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Tag Archives: Prescription Drug Take-Back 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?
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.
On July 24, government officials in Alameda County, Calif. passed an ordinance requiring pharmaceutical companies to pay for prescription drug take-back programs in the county, marking the first legislation of its kind in the nation.
Alameda County currently has 28 medication collection sites which dispose of discarded drugs at a cost of $40,000 per year. Of the annual $186 million in profits generated by drug companies in Alameda County, officials say the projected cost of a comprehensive program producer-funded program would be about 1 cent for every $33 of pharmaceuticals sold in the county.
The legislation was opposed by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, which says there is no evidence that take-back programs help the environment and that the ordinance unfairly places the costs of drug disposal only on out-of-county manufacturers.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s second Prescription Drug Take-Back Event which took place April 30 collected 181 tons of unwanted medications, reports this release. The first national event held in September collected 121 tons and was herald as a success. According to the release, the large amount of drugs taken for proper disposal indicate the need and potential for pills like OxyContin to be disseminated illegally.
Read about last year’s Take-Back Day efforts here.
Acknowledging America’s prescription drug abuse epidemic, the White House released a plan today to reduce the rate of abuse by 15 percent within five years. According to this article from MedPage Today, the reduction will primarily be achieved by educating patients and doctors on the proper use and prescribing of painkillers such as OxyContin. In addition to supporting prescription drug monitoring programs, take-back days, and further education of patients and healthcare providers, the plan also suggests the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will move forward with a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (REMS) which was rejected in 2010.
The REMS will require drug companies to provide further training and materials to physicians prescribing the drugs. According to the article, the plan precedes a similar bill which will be introduced to Congress and would require physicians to undergo training provided by pharmaceutical companies in order to write prescriptions for extended-release prescription narcotics.
Watchdog Editorial: Severe penalties, strict rules for doctors needed to curb prescription abuse epidemic
With prescription painkiller abuse rampant among teens and adults alike, everyone’s trying to escape the blame-game. From pharmaceutical companies to government agencies, it seems the responsible parties are more willing to throw money at the problem than address the underlying causes. It’s time to take a closer look at one of the most elemental factors in this disturbing trend: addicted patients and the doctors who get them that way.
Accountability on the rise?
Last week, three U.S. doctors were accused of over-prescribing highly addictive painkillers such as OxyContin that have been linked to patient overdoses and even deaths. While it’s not unprecedented for doctors to be held accountable for such occurrences, it is unusual. And the fact that three similar, unrelated incidents took place last week makes us wonder: are doctors’ over-zealous prescribing practices finally getting the attention they deserve?
It’s significant that in each case, neither the doctors nor those receiving the prescriptions were found to be illegally distributing the drugs. In other words, the doctors were careless with their prescription pads, and the patients were uneducated in the dangers of the drugs they were taking.
Following the success of last September’s Prescription Pill Take-Back Day, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America have announced another national take-back event April 30, according to this release. Last year, the event collected a total of 121 tons of prescription drugs at nearly 4,100 sites across the country.
Local and national take-back efforts are important in raising awareness and preventing prescription drug abuse since most teens who abuse prescription medications like OxyContin obtain the drugs through a friend or relative who had a legitimate prescription and left-over pills. However, it’s worth noting that the CADCA receives government support as well as financial backing from pharmaceutical companies like Purdue Pharma and King Pharmaceuticals. While helpful, take-back days in no way harm drug-makers’ bottom lines.
Read about last year’s Prescription Drug Take-Back Day here.
This Saturday will mark the first American Medicine Chest Challenge, a national campaign to raise awareness of prescription drug abuse among teenagers and provide for the safe disposal for unused and unwanted pills. Taking place less than two months after the first National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Sept. 21, the AMCC is a five-step initiative that will work with local communities in 36 states to organize drop-off locations and provide information on safe prescription drug use, according to this release. Unlike the Sept. 21 event which was sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Agency, the AMCC is backed by an alphabet soup of advocacy groups representing major pharmaceutical companies, as well as generic and over-the-counter drug manufacturers – including Purdue Pharma, maker of the prescription painkiller OxyContin. The initiative is based on Operation Medicine Cabinet New Jersey, which took place November 2009 and received recognition from the 2010 Drug Strategy from the U.S. National Drug Control Policy earlier this year.
To find a drop-off location in your community, go here.
Read about the DEA sponsored Prescription Drug Take-Back Day here.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency pronounced Prescription Drug Take-Back Day a success after results of the first-ever national initiative were tallied earlier this month. According to this press release from the DEA, more than 242,000 pounds of prescription drugs were collected at over 4,000 take-back sites across the country. Though the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act signed into law earlier this week makes returning unused prescription drugs more feasible, the DEA plans to keep Sept. 25 designated as Prescription Drug Take-Back Day until more permanent measures are in place.
Read more on the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act here.
Find more information on the DEA’s National Take-Back Day here.
Earlier this week, President Barack Obama signed into law a bill that amends the Controlled Substances Act, reports the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America here. The Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act is intended to correct a provision in the original statute that requires drugs to be registered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency before they will be accepted for proper disposal. It also increases sentencing guidelines for entities that instead of properly disposing drugs returned to them, use them in illegal activities. Though the bill as approved by the U.S. House of Representatives included a provision for a study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on the effects of the drugs on waterways, the final version nixed that portion, reports the Association of California Waterways in this release. The bill was originally passed by the House and Senate in early August and late September respectively, on the heels of the creation of the first ever National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day Sept. 25th by the DEA.
Read more about the Act, National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, and the effects of drugs on waterways and the Controlled Substance here.
The increased attention paid on prescription drug abuse combined with the possibility of doctors becoming more hesitant to prescribe certain pain medications may cause hoarding of unused pills rather than their return at events such as today’s national Prescritpion Drug Take-Back initiative, according to this blog posted by Time Magazine’s Healthland. Unlike the handgun buyback program, which offers money for returned firearms, the drug take-back offers little incentive for those who might be saving their painkillers such as OxyContin for an emergency or future use. What’s more, the blog cites two studies that show the majority of people who abuse painkillers did not become addicted during pain treatment and the majority of those admitted into rehab for prescription drug abuse had previously been treated for addiction.
To read more about today’s take-back program, go here.