Drug Safety

Category archives for Drug Safety

By now, the enormity of America’s opioid abuse and overdose epidemic is common knowledge. With 78 Americans dying every day from an opioid overdose and with enough painkillers prescribed to give just about every U.S. adult their own bottle of pills, there’s hardly a community that’s gone untouched by the deadly problem. And a new study reminds us that we’ll be dealing with the aftermath far into the future.

In 2014, more than 28,000 people in the U.S. died from an opioid overdose. That same year, more Americans died from drug overdoses than during any other year on record, with the escalating numbers fueled by opioid abuse. Solutions to the problem are as complex as the epidemic itself, however a recent study pointed to one tool that can make a significant difference: prescription drug monitoring programs.

These days, there’s a lot of attention on finding new and creative ways to turn around the nation’s opioid abuse and overdose problem. And it’s attention that’s very much needed because the problem is only getting worse.

Every day in the U.S., more than 40 people die after overdosing on prescription painkillers. Deaths from a more notorious form of opiates — heroin — increased five-fold between 2001 and 2013. Addressing this problem — one that’s often described as a public health crisis — requires action on many fronts, from preventing abuse in the first place to getting those addicted into treatment. But when it comes to overdoses, there’s one answer we know works: naloxone.

Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration published a final rule that updates requirements for what prescription-drug information must disclose about potential effects for pregnant and breastfeeding women and their babies. And last month, the agency released Drug Trials Snapshots, which is part of a pilot project to help consumers learn more about the clinical trials upon which new drugs’ approvals are based.

While pharmaceutical companies are making billions in painkiller profits, it’s the public sector that ends up bearing the burden and cost of the fallout that accompanies skyrocketing sales of highly addictive prescription opioids. After the jump is a Pump Handle Q&A with two public health officials at the forefront of the opioid abuse epidemic within America’s big cities.

That people who work nights have their sleep cycles thrown out of balance has serious consequences but urging a potentially habit-forming, psychoactive drug on an economically stressed, overworked workforce, would seem to be a symptom, at the minimum, of a pharmaceutical industry gone awry. Shouldn’t we instead be figuring out how to reduce the occupational health risks of work schedules?

The San Jose Mercury News has begun publishing a multi-part series on the alarming use of psychotropic medications among youth in California’s foster-care system. Among the findings: 60% of foster children have been prescribed an antipsychotic, and 12% of those who received a psychotropic drug were prescribed two to four psychotropic medications at a time.

Some men think it’s okay to rape if they do it by getting their victims too drunk to offer much resistance. Can their peers change such behavior by speaking up?

It looks like a simple piece of paper and it’s nearly as cheap, ideally costing just pennies. But despite its small size, it’s poised to make an enormous impact and potentially save thousands of lives.