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Opioids

Prenatal Opioid Exposure Can Harm Children and Teens

Most infants born with Prenatal Opioid Exposure (POE) look and seem completely unaffected – even those that go through withdrawal. A new meta-analysis shows that brain development and motor skills in children exposed to opioids in pregnancy lag behind other children significantly.

Can ‘Smart’ Pill Bottles Keep Drugs Safe from Abuse?

Prescription drug abuse is a massive issue in our country, with an estimated 18 million people misusing these medications, according to 2017 research from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Could a so-called “smart” pill bottle make a dent in that harrowing statistic? Scientists at King Abdullah University of Science…

Are Opioids Necessary After a C-Section?

Women who have a cesarean delivery may experience less pain by taking a non-opioid analgesic rather than an opioid medication. Researchers enrolled about 200 women who were going to have a c-section. The women were randomized to receive either opioids or a combination of Advil (ibuprofen) every six hours and…

More Fatal Car Crashes Related to Rx Opioid Use

An increasing number of fatal car crashes in the US are the result of one of the drivers being on a prescription opioid. Researchers examined data from more than 18,000 crashes between 1993 and 2016. Drivers who tested positive for prescription opioids in their bloodstream were more than twice as…

Many Parents Unaware of Alternatives to Opioids for Pain

A new survey finds that parents are conflicted about opioid use in children. While more than half are concerned that their child could be at risk for opioid addiction, about two-thirds believe that the strong painkillers are more effective in controlling pain than over-the-counter medications or other therapies. The survey,…

No Increased Adverse Event Risk With Opioid, Alcohol Abuse Drug

Healthcare professionals should feel confident in continuing to prescribe naltrexone for opioid and alcohol addiction as the drug doesn’t cause more adverse events compared to a placebo. Researchers examined 89 randomized, controlled trials that enrolled nearly 11,200 people and involved oral naltrexone; studies involving opioid or ex-opioid users were excluded….

Physical Therapy Can Reduce Long-Term Opioid Use

Some patients with musculoskeletal pain – pain impacting the bones, ligaments, muscles and tendons – who start physical therapy soon after their diagnosis are less likely to use opioids over the long term. Researchers conducted an observational study by examining insurance claims of about 89,000 adults with musculoskeletal pain involving…

Mac Miller Overdose Shows Fentanyl’s Deadly Power

By Dave RosenthalSide Effects Public Media Popular rapper Mac Miller is the latest musician to die after ingesting fentanyl — a grim tribute to the drug’s power. A coroner in Los Angeles says Miller had fentanyl, cocaine and ethanol in his system when he overdosed in September. Here’s what you…

Patients Receive Many More Opioids Than They Need After Surgery

Patients who receive an opioid medication after surgery only use a small fraction of what they are prescribed, a finding that researchers say can make the drugs available for diversion and abuse. Researchers examined about 2,400 patients who underwent one of 12 surgical procedures. On average, a patient used only…

Opioids Linked to Higher Risk of Irregular Heartbeat

Taking opioid medications may increase your risk of developing an irregular heartbeat. Researchers examined the medical records of more than 857,000 military veterans. The average age of the veterans included in the study was 38 years old. Of those diagnosed with atrial fibrillation – an irregular heartbeat that can lead…

FDA Approves Controversial New Opioid

The FDA has approved a pill version of a powerful opioid previously only available intravenously, and critics say the decision will allow some people to abuse the drug. Dsuvia, a tablet that is placed under the tongue, contains the synthetic opioid sufentanil, which is considered five to 10 times more…

Opioid-Related Complications Sending More Seniors to Hospital

Despite efforts to reduce the use of prescription opioids, a significant number of seniors continue to take them, and an increasing number of seniors are landing in the hospital because of opioid-related complications. Between 2010 and 2015, the number of emergency room (ER) visits among seniors related to taking opioids…

Treating Opioid Addiction With Meds: A Closer Look

On July 12, 2016, my son died of a heroin overdose, alone in his apartment bathroom in Los Angeles. Had he not been living alone and without Narcan (naloxone), an opioid-reversing drug, he might be alive today. I witnessed the power of naloxone in 2008 when I had to call…

The Lost Voice in the Opioid Epidemic Debate

Patients who need Rx opioids for chronic pain say it has been getting harder to obtain them. How do you fight opioid abuse without harming patients? When it comes to the debate over what to do about the nation’s prescription opioid epidemic, there is a group of people whose voice…

Sales of Black Market Opioid Prescription Drugs Soar

Black market sales of opioid prescription drugs online have significantly increased since the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) restricted the sales of one opioid more tightly in 2014. More specifically, that year the DEA reclassified opioids containing hydrocodone from a Schedule III to a Schedule II drug. This new classification stopped…

FDA Cracks Down on Online Sellers of Rx Opioids

The FDA is going after 9 companies operating 53 websites for allegedly hawking online unapproved and misbranded versions of opioid medications, such as oxycodone and tramadol. The FDA has issued warning letters — which order the companies to stop selling the products immediately — to the 9 firms. The agency…

Quick Hits: New Opioid Withdrawal Treatment, Prices in Drug Commercials & More

The FDA has approved the first non-opioid drug, Lucemyra (lofexidine hydrochloride), to curb opioid withdrawal symptoms in adults. The oral drug is only approved for treatment of up to 14 days, and it may not completely eliminate withdrawal symptoms. The pill may help ease withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, sleep…

Pharma Payments Drive Doc Opioid-Prescribing Patterns

Physicians may be more likely to prescribe opioids if they receive payments from the pharmaceutical industry, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine. Although drug companies commonly pay physicians for a variety of marketing services, such as speaking and consulting fees, the researchers wanted to evaluate whether these payments…

Quick Hits: Synthetic Opioid Deaths Rise and Party Drug Shows Promise for PTSD

Synthetic opioids, specifically illicit fentanyl, caused more overdose deaths in the US alone than prescription opioids in 2016, according to a new analysis published in JAMA Psychiatry. Synthetic opioids have surpassed prescription opioids and were linked to 19,413 deaths in 2016, compared to 17,087 deaths attributed to prescription painkillers. In…

FDA Encouraging Industry to Make More Opioid Abuse Therapies

The FDA is working toward making therapies for opioid use disorder more readily accessible by advising pharmaceutical companies to limit the number of times they conduct clinical trials on particular proposed treatments. The FDA published a draft guidance indicating that certain “depot buprenorphine products” may not require additional efficacy and…

Gabapentin’s Secret: The Drug Opioid Abusers Crave

For many people who take gabapentin – a drug prescribed to treat seizures and pain caused by shingles – side effects such as sedation can be a challenge, as those who take it off-label for neuropathic pain told MedShadow in the past. But an increasing number of opioid abusers crave…

Trump Opioid Plan Involves Vaccine, Death Penalty

The Trump Administration has unveiled a new opioid plan that involves developing a vaccine to combat opioid addiction. It also includes the death penaltyfor high-volume opioid drug pushers. Researchers from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and the National Institute on Drug Abuse have developed an experimental heroin vaccine…

Opioids No Better At Relieving Back, Hip Pain Than Non-Opioids

Opioid pain relievers may not alleviate certain forms of chronic pain any better than non-opioid medications. Researchers set out to assess whether opioid therapy offered more pain relief for patients with moderate to severe chronic back pain or hip or knee osteoarthritis pain compared to non-opioid drugs over 1 year….

Quick Hits: Limiting Opioid Rxs, Accutane Defense & More

A bipartisan group of senators has introduced a bill limiting opioid prescriptions for acute pain to 3 days. Eight senators, led by Rob Portman (R-OH), have proposed the new federal law in order to curb opioid addiction, which has led to dependence on heroin and the deadly synthetic drug fentanyl….

DOJ Going After Drug Makers in Opioid Epidemic Fight

The Department of Justice (DOJ) will form a task force to go after drug companies that have contributed to the opioid crisis by overselling the prescription painkillers. In a press conference Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions discussed how the new Prescription Interdiction & Litigation Task Force plans to combat the…

The Price of Fighting Opioid Addiction With Drugs

The FDA is encouraging drugmakers to develop longer-acting medications to treat opioid addiction. But will the potentially high price tag curb access? Although it might sound counterintuitive, one of the best ways for a person to fight an addiction to opioid drugs is through taking other medications, such as methadone,…

Opioids No Better for Leg & Arm Pain Than Ibuprofen

If you have a lot of pain in your leg or arm, you might be expecting (and hoping!) that your doctor will give you a powerful pain reliever like codeine or oxycodone. That would likely be a mistake. A new study published today in JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association)…

Groups Ask FDA to Pull Ultra-High-Dose Opioids From Market, Citing Risks

Several medical and health organizations are calling on the FDA to remove ultra-high-dosage (UHD) opioid painkillers from the market since the risks of the potent meds, such as abuse and overdose, outweigh their benefits. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) has recommended that patients consume no more than 90…

FDA Wants Doctors to Rethink Opioid Cough Suppressants for Children

Concern expressed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians about the use of cough suppressants, and in particular opioid cough suppressants, in children has lead FDA chief Scott Gottlieb to make that the subject of an upcoming meeting of the Pediatric Advisory Committee. Gottlieb…

Overprescribing Opioids for Cancer Survivors

In what seems to be another instance of opioid overprescription, researchers have found that cancer survivors — especially those who are young and rural — are given opioid painkillers over an extended period of time after their diagnosis compared to those never diagnosed with cancer. Researchers from the University of…

A New Opioid Deterrent Falls Short

A proposed opioid will stain the mouths of addicts who try to abuse it. But will — or should — the FDA OK it? An inside look. I just came back from Washington, having sat on the FDA advisory panel to review the research on IPC Oxy, a new drug…

Panel Urges FDA to Change How It Evaluates Opioids

When approving opioids, the FDA should go beyond examining the risks and benefits of the drug on the individual and also look at how such an approval would impact society at large and other members of a patient’s family, according to a new report. The report, “Pain Management and the…

FDA Chief Wants Doctor Education on Opioid Prescribing

In its latest move to curb the prescription opioid abuse epidemic, the FDA wants drugmakers to provide educational programs about managing pain and responsible ways of using opioids to doctors and other healthcare professionals. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, speaking Monday at the start of a 2-day meeting on the impact…

Half of Opioid Prescriptions Given To Those With Mental Illness

Slightly more than half of all of the opioid prescriptions written each year are given to people with mood disorders, depression and anxiety, a troubling statistic since those with mental illness face a higher risk of overdose and abuse. About 115 million opioids prescriptions are given each year, and 51.4%…

The Fallacy of Abuse-Deterrent Opioids

Many Rx opioids claim to be abuse deterrent, but the reality is they do little to curb this. A better approach is to curb prescribing of the painkillers. The FDA’s announcement last week that it wants Opana ER (oxymorphone), a powerful prescription opioid, pulled from the market has put painkiller…

A First: FDA Calls for Opioid’s Removal from Market

For the first time, the FDA is asking for the removal from the market of a prescription opioid medication over abuse concerns. The active ingredient in the drug, Opana ER (extended release), is oxymorphone, which is closely related to morphine. The drug was reformulated in 2012 in an attempt to…

Hospitalized Seniors on Opioids More Likely to Experience Other Health Problems

Seniors that received opioids while hospitalized for nonsurgical conditions for a long period were much more likely to experience other health issues compared to others that didn’t receive the powerful painkillers. These negative outcomes included being twice as likely to be restrained; being unable to eat; having bladder catheters; and…

Episode 19: On the Inside When the FDA Assesses an Opioid Delivery Method

In this episode, MedShadow founder Su Robotti discusses her first experience as an appointee to the FDA Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee. The Committee discussed the delivery system of a strong opioid called Opana. Su Robotti: Hello my name is Suzanne Robotti and I’m the founder of MedShadow….

Weighing Risks and Benefits on an FDA Advisory Committee

More than 400 pages of medical research, 11 hours of testimony and a blizzard in March. Welcome to my first FDA Advisory hearing! I am the newly appointed consumer representative on the Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee for the FDA. On March 13 and 14, our committee was…

Episode 14: The Top Stories of 2016

This week, Su and Jonathan look back on the biggest stories of 2016, including the exposive growth of opioid addiciton and the pros and cons of the 21st Century Cures Act. And a little shout-out to our favorite health-related website (ahem). Su Robotti: Hi, I’m Su Robotti, and I’m the…

Opioids No Better Than OTC Analgesics for Serious Pain After Accident

Taking a prescription opioid or a common over-the-counter analgesic are equally effective at controlling pain after a serious accident, though those on opioids are likely to remain on those drugs for a longer period of time. Researchers examined the prescribing patterns and pain experience over 6 weeks by 948 people…

The Importance of Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

The next National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is Oct. 19. Find out why it is important to get rid of unused drugs and how to dispose of them properly. If we look into our medicine cabinets or nightstands, most of us are likely to find expired or unused drugs in…

Quick Hits: Opioid/Benzodiazepine Warning, DEA Set to Ban Supplement & More

“Black box” warnings – the strongest the FDA can mandate – will be added to the labeling of prescription opioid drugs and benzodiazepines amid growing concern about side effects when the medications are taken together. An FDA review found cases where people taking both drug classes experienced serious side effects,…

Lower Doses and No Refills Can Curb Long-Term Opioid Use

When doctors order an opioid for a patient for the first time, they should prescribe a short-acting one without fills to reduce the chances of long-term use or addiction. That’s the conclusion of a new study out of Oregon that examined prescription data from more than 500,000 patients in the…

State Rx Monitoring Programs Curb Opioid Overdose Deaths

49 states (Missouri is the exception) have drug monitoring programs in an effort to curb overdose deaths from prescription opioids, and the efforts appear to be working well. These programs are designed to track patients at high-risk for abuse and addiction, as well as keep tabs on doctors who give…

Opioids Often Given in Excess to Patients

A majority of people prescribed opioid medications for pain said that they were given more than they needed, according to a recent survey, making it easier for some people to abuse the drugs or share them with others. Just as disturbing, more than 20% of the 1,055 patients surveyed by…

Opioids

Opioids are used medically to relieve pain, but this medication is commonly misused and abused. Learn the facts about prescription opioids. Common Names Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percoset), hydrocodone (Vicodin), fentanyl (Actiq, Duragesic), morphine (Kadian, Avinza), codeine. Side Effects and What to Do About Them Constipation and Nausea: The two most common…

Prince’s Fentanyl Overdose & Public Misconceptions About Opioids

MedShadow, a nonprofit that informs the public about the side effects, risks and benefits of medicine offers the following statement on Prince’s Fentanyl Overdose and public misconceptions about opioids.  “There’s a straight line between the overprescribing of opioids, the public’s misconceptions about these drugs and the rapidly rising number of accidental deaths from opioid addiction,”…

New Opioid Dependence Implant Gets Under Your Skin

The FDA has approved the first-ever implant to treat opioid dependence, and advocates contend that Probuphine will help many addicts who either have trouble sticking with withdrawal treatment or who abuse the drug contained in it. Probuphine is actually 4 tiny rods the size of matchsticks that are placed under…

Opioid Prescriptions Drop for First Time in 20 Years

Although the US is in the midst of a prescription opioid epidemic, a recent analysis of data reveals that the number of annual prescriptions for the powerful painkillers is showing a sustained decline for the first time in 20 years. In 2013, 2014 and 2015, the number of prescriptions doctors…

Can Opioid Painkiller Training for Doctors Stem Abuse?

Just 2 weeks after Prince apparently died of a painkiller overdose, an FDA advisory panel has voted unanimously to require physicians that prescribe opioid drugs to undergo mandatory training aimed at curbing its misuse. While the training courses were made available four years ago to doctors, it is only voluntarily. And…

Why Opioids Are More Dangerous for Seniors

One of the most fascinating aspects of learning about side effects of drugs has been to discover that many side effects are predictable based on how the a drug works in the body — what is called “method of action.” Opioids, for example, work by slowing pain receptors and increasing dopamine, a…

3 Steps From Pain Management to Heroin

There’s a straight line between the overprescribing of opioid painkillers and the devastating crisis of heroin addiction in the US. It’s been called “the worst public health crisis in decades.” The crisis is an epidemic of heroin addiction in the US. But it started with prescription opioid abuse. There’s a…

Who’s to Blame for Addiction?

A documentary filmmaker uses the death of his brother, a WWE star, as the starting point to look at the hows and whys of opioid addiction. I’m not a big documentary fan, but I was drawn in by the title “Prescription Thugs” (released in theaters January 22, 2016 and now available…

Opioids: The Wrong Answer for Chronic Pain

The majority of people who take opioids for pain have side effects from the drugs. Some side effects ease over time but others don’t. The more serious side effects and risks associated with opioids are exacerbated when the drugs are taken long-term to treat chronic pain. Editor’s note: Steven Findlay…

Should Your Doc Prescribe Opioids?

It’s discouraging to see that doctors continue to prescribe opioids in the face of rising addiction, overdoses and valid alternatives Shockingly, the CDC has proposed guidelines for PCPs (primary care providers) on prescribing opioids — OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin and the like — for chronic pain. What’s the problem with that?…

Increased risk of homicide linked with use of certain painkillers

Researchers in Finland analyzed data on the impact that prescription drug use had on 959 convicted murderers, prior to them committing murder. One such drug, benzodiazepines, used to treat anxietyand insomnia, increased the likelihood by 45% that a person would commit a homicide. The greatest increase was associated with opiate painkillers, which…

Stroke Rounds: Opioids Linked to Afib

Analysis of data from a large observational study which consisted of 24,632 adults suggest that opioid use is associated with an increased prevalence of atrial fibrillation  – 12.5% among users compared with 7.6% among nonusers – according to researchers from the Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC. Via MedPage Today….

Drug withdrawal among babies rising ‘due to prescription of opioids for mothers’

Women receiving opioid pain reliever prescriptions, such as hydrocone, while pregnant are at increased risk of their babies having neonatal abstinence syndrome according to a study from Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Results showed that babies exposed to opioids were more likely to be born preterm, have complicated births, low birth…

Opioid prescription painkillers have hidden, deadly side effects

The risk of death and unintentional injury is particularly high for elderly adults taking opioid painkillers — such as Vicodin and Oxycontin — according to the National Safety Council. Elderly adults taking opioid painkillers are 68% more likely to be hospitalized, 87% more likely to die, have four times as…

Narcotic Painkiller Use Tied to Higher Risk for Depression

High doses of powerful narcotic painkillers, such as Oxycontin and Vicodin, appear to be linked to a higher risk of depression in patients, according to research published in the journal Pain. Although the study couldn’t prove cause-and-effect, people who used higher doses of narcotic painkillers to manage their pain were…

Pain Docs Warn Against Opioids

When the doctors who are charged with managing pain come out with a public policy position against use of opioids (like oxycodone, methodone and hydrocodine) for chronic pain, we should pay attention. The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) released a position statement in December 2014 to tell the world that…

FDA has reviewed possible risks of pain medicine use during pregnancy

The Federal and Drug Administration (FDA) examined studies on the potential risks associated with the following types of pain medicines used during pregnancy: Prescription NSAIDs, Opioids and Acetaminophen. The studies were too limited to make any recommendations, but the FDA urges pregnant women to always discuss all medicines with their…

Using vs. Abusing: The Double-Edged Sword of Opioids

If you’ve ever had a major accident, or a loved one with bone cancer, you know that there’s pain, and then there’s  pain. The kind of pain that no amount of ibuprofen can touch. The kind that almost makes you wish you were dead. For people in this kind of…