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Last Updated
July 18, 2014
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July 18, 2014
Opioid Painkiller Prescribing -- Where You Live Makes a Difference
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes:   Consider these numbers:  

46         Each day, 46 people die from an overdose of prescription painkillers* in the US.
259 M  Health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for painkillers in 2012, enough for
every American adult to have a bottle of pills.
10        10 of highest prescribing states for painkillers are in the South.

Health issues that cause people pain don't vary much from place to place—not enough to explain why,
in 2012, health care providers in the highest-prescribing state wrote almost 3 times as many opioid
painkiller prescriptions per person as those in the lowest prescribing state in the US. Or why
there are twice as many painkiller prescriptions per person in the US as in Canada. Data suggest
that where health care providers practice influences how they prescribe. Higher prescribing of
painkillers is associated with more overdose deaths. More can be done at every level to prevent
overprescribing while ensuring patients' access to safe, effective pain treatment. Changes at the
state level show particular promise.  States can

•	Consider ways to increase use of prescription drug monitoring programs, which are state-run
databases that track prescriptions for painkillers and can help find problems in overprescribing.
Use of these programs is greater when they make data available in real-time, are universal (used by
all prescribers for all controlled substances), and are actively managed (for example, send alerts
to prescribers when problems are identified).

•	Consider policy options (including laws and regulation) relating to pain clinics (facilities that
specialize in pain treatment) to reduce prescribing practices that are risky to patients.

( * "Prescription painkillers" refers to opioid or narcotic pain relievers, including drugs such as
Vicodin (hydrocodone + acetaminophen), OxyContin (oxycodone), Opana (oxymorphone), and methadone.)

July 17, 2014
Manufacturers Against Funding Unused Medicine Take-back Programs
Current programs to dispose of unused medicines in the home are sufficient, argued representatives
of the pharmaceutical industry in appealing a provision put into place by a San Francisco-area
county that would place the burden of recapturing these medicines on the manufacturer.  Counsel for
the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, joined by the Biotechnology Industry
Organization and the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, last week participated in oral arguments
in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in appeal of the district court ruling in favor
of Alameda County's Safe Drug Disposal ordinance, which requires pharmaceutical companies to bear
the full burden of designing, funding and operating a collection program in the county for unused
medicines in the home. 
 
"This proposed approach is impractical, inefficient and reflects an attempt on the part of the
county to directly, significantly and unconstitutionally regulate companies whose connection with
Alameda is nothing more than having introduced federally-approved products into interstate
commerce," the associations stated." We support safe disposal of medications, and today consumers
have several options available to them that are considered safe and effective by both the FDA and
DEA. These methods include various means of convenient in-home disposal, as well as take back days
organized by local and national law enforcement agencies, among others."  Requiring manufacturers
to fund take-back sites is "unfair cost-shifting," the groups argued. "We remain confident in our
legal position, and look forward to continued collaboration with local leadership to address
patient safety and disposal concerns." (Source Drugstore News)

July 16, 2014
Bad Reactions to Psychiatric Drugs Leads to Almost 90,000 ER Visits Annually
In 2011, an estimated 26.8 million US adults used prescription medications for mental illness. 
Almost 90,000 emergency room visits each year in the United States are due to adverse reactions to
psychiatric medications, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The objective of the study -- to estimate the numbers and rates of adverse drug event (ADE)
emergency department (ED) visits involving psychiatric medications among US adults between January
1, 2009, and December 31, 2011

July 16, 2014
Changes in Pill Color, Shape May Disrupt Use
People may stop taking medication after a heart attack if the appearance of their pill changes in
shape or color without exclamation, according to researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in
Boston. The authors noted that the FDA should require the appearance of new generic drugs to match
that of the original brand-name products.  The effects, they wrote, are not just aesthetic but also
"clinically relevant." 

Study Background: Generic prescription drugs made by different manufacturers may vary in color or
shape, and switching among these drug products may interrupt medication use. Objective:  To
determine whether non-persistent use of generic drugs among patients with cardiovascular disease
after myocardial infarction (MI) is associated with inconsistent appearance of their medications. 
Related article: See The Washington Post.

July 14, 2014
New Ad Council Campaign on High Blood Pressure
The American Heart Association (AHA) and the Ad Council have launched an ad campaign around High
Blood Pressure.  The objective of the campaign is to raise awareness of the fatal consequences of
living with uncontrolled high blood pressure, break the barriers to control the disease and
motivate people to live longer, healthier lives.  The TV ads are available on You Tube: 
•  “Breakup”“Resignation” 

Visit the NCPIE Leadership Community Partner Page.  NCPIE is pleased to be a member of the
Leadership Community in support of the AHA’s Check. Change. Control.  Blood Pressure Program.