BOSTON (CBS) – Over-prescribing drugs, or, making too many of them? In this segment of her series, “Heroin: from Prescription to Addiction,” WBZ’s Mary Blake examines responsibility, and blame.
Dr. Ron Dunlap is Past President of the Massachusetts Medical Society and believes the medical community should approach the overdose epidemic in the same way that a widespread infectious disease is addressed. “There is clearly a lack of treatment facilities, so that’s an immediate problem, but we’re really not looking at how we got here,” he says.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Mary Blake reports
Dr. Dunlap believes pharmaceutical companies merit closer scrutiny. “If you look at sources, manufacturers are manufacturing many more pills than would be required. They know what the utilization of a drug would be because otherwise they would over manufacture it,” he says.
Read More: Heroin From Prescription To Addiction
The DEA monitors opioid manufacturing. Nancy Coffey is the agency’s Diversion Program Manager for the New England Division. “Each manufacturer puts in for a quota to produce a certain amount of drugs per need, per year and then we grant that quota so they can import the raw material.”
She explains how the DEA determines those quotas. “It’s based on the prior year’s need, but there’s a lot of different factors that we don’t really get into in the field here. That’s all handled down in Washington.”
Coffey also responds to a question why illicit drugs are so readily available in light of the DEA regulations. “There is a variety of different ways they get on the streets, from being smuggled in from Mexico and Canada, to doctor shoppers, to over-prescribers to fraudulent activity, where everything’s on the computer, people can replicate prescriptions pretty easily,” she says.
Manufactured by Zogenix, Zohydro is among the new opioids. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick wants it banned, because of its addictive qualities. Other pharmaceutical companies are reluctant to get into the fray. AbbVie, maker of Vicodin, issued a statement only, reading in part, “Abbvie provides funding to numerous anti drug abuse organizations. Additionally, AbbVie advocates for responsible prescribing by healthcare professionals and appropriate use of Vicodin by legitimate patients through various educational efforts.”
Purdue Pharma’s written statement referred to its patented crush proof Oxycontin pills. It reads, “We are developing innovative technologies to create new forms of pain medicines that include abuse-deterrent properties, making them less attractive to drug abusers.”
Despite repeated attempts, there was no response from Endo Pharmaceuticals, maker of Percocet.
Meantime, family members of addicts are pleading to be heard. Catherine Gilmore of Franklin lost her son after he was treated for an overdose. “I want to just scream at the top of my lungs, help,” she says.
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