Tuesday, May 26, 2009

FDA trying to cut deaths from painkillers, a leading cause of death in West Virginia

OxyContin, sometimes called "Hillbilly heroin," gets a lot of attention but is only the tip of the prescription-drug iceberg in West Virginia, where deaths from accidental painkiller overdoses have been rising. Scott Finn reports for National Public Radio and West Virginia Public Broadcasting that the Food and Drug Administration is seeking ways to decrease fatalities.

Death by prescription pain medication is becoming a nationwide problem. Finn reports that in 1999, 11, 000 deaths were a result of painkiller overdoses; by 2005, that number had grown to 22,000. It is a major problem in West Virginia. In 2007, deaths from accidental painkiller overdoses in the state outnumbered those from car accidents, homicide and suicide combined, Finn reports. "If these people had died of the swine flu, we'd probably make national headlines," Wyoming County funeral director Michael Goode told Finn.

Now, the FDA has begun to step up efforts to combat the rising figures with a strategy for each painkiller, aimed at ensuring that the benefits of a prescription outweigh its risks. Additional measures like physician training and prescription limitations, patient drug tests and pill counts could be required to decrease abuse. But some are worried that such regulations could make life harder for legitimate pain sufferers and think the Drug Enforcement Administration is better equipped to handle illicit drug use. Mary Baluss, a pro bono attorney for ethical pain management issues, commented, "The simple fact [is] that pain is disabling and that many sources of pain cannot be cured, only treated and that opiods are the difference between life and death for many." (Read more; to listen to Finn's report, click here)

1 comment:

Trent said...

Chronic pain is very severe and this affects people's life, long known to people who suffered from a strange disease, were strong back pains, which were intense and not let them work, as was what they said were the doctor and he prescribed oxycodone for pain, but knew it was a very powerful medicine, and moreover, anxiolytics, and worry that they were doing things that previously did not like eating too much, smoking, etc, and read in findrxonline that this drug is well and that we must be very careful with their use, and everything must be under medical prescription.