44% of Americans Know Someone Who Has Been Addicted to Prescription Painkillers

44% of Americans Know Someone Who Has Been Addicted to Prescription Painkillers
A new national poll finds 44 percent of Americans say they personally know someone who has been addicted to prescription painkillers, CNBC reports. Of these people, 26 percent said the person they knew was an acquaintance, while 21 percent said it was a close friend and 20 percent said it was a family member. Two percent said they had been addicted to painkillers themselves. The poll, released by the Kaiser Family Foundation, found 58 percent of respondents said they believe lack of access to addiction treatment is a major problem. Among people who know someone addicted to painkillers, 61 percent said they were concerned about lack of treatment. People view heroin as a more serious problem than prescription painkillers, even though far fewer people die from heroin overdoses than from prescription opioids, the article notes. The poll found 35 percent of people view heroin abuse as an extremely serious problem,...
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FDA Panel Will Consider Requiring Doctors to Undergo Opioid Prescribing Training

FDA Panel Will Consider Requiring Doctors to Undergo Opioid Prescribing Training
A panel of experts convened by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is meeting this week to consider whether to require doctors to undergo training to prescribe opioid painkillers. Doctors’ groups have resisted mandatory training, The New York Times reports. In 2012, the FDA rejected a recommendation from an expert panel that called for mandatory physician training for opioid prescribing. The panel said such training might help reduce overdose deaths from opioid painkillers. A spokeswoman for the FDA told the newspaper the agency now supports mandatory training. The panel is expected to make a recommendation on Wednesday. Since 2012, the FDA has required companies that make long-acting opioids, such as OxyContin, methadone and fentanyl, to underwrite voluntary medical education courses on prescribing the drugs. Recently, many of those companies said they support requiring physicians to have specific training or expertise in pain management before they can obtain a license from...
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DEA Announces National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

DEA Announces National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day
The Drug Enforcement Administration announced the 11th National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day will take place on April 30th from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. As with the previous nine Take-Back events, sites will be set up nationwide so local residents can return their unwanted or expired prescription drugs for safe disposal. From 2010-2014, DEA officials said more than 2,000 tons of unwanted medication were collected. Community collection sites can be found by visiting dea.gov . The site will be continuously updated with new take-back locations.
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Sedative-Related Overdoses on the Rise

Sedative-Related Overdoses on the Rise
Fatal overdoses from benzodiazepines—sedatives sold under brand names such as Xanax, Valium and Ativan—are on the rise, a new study finds. Overdoses from benzodiazepines accounted for 31 percent of the almost 23,000 deaths from prescription drug overdoses in the United States in 2013, according to HealthDay . “As more benzodiazepines were prescribed, more people have died from overdoses involving these drugs,” said study author Dr. Joanna Starrels of Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “In 2013, more than 5 percent of American adults filled prescriptions for benzodiazepines. And the overdose death rate increased more than four times from 1996 to 2013.” She noted while there has been a large public health response to the epidemic of prescription opioid use, addiction and overdose, there has not been much response to the increase in prescription benzodiazepine deaths. Dr. Starrels said the rate of deaths from benzodiazepines is still lower than deaths from opioid...
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Walgreens to Install Disposal Kiosks for Prescription Drugs at More Than 500 Stores

Walgreens to Install Disposal Kiosks for Prescription Drugs at More Than 500 Stores
Walgreens announced recently it will install kiosks in more than 500 stores in 39 states by the end of the year to allow customers to safely dispose of unneeded or expired prescription drugs. The pharmacy chain will also make the opioid overdose antidote naloxone available without a prescription in 35 states and Washington, D.C. Customers will be able to dispose of unwanted, unused or expired prescriptions, including controlled substances and over-the-counter medications, at no cost, the company said. Most of the kiosks will be located in stores open 24 hours a day. They will “offer one of the best ways to ensure medications are not accidentally used or intentionally misused by someone else,” the company stated. “By continuing to counsel our patients on the safe and effective use of medications and by making this opioid antidote more accessible, we’re going to be proactive in fixing this problem,” Richard Ashwood, President...
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Opioid Painkiller Use For More Than One Month May Increase Depression Risk

Opioid Painkiller Use For More Than One Month May Increase Depression Risk
Using opioid painkillers for more than one month may increase the risk of depression, a new study suggests. People who take opioids and feel depressed should be aware that the drugs, and not just the pain, may be a potential cause, the researchers say. While pain itself can be a cause of depression, the researchers found a link between opioids and depression even when they took patients’ pain into account, Fox News reports. “We really did rigorous control for pain, and we feel strongly that these results are independent of the known contribution of pain to depression,” said study author Jeffrey Scherrer of Saint Louis University in Missouri. The study included data from three groups of people who started taking opioids around the time the study began. One group had almost 71,000 people, while the second group had almost 14,000 people and the third had almost 23,000 people. None of...
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Employers Facing Challenges in Dealing with Prescription Drug Abuse

Employers Facing Challenges in Dealing with Prescription Drug Abuse
Employers face a number of challenges in dealing with workers’ prescription drug abuse. Studies show people with addictions are much more likely to be sick, absent or use workers’ compensation benefits, according to NPR . Opioids are often prescribed in workers’ compensation cases when painkillers are called for, the article notes. “The more professional stature you have, the less likely you are going to be forced into recovery, and the longer your addiction is likely to go on unchecked,” said Patrick Krill, who directs a treatment program at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation focusing on lawyers and judges. Krill notes the legal profession has twice the addiction rate of the general population. A survey released last month found 80 percent of Indiana employers are impacted by prescription drug misuse and abuse. The National Safety Council (NSC) and Indiana’s Attorney General conducted the survey, which found 64 percent of employers believe...
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Small Number of Doctors Prescribing Buprenorphine

Small Number of Doctors Prescribing Buprenorphine
Despite the rising rate of addiction to opioids, a relatively small number of doctors are authorized and willing to prescribe buprenorphine to treat opioid addiction, according to Stateline . Fewer than 32,000 doctors are authorized to prescribe the treatment, and most doctors with a license to prescribe buprenorphine seldom if ever use it, the article notes. In contrast, more than 900,000 U.S. doctors can write prescriptions for painkillers such as OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet. Studies have found that opioid addiction medicines like buprenorphine, which is approved by the Food and Drug Administration, offers a much higher chance of recovery than treatments not involving medication, according to Stateline. Under an agreement with the federal government, California’s county-run Medicaid programs are scheduled to begin covering a full set of addiction treatment options recommended by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, including opioid addiction treatments. Unlike methadone, which is dispensed at clinics under...
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High Prescribing Rates Likely Factor in Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Increase

High Prescribing Rates Likely Factor in Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Increase
High prescribing rates of opioid painkillers are likely a factor in the increase in neonatal abstinence syndrome, according to the head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Dr. Nora Volkow wrote the British Medical Journa l that between 2000 and 2009, the incidence of neonatal abstinence syndrome among newborns increased from 1.2 to 3.4 per 1,000 live births. An estimated 14 percent to 22 percent of pregnant women in the United States are prescribed opioid painkillers, HealthDay reports. There have been reports of an increase in the rate of painkiller abuse among pregnant women, the article notes. Babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome undergo withdrawal from the addictive drugs their mothers took during pregnancy, such as oxycodone, morphine or hydrocodone. The syndrome affected seven babies for every 1,000 admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit in 2004. That number jumped to 27 infants per 1,000 by 2013. Opioid use...
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Opposition to Federal Effort to Curb Painkiller Prescribing

Opposition to Federal Effort to Curb Painkiller Prescribing
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) face stiff opposition to its effort to reduce prescribing of opioid painkillers, the Associated Press reports. Critics of new prescribing guidelines include drug manufacturers, industry-funded groups and some public health officials. The guidelines, which were originally scheduled to be released this month, are designed to reverse the increase in deadly overdoses of opioid painkillers such as Vicodin, OxyContin and Percocet. They are not binding. Opponents of the guidelines say they have been largely written behind closed doors, the AP notes. Officials from the Food and Drug Administration and other health agencies called the guidelines “shortsighted,” relying on “low-quality evidence.” The officials said they plan to file a formal complaint. Following the officials’ comments, the CDC said the guidelines would not be released in January, and opened them to public comment for 30 days. “This is a big win for the opioid lobby,”...
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