prescription drug abuse

Indie Photos / Flickr/CC

New Hampshire officials call it a public health epidemic: record numbers of Granite Staters are overdosing and dying because of opioid drugs, especially heroin.   We’ll find out how this problem grew so quickly, and the state’s responses to it, including a relatively new prescription drug monitoring program.

GUESTS:

Steve Smith via Flickr CC

New Hampshire doctors are among the nation’s most prolific prescribers of Oxycontin and other opioids, according to a government report released Tuesday that analyzed the state-by-state use of highly addictive painkillers.

The Executive Council has picked an Alabama company to begin collecting data that will help physicians and pharmacists identify patients who may be abusing prescription medications.

The five-year contract awarded to Health Information Designs is the next step in the state’s effort to set up a prescription drug monitoring program, or PMP. Such programs are aimed at “doctor shopping,” in which patients visit multiple physicians for prescriptions that are then filled at different pharmacies.

New Painkiller Zohydro Stokes Concerns In N.H.

Apr 23, 2014
Steven Losh / Flickr/CC

The FDA has approved this drug, but across New England there’s worry that the drug will only add fuel to the fire of the region’s opiate addiction problem. Lawmakers, governors, health care leaders, are all weighing in with different ideas about how to avoid abuse and yet still help those patients in pain.

GUESTS: 

Newborns Facing Withdrawal Symptoms On Rise In State

Oct 25, 2013

In 2009, 120 infants exhibited symptoms of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), more than double the number of cases from five years prior. NAS is caused by maternal opioid use, and can result in respiratory problems, feeding difficulty and seizures in newborns.

A new report from the N.H. Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services and the N.H. Charitable Foundation says the average hospital stay for an NAS baby is 16 days, compared to three days for other births.

Police in Manchester are dealing with the effects of a rising rate of prescription drug abuse. But it's not the only part of New Hampshire seeing the problem.

To learn more about the state's approach to curbing abuse of prescription drugs, All Things Considered host Brady Carlson talks with Dr. Seddon Savage, who serves on the state's Call to Action prescription drug task force. That multidisciplinary group is developing New Hampshire's prescription drug monitoring program.

hipsxxhearts via flickr Creative Commons

Over the past decade, psycho-stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin have crossed over from treatment for people diagnosed with ADHD to black market cognitive enhancement.  Studies show that as many as one in three students have been diagnosed with ADHD or used ADHD medications illicitly as a study aid. The demand has led to shortages of the meds in pharmacies across the country and questions about addiction and dependency.  Will Oremus, staff writer for slate.com wrote about his own experience with ADHD drugs, and the somewhat arbitrary nature of what is legal­--coffee and nicotine--and what is illicit.

Prescription drug abuse experts unveiled a new tool today to help lower opioid misuse in the state.

That new tool is a website containing information for doctors describing safe prescribing techniques and standards for pain management.

Dr. Seddon Savage, a chronic pain and addiction specialist at Dartmouth, says the cycle of abuse can start with a well-intentioned prescription.

Mother's Little Helper

Apr 12, 2012
Photo by The Invisible Wombat via Flickr Creative Commons

Today’s frantic, always 'on' lifestyle have you feeling anxious? Pop a pill! Prescriptions for benzodiazepines like Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin and Valium have risen 17% since 2006 to nearly 94 million each year. An increasing number of Americans have no qualms about taking a cheap and effective benzo before a high-stakes meeting, or when facing a loaded “to-do” list.

This is a story about what can happen when no one is looking. For the patients at Universal Pain Management, a medical clinic in northern Los Angeles County, Dr. Francis Riegler is always looking.

Riegler huddles with the clinic's nurse practitioner over a computer printout. The one-page report from the state's drug-tracking system shows that a patient was on the hunt for more Vicodin, a powerful pain reliever that he was already getting from Riegler's clinic.

A key federal panel Wednesday recommended the Food and Drug Administration approve the first new weight-loss drug in more than a decade.

At the conclusion of a day-long hearing, the FDA's Endocrinologic and Metabolic Drugs Advisory Committee voted 20-2 to endorse a request from Vivus to approve the drug Qnexa. The same panel gave a thumbs-down to Qnexa in 2010.

Qnexa is a combination of two generic drugs that are already on the market:

State officials are announcing their strategy to address the growing problem of prescription drug abuse. That strategy calls for increased public awareness, more funding for treatment programs, and, again, a statewide prescription monitoring system.

That piece has been blocked by lawmakers several times. State Senators will take it up again at a hearing tomorrow.

State officials are announcing their strategy to address the growing problem of prescription drug abuse. That strategy calls for increased public awareness, more funding for treatment programs, and, again, a statewide prescription monitoring system.

That piece has been blocked by lawmakers several times. State Senators will take it up again at a hearing tomorrow.