I once saw a New Yorker cartoon, if I remember correctly, of a map of the U.S. in which the east and west coasts were gigantic -- out of all proportion -- in comparison to the middle of the country. I thought of that map after reading about what’s occurring on my coast regarding prescription databases so soon after I posted about what’s happening on the west coast.
Just as California was running out of funding, my state, NJ got funding for 2012. In January the Attorney General announced the creation of a program similar to CURES, thanks to getting a $300,000 federal grant. With that, we become the 38th state to have a program. Joan seems to think that all the states will have a program soon (except maybe CA if it does not get its act together) and it will be powerful tool to curb abuse (until the addicts figure a way around it, she noted).
Prescription pills are the most abused drug among young people after pot, according to the New York Times article. My local NJ website, NJ.com, said more people die from prescription pills “every year than cocaine and heroin combined.”
Check the heartbreaking stories on that site of young people who became addicted, sometimes after one OxyContin. (I gave the link when I introduced the NJ funding.) There are few things as sad as the downward spiral addicts describe. It’s not pleasant to picture someone eating out of a garbage can.
Last week the New York Times had an editorial on what’s going on in NY regarding a prescription pill database. Now, pharmacists must “report the dispensing of controlled substances at least once every 45 days,” and there is “no effective mechanism for the state, doctors, or pharmacists to track prescriptions or verify their ability.” But Eric Schneiderman, NY’s attorney general, has suggested a real-time database, and the powers that be are working on legislation that would require doctors to use it to review a patient’s prescription history before they prescribe, and also report handing out new prescriptions. Pharmacists would have to review the history as well and confirm that the prescribing doctor was legitimate.
Schneiderman noted that oxycodone and hydrocodone prescriptions rose 82 and 17 percent, respectively, in NY from 2007 to 2010. Oxycodone is the active ingredient in OxyContin, and and hydrocodone is the main ingredient in Vicodin.
I’m writing this on National Take Back Prescription Day, which is ironic, and I have to hand it to my town. Yesterday I got an automated call that went to all residents to notify us where and when to drop off any leftover or unused prescription pills. I hope this occurred in other towns around the country as well.