Saturday, August 25, 2007

WASHINGTON POST Hydrocodone Abuse on Rise in Appalachia

GILBERT, W.Va. -- When his craving for painkillers got to be too much, Steve Dotson lay down and let his wife drive a car over his leg. It hurt, but he could dismiss the pain with thoughts of the medicated bliss that would follow. Soon, he lost his house, the state took his children away and he was spending nights under a bridge, where he hoped to die.

"You get to where you don't even want them (pills) anymore, you just do them so you can get through the day," said the 43-year-old southern West Virginia resident.

Dotson is one of millions of Americans who have experienced the harm that can come from addiction to the prescription narcotic hydrocodone. Less regulated than similar prescription painkillers, drugs containing hydrocodone have quietly become the most widely prescribed _ and, perhaps, widely abused _ opiate painkillers on the market.

With 124 million prescriptions in 2005, drugs containing hydrocodone are the most popular of their type in the country, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Office of Diversion Control. They are sold under hundreds of brand names and generic titles, and hydrocodone can be found in medication ranging from cough syrup to painkillers.

The most commonly prescribed product combines hydrocodone and acetaminophen, which is marketed under brand names like Vicodin and Lortab.

The DEA reported in 2006 that legal retail distribution of drugs with hydrocodone had grown by roughly 66 percent nationwide since 2001.

Its illicit use had grown as well, and by 2005, hydrocodone was the most frequently encountered pharmaceutical of its kind in drug evidence submitted to the National Forensic Laboratory Information System. The Drug Abuse Warning Network has said hydrocodone products are linked to more emergency room visits than any other prescription painkiller.

As abuse has grown, treatment for addiction and dependence has become more common _ and more controversial.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Pain medicine use has nearly doubled

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Retail sales of five leading painkillers nearly doubled from 1997 to 2005, reflecting a surge in use by patients nationwide who are living in a world of pain, according to a new Associated Press analysis of federal drug prescription data.

The analysis reveals that oxycodone usage is migrating out of Appalachia to areas such as Columbus, Ohio, and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and significant numbers of codeine users are living in many suburban neighborhoods around the country.

The amount of five major painkillers sold at retail establishments rose 90 percent between 1997 and 2005, according to Drug Enforcement Administration figures.

More than 200,000 pounds of codeine, morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone and meperidine were purchased at retail stores during 2005, the most recent year represented in the data. That is enough to give more than 300 milligrams of painkillers to every person in the country.

Oxycodone, the chemical used in OxyContin, is responsible for most of the increase. Oxycodone sales jumped nearly six-fold between 1997 and 2005. The drug gained notoriety as "hillbilly heroin," often bought and sold illegally in Appalachia. But its highest rates of sale now occur in places such as suburban St. Louis and Fort Lauderdale.

"What we're seeing now is the rest of the nation catching up to where we were," said Robert Walker, a researcher at the University of Kentucky Center on Drug and Alcohol Research.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Pediatric Pain Sourcebook of Protocols, Policies, and Pamphlets

The Problem
In spite of advances in knowledge and technology, children's suffering from pain is still a problem in most of the world. It affects both the individual child and the child's family, as well as the health care workers involved in their care.

1) Continue the discovery of new knowledge through research.

2) Promote the creation of resource material to:

  • help children and families understand and cope with pain.
  • help them access services.
  • guide health professionals and keep them up to date.
  • inform administrators and health care policy makers.

3) Improve the dissemination of these resource materials.

The goal of the Sourcebook is to improve accessibility to research that has been done and is being carried out over a dispersed international network of researchers and institutions. The hope is that making this information available on the Internet and in a published loose-leaf binder will facilitate the transfer and sharing of ideas and knowledge leading to improvements in pediatric pain management throughout the world.