Tag Archives: hydrocodone

Emergency Room Doctors Can Help Reduce Prescription Drug Problem

aceperER doctors are well aware that many people addicted to prescription drugs utilize the emergency department as a way to obtain narcotic painkillers. They often go into the hospital complaining of various aches and pains hoping that a doctor will write a prescription for drugs like oxycodone or hydrocodone. Generally, ER doctors see so many patients that drug seekers feel more comfortable trying to get prescriptions there, as they might slip through the cracks.

A study conducted by researchers and published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, concluded that doctors are not only aware that they work in a drug-seeking environment, but that they are more cautious when prescribing medicine that has a high rate of addiction. In the past, patients in the emergency room could expect to receive prescriptions for narcotic painkillers that would last thirty days. However, now that the prescription drug abuse problem is so problematic, most ER doctors have reduced the number of days they prescribe these drugs for.

“Our data show that opioid [narcotic painkiller] prescribing in the Emergency Department is done with caution and aligned with short-term use goals,” explained Dr. Scott Weiner, the author of the study.

In general, most prescriptions that are written in the ER are only for three to five days. This allows that patient to get the care they need, but it requires them to follow up with their General Practitioner in order to receive any more medication. It has been found that those with legitimate physical and health issues reliably follow up with their doctor, while those that were drug-seeking do not bother.

The study also charted the most common reasons why prescription painkillers were prescribed in emergency rooms. The leading situations included stomach pain, back pain, severe fractures, sprains and tooth pains.

The fact that these doctors are more cautious when it comes to prescribing narcotic painkillers indicates that the healthcare field is more aware of the role they play in the prescription drug problem in the United States.

Prescription Narcotics Shown to be Ineffective for Long-Term Pain Relief

Painkillers were originally manufactured and prescribed to handle chronic pain. For patients who did not have illnesses such as cancer but did have chronic back pain or other joint pain, patients with muscle pain or chronic headaches, painkillers were often prescribed to address this pain and allow them to live a normal life. However, painkillers do not do a good job of addressing the pain on an extended period of time, as many patients report increased sensitivity to pain and a need for more of the drugs.

So if painkillers really do not work why are they being prescribed? For some, doctors are just not informed about the risks associated with taking painkillers. Many doctors consider that addiction is a rare side effect, nothing to take too seriously because it is so unlikely to happen. However, this is just simply not true. More and more people are becoming dependent on and addicted to narcotic painkillers after being prescribed the medication from their doctor. There are studies that indicate that over half of the patients who take prescription painkillers for more than three months are still taking the pills five years later. This shows that long-term use means the patient will likely become addicted.

Another reason why prescription narcotics are being given out so much is because patients request them. When a person visits a doctor for a chronic pain problem they often assume they are going to leave the office with a prescription for an opioid like oxycodone or hydrocodone. Doctors often do not want to disappoint them and fulfill the patients requests for some form of immediate relief, which can be understandable. The point isn’t to blame doctors, but just to show there are multiple contributing factors to the problem.

In order to avoid further addictions to painkillers, doctors need to familiarize themselves with the potential for addiction. Other alternatives to chronic pain treatment should be considered either before or along with the prescribing of drugs that have a high potential for abuse. Many people find success in handling their chronic pain by consulting with a physical therapist, exercising more and changing their diet, among several other avenues. These healthier alternatives allow the person to live a life free from addiction while still being able to manage their pain.

FDA Commissioner Defends Approval of Controversial Pain Medication

margarethamburgAt a recent Senate hearing, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret Hamburg defended the agency’s decision to approve the pure hydrocodone drug Zohydro ER (extended release). Speaking before the Senate Health, Education and Pensions Committee, Hamburg endorsed Zohydro as a unique option to treat pain.

“If appropriately used, it serves an important and unique niche with respect to pain medication and it meets the standards for safety and efficacy,” Hamburg stated.

Since the FDA approved Zohydro last fall, Hamburg has received letters protesting the decision from 28 state attorneys general and four senators, among others. Law enforcement agencies and addiction experts predict the approval of the drug will lead to an increase in overdose deaths, worsening the prescription drug abuse epidemic in the United States.

Zohydro is the first prescription narcotic to be composed of pure hydrocodone. Unlike other hydrocodone drugs, Zohydro does not contain acetaminophen, which can be toxic to the liver. Zohydro is also extremely potent compared to other hydrocodone drugs. That, along with its lack of tamper-resistant features, is the main cause for the uproar surrounding the drug and its manufacturer, Zogenix.

Zohydro is designed to be released over time, but it can be crushed and snorted by people seeking a strong, quick high. “I would love if we had abuse-deterrent formulations that were actually meaningful and effective at deterring abuse in all instances. We are moving in that direction,” said Hamburg.

Zohydro was approved for use of patients who require daily, long-term treatment that cannot be treated with other drugs. Despite concerns over the potential for addiction, the drug is on track to be available this month.

Many are relieved that Purdue Pharma recently announced intentions to submit a tamper-resistant hydrocodone drug to the FDA later this year. Hopefully it won’t be too long until a safer alternative with abuse-deterrent features will be on the market.

FDA Recommends Tighter Controls for Hydrocodone Prescriptions

fdaimagePainkillers containing hydrocodone are typically the most commonly prescribed in the United States, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently recommended tightening the regulations surrounding prescriptions for the drug to be similar to those containing oxycodone.

According to a story in the New York Times, popular brand name drugs such as Vicodin and Lortab would be affected by a change in the regulations, which could take place as early as the first of the year. This wold require people to present themselves at a pharmacy, rather than having a doctor’s office call it in, and it would also limit the number of pills begin given.

Nationwide there has been a heavy focus on finding ways to combat prescription drug abuse, especially narcotic painkillers. Many states have changed laws regarding the sale and distribution of these powerfully addictive drugs. The problem rose to become an epidemic over the past decade or more, with overdose deaths from medications outnumbering those of street drugs.

This announcement comes during the same week where the FDA approved the sale and distribution of a new extended-releasd drug containing hydrocodone to treat long-term chronic pain.

It is vitally important for people to realize that just because it comes from a doctor in a pill bottle doesn’t necessarily mean it is going to be a safer drug to take. Prescriptions can be just as harmful as illicit substances, and even more so in some cases.

If you know someone who needs help for a problem with prescription painkillers, contact Desert Cove Recovery today.