Tag Archives: overdoses

Painkillers fueling drug deaths among Mt. women

pills and pill bottlesPrescription drug addiction is causing a rise in overdose deaths among women in Montana, according to this article. Between January 2008 and August 2013, some 352 Montana women died from a drug overdose, the article says.

Earlier this year, officials in Montana reported a “silent epidemic” of prescription drug abuse that contributed to the deaths of more than 300 Montanans in 2008. Mirroring federal statistics, that number outpaced deaths from motor vehicle crashes, homicides, methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine combined.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than five times as many women nationwide died from prescription painkiller overdoses in 2010 as in 1999, while the number of men dying from prescription drug overdose nearly tripled during the same time period.

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AGs ask FDA to require abuse-deterrent pills

bunchofpillsThe National Association of Attorneys General has asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to require tamper-resistant versions of generic prescription painkillers in a bid to deter abuse. In a letter to the agency, 42 state and territorial attorneys general said the agency should ensure that generic opioids, like their branded counterparts, have abuse-deterrent properties.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently found that drug overdose deaths increased for the eleventh consecutive year in 2010. According to the agency, 38,329 people died from a drug overdose in the U.S. that year, up from 37,004 deaths in 2009.

Overdose deaths involving opioid analgesics have shown a similar increase, the CDC found: starting with 4,030 deaths in 1999, the number of deaths increased to 15,597 in 2009 and 16,651 in 2010.

In 2010, nearly 60% of the drug overdose deaths (22,134) involved pharmaceutical drugs. Opioid analgesics, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone, were involved in about 3 of every 4 pharmaceutical overdose deaths (16,651), according to the CDC.

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Missouri lags behind nation on pill monitoring database

computerpillsForty-nine states have taken measures to implement prescription drug monitoring databases in light of the pill addiction epidemic, but Missouri lacks such a program — despite the fact that it has the seventh highest drug overdose death rate in the country, a majority of which are from prescription drugs, according to this article.

Approximately 3,200 people in Missouri seek treatment for a prescription drug abuse problem each year, and the most commonly used drugs were controlled substances such as Xanax, OxyContin, and Vicodin, the article says, pointing to data from the Missouri Department of Mental Health. Yet efforts to establish a prescription drug monitoring program were stymied when a Missouri senator filibustered the legislation that would have brought the database to the state, citing concerns over patient privacy, the article says.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently found that drug overdose deaths increased for the eleventh consecutive year in 2010. According to the agency, 38,329 people died from a drug overdose in the U.S. that year, up from 37,004 deaths in 2009.

Overdose deaths involving opioid analgesics have shown a similar increase, the CDC found: starting with 4,030 deaths in 1999, the number of deaths increased to 15,597 in 2009 and 16,651 in 2010.

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Heroin abuse parallels rise in prescription drug addiction

heroinfoilWhile the abuse of painkillers has become a focus for concern, the corresponding rise in heroin use is also prompting calls for action, according to National Public Radio. In several states, including Wisconsin, legislation has been introduced to give people legal protection when calling 911 about an overdose, NPR says.

The number of people reporting heroin use in the previous year increased between 2007 and 2012, from 373,000 to 669,000, while nearly 80 percent of people who had used heroin in 2011 had also previously abused prescription painkillers classified as opioids, according to NPR.

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Prescription drugs took 700 lives in N.J. in 2011, 2012

helpPrescription drugs were implicated in the deaths of more than 700 New Jersey residents in both 2011 and 2012, according to statistics released by the state assistant state medical examiner.

The number of drug deaths in the state rose from 843 in 2010 to 1,027 in 2011 and 1,188 in 2013, according to the medical examiner. The number of deaths caused by prescription drugs alone over the three years varied from 402 in 2010 to 470 in 2011 and 460 in 2012, while the instances in which deaths were caused by a combination of prescription and illicit drugs rose from 180 in 2010 to 231 in 2011 and 262 in 2012.

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

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VA over-prescribing narcotics to vets: report

soldier drugsEasy access to powerful prescription opiates has led to a rise in overdose deaths among war veterans, a new report has found. According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, the Department of Veterans Affairs has issued more than one opiate prescription per patient, on average, for the past two years. Prescriptions for four opiates – hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone and morphine – have surged by 270% in the past 12 years, CIR found in an analysis of data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

According to CIR:

The agency charged with helping veterans recover from war instead masks their pain with potent drugs, feeding addictions and contributing to a fatal overdose rate among VA patients that is nearly double the national average.

CIR notes that this spike in opiate prescriptions has occurred despite new VA regulations laid out in 2009 requiring clinicians to follow an “integrated approach” to helping veterans in pain, including a stronger focus on treating the root causes of pain rather than using powerful narcotics to reduce symptoms.

Many areas of the nation with military bases and large VA hospitals have seen prescription drug abuse skyrocket among American soldiers in recent years.

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Heroin stepping in for painkillers across the U.S.

pills and syringeLocally and across the nation, law enforcement officials have noted an increased use of heroin, which has become a cheaper alternative to legal opiates like hydrocodone and oxycodone. In Grand Rapids, Mich., heroin has become so strong that it can be snorted, which eliminates a hurdle for needle-phobic users, according to this article. In less than four months, Grand Rapids Police have responded to three heroin-overdose deaths, and another 10 overdoses, the article says. Heroin is also on the rise up and down the West Coast, fueled in part by prescription drug abuse, according to this article. The article notes that prescription painkillers and heroin have the same effect on abusers, but heroin is usually cheaper and easier to get.

A recent survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration showed the number of heroin users across the country has risen from 373,000 in 2007 to 669,000 last year.

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Maine heroin deaths up 300% since 2011

heroinfoilDriven by the painkiller addiction epidemic, the number of people in Maine who have died from a heroin overdose each year since 2011 has increased by 300%, according to Harper’s Magazine, which cites data from the state’s Department of Health and Human Services. Some experts say that the trend is partly being fueled by recent restrictions on doctors in prescribing painkillers, which 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 recent 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, including in Maine.

Earlier this year, a report found that more than one-third of the prescription drugs stolen from Maine pharmacies are taken by employees. An investigation by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting of state disciplinary records 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.

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Calif. lawmakers OK painkiller legislation

pills and pill bottlesThe California Senate has given the green light to two bills aimed at combatting prescription drug abuse and overdose deaths by helping authorities track painkiller prescriptions and enabling enhanced scrutiny of deaths involving such drugs.

The proposed legislation would require coroners to report prescription overdose deaths to the state’s medical board for review, according to the Los Angeles Times, which earlier reported on the nearly 4,000 accidental deaths involving prescription drugs in Southern California and found that in half the cases, drugs that caused or contributed to a death had been prescribed by that person’s physician.

The legislation would also enhance and provide sustained funding for California’s prescription drug monitoring system, known as CURES, which contains detailed data on prescriptions for painkillers, the LA Times said.

The two bills now head to the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown for approval.

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Suburban pill addicts increasingly trying heroin

pills and syringeThe number of first-time heroin users in the U.S. is on the rise, as painkiller addicts turn to the street drug because it’s cheaper and more potent. This trend is particularly affecting suburban areas: in one Ohio county, 93 residents died during the first half of 2013 away after shooting, snorting or smoking heroin; another four fatally overdosed inside county limits, but resided elsewhere. In Tennessee, statewide data show that the number of heroin-incidents has more than doubled since 2010. And in West Virginia, data reported earlier this year showed a 44% increase in fatal heroin overdoses, a trend also noticed in increasing heroin seizures, ambulance runs and hospital admissions tied to the drug.

A study recently released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that people who used pain pills non-medically were 19 times more likely to start using heroin.

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