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HEALTH
January 11, 2010 | By Valerie Ulene
The local popularity of medical marijuana aside, the prescription drug of choice these days seems to be the opioid painkiller. And small wonder. The medications are highly effective in controlling pain -- whether from dental procedures, surgery, traumatic injuries or chronic conditions such as back pain and cancer. They're remarkably safe when used properly. And they produce a sense of well-being -- yes, a "high" -- that makes them irresistible to millions of Americans who take them for relaxation or recreation.
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SCIENCE
April 3, 2014 | By Melissa Healy
Opioid drug overdoses, the cause of some 16,000 fatalities and  half a million emergency-department visits yearly, may have met their match: The Food and  Drug Administration on Thursday approved the sale, by prescription, of a hand-held auto-injector of the opioid-reversal drug naloxone, a "rescue pen" that caregivers or family members can use to avert a potentially fatal overdose. Delivered by syringe, naloxone has been a workhorse drug in emergency departments battling the relentless rise of opioid abuse in the last decade.
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NEWS
March 12, 2012 | By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Opioid medications such as codeine and oxycodone often are prescribed after surgery to relieve post-operative pain. The availability of such drugs is also well known to be a major factor in increasing rates of addiction and addiction-related overdose deaths. A new study suggests that giving opioid prescriptions after simple operations may create some of those problems. The study , published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine, looked at 391,139 people age 66 or older who had a short-stay surgery for something minor like cataracts, laparoscopic gallbladder removal, prostate tissue removal or varicose vein stripping.
SCIENCE
October 24, 2013 | By Melissa Healy
The Food and Drug Administration has laid out a roadmap for greater strictures on the prescribing and dispensing of hydrocodone and analgesics that contain it. The move is the latest in a chain of actions taken by the FDA and other agencies to address a burgeoning U.S. crisis of addiction to opioid painkillers. Under a plan announced by the FDA on Thursday afternoon, products containing the opioid painkiller hydrocodone, including combination analgesics such as Vicodin (which mixes hydrocodone with acetaminophen)
NEWS
October 13, 2010
Addiction to opioids is a huge problem in the United States. In addition to heroin addiction, a growing number of people are getting hooked on prescription painkillers, such as hydrocodone and oxycodone. In a 2009 survey, more than 5.3 million people reported prescription opioid abuse in the past month. Researchers reported Tuesday on a new method for treating opioid addiction that takes one big problem out of the equation: getting the addict to adhere to treatment.
SCIENCE
October 24, 2013 | By Melissa Healy
The Food and Drug Administration has laid out a roadmap for greater strictures on the prescribing and dispensing of hydrocodone and analgesics that contain it. The move is the latest in a chain of actions taken by the FDA and other agencies to address a burgeoning U.S. crisis of addiction to opioid painkillers. Under a plan announced by the FDA on Thursday afternoon, products containing the opioid painkiller hydrocodone, including combination analgesics such as Vicodin (which mixes hydrocodone with acetaminophen)
NEWS
April 6, 2011 | By Marissa Cevallos, HealthKey
Patients on higher doses of opioid painkillers are more likely to accidentally overdose than those prescribed lower doses, a new study finds. Those who were prescribed more than 100 milligrams of painkillers a day overdosed more than people limited to 1 to 20 milligrams, researchers at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Ann Arbor, Mich., found. The trend stayed true whether the patient had acute pain, chronic pain, a substance abuse problem or cancer. White, middle-age men were statistically more likely to overdose.
SCIENCE
September 10, 2013 | By Melissa Healy
Patients should not be prescribed long-acting or extended-release opioid pain relievers unless they need daily, round-the-clock treatment of their pain that can't be managed by any other means, the Food and Drug Administration has told physicians. The new guidelines are to be included on the labels and patient information sheets of all prescription opioid pain relievers that dissolve slowly after taken. Along with a call for new research aimed at identifying what doses and modes of use are most likely to harm patients, the revised labels are the latest step taken by the agency to stem a growing epidemic of opioid abuse and addiction in the United States.
NEWS
March 2, 2011 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times
Consuming opioid pain relievers such as codeine, oxycodone or hydrocodone just before pregnancy or early in pregnancy increases the risk of certain birth defects, especially congenital heart defects, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Wednesday. The warning extends to such prescription painkillers as Vicodin, OxyContin and Tylenol-3, as well as a variety of generic versions of the drugs. Although there is an increased risk of some major types of birth defects from exposure to the drugs, "the absolute risk for any individual woman is relatively modest," said epidemiologist Cheryl S. Broussard of the CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, who led a study of the drugs that will be published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology . The findings come from the ongoing CDC-sponsored National Birth Defects Prevention Study , the largest study of birth defects ever performed in the United States, covering pregnant women in 10 states, including California.
NEWS
February 19, 2013 | By Joseph Serna
Fatal drug overdoses have increased for the 11th consecutive year in the United States, new data show. According to a research letter published Tuesday from the National Center for Health Statistics, 38,329 people died of drug overdoses in the United States in 2010, an uptick from the previous year and the latest sign of a deadly trend involving prescription painkillers. In 2010, 57% of overdoses, or more than 22,000, involved known prescription drugs. Three-quarters of those involved painkillers like Oxycontin and Percocet while another 9,400 involved some unidentified drug cocktail.
SCIENCE
September 10, 2013 | By Lisa Girion and Melissa Healy
Responding to calls to stem a growing epidemic of prescription drug addiction and overdose deaths, federal officials are urging doctors to reserve the most powerful pain drugs for patients who need long-term, around-the-clock treatment that can't be managed by other means. Leaders of the Food and Drug Administration said they hoped new drug labeling guidelines unveiled Tuesday would prompt doctors to be more cautious in prescribing long-acting and extended-release forms of oxycodone, morphine and other narcotic painkillers, known as opioids.
SCIENCE
September 10, 2013 | By Melissa Healy
Patients should not be prescribed long-acting or extended-release opioid pain relievers unless they need daily, round-the-clock treatment of their pain that can't be managed by any other means, the Food and Drug Administration has told physicians. The new guidelines are to be included on the labels and patient information sheets of all prescription opioid pain relievers that dissolve slowly after taken. Along with a call for new research aimed at identifying what doses and modes of use are most likely to harm patients, the revised labels are the latest step taken by the agency to stem a growing epidemic of opioid abuse and addiction in the United States.
NEWS
February 19, 2013 | By Joseph Serna
Fatal drug overdoses have increased for the 11th consecutive year in the United States, new data show. According to a research letter published Tuesday from the National Center for Health Statistics, 38,329 people died of drug overdoses in the United States in 2010, an uptick from the previous year and the latest sign of a deadly trend involving prescription painkillers. In 2010, 57% of overdoses, or more than 22,000, involved known prescription drugs. Three-quarters of those involved painkillers like Oxycontin and Percocet while another 9,400 involved some unidentified drug cocktail.
NEWS
July 11, 2012 | By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots Blog
In the record book of unintended consequences, this one's sure to be a groan-worthy entry: A frightening rise in addiction to the drug OxyContin prompts a reformulation that makes the prescription pain medication harder to abuse. So addicts switch to heroin instead. Clearly, not the hoped-for effect. But according to a letter published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, it's a switch that appears to be happening across the country -- especially in rural and suburban communities, where OxyContin abuse and addiction had gained a firm foothold.
NEWS
March 12, 2012 | By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Opioid medications such as codeine and oxycodone often are prescribed after surgery to relieve post-operative pain. The availability of such drugs is also well known to be a major factor in increasing rates of addiction and addiction-related overdose deaths. A new study suggests that giving opioid prescriptions after simple operations may create some of those problems. The study , published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine, looked at 391,139 people age 66 or older who had a short-stay surgery for something minor like cataracts, laparoscopic gallbladder removal, prostate tissue removal or varicose vein stripping.
NEWS
March 6, 2012 | By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have an increased risk of mental health disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder . Now a new study finds these individuals are also more likely to receive opioid pain prescriptions and to misuse those drugs. The study , published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Assn., creates a picture of escalating problems for veterans who come back from war with emotional and physical problems. The study examined 141,029 veterans of the recent wars after their return home.
OPINION
July 26, 2008
Re "The 411 to avoid boredom," Opinion, July 19 Irving Biederman states that human beings seek information to get the accompanying hit of brain opioids and therefore are obsessed with staying connected. I draw a different conclusion. Scientists have noted similar brain opioid levels in advanced meditators, who make a practice of not processing any information during meditation. A feeling of completion can be gained from integrating and then letting go of a new experience -- and this completion seems to be what actually generates the opioid reaction.
NEWS
July 11, 2012 | By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots Blog
In the record book of unintended consequences, this one's sure to be a groan-worthy entry: A frightening rise in addiction to the drug OxyContin prompts a reformulation that makes the prescription pain medication harder to abuse. So addicts switch to heroin instead. Clearly, not the hoped-for effect. But according to a letter published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, it's a switch that appears to be happening across the country -- especially in rural and suburban communities, where OxyContin abuse and addiction had gained a firm foothold.
NEWS
April 6, 2011 | By Marissa Cevallos, HealthKey
Patients on higher doses of opioid painkillers are more likely to accidentally overdose than those prescribed lower doses, a new study finds. Those who were prescribed more than 100 milligrams of painkillers a day overdosed more than people limited to 1 to 20 milligrams, researchers at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Ann Arbor, Mich., found. The trend stayed true whether the patient had acute pain, chronic pain, a substance abuse problem or cancer. White, middle-age men were statistically more likely to overdose.
NEWS
March 2, 2011 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times
Consuming opioid pain relievers such as codeine, oxycodone or hydrocodone just before pregnancy or early in pregnancy increases the risk of certain birth defects, especially congenital heart defects, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Wednesday. The warning extends to such prescription painkillers as Vicodin, OxyContin and Tylenol-3, as well as a variety of generic versions of the drugs. Although there is an increased risk of some major types of birth defects from exposure to the drugs, "the absolute risk for any individual woman is relatively modest," said epidemiologist Cheryl S. Broussard of the CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, who led a study of the drugs that will be published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology . The findings come from the ongoing CDC-sponsored National Birth Defects Prevention Study , the largest study of birth defects ever performed in the United States, covering pregnant women in 10 states, including California.
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