Monthly Archives: April 2014

New Mexico Pharmacists First Approved to Prescribe Overdose Drug

As we already know, there is no one way to fight the heroin epidemic.  We must use multiple tools to prevent the senseless deaths caused by heroin and other opioid overdose.  A new tool is offered by the state of New Mexico.  They already are forward thinking by allowing pharmacists to prescribe a limited selection of prescription drugs, but now they have added probably the most immediate life saving drug to the pharmacists formulary.
In this day and age of overworked doctors, an alternative to seeing a capable health care professional has been demanded.  We have had advance practice nurses (APN) and nurse practitioners (NP) who have had the ability to prescribe and relieve some of the burden of over worked MD’s for some time now.  Now, in some states that think outside the box (sorry, Ohio, not you), we are allowing pharmacists to step up and help the cause.

As a pharmacist, drug counselor. attorney and recovering opioid addict, I know only too well, the plight of addicts who need any avenue of assistance that can help them survive this disease.  We need more treatment beds, better sentencing laws with a focus on drug courts (70% of all crimes are related to substance abuse), medical assisted treatment (Suboxone, methadone, Vivitrol etc), drug education and prevention and of course, the last ditch effort: naloxone in a nasal applicator or IM injection to prevent an overdose.

New Mexico, I applaud you!  Naloxone should be on every wall next to a AED defibrillator.  It saves lives and can’t hurt anyone who comes in contact with it, as it has no side effects or adverse consequences.  After all, we have fire extinguishers everywhere, but we rarely use them.  Look at naloxone as the fire extinguisher that that can save your loved ones life.

Feds approve powdered alcohol; ‘Palcohol’ available later this year

This is a strange public outing for a strange new addictive product – one possibly due to the fact that the company didn’t realize the product would be approved, and that it will not be warmly received by the overall public.  The Telegraph, a British news organization, was the first to publish this information.  Since it is a US approved product, it is amazing a UK paper scooped all US papers.

The bottom line is that this new dosage form of alcohol can only result in negative consequences.  If you need alcohol available at all times, maybe you have a problem with alcohol.  People will start sneaking the powder into every venue and location that prohibits alcohol – because they can.  It will result in one more problem for enforcement of alcohol use policies, whether law enforcement derived, school policy or otherwise.

The fact that it is new, is alone, enough to get curious children and most people who have problems with alcohol to use it.  Even those who have been sober for any period of time, may decide to give it a try and start their addiction up mall over again.  Addicts like to get away with whatever they can.  This new powder form of alcohol makes that possible.

This can only end badly.  Even though I am a busy DUI, DWI, OVI attorney here in Cleveland, Ohio, I disagree with the approval of this new drug.  We need individual states to stand up against the feds, ala Governor Patrick Duval in Massachusetts, who wants to prohibit the highly addictive and potentially deadly form of hydrocodone, Zohydro, from being prescribed in his state.  Start talking to your legislators now.

“Nobody is jumping for joy when they have to go into substance abuse treatment”

It’s funny, and sad, when I think about people who don’t understand the underlying involuntary nature of addiction.  They think that addicts have full control over all of their actions and decisions.  Believe me, no one would choose to engage in behavior that results in breaking loved ones hearts, stealing from them, getting violently ill from being without the drug of choice, going to prison… and the list goes on.  It is the worst feeling in the world, but we just can’t stop once we get started.

Unfortunately, the government is also misunderstanding the needs of addicts.  When Ronald Reagan made the decision to close long term mental health facilities, allegedly based on the abuse of clients, he also had a deleterious effect on addiction treatment.  Since addiction is a mental health disease, it meant that any facility that billed the government for services (i.e., Medicaid), they were limited to 16 treatment beds.  The result being, we have a shortage of inpatient beds for indigent addicts.

This shortage results in waiting lists to get help.  What do addicts do if the have to wait?  They usually continue to treat their disorder by using more of the substance that prevents them from getting sick, their drug of choice.  We need to contact our legislators and demand they pass state laws getting around this federal restriction.  The Reagan philosophy of “Just Say No” doesn’t work.  This is a mental health disorder that has risen to a medical emergency with the current opioid/heroin epidemic.

No, we addicts don’t jump for joy at going into treatment, but if you want people you care about, get the opportunity to recover, do your part today!

Prescription drugs not as safe as you think…

So we Americans have a love affair with prescription (and non-prescription – over the counter- “OTC” drugs). We always want a quick fix and reach for a pill to solve our ills. The bad news is that these supposedly “pure” substances, may not be as pure as we thought.

CNN recently reported that 40% of our drugs are made in India, and the sanitary conditions in those India pharmaceutical plants is not that good. The conditions were bad enough that the FDA had to pass an act that requires drug makers to pay extra fees to off set the FDA inspection of their plants. This is only fair, as they are making a tidy profit from drug sales. Pharmaceutical sales is consistently one of the top money makers in the last 30 years.

It’s actually interesting that when seniors started to go to Canada to buy their expensive maintenance meds a decade ago, the US drug companies were saying they better watch out for contaminated drugs. As it turns out, Canadian drug manufacturing plants are some of the cleanest and safest in the world.

All the time, US drug companies were opening up plants in India and trying to keep it quiet. Let’s face it, we really can’t trust the drug makers or the FDA. We are in a situation where we have to take what we get because of drug import laws and other government organized big pharma protectionism. Maybe we should take control of our own lives and begin eating healthy, exercising, using alternative therapies etc, instead of blindly reaching for a drug. It feels weird saying that being a pharmacist, but if I have seen (and shared) the light, maybe others will follow.

FDA approves new hand-held auto-injector to reverse opioid overdose

Finally!  The FDA makes a life saving move.  They have approved an injectable form of naloxone called Evzio.  It will come in an auto injector  similar to the EpiPen (for those with allergies – nut allergies, bee stings etc).  It is essentially a self contained dose of the drug built into a syringe.  Once it is pressed against the skin, it will deliver a dose IM (intramuscularly).

The drug naloxone reverses an opioid overdose (e.g., heroin, oxycontin).  It has been available in the form of a nasal injector for some time now.  Furthermore, it was recently approved by the Ohio legislature to be given not only to addicts themselves, but to friends and family members of the addict.  Obviously, if the addict has overdosed, he/she can’t use it themselves, so a bystander must do the life saving act.

This is an important breakthrough as the nasal injector is not the ideal delivery system.  An IM injection will act quicker, in most cases, and get the overdosed person breathing again.  This decision comes on the heels of a recent bone headed move by the FDA to approve a drug called Zohydro.  This drug is a pure form of hydrocodone, without acetaminophen, ala Vicodin, and will be prone to abuse as there is no abuse deterrent formulation available.

Hopefully we can get the FDA to rescind its approval of Zohydro.  The State of Massachusetts has already banned the use of Zohydro in their state.  Way to go MA!  Today’s decision to approve another form of a drug that helps addicts rather than harming them, is an example of the FDA doing what they are commissioned to do – SAVE LIVES!