February 5, 2016
By Ed Rendell Last year, 44,000 people died of drug overdoses, and 52 percent of them were related to prescription drugs. More than two million Americans are dependent on opioid painkillers, and every day, 44 Americans die of an overdose of these drugs. When the cost of these painkillers becomes too great, addicts will turn to lower-cost heroin. In 2007, there were 373,000 heroin addicts in the United States, and 2,400 deaths resulted from heroin overdoses. By 2014, those numbers ballooned to 914,000 addicts and 10,500 overdose deaths.
August 7, 2015 |
Placed purposefully around Gary Tuggle's new office are small treasures picked up on past assignments: a Don Quixote statue recognizing his work in Trinidad, a Baltimore Ravens cap from his hometown, and, from a visit to Colombia, three dried opium poppies. "I use them as inspiration," he said of the flowers whose seed pods are the source of heroin. "Every time I look at them, it reminds me of how bad the problem is in this country, and how much needs to be done to combat it. " In June, Tuggle reported to work as special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Philadelphia Field Division, which covers Pennsylvania and Delaware.
May 9, 2015 |
Public health officials are bracing for a new wave of hepatitis C infections, one unleashed by the epidemic of prescription painkiller addiction. The bloodborne virus, on the decline nationally until a few years ago, is rising rapidly among adolescents and young adults, especially in white, rural communities. These are the same areas where a devastating epidemic of prescription opioid deaths first showed up over a decade ago, followed by a wave of heroin deaths. Most of the new hepatitis C patients have contracted the virus by injecting drugs, often crushed pain pills.
August 31, 2014 |
A new analysis suggests that states that legalized marijuana for pain relief may have averted some deaths from more dangerous painkillers - prescription opioids. But the study also found that states with medical marijuana laws consistently had higher opioid death rates than states without such laws, showing the complexity of this country's opioid crisis. "States that passed these laws are different than states that didn't pass laws," said lead author Marcus A. Bachhuber, an internal medicine fellow at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center.
June 6, 2014 |
The City of Chicago is suing two Chester County drug companies that it claims orchestrated a deceptive marketing campaign to hide the dangers of painkillers, contributing to a national opioid-addiction crisis. The marketing tactics used by Malvern-based Endo Health Solutions and Frazer-based Cephalon were so successful that over two decades, opioids went from being rarely used to the most prescribed type of drug, the suit alleges. "Their deceptive messages tainted virtually every source doctors could rely on for information and prevented them from making informed treatment decisions," says the suit, filed Monday in an Illinois state court.
May 23, 2014 |
A LONG, LONG time ago, an Eagles player - one of those freakishly cut offensive linemen from back then, with no body fat at all - lost his mind on the practice field, just attacking everybody he could reach. It was quite a scene, a classic 'roid-rage incident. The next day, the club told reporters that they weren't sure, but they thought it might have been some kind of allergic reaction to a bee sting, and we all wrote it down and put it in the paper the next day. We were such idiots.
November 11, 2013 |
It's a common scenario. A barely-used bottle of Vicodin, prescribed for your teenage son when his wisdom teeth were extracted, sits in your medicine cabinet for months - until your son's friend finds and steals it. Abuse and diversion of opioid painkillers have become a public health crisis, experts agree. The number of overdose deaths has risen relentlessly from 4,000 in 1999 to nearly 17,000 in 2010 - more than 100,000 people in a decade, federal figures show. That's why, after anguished debate, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month recommended making it harder for people to get refills of products like Vicodin.
November 8, 2013 |
Heroin-related overdoses jumped nearly 250 percent between 2010 and 2012 in Philadelphia and, depending on how they are measured, slightly more in Montgomery County. In Kentucky, they quadrupled in just one year. Experts say the culprit is actually prescription painkillers. Abuse of the expensive narcotics leads to tolerance - and cravings for more and more. Heroin is the cheap and more powerful alternative. Experts point to a series of events that began when the Food and Drug Administration in 1997 proposed easing the way for advertising of prescription medications on broadcast television, which almost no other country does as freely.
October 10, 2013 |
Two new sets of statistics, one national and the other local, starkly illustrate an epidemic of prescription-drug overdoses, which have quadrupled since 1999 and suggest what may come next: a resurgence in heroin deaths. The national report, released Monday by the Trust for America's Health, showed that between 1999 and 2010, deaths from prescription opiates like OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin overtook those from heroin and cocaine combined. Pennsylvania had particularly high death rates and low scores for actions taken to prevent them.
August 7, 2013 |
Johnson & Johnson has received a subpoena from federal investigators questioning how the drugmaker promotes its opioid painkiller Nucynta, the health-care giant said Friday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Among the issues under scrutiny is how the company pays doctors and other health-care providers who write prescriptions. Opioid painkillers can be highly addictive. More nonsuicidal overdose deaths are attributed to them than there are deaths caused by cocaine and heroin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.