mixing heroin and the prescription drug Adderall, which is meant to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to this article. Substance abusers also commonly use it to counteract the effects of heroin so they can take more of the opiate.

Obviously, the practice of speedballing is nothing new. But the widespread abuse of prescription drugs has brought things to a whole new level. Nearly 60% of drug-related deaths in 2010 involved prescription drugs, and three-quarters of those deaths involved opioids such as oxycodone and morphine, according the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here is a list of common drug cocktails – including medicines as seemingly innocuous as Tylenol – that can be deadly when mixed together.

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

Oregon leads nation in prescription drug abuse

The latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health has found that Oregon leads the nation in abuse of prescription drugs. According to the survey, 6.37% of Oregonians 12 years and older used painkillers for a non-medical purpose in the past year. The lowest rate was found in Iowa, where 3.6% of residents were reported to have abused painkillers.

Of the ten states with the highest rates of past year non-medical use of prescription pain relievers in 2010 and 2011, seven were in the West; of the ten states with the lowest rates, four were in the Midwest, and four were in the South, the report found.

Nationally, the abuse rate of prescription painkillers was 4.6%.

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

Study touts benefits of opioid overdose reverser

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

Naloxone distribution to heroin users is likely to reduce overdose deaths and is cost-effective “even under markedly conservative assumptions,” said the authors of the study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. For every 20% of heroin addicts in a population treated with the drug, about 6.5% of overdose deaths could be prevented, resulting in 2,000 lives saved in a population of 200,000 heroin users, the study found.

Anywhere from 1 to 2 million Americans currently misuse heroin or prescription opioid drugs and could be in danger of an overdose. As of 2010, about 188 naloxone distribution programs exist in the U.S., and these groups have trained over 53,000 people and reported more than 10,000 overdose reversals, according to this article.

White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske recently called for increased action to prevent drug overdose deaths, specifically through wider distribution of naloxone.

Although opiate overdoses are on the rise, 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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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?”

Posted in Informational, Pharmaceutical Industry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment