Tag Archives: opioid

Written opioid prescriptions drop 10 percent in Wisconsin

A system to track prescription painkillers in Wisconsin to prevent abuse shows a nearly 10 percent drop in the number of opioid prescriptions written and filled compared to this time last year.

Wisconsin’s Controlled Substance Board recently published its first quarterly report on the prescription drug monitoring database, which was established in 2013, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.

The report does not say what percentage of doctors, dentists or pharmacists check the database, but officials said its use has steadily increased. Doctors will be required to check it next year.

The Wisconsin Medical Society’s chief medical officer, Donn Dexter, said the organization is working to educate physicians on the database and get them ready for the mandates.

A year after the database started in 2014 only 30 percent of pharmacists used the database and 8 percent of doctors. Dexter said with the new database implemented in January that number is sure to go up.

“The reason it wasn’t used is I think our doctors are already very busy,” Dexter said.

He said it is challenging to implement because it’s difficult to use.

The purpose of the database is to crackdown on patients getting various prescriptions from doctors and filling the same prescription with multiple pharmacists.

“One thing that the Medical Society is working hard on is that the pendulum doesn’t swing too far; so that patients that need pain control still get pain control,” said Dexter.

Law enforcement also uses the database most commonly for stolen prescriptions.

What’s Fentanyl? The facts about the synthetic opioid

Prince died of an overdose of the powerful opioid fentanyl, according to autopsy results released in June.

Among the questions investigators were reviewing was whether Prince had a prescription for painkillers before his death.

A person close to the investigation of Prince’s death told The Associated Press that pills found in Prince’s home marked as acetaminophen-hydrocodone actually contained fentanyl, suggesting they were counterfeit pills obtained illegally.

Prescription opioid overdoses reached nearly 19,000 in 2014, the highest number on record.

Total opioid overdoses surpassed 29,000 that year when combined with heroin, which some abusers switch to after becoming hooked on painkillers.

Some information on fentanyl:

 

WHAT IS FENTANYL?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, 50 times more potent than heroin, that’s responsible for a recent surge in overdose deaths in some parts of the country. It also has legitimate medical uses.

Doctors prescribe fentanyl for cancer patients with tolerance to other narcotics. It comes in skin patches, lozenges, nasal spray and tablets.

Because of the risk of abuse, overdose and addiction, the Food and Drug Administration imposes tight restrictions on fentanyl; it is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance.

Some pharmaceutical fentanyl is illegally diverted to the black market. But most fentanyl used illicitly is manufactured in clandestine labs.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has tied fentanyl seizures to Mexican drug-trafficking groups.

On the street, fentanyl is sold alone as powder, added to heroin or made into counterfeit OxyContin pills. Users don’t always know when they’re taking fentanyl, increasing the risk of fatal overdose.

The DEA issued a nationwide alert about fentanyl overdose in March 2015. More than 700 fentanyl-related overdose deaths were reported to the DEA in late 2013 and 2014.

Since many coroners and state crime labs don’t routinely test for fentanyl, the actual number of overdoses is probably much higher.

WHAT IS A LETHAL DOSE?

It’s tricky with opioids like fentanyl.

Anyone who takes prescription opioid painkillers for a long time builds up a tolerance to the drugs. A dose that could kill one person might provide medicinal pain relief to another.

Experts in medical toxicology say it’s important to know how much opioid medication a person has been using before a death to know how to interpret post-mortem blood levels. Pill bottles and medical history may become crucial evidence.

DOES PAIN TREATMENT LEAD TO ADDICTION?

Prince had a reputation for clean living, and some friends said they never saw any sign of drug use. But longtime friend and collaborator Sheila E. has told the AP that Prince had physical issues from performing, citing hip and knee problems that she said came from years of jumping off risers and stage speakers in heels.

Becoming tolerant to opioid painkillers may lead some patients to seek stronger drugs from their doctors.

Some users — whether they start as recreational users or legitimate pain patients — become addicted, experiencing an inability to control how much they take, so they use much more than is prescribed or seek out drugs on the black market.

With good management, however, opioids can offer relief to people with only a small risk of addiction, according to a 2010 review of the available studies.