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narcotics 10 articles

Florida Opioid Pill Mill Doctor, Staff Go to Prison

A South Florida doctor busted for illegally dispensing prescription opioid painkillers to cash-paying “patients” has been sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison. Dr. Andres Mecia, 64, of Fort Lauderdale, ran an opioid pill mill in his Oakland Park, Florida clinic, Adult & Geriatric Institute of Florida Inc., which operated under the name AGI Medical & Dental. According to the government’s allegations, Dr. Mencia and office personnel — Oscar Luis Ventura-Rodriguez, 41, of Ft. Lauderdale; Nadira Sampath-Grant, 51, of Margate, and John Mensah, 50, of Miami, performed sham consultations with patients seeking opioid drugs. In these consultations, Dr. Mencia and his co-conspirators ... Read More

‘Cheerleaders for Opioids’ Paid by Drug Makers

The top five manufacturers of opioid drugs set the stage for the nation’s epidemic of opioid abuse and addiction by investing millions of dollars into certain advocacy groups that aggressively promoted use of the highly addictive painkillers, a U.S. Senate committee investigation determined. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee investigation, spearheaded by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), examined the financial ties between the nation’s leading opioid manufacturers and outside organizations, such as patient advocacy groups, professional medical societies, and pain management awareness associations. Sen. McCaskill concluded that the opioid manufacturers invested more than $10 million into these groups, which ... Read More

Feds Dismantle Opioid Distribution Center and Southern Pill Mills

Federal prosecutors said they have taken down the operators of a health care fraud and opioid trafficking and distribution operation that stretched from Knoxville, Tennessee, to Rome, Italy and contributed to the deaths of about 700 people. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said indictments were unsealed Jan. 4 charging two Italian citizens and five American citizens for their roles in a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) conspiracy and opioid drug trafficking conspiracy to distribute and dispense oxycodone, oxymorphone, and morphine outside the scope of professional practice and not for legitimate medical purposes. The DOJ says that the defendants ran ... Read More

Anti-addiction groups call for FDA chief’s resignation amid prescription drug abuse epidemic

Frustrated by the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of potent opioid medications during a nationwide epidemic of prescription drug abuse, anti-addiction activists are calling for the resignation of the agency’s top official. More than a dozen groups have banded together and are appealing to the Obama administration to replace FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg, who has headed up the agency since 2009. Activists have been vocal about their disappointment with the agency for its approval of Zohydro, the only single-ingredient hydrocodone on the market. Hydrocodone is in a class of narcotics known as opioids, which are known for their euphoric effects. ... Read More

DEA introduces new drug take-back program to combat prescription drug abuse

A new Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) rule aims to combat a growing epidemic of prescription drug addiction and abuse by authorizing pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, and others to serve as drop-off sites for unused prescription medications. Attorney General Eric Holder said that the new regulation will help save lives and protect families from the dangers of prescription drug misuse. In 2011, unintentional prescription drug overdoses accounted for more than half of the 41,300 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. Prescription opioids, which are increasingly prescribed for pain relief, are particularly addictive and likely to be abused. Opioid pain killer overdose caused ... Read More

Vermont governor severely restricts use of controversial new painkiller Zohydro

The state of Vermont has taken aim at the controversial new painkiller Zohydro, establishing emergency rules that make it harder for physicians to prescribe the drug and others like it in an effort to curb a growing trend in prescription drug abuse. The announcement by Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin comes just days after Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick issued a statewide ban on Zohydro. The drug’s approval last fall was met with much criticism and prompted protests from medical professionals and anti-drug abuse groups, as well as petitions from several attorneys general. Hydrocodone is in a class of narcotics known as ... Read More

Prescription drug deaths rise for 11th consecutive year

The number of prescription drug-induced deaths rose for the 11th straight year, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analysis. Most of the drug deaths were accidents involving potent painkillers such as OxyContin and Vicodin. “This is a big problem that has gotten much worse quickly,” said CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden. Prescription drug deaths continue to rise despite efforts to raise awareness of the risks among doctors and patients. The CDC reported a total of 38,329 drug-overdose fatalities nationwide in 2010. Nearly 60 percent of those deaths involved medicines, most of them prescription drugs. In 2009, the ... Read More

Olsen twins decorate line of handbags with prescription pills

America’s love of prescription drugs sometimes manifests in bizarre, unexpected ways. In December, various fashion and entertainment media reported that diva twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen released a line of black patent-leather crocodile skin handbags studded not with precious stones but with … prescription pills? Ironically, an undisclosed portion of the proceeds from the controversial handbags, which retailed in limited quantities at $55,000 each, were donated to UNICEF, the arm of the United Nations Fund devoted to the well-being of children. Perhaps glamorizing drug use by attaching multicolored capsule and tablet appliques to designer handbags wouldn’t be so strange if it were ... Read More

Prescription drugs now kill more people than illicit drugs

A report in the Orlando Sentinel reveals a disturbing trend in the state of Florida that is part of a larger national epidemic: the growing number of people killed by prescription-drug overdoses. According to the report, from January to June of this year, prescription-drug overdoses killed 1,270 people in Florida. This represents a nine-percent increase from the same 6-month period in 2009 when 1,157 people died from prescription-drug overdoses. “State medical examiners continue to find prescription drugs more often in the bodies of the dead than illicit drugs, documenting the fatal consequences of the nation’s prescription-drug epidemic,” the Sentinel report ... Read More

Darvocet, Darvon pulled from market, causes abnormal heart beat

The painkillers Darvocet and Darvon and generic versions of propoxyphene are being pulled from the market because they can be toxic to the heart and cause serious health problems, according to a warning issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Propoxyphene is in a class of painkillers known as opioids, or narcotic pain relievers, and were approved for the treatment of mild to moderate pain. It is sold under various names as a single-ingredient product, such as Darvon, and as part of a combination product with acetaminophen, such as Darvocet. Data from a new study shows that even in ... Read More