Insurers Crack Down on Dental Opioid Prescriptions

A recent study revealed that for many teens, opioid abuse begins with wisdom tooth extractions. The unnecessary prescriptions can lead to lifelong addiction, progressing to other opioid usages including heroin addiction. And now, insurers are discouraging opioid use for dental extractions, asking doctors to rely on Tylenol instead. The study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine last December, found that youths age 16 to 25 who first used opioids after dental care were more than ten times more likely than their peers to be diagnosed with opioid abuse. Startlingly, opioid use disorder often emerges within just a year of getting their first prescription. The Kansas City Star spoke with United Healthcare’s chief dental officer Ted Wong, who said that the relationship between dental prescriptions and opioid abuse makes sense. He explained that adolescents are more sensitive to drugs like opioids because their brains are developing. Opioid prescriptions for wisdom tooth procedures are common for young people, and nearly 5 million people have their wisdom teeth removed every year. “That gave…

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Sublocade, New Med FDA-Approved for Opioid Abuse Disorder

Last week, the FDA announced approval of a once-a-month drug, Sublocade, for individuals with an opioid use disorder who need drug-assisted treatment to get and stay clean. For people suffering from the opiate-related disorders, there are just a few options for drug-related therapy to help them reduce cravings and stay clean. Suboxone and methadone have been the most available forms, but each has its drawbacks, including the fact that methadone is regulated in a way that means it must usually be dispensed just a dosage at a time. Missing a dosage can cause awful withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Even something as simple as inclement weather such as snow can make it difficult for drug treatment clients to get the medication they need. Suboxone has become popular because it has fewer drawbacks, with one of the main complaints being that a person prescribed the pill must be consistent with its dosage, taking it once a day, at the same time every day. This is why Sublocade, just approved by the…

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Doctors Prescribing Opioids Facing Double Edged Sword

Though it may seem surprising to some, it turns out most doctors dealing with prescription dependent patients are at some level aware of their patient’s addiction problems and prescription abuse. Ana Lembke, a California addiction psychiatrist, specifically cites an example of opioid prescriptions meant to address muscle pain being overused by a patient to the tune of 1,200 pills in one month. CURES, Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System, was put in place in California to monitor patient prescriptions and deter these kinds of abuses. However, as Lembke explains, doctors often face a choice between being morally irresponsible in giving addicted patients opioid prescriptions and being medically irresponsible in not providing adequate treatment for a potentially real physical pain being suffered by the patient.  The problem is further compounded by increased media attention on this growing problem and the rise of prescription painkiller overdoses as the leading cause of death for addicts. The Doctor's Dilemma Doctors often feel they are ostracized as villains by a public that does…

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Purdue Pharmas Marketing and the Roots of the OxyContin Epidemic

In the late 1990s, Purdue Pharma's marketing campaign for OxyContin was the kick-off for the prescription drug industry's massive promotion of narcotic painkillers for the treatment of chronic pain. One of Purdue's marketing tools was a promotional video that showed how OxyContin had improved the lives of seven patients. The video was distributed directly to 15,000 doctors. Prior to the introduction of OxyContin, most doctors were reluctant to write prescriptions for narcotic drugs due to the risk of addiction and overdose. Despite Purdue Pharma's hard-sell, there was little medical evidence that these drugs could be used to effectively treat pain over the long term without leading to addiction for some patients. Purdue's campaign could be termed a success in terms of profits for drug-manufacturers, with sales of prescription painkillers increasing by 400 percent between 1999 and 2010. According to the Wall Street Journal, sales of OxyContin alone reached more than $2.8 billion in 2011. Other opioid medications like Percocet and Vicodin have also brought huge profits for their makers.…

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A Look at The Prescription Addiction Epidemic

Whereas most  forms of drug abuse begin with friends at a party, prescription drug abuse often starts in the home. Over seven million Americans misuse prescription drugs every day. Misuse often starts easily enough, perhaps taking a parent or friend's leftover painkiller. However, occasional misuse can develop into addiction. According to the Mayo Clinic, opioid painkiller abuse can cause: • slowed breathing • the risk of stopping breathing • coma • death Stimulant medications can cause: • seizures • hallucinations • strokes A False Perception of  Narcotic Medication "Safety" One of the main problems is that people believe that prescriptions and over the counter drugs are safer to use than illegal drugs. Actually, prescription drugs are extremely dangerous - particularly if taken in large doses or with other drugs or alcohol.  Also, as with any consciousness-altering substance, prescription drugs can affect judgment and lead to poor mental and physical performance including unsafe driving. The problem is growing at an epidemic rate. In 2000, American pharmacies filled 174 million opioid…

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Canadian Coroner Offers Words of Warning about OxyNEO

A recent article from CBC News out of Canada caught our eye and we wanted to share. A coroner has made a statement to health care professionals in Canada warning them that OxyContin replacement drugs (like OxyNEO) are still very dangerous and increased caution should be used in prescribing them. His statement comes as a result of an opiate overdose and in his words: “Transitioning from one opiate to another does carry some risks, and this death … highlighted the case for heightened vigilance,” Wilson said. Users May Subconsciously Seek Higher Doses of OxyNEO Wilson wanted to highlight the dangers that are inherent in switching drugs.  Many users who are not happy with the sensation of OxyNEO (or another OxyContin replacement like OxyIR or fentanyl) might prescribing physicians to clarify any questionable increases in dosage. Dr. Wilson encourages  pharmacists to screen prescriptions for patterns indicating increased dosages and to contact prescribing physicians to clarify any change. Dr. Wilson has also requested other coroners to be on alert for similar deaths.…

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Prescription Pads – Better than The Drugs for Most Abusers

Just how out of control has prescription drug fraud become? There has always been concern for prescription drug fraud, but as a recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle points out, prescription drug fraud is reaching new heights. It seems that the pads used by physicians to write prescriptions are now being used to facilitate prescription drug abuse. The article goes on to say that a large number of unsigned pads were discovered in a San Fernando Valley medical facility. The investigators who found the misappropriated pads indicated that this was part of an alleged Medicare scam. Other similar cases, according to the San Francisco Chronicle article include a recent incident in Riverside, California. In this particular case, illegally acquired pads from several doctors were used to obtain Oxycotin as well as Vicodin. It is important to note that drugs such as Oxycotin can be very addictive and have serious withdrawal symptoms, a fact which is now finally become widely known. This study talks about how the drug addiction…

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Unbelievable Statistic about 1 Doctor in Florida

As we brace ourselves for the next wave of prescription drugs that are hitting the market (OxyNEO, TD Hydrocodone or Zohydro, and others), we would like to bring some attention to one key player in the prescription addiction and overdose epidemic: the irresponsible doctor. Doctors play a part in helping the addictive drugs get to the streets and into the hands of addicted users. Most doctors are guilty of ignorance of the drugs' addictive nature when they prescribe.  As bad as this is, the doctors that are really reprehensible are the ones that prescribe narcotics irresponsibly and do it for the motive of profit. Unbelievable Statistic Florida has long been known to be "ground zero" for the Oxy epidemic.  Lax regulation has created an industry of reprehsible doctors filling prescriptions recklessly for profit. One "doctor" named Riyaz Jummani actually prescribed more OxyContin in the first quarter of 2010 than the all doctors in the state of California combined. Try to wrap your mind around that.  He's in jail now,…

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