Despite Addiction Worries, FDA Panel Quietly Approves a Stronger Opioid

An FDA panel gave preliminary approval to a new kind of opioid drug meant to treat severe pain such as the kind people experience during surgery. The drug, sufentanil, which will be marketed under the brand name Dsuvia, is actually five to 10 times stronger than fentanyl. Surprisingly, the drug advisory committee voted 10-3, approving the drug. While this doesn’t set approval in stone, the FDA usually follows the advisory committee’s instruction. While the FDA has been pushing for more restrictions on opioids, there was no mention of fears of addiction or overdose in the discussions. There was one dissenting opinion, however; Raeford E. Brown Jr., MD, who chairs the committee. Dr. Brown doesn’t like the idea of allowing another potent and lethal opioid into the drug market, where fentanyl rules the day when it comes to accidental overdoses. He worries that some doctors won’t pay attention to dosing, which could also be dangerous. With the approval, the pharmaceutical company itself is pretty thrilled to reveal a new product.…

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Pharm Companies Search for Safer Pain Relief Solutions

The addiction epidemic in America is still raging, with a record 72,000 overdose deaths according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control for 2017. The pharmaceutical industry has been slow to respond to the numbers. However, the increased scrutiny has made the industry do a double-take regarding profitability. With lawsuits stemming from nearly every state in the US, profits for opioids seem to be on a steady decline. And with the decrease in prescribing, doctors have worried that legitimate chronic pain patients will be left without treatment. New research is now in progress to find new pain drugs that prevent chronically ill people from being neglected or left behind due to opioid unavailability. Multiple research groups have been tasked with the creation of less dangerous and less addictive opioid development. While they also are focusing on changing the opioids to make them less harmful, they are also looking at opioid alternatives. This is important to note because historically, Big Pharma has downplayed the addictive nature of opioids, and…

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South Carolina Announces Emergency Response Plan for Opioids

Last Wednesday, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster announced that he had created a state emergency response plan to tackle the chronic and ongoing opioid epidemic. The plan was created with the input of more than 24 organizations and outlines strategies to support state and local efforts. In December 2017, Gov. McMaster first began formulating a plan to combat opioids by issuing a public health emergency. The governor's emergency declaration brought together state officials, private partners, and law enforcement to utilize the emergency management infrastructure to combat the growing epidemic or opioid deaths, addiction, and abuse. The new plan calls for better record-keeping in the medical community and addiction-related opioid training. Physicians will be expected to have opioid-informed conversations with their patients and understanding other pain treatment options. This should help raise awareness of the dangers of opioid use, and help physicians prevent and respond to opioid use disorder. The plan also involves adding treatment and recovery options, increasing resources to combat illicit opioid supply chains, and other actions that…

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Today is National Drug Take-Back Day: Take Action!

Today is National Drug Take-Back Day, a day where anyone, anywhere in the US can go to a location and safely dispose of prescription drugs. If you have any painkillers, opioids/opiates, sedatives or anti-anxiety drugs that have been sitting in your cabinet, do the right thing and find a location to dispose of your unused medications safely. You might safe a life! You can also get rid of conventional drugs such as antibiotics by visiting one of the locations. Why Dispose of Drugs on National Take-Back Day? During most of the year, it's nearly impossible to dispose to dispose of any addictive drugs safely. Pharmacies don't want the liability when dealing with opioids and other dangerous drugs, so they won't let you return them. Flushing them or throwing them away can contribute to tainting the water, soil, and environment. Don't do it! Future generations certainly don't need the added worry of addictive substances in the water. There is also the worry that if you throw the drugs in the…

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Oxycodone and Hydrocodone: Use, Abuse and Treatment.

Oxycodone and hydrocodone, two similar sounding generic prescription drugs, are narcotic pain medications that are being abused at epidemic levels in the United States and Canada. Oxycodone, which is sold under the brand name OxyContin and used in Percocet and Percodan, is a powerful analgesic designed specifically for severe pain disorders. It has highly addictive properties. Hydrocodone, which is an ingredient in Vicodin, is another painkiller that is frequently prescribed for moderate to severe pain for everything from toothaches to backaches. Both medications are subject to abuse and may cause fatal overdose when mixed with alcohol, other drugs or when taken in amounts exceeding recommended dosages. OxyContin is a time-released formula of oxycodone that was introduced in 1995 as a Schedule II drug. It is a synthetic opioid that is very similar to morphine. OxyContin gained national attention in 2003 when conservative radio talk host Rush Limbaugh admitted that he was addicted to it. Since then, detox centers and pain management specialists have focused on helping patients withdraw from…

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Are You or is Someone You Love Abusing Prescription Drugs?

Drug abuse is a very serious and dangerous problem. When many people think of drug abuse, they're picturing illicit drugs like heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine. Another very real form of drug abuse is prescription drug abuse. Prescription drug abuse, to be put simply, is taking a prescription medication that is either not prescribed by a doctor or taken in a way other than prescribed. Prescription drug abuse cuts across a wide segment of the population, from Hollywood celebrities to the kids taking pills from the family medicine cabinet. OxyContin is the prescription drug that receives the most press coverage, but many other drugs that are also being abused. It could almost be said that if a drug is available under prescription, someone has tried to abuse it. Most Abused Drugs and Methods of Abuse These are the three main categories of prescription drugs that are routinely abused: Opioid Painkillers – includes oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxymorphone (Opana) Depressants – includes alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium) Stimulants – includes amphetamines (Adderall),…

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Relapse Prevention Planning

The decision to quit using alcohol or drugs is an important first step on the path to a new life. The hard work of getting sober follows. Recovery may free you from many of the problems that substance abuse caused in your life, but you will still have to face the everyday stressors and major life changes that everyone must deal with. In the past, you may have dealt with stress and change by drinking or using drugs. That is no longer an option. By thinking ahead and planning strategies for dealing with trigger events, you can be more confident about avoiding relapse on your road to recovery. Relapse is a process that begins long before you take a drink or use drugs. Many people in recovery have found that coming up with a relapse prevention plan is an effective strategy for staying healthy and avoiding substance abuse. A relapse prevention plan that covers the following areas can help you defuse a relapse before it begins. Identifying high-risk situations…

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Slight Drop in Prescription Drug Abuse among Young Adults

Prescription drug abuse in the U.S. has dropped to the lowest level since 2002, reflecting a crackdown on over-prescribing doctors and black market drug dealers. Prescription drugs are no longer being abused quite as prominently as they once were, especially by young adults. In fact, the abuse of prescription drugs dropped to the lowest level since 2002 . Experts are crediting the drop in drug abuse to crackdowns at federal and state levels on doctors who offer prescriptions for profit and on patients who have obtained drugs by visiting pill mills and doctor shopping. Young adults, who were among the largest group of abusers of prescription drugs, have also showed the greatest drop in abuse. The number of young adults, defined as those between the ages of 18 to 25, who regularly abused prescription drugs went from 1.9 million to 1.7 million, roughly a 14 percent drop. Only 3.6 percent of those abused pain relievers, such as Percocet, or Vicodin. In 2010, 7 million people used pain killers, tranquilizers,…

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Appalachian Pillbillies

Appalachia is the cultural region that stretches along the famous Appalachian Mountain Trail. If you visit this area, the verdant rolling hills and breathtaking natural landscapes are hard to miss. However, when one looks beneath the beautiful facade, one uncovers a debilitating and dark pattern of widespread prescription drug abuse. Although prescription drug abuse is not an uncommon in other areas around the world, addiction to natural or synthetic opioids or painkillers (such as oxycodone, morphine, codeine, methadone, among others) has reached unprecedented levels in Appalachia. The abuse is so widespread that, in fact, a new term has been coined solely to describe those addicted: pillbillies. Why are Opiates So Popular in Appalachia? The high rate of addiction in Appalachia is thought to be caused in part by the pervasive poverty of the area, where the poverty rate is three times the national rate. Unfortunately, the high poverty rate both causes and is caused by the higher frequency of prescription drug abuse. Those who are addicted have trouble maintaining…

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