DEA Further Restricts Hydrocodone Combination Products

From: Medscape

The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) voted today (Aug 21) to move forward with rescheduling hydrocodone combination products (HCPs) from schedule III to schedule II drugs. Schedule II medications are considered to be the most potentially harmful and open to abuse.

In addition to containing hydrocodone, HCPs also contain nonnarcotic substances such as aspirin or acetaminophen. Although hydrocodone by itself is classified as a schedule II drug, HCPs have been in the schedule III classification ever since the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) was first passed by Congress back in 1971.

"Based on the consideration of all comments, the scientific and medical evaluation and accompanying recommendation of the HHS,...the DEA finds that these facts and all other relevant data constitute evidence of potential for abuse of HCPs," write the DEA in their final rule.

"As such, the DEA is rescheduling HCPs as a schedule II controlled substance under the CSA," they add.

Substantial Feedback

HCPs are currently approved for marketing for the treatment of pain and for cough suppression.

The DEA published its formal proposal in February and asked for feedback, which could be given until April 28. The organization received 573 comments, of which 52% supported the recommended rescheduling, 41% opposed, and 7% did not voice a definitive opinion.

Patrick Morrisey, the attorney general from West Virginia, the state with the highest per capita rate of prescription drug overdoses in 2013, was among those who wrote in support of the rescheduling.

"This reclassification is not only justified given the high abuse and addiction potential of hydrocodone prescription painkillers, it is necessary to combat the drug abuse epidemic that is destroying so many...communities," wrote Morrisey.

"Rescheduling hydrocodone is one way to help prevent this drug from falling into the wrong hands and will ensure that these drugs are handled with the same precautions as other pain medications, such as oxycodone, hydromorphone, and fentanyl," he added in a release.

Also falling under the schedule II classification are illegal substances, such as methamphetamine and heroin, and prescribed medications, such as dextroamphetamine sulphate (Adderal, Teva Pharmaceuticals).

Once the final rule goes into effect, anybody who handles HCPs will be subject to the CSA's schedule II regulatory controls. This will include "administrative, civil, and criminal sanctions applicable to the manufacture, distribution, dispensing, importing, exporting, engaging in research, conducting instructional activities, and conducting chemical analysis" of these substances.

In addition, any individual who handles or desires to hand HCPs will need to register with the DEA.

The final rule will be published in the Federal Register on August 22, 2014.

 

Possible tainted 'Bad News' heroin in Bucks County, PA

From the Bucks County Courier Times:

A tainted batch of heroin has been linked to six overdoses, one deadly, in Bucks County in the past week, state police said in a document obtained by The Intelligencer on Tuesday.

Five overdoses involved heroin brand-stamped “Bad News” and at least one overdose has been preliminarily linked to heroin laced with the prescription painkiller fentanyl, state police said.

Fentanyl is an odorless, undetectable synthetic drug with a potency 80 to 100 times stronger than heroin, said Ellen Unterwald, director of the Center for Substance Abuse Research at the Temple University School of Medicine. When combined with fentanyl, heroin can be 100 times more powerful, she said.

“That’s where the problem comes in. The user doesn’t know how much they’re taking. They’re playing Russian roulette,” she said.

A spokeswoman from the state police Pennsylvania Criminal Intelligence Center said an information alert was released for “public safety reasons” to emergency service and medical personnel. She offered no further comment, and neither confirmed nor denied the overdose reports mentioned in the document.

Posted: 3/5/2014 3:36:00 PM

Tags: , ,

Painkiller-spiked heroin kills at least 17 in Pittsburgh region

From the New York Daily News:

Tainted heroin killed as many as 17 people in the region in the past seven days, including five suspected overdoses since Friday, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Authorities say the killer dope is spiked with the powerful narcotic, fentanyl, and is being sold in baggies stamped with the word "Theraflu."

Allegheny County medical examiner Karl Williams said his office typically sees 250 fatal overdoes at year.

At this rate, the county was looking at somewhere in the neighborhood of 800 deaths for 2014.

The rash of deaths brought to mind an epidemic of deadly “China White” heroin in the late 80s that killed nearly 20 and led to dozens more overdoses.

“China White” also contained fentanyl.

Posted: 1/27/2014 12:35:00 PM

Tags: , , , ,

"Unreal" Overdose Spike Has Officials Ready to Fight Opioid Drugs

From NBC10 Philadelphia:

An alarming number of drug overdoses has officials in one Bucks County township gearing up for a fight.

In the past month, 63 people have overdosed in Bensalem, Pa. on opioid drugs like heroin and prescription pain killers that include oxycodone and vicodin says township Director of Public Safety Fred Harran.

While heroin is widely known as a dangerous and severely addictive narcotic that’s long been a target of the war on drugs, Harran says it’s the prescription painkillers that are a bigger source of concern.

Between 80 and 90-percent of the crimes committed in the town are tied in one way to drugs, according to Harran. He says the drug seekers are both a mix of local residents and visitors traveling to the town to get high.

Harran and other public safety officials have been meeting to determine an attack plan to cut down on drug use and availability. The director says he’s not ready to release every detail about the plan, but said the department’s actions would be "groundbreaking."

A new report released on Monday from the Trust for America’s Health found Pennsylvania has the 14th highest rate of drug overdose deaths. The report found the Commonwealth had 15.3 overdose deaths per 100,000 residents in 2010. Most of those deaths involved the use of prescription drugs.

In Philadelphia, city officials have seen what they call a startling spike in addiction rates, deaths and confiscations by police of opioids like prescription pills and heroin.

Nationally, drug overdose is the leading cause of injury death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drug overdose deaths have jumped 102-percent from 1999 to 2010 and as of the last reporting in 2010, 60-percent of those deaths were related to pharmaceuticals.

The CDC also found that of the 38,329 overdose deaths in 2010 that involved pharmaceuticals, 75-percent involved some form of opioid.

Feds Warn NYPD About New Heroin-Mixed Drug Aimed at Kids

From DNAinfo.com:

Federal officials warned the NYPD about a new drug being aimed at children as young as nine that contains a deadly mix of heroin and Tylenol PM, according to a published report.

The new drug, nicknamed "cheese," sells for just $1 or $2 a hit and gives users a quick high followed by drowsiness.

Dealers are branding packets with pictures of Mickey Mouse, Lady Gaga and the Lion King. 

Posted: 10/13/2010 8:13:00 AM

Tags: , , ,

Turning to Drugs to Stop Addiction

From Drug Discovery & Development:

Could a once-a-month alcoholism shot keep some of the highest-risk heroin addicts from relapse? A drug that wakes up narcoleptics treat cocaine addiction? An old antidepressant fight methamphetamine?

This is the next frontier in substance abuse: Better understanding of how addiction overlaps with other brain diseases is sparking a hunt to see if a treatment for one might also help another.

We're not talking about attempts just to temporarily block an addict's high. Today's goal is to change the underlying brain circuitry that leaves substance abusers prone to relapse.

It's "a different way of looking at mental illnesses, including substance abuse disorders," says National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Dr. Nora Volkow, who on Monday urged researchers at the American Psychiatric Association's annual meeting to get more creative in the quest for brain-changing therapies for addiction.

Rather than a problem in a single brain region, scientists increasingly believe that psychiatric diseases are a result of dysfunctioning circuits spread over multiple regions, leaving them unable to properly communicate and work together. That disrupts, for example, the balance between impulsivity and self-control that plays a crucial role in addiction.

These networks of circuits overlap, explaining why so many mental disorders share common symptoms, such as mood problems. It's also a reason that addictions - to nicotine, alcohol or various types of legal or illegal drugs - often go hand-in-hand with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.

So NIDA, part of the National Institutes of Health, is calling for more research into treatments that could target circuits involved with cognitive control, better decision-making and resistance to impulses. Under way:

-Manufacturer Alkermes Inc. recently asked the Food and Drug Administration to approve its once-a-month naltrexone shot - already sold to treat alcoholism - to help people kick addiction to heroin and related drugs known as opioids.

-Studies at several hospitals around the country suggest modafinil, used to fend off the sudden sleep attacks of narcolepsy, also can help cocaine users abstain.

-An old antidepressant, bupropion, that's already used for smoking cessation now is being tested for methamphetamine addiction, based on early-stage research suggesting it somehow blunts the high.

Medication isn't the only option. Biofeedback teaches people with high blood pressure to control their heart rate. O'Brien's colleagues at Penn are preparing to test if putting addicts into MRI machines for real-time brain scans could do something similar, teaching them how to control their impulses to take drugs.

Schools fear a powerful new drug is moving north

From NewsWest9.com (Amarillo, TX):

There is a new drug that is causing concern in Amarillo.

Some officials say liquid heroin could become as popular as marijuana for the younger generation.

The liquid heroin they have heard of is in south Texas high schools, and Director of Safe Schools, Healthy Students, Melynn Huntley says they are concerned because the drug is very inexpensive and easy to hide.

Huntley says the drug is mixed with water and then either swallowed or snorted, and often kept in clear bottles.

"If you were looking for this, you would look in Visine bottles or some other little small bottles. It does have a brown tint to it, it is not totally clean because it is with the brown heroin to begin with. It is not going to look like Visine, it would just be in that kind of container."

And we talked with local law enforcement who say they have not seen or heard of liquid heroin in our area yet...but it is a drug they are looking out for.

Posted: 2/8/2010 8:43:00 AM

Tags: , ,