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Prescription Drugs

January 19, 2006 | Michael Hiltzik
One recent afternoon in Los Alamitos, I watched Marcy Zwelling-Aamot, M.D., pick her way through a government website designed to help elderly patients select the right Medicare drug plan, based on their prescription needs and hometown. The website, created for the launch of Medicare's new prescription drug benefit, identified 48 individual plans available for Southern California residents.
April 16, 2014 | By Karen Kaplan
Free samples of prescription drugs may seem like a great deal for patients. But even when doctors think they're doing patients a favor by handing out the freebies, the real beneficiaries are the drug manufacturers, according to new research in the journal JAMA Dermatology. Medical groups have grown increasingly wary about free drug samples, and they've already been banned by Kaiser Permanente, many academic medical centers, the Veterans Health Administration, the U.S. military and plenty of private medical clinics.
The British government on Wednesday banned the drug Halcion, the world's most widely prescribed sleeping pill. Halcion, and other medicines containing triazolam, have been associated with psychological side effects, particularly memory loss and depression, an announcement from the Department of Health said.
April 3, 2014 | By Melissa Healy and Lisa Girion
Federal officials said Thursday they hoped a new "rescue pen" would help reduce the death toll from overdoses involving prescription painkillers. The Food and Drug Administration approved the sale, by prescription, of the prefilled auto-injector of the drug naloxone that caregivers or family members can use to reverse the effects of prescription painkillers, such as OxyContin and Vicodin, and heroin. Available until now only by syringe, naloxone has been a workhorse drug in emergency departments battling the relentless rise in painkiller overdoses over the last decade.
August 8, 2004 | Kathleen Doheny, Healthy Traveler
For many travelers crossing the border to Mexico, the lower prices of prescription drugs are just too tempting to resist, despite the recent imprisonment of U.S. citizens who bought drugs in Mexico and last month's warning from the Food and Drug Administration about counterfeit drugs in Mexico. Raymond Lindell, a 66-year-old Phoenix retiree, was arrested in May on charges of buying 270 Valium pills without a Mexican prescription at a Mexican pharmacy in Nogales. He was released in mid-July, and charges were dismissed.
May 17, 1999
Re "FDA Moves to Reduce Accidental Drug Deaths," May 10: Perhaps the fact that "more than 100,000 Americans are inadvertently killed every year by prescription drugs" needs to be on billboards rather than pharmaceutical company ads. Different segments of the media (as well as some physicians) need to look at their role in this: New medications are often presented as gifts directly from heaven. Nevermind that the benefits of most new drugs are often overblown and potential problems may arise that are not anticipated.
March 31, 2013 | By Bryce Alderton, Times Community News, This post has been corrected, as noted below.
Irvine police arrested a man for allegedly selling prescription drugs Friday, concluding a three-month investigation. Detectives arrested Anaheim resident Anthony Risberg, 37, for sales and transportation of a controlled substance and weapons violations, police said. Police said detectives witnessed Risberg selling drugs and then arrested him. His bail was set at $25,000. After the arrest, detectives searched Risberg's vehicle and found about 150  oxycodone pills, two loaded handguns and two magazines for a weapon not in the vehicle.
June 27, 2009 | Harriet Ryan and Kimi Yoshino
With initial autopsy results inconclusive, the investigation into Michael Jackson's death focused Friday on whether the pop icon, who had struggled with painkiller addiction in the past, overdosed on prescription drugs. "We know he was taking some prescription medication," Craig Harvey, a spokesman for the L.A. County coroner's office, said at a news conference announcing the completion of the autopsy.
April 28, 2011 | By Marissa Cevallos, HealthKey
Old prescription drugs in the medicine cabinet are fair game for spring cleaning — in fact, law-enforcement officials want to do it for you. Police departments across the country are hosting National Take Back Day on Saturday for people to drop off their unused, expired or otherwise unwanted prescription drugs. Find a collection site near you by checking this website hosted by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Last year, the first National Take Back Day , some 3,000 sites gathered 121 tons of pills.  The second year of the national drug collection comes as the federal government launches a new initiative against what it calls the “growing epidemic” of prescription drug abuse, especially of opioid painkillers.   Last week, the government called for tighter monitoring of abusers who “doctor shop” for prescription painkillers and of “pill mills” — shady pain clinics — that willingly dispense the medication.
July 22, 2013 | By Jeff Gottlieb
Katherine Jackson testified Monday that her pop star son denied he was using prescription drugs when she asked him about rumors she had heard. Testifying for the second day in her family's wrongful-death suit against entertainment giant AEG Live, the family matriarch said the conversation occurred as she was getting ready to leave her son's house in Las Vegas, where Michael Jackson lived from 2006 to 2008. She said she told Michael that she had heard he was using prescription drugs and that she didn't want him to end up "like all the others.
March 30, 2014 | By Lisa Zamosky
Monday is the last day to begin the process of signing up for insurance under the Covered California statewide health exchange. But even for many of those already enrolled, the challenges are just beginning. Consider, for instance, the work to be done in figuring out your new health plan's coverage for prescription drugs. For people who take medications on an ongoing basis, it's especially important to closely evaluate details of a health plan's drug coverage. For Tina Petrakis, selecting a new health plan through Covered California meant paying close attention to the medications each policy covered.
March 10, 2014 | David Lazarus
CVS Caremark Corp. could face as much as $29 million in fines for allegedly losing track of prescription painkillers at four of its California stores, from which authorities said thousands of pills may have been sold on the black market. Officials at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the California Board of Pharmacy told me Monday that more than 37,000 pills were apparently taken from CVS stores in Modesto, Fairfield, Dixon and Turlock. Meanwhile, CVS pharmacists in Southern California said they've been instructed by the drugstore chain to get their paperwork in order so that no other prescription meds are found to be missing.
March 4, 2014 | By Ari Bloomekatz
Join Times staff writer Lisa Girion for an online chat at 12:30 p.m. on how doctors are fueling the nation's prescription drug epidemic. A new government study found that doctors now represent the primary source of narcotic painkillers for chronic abusers. It challenges the belief held by many, and that has long guided policymakers, that abusers have fueled the epidemic by getting their drugs without prescriptions. The study was published Monday by the Journal of the American Medical Assn.
March 3, 2014 | By Lisa Girion and Scott Glover
Doctors are fueling the epidemic of prescription drug addiction and overdose and represent the single largest supplier of these drugs to chronic abusers, according to a government study published Monday. The finding challenges the conventional wisdom that the epidemic is caused primarily by abusers getting their drugs without prescriptions, typically from friends and family. Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an interview that the study shows the need to focus more on doctors who are “problem prescribers.” The study, published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Assn., echoes a 2012 Los Angeles Times investigation that showed drugs prescribed by doctors caused or contributed to nearly half of the prescription overdose deaths in Southern California in recent years.
March 3, 2014 | Lisa Girion and Scott Glover
Doctors are fueling the nation's prescription drug epidemic and represent the primary source of narcotic painkillers for chronic abusers, according to a new government study. The finding challenges a widely held belief that has long guided policymakers: That the epidemic is caused largely by abusers getting their drugs without prescriptions, typically from friends and family. Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which conducted the study, said the research showed the need for greater focus on doctors who are "problem prescribers.
February 27, 2014 | David Lazarus
The Generic Pharmaceutical Assn. says a proposed federal regulation that would allow makers of generic drugs to inform people about all known health risks would create "dangerous confusion" and have "harmful consequences for patients. " And why would that be? For the answer, the industry group pointed me toward a recent report from Matrix Global Advisors, an independent consulting firm. The report says the rule change would needlessly complicate the market and add $4 billion a year to already bloated healthcare costs.
February 7, 2008 | Paul Lieberman, Times Staff Writer
NEW YORK -- Heath Ledger died of an accidental "abuse of prescription medications," the New York City medical examiner's office said Wednesday in releasing the results of toxicology tests performed on tissue taken from the actor's body two weeks ago. Some type of overdose had been the expected cause of death since a masseuse found the 28-year-old Australian star's unconscious body in his Soho loft Jan. 22, with sleeping pills near his bed and other prescription drugs around the apartment.
October 3, 2013 | By Ari Bloomekatz
Ventura County authorities have arrested 21 people in connection with alleged sales of prescription drugs via Craigslist.  The arrests, announced this week, took place in recent months and stemmed from illegal sales of drugs like Adderall, OxyContin and Xanax, according to the Ventura County Sheriff's Office. Among those arrested was a man who allegedly sold pain medication prescribed for his cancer-patient father, a woman who authorities said drove from Fontana to Simi Valley with two children in the car for a drug transaction, and a 19-year-old who allegedly sold Suboxone, a narcotic, just filling a prescription for it. About half of those arrested got their prescriptions from an Oxnard physician, 63-year-old Kiansi Boni of Camarillo, who was also arrested, authorities said.
February 26, 2014 | By Robert J. Lopez
A detective gathering used or old prescriptions from a drug drop-off box found a pill bottle filled with gold jewelry, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said Wednesday night. The drop-off boxes are like mailboxes set up in front of Sheriff's Department stations so that people can drop off prescription drugs they no longer need.  "The jewelry was apparently placed in the drop-off bin by mistake" at the Santa Clarita Valley Station, department officials said in a statement.
January 27, 2014 | By Scott Glover
A Burbank pharmacy that dispensed painkillers and other narcotics to five young patients who later died of overdoses had its license revoked Monday after the state pharmacy board found that its employees failed to properly scrutinize prescriptions that contributed to patient deaths. The pharmacy, Jay Scott Drugs on Glenoaks Boulevard, catered to patients of doctors Bernard Bass and Massoud Bamdad, both of whom were later convicted of crimes in connection with their prescribing. Pharmacists are required by law to scrutinize prescriptions, size up customers and refuse to dispense a drug if they suspect a patient does not have a legitimate medical need for it. Many of Bass' patients were in their 20s and traveled more than 40 miles from their homes in Ventura County to see Bass in North Hollywood, and then another five miles to Jay Scott Drugs where they typically paid cash for a combination of prescription drugs favored by addicts.
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