Doctors are cutting back on opioid prescriptions but not by nearly enough, federal health officials said.
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To stop the opioid epidemic, the CDC is telling doctors to cut back on opioid painkiller prescriptions, but some people just end up turning to heroin.
Video provided by Newsy
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At the request of federal regulators, the maker of painkiller Opana ER is pulling the drug off the market because of abuse.
After consulting with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, on Thursday Endo International PLC said it will voluntarily stop selling the pills. They were approved for use in patients with severe, constant pain. When used as intended, the company says the extended-release opioid is safe and effective.
Last month, the FDA said it had concluded the drug is too risky.
It’s the first drug that the FDA has sought to remove from the market due to abuse.
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More than one in five people insured by Blue Cross and Blue Shield were prescribed an opioid painkiller at least once in 2015, the insurance company reported.
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A new report found that opioid epidemics do not discriminate by age or areas of the country.
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Opiod overdose runs are becoming commonplace across the country. First responders are dealing with an epidemic never before seen. It weighs on them.
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In a way to ensure they won’t overdose and not be found until it’s too late, opioid addicts are now using and collapsing in public in increasing numbers.
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Carfentanil and fentanyl are some of the driving forces in the most deadly drug epidemic the United States has ever seen.
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Pleasure. Craving. Withdrawal. When opioids act on the brain, they trigger the same processes that give people feelings of pleasure from activities like eating, but they do it far more intensely. (May 2)
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The nation’s opioid crisis is forcing doctors and pharmaceutical companies to find alternatives to the highly addictive narcotic painkillers so often prescribed. (April 17)
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The price of Evzio, a device intended to prevent death during an opioid overdose, has been increasing as the opioid epidemic spreads. Matt Hoffman reports.
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A USA Today Network investigation reveals steep increases in legal opioids distributed nationwide from 2007 to 2015.
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The Associated Press and The Center for Public Integrity found makers of prescription painkillers have tried to kill or weaken state measures aimed at stemming the opioid crisis that has cost 165,000 Americans their lives since 2000. (Sept. 19)
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Some of the youngest victims of the nation’s opioid epidemic are children under age 5 who die after swallowing opioids. The number of children’s deaths is still small relative to the overall toll from opioids, but toddler fatalities are up.
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For many people, fentanyl can be a life-saver, easing profound pain. But outside of a doctor’s office, the powerful opioid drug is also a killer.
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Medical schools are expanding their training to help future doctors fight opioid abuse. New training programs at many schools teach students to prescribe opioid painkillers only as a last resort, and to evaluate patients for signs of drug abuse. (Ju
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Are you concerned that a loved one is using drugs? Here are some signs that they may be in the throes of addiction.
USA TODAY NETWORK
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Opioid prescriptions have tripled since 1999
Trying to stop the opioid epidemic is an uphill battle
FDA asks opioid maker to stop sales
High opioid use revealed in survey
How wide is the opioid epidemic’s reach?
First responders cope with endless heroin overdoses
Addicts using in public to avoid overdosing
These two drugs drive the opioid epidemic
Science Says: Why Are Opioids so Addictive?
The search is on for opioid alternatives
Opioid overdose drug spikes 600 percent in price as ODs increase
Video: Legal opioids rise nationwide
Politics of pain: Lobbyists fought opioid limits
Some of the youngest victims of the opioid epidemic are children
Is Fentanyl to be blamed for recent spate of drug-related deaths?
Medical schools tackle opioid painkiller abuse
8 signs of substance abuse
A Scottsdale doctor who took lucrative payments from a Chandler drug company probed for its marketing of a powerful opioid spray has agreed to a state order barring him, at least temporarily, from practicing medicine.
Dr. Steve Fanto signed a July 12 interim consent agreement with the Arizona Medical Board after a board investigation found the pain specialist had “significant deviations” from the standard of medical care.
The consent agreement prohibits Fanto “from engaging in the practice of medicine” until the medical board permits him to do so.
Fanto can ask the board to release him from the practice restriction, and the board will decide based on the “totality of information” at the time of the request. The board also can suspend Fanto’s medical license if he violates terms of the practice restriction, according to the consent agreement.
The medical board cited four cases in which Fanto’s prescription of pain medications was questioned. The cases included one in which a 41-year-old woman died of “poly-drug toxicity” from medications, and another in which a non-cancer patient was prescribed the highest available dosage of Subsys.
Fanto did not respond to a message for comment left with a receptionist at his medical practice.
Chandler-based Insys Therapeutics markets Subsys, a fentanyl spray that’s about 50 times more powerful than heroin. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the powerful medication for cancer patients with breakthrough pain not controlled by conventional pain medicines.
The FDA’s approval means Insys Therapeutics cannot legally market the drug to non-cancer patients. However, doctors are free to prescribe the drug “off label” for uses other than cancer.
Insys Therapeutics is facing state and federal investigations for its marketing of the drug. The federal government has charged a half dozen former Insys executives, alleging the company paid bribes in the form of speaking fees to doctors who prescribed large amounts of Subsys to non-cancer patients.
Federal records show Fanto collected $276,804 in payments from Insys from 2013 through 2016, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Fanto is not the only Arizona doctor who took large fees from the Chandler company. Insys paid $257,125 to Nikesh Dilip Seth, a Scottsdale anesthesiologist, through 2016, CMS records show.
Seth has not been disciplined by the medical board, which dismissed one case against Seth in March after the complainant withdrew a grievance. Another complaint is pending, according to medical-board officials.
Seth did not return calls seeking comment.
Pharmaceutical and medical-device companies commonly pay doctors fees to give promotional talks about a drug or a device. Doctors also may collect meal fees, and some doctors are paid to conduct research on behalf of a company.
But the U.S. attorney in Massachusetts alleges that a half dozen former Insys executives used the lucrative fees as “bribes and kickbacks” to doctors and other practitioners who frequently prescribed Subsys.
The federal indictment lists examples of improper kickbacks paid to 10 doctors, physician assistants and advanced-practice nurses in nine states. No Arizona doctors were listed in the indictment.
The medical board’s investigation of Fanto involved four cases over the past two years.
According to the consent agreement, Fanto prescribed Subsys “off-label” to a 56-year-old woman at the highest available dosage, 800 micrograms, even though manufacturer instructions suggested patients start at 100 micrograms. Fanto prescribed 120 units of the high-dosage Subsys spray even though the patient claimed to use only 30 units each month.
He also prescribed opioids, benzodiazepines and other depressants to a 69-year-old woman for sleep apnea.
The board’s medical consultant concluded that Fanto failed to heed a pulmonologist who “expressed concerns” about the treatment. Furthermore, the consultant determined the patient was harmed because Fanto’s treatment exacerbated her sleep apnea.
Both patients were at risk of heart attack and other harms such as opioid abuse, addiction, diversion and accidental overdose, the consent agreement said.
In January 2012, a 40-year-old woman sought treatment from Fanto for “diffuse pain.” She secured an array of prescriptions, including Demerol, oxycodone, doxepin, promethazine, Soma and Zanaflax.
Two days after her final visit to Fanto in January 2013, the woman, then 41, died of an overdose. A medical examiner ruled the cause to be “poly-drug toxicity” from painkillers oxycodone and Demerol, as well as the anxiety medication doxepin.
The medical board’s consultant faulted Fanto for allowing the patient to self-inject Demerol even though the patient had evidence of misusing drugs — for example, seeking early refills of opioids and abnormal urine tests, according to the consent agreement.
The medical board initiated the probe of Fanto after receiving complaints from health insurers’ investigative units, the settlement of a malpractice case related to the woman’s overdose death, and concerns about Fanto’s volume and type of prescriptions.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey recently declared the state’s opioid epidemic a public-health emergency. The effort includes a new requirement for all licensed doctors, pharmacists, hospitals, correctional facilities, emergency medical responders, ambulance providers and medical examiners to report within 24 hours information on suspected opioid deaths, overdoses and use of the overdose-reversal drug naloxone.
The governor’s order also calls for “information sharing” among a wide range of state and local government agencies, including law enforcement, county jails and boards that license health-care providers.
The Arizona Department of Health Services issued a report that showed 790 Arizonans died from overdoses of opioid prescriptions and heroin last year.
Fentanyl is way more potent than an equivalent dose of morphine. It’s designed that way.
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