Popular Anxiety Drugs Have Dangerous Consequences

 

Benzos are dangerous, especially mixed with other sedatives.

Many people are uninformed about the risks of popular anxiety drugs like Xanax and Valium, especially when mixed with other sedatives.

Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died in February of an overdose from mixing heroin, cocaine and benzodiazepines, or benzos. Benzos, which are mild tranquilizers, first appeared in the 1950s and ‘60s and quickly became a hit. They claimed to soothe overwhelmed, edgy mothers, and were nicknamed “mother’s little helper.” Today Valium, Xanax, Klonopin and Ativan remain on the market for treatment of anxiety, mood disorders and insomnia.

Many doctors say they don’t go a day without seeing somebody who is addicted to them.

15 years ago, most detox patients were alcoholics and the rest were addicted to drugs. Now, 90 percent of these patients are drug addicts whose drug of choice is often a combination of opiates and benzos. Both of these drugs slow respiration and are an extremely dangerous combination. These drugs used together make the other stronger, and are extremely dangerous.

The drugs take away any anxiety, worry, and seemingly all of life’s troubles, numbing a person from becoming troubled, or bothered, by anything. It is very easy to become instantly addicted to them, and to the temporary feeling of contentment they induce.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the combination of benzos and opioid-related deaths contributes to about 30 percent of opioid-related deaths.

Dr. Mark Publicker, an addiction specialist with the Mercy Recovery Center in Westbrook, Maine, believes the risks associated with benzos is possibly overshadowed by the prescription opioid epidemic. Many people are unaware of how harmful they really are.

Initially thought to be free of negative effects, benzos are now known to carry risks of dependence, withdraw and cognitive effects.

Long term use can cause impairment in several cognitive domains: visuospatial ability, speed of processing, and verbal learning. Some reject this, however, claiming these symptoms are only temporary and can be attributed to sedation or inattention or peak plasma levels.

Studies were conducted around this debate and found that cognitive dysfunction did occur in patients treated long term with benzodiazepines. Even though this impairment did improve upon ceasing to take benzos, patients did not return to their original levels of functioning in the brain.

Patients should be advised of the dangers and effects associated with these drugs and the dangerous, deadly effects of combining them. Though daily functioning may not seem significant when using them, long term effects are likely, and you should be informed. Do your research and consult trusted physicians for more information. Be your own AdvoKAYte!

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Walgreen’s Illegally Distributes Controlled Substances

Is Walgreen,s Pharmacy really “at the Corner of Happy and Healthy”, like their motto claims? Maybe not…

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The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) caught Walgreen’s Pharmacy red-handed.  Allegations claim they were knowingly and  illegally distributing controlled substances to known abusers and drug dealers. The DEA found an “unprecedented” number of record-keeping and dispensing violations of the Controlled Substances Act.

Walgreen’s agreed to an $80 million settlement to put the matter to rest.  Part of the deal required Walgreen’s to publicly admit that it had failed to comply with its responsibilities as a DEA registrant. Although they claim they do all they can to stop this activity, there is evidence it is still occurring, even after the large sum of money they were required to pay. According to a recent blog article on bytegeist.com, Walgreen’s is more concerned with making a dollar than the health of its customers.

How Does This Effect Me? 

I have written many times about the problem of prescription drug addiction in America. It is crucial to shut down the supply chains if this problem is ever going to be eliminated. Unlike illicit drugs,  prescription drug dealers aren’t standing on dimly lit street corners in the rough areas of town. To the contrary, much of the supply comes from doctors, pharmacies and clinics who are licensed to distribute  controlled substances. With this license, however, comes the responsibility of complying with the law. Unfortunately, many do not comply, and this effects all of us.

Controlled substances may only be prescribed and dispensed for a legitimate medical purpose. When this fundamental premise isn’t followed, illegal distribution and abuse emerge. Narcotics find their way into the hands of addicts and dealers who sell them illegally on the black market. Sadly, the prescription drug black market makes its way into schools and homes, and destroys lives and families. 

Kudos to the Drug Enforcement Agency for getting the attention of one national pharmaceutical chain. Let’s hope it sends a loud message to the others. We all must do our part, as they are, to stop this epidemic in America.

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FDA Updates Warning for Reclast

The FDA has issued a new safety update for the bisphosphonate Reclast, warning that patients have experienced kidney failure requiring dialysis or resulting in death after having an injection of the drug. Patients should be screened for kidney problems before being given the injection.

(Image: m_bartosch / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an update to the drug label for Reclast, an injection used to prevent or treat osteoporosis.  The new warning is in regards to the risk of renal failure.

Reclast, generic name zoledronic acid, is a bisphosphonate that is used to treat or prevent osteoporosis in women who are in menopause and to increase bone mass in men with osteoporosis.  The injection is given in a single dose every one to two years.

The FDA has recently received reports of patients experiencing kidney failure while taking Reclast.  These patients reporting kidney failure either required dialysis or died from the complication.

While kidney failure is a rare condition in patients using Reclast, it is more likely to occur in those patients who have a history of or risk factors for kidney problems.  Risk factors include an underlying moderate to severe renal impairment, use of kidney-damaging or diuretic medicines, and severe dehydration before or after receiving Reclast.

The risk of developing renal failure increases with age.  Your doctor should screen you for any kidney problems prior to giving you Reclast.  You should tell your doctor about any medications you are taking so that he or she can better identify whether these medications will adversely react with Reclast.

Earlier this year, Reclast was identified as a drug that is likely to cause a femur fracture in patients.  The FDA has sent out a safety announcement warning patients about the risks bisphosphonates pose and is continuing to review data regarding the risk of femur fractures in patients.

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Google Pays $500 Million in Settlement for Online Pharmaceutical Ads

Google, Inc. has agreed to pay the U.S. government $500 million to settle claims that it improperly profited from selling advertisements to Canadian pharmacies that illegally import drugs into the U.S., potentially harming consumers.

Prescription drug prices in the United States are through the roof.  In 2005, we spent an estimated $251.8 billion on prescription drugs alone.  This year, prescription drug sales are expected to reach $310 billion.

 
If you are lucky enough to have health insurance, then some of your costs associated with filling a prescription are paid.  But if you are one of the more than 50 million people who are uninsured in this country, you are forced to pay for prescriptions at full price.
 
In the last few years, people have turned to Internet pharmacies to get their prescriptions for a reduced price.  But under U.S. law, foreign pharmacies cannot legally ship prescription drugs to consumers in the United States if they are not first approved by the FDA.  The worry is that because these drugs are not approved by the FDA, they are potentially dangerous to consumers.
 
Google, Inc. learned this lesson the hard way when it sold advertisements to Canadian pharmacies that were illegally selling prescription drugs to American consumers.  Rather than face criminal prosecution for allegedly improperly profiting from these advertisements, Google agreed to pay the U.S. government $500 million in a settlement.
 
Sales of online advertisements for health care services and products generate nearly $1.3 billion each year.  Google’s ad sales helped the company generate $39 billion in cash by the end of June 2011.
 
Critics worry that this slap on the wrist for Google will not do much to help consumers who have their health compromised by these illegally imported prescription drugs.  And while U.S. officials continue to track down companies that endanger the health of U.S. citizens, America cannot seem to escape its growing prescription pill problem.
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Darvocet, Darvon and Propoxyphene Products Liability Update

On August 16, 2011, the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation “MDL Panel” created a new multidistrict litigation (“MDL”) for Darvocet, Darvon, and Propoxyphene products liability cases, finding that centralization of these cases is appropriate under 28 U.S.C. § 1407.  The MDL Panel decided to centralize the cases in the Eastern District of Kentucky (Covington Division).  With the consent of that court, the cases will be assigned to Judge Danny C. Reeves.  Accordingly, the MDL Panel ordered transfer of the seventeen actions before it for consideration to the Eastern District of Kentucky (Covington Division).

Defendant drug manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies opposed centralization of the cases.  However, the Panel sided with the plaintiffs, who argued for centralization on the grounds that all of these cases share complex questions of fact concerning the safety of Darvocet, Darvon and Propoxyphene.  According to the Panel, the cases share factual issues as to 1) whether Darvocet, Darvon, and other medications containing Propoxyphene were defectively designed and marketed, 2) which defendants manufactured, licensed, or sold Propoxyphene products during various times, and 3) whether defendants knew or should have known of the increased risk of cardiovascular injuries with these medications and failed to provide adequate warnings of them. 
 
The MDL concerns cardiovascular injuries associated with Darvocet, Darvon and other medications containing Propoxyphene.  However, the MDL Panel left open the question of what particular cardiovascular-related injuries are or are not appropriate for inclusion in this MDL. 
 
Darvocet, Darvon, and Propoxyphene products were removed from the U.S. market in December 2010 because the risk of cardiac complications and deaths related to the drugs outweighed the benefits that the drugs afforded for pain relief.  Since then, about thirty-five cases have been filed against the companies responsible for manufacturing the drugs.  Many more cases are expected to be filed in the future.
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Online Pharmacies Put Consumers at Risk

Prescription drug addiction is on the rise, especially among teens. The Department of Justice is now investigating online pharmacies for providing highly addictive and dangerous prescription drugs to people without legitimate prescriptions. Also being investigated is Google for selling advertisements to these online pharmacies, knowing that they did not follow proper procedures.

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Last year, Americans spent $307.4 billion on prescription drugs (IMS Institute), the most of any other country.  And with the price of many prescription drugs so high, 36 million people have turned to online pharmacies to purchase their prescriptions.  But these online pharmacies aren’t as trustworthy as they may seem.

Desperate to cut off the supply of potentially dangerous and highly addictive prescription drugs to America’s youth, the U.S. Department of Justice has now opened a criminal investigation into Google for profiting from advertisements on its site, sold to these online pharmacies.  Google has reportedly set aside $500 million to pay fines for facilitating online pharmaceutical advertisements.  Experts are expecting this will be the biggest fine charged in U.S. history.
 
To consumers in need of medications, online pharmacies seem like a good idea because their prices are much lower than their retail counterparts.  But these companies also make it easy for consumers to order dangerous drugs over the Internet without a prescription.  Some consumers have even reported receiving prescriptions they ordered that were signed by doctors they had never met.  If you google “online prescriptions,” you will find that the first website that pops up claims that no prescription is needed for consumers to get any drugs they want.
 
Google has filed lawsuits against many of the online pharmacies that bought advertisements on Google.  Joseph Califano, president of Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, warned Google in 2008 that the advertisements they were selling were being bought by these online pharmacies, which were being operated without the proper supervision.  He says he also warned Google that these online pharmacies were being used by youth to obtain highly addictive prescription drugs.
 
Google didn’t do anything about the problem then, but has since said that they stopped selling advertisements to these online pharmacies over a year ago.
 
In the past decade, online pharmacies have fed the United States’ addiction to prescription drugs.  A recent study out of the University of Southern California has found that states that had the fastest expansion of high-speed internet in the early 2000s also had the highest number of hospital admissions for drug overdoses.
 
Today, an estimated seven million people use prescription drugs illegally, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA).  And prescription drug abuse is growing among teenagers, 59 percent of whom say they were given the drugs from family and friends.  NIDA reports that one out of every 12 high school seniors uses vicodin, and one out of every 20 high school seniors uses oxycontin.
 
Law enforcement authorities say they have no doubts that online pharmacies have led to higher addiction rates in the United States.  But law enforcement alone cannot stop these rouge pharmacies from dispensing dangerous drugs without prescriptions.  They need the help of Internet companies like Google to shut down these pharmacies.
 
Another issue with online pharmacies is that they dispense counterfeit drugs, which can be very dangerous.  Even people buying prescriptions online for legitimate reasons may be cheated by these online companies.
 
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Lipitor More Effective than Zocor

In a recent study, high dose statin drugs were found to increase a person’s risk of getting type-two diabetes. Researchers from that study are now saying Lipitor should be prescribed over Zocor (generic Simvastatin), despite the higher cost of Lipitor.

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In a recent study out of the United Kingdom, researchers from St. George’s University, the University of London, and the University of Glasgow, found that high dose statin drugs increased the risk of patients contracting type-two diabetes.  But when the study compared Lipitor to Zocor and its generics, researchers found that Lipitor was more effective in decreasing the patient’s risk of a heart attack.

 
This finding comes on the heels of the FDA announcement that Zocor’s labeling would be changed to reflect newer restricted prescribing practices of the drug.  Zocor and its generic, Simvastatin, will no longer be prescribed at the 80 mg dosage to patients who are new to the drug.  And patients taking certain other drugs may have to limit their intake of Zocor because of possible adverse drug reactions.
 
Where patients do need a high dose of statins though, doctors may have to chose the pricier Lipitor, which costs $1.20 a day, over generic Simvastatin, which costs a mere $0.04 a day.
 
Over the five-year study, researchers found that more than eight percent of participants developed diabetes, while 20 percent of patients had a major heart problem.  The study did not look at the recent findings by the FDA that 80mg Simvastatin can cause severe muscle damage and deterioration.
 
Professor Kausik Ray of St. George’s University noted that patients already taking high doses of statins should not stop taking these drugs, but should be monitored by their doctors more closely.  But he reiterated that “[t]he net benefit of Simvastatin is clearly very low and patients on Simvastatin 80 mg should be moved to Atorvastatin 80 mg instead.”
 
Unfortunately, for those without health insurance, Lipitor will be more costly than Simvastatin.  “I don’t think we can wait for loss of [Lipitor’s] patent to stop using Simvastatin 80 mg,” Ray said.  
 
Lipitor is scheduled to lose its U.S. patent protection this coming November.
 
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Muscle Damage Risk Higher in Women

Doctors believe that more people may be affected by muscle pain and weakness due to the use of 80mg Simvastatin than the studies show.

With the new warnings released by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about Simvastatin, marketed under Zocor and Vytorin, some doctors are questioning the rates of occurrence of muscle damage in patients taking the 80mg dose.

 
Rhabdomyolysis, a condition which breaks down muscle and releases dangerous proteins into the blood stream, affects an estimated five out of every 100,000 people taking an 80mg dose of Zocor for a year.  Based on studies, researchers say that the condition is rare, but that it can lead to kidney failure and even death.
 
Despite the latest statistics, some doctors believe that Simvastatin may cause muscle pain more frequently than what the statistics show.  All statins can cause muscle pain and weakness.  Researchers estimate that five to 10 percent of patients taking 80mg of Simvastatin experience muscle pain and weakness, but they concede that as many as a third of these patients could be suffering with these side effects.
 
Symptoms of rhabdomyolysis include muscle pain, tenderness, weakness, dark or red urine, and unexplained tiredness.  If you are taking Simvastatin and are experiencing or have experienced any of these symptoms, experts say you should contact your healthcare professional immediately.
 
Consumer Reports advises anyone taking cholesterol-lowering drugs to start out at the lowest necessary dose.  If you have high cholesterol, and your doctor recommends you take a statin, you should discuss any side effects of the drug with him.
 
The danger for rhabdomyolysis is greater in older women and in those who are taking Simvastatin with other drugs for blood pressure.  Consumer Reports gives the following advice for people who are taking other prescriptions along with Simvastatin:
 
  • Take no more than 20mg of Simvastatin with amlodipine (market name Norvasc)
  • Take no more than 20mg of Simvastatin with diltazem (market name Cardizem) or verapamil (market name Verelan)
  • Take no more than 20mg of Simvastatin with amiodarone (market name Cordarone)
  • Take no more than 20mg of Simvastatin with ranolazine (market name Ranexa)
  • Never use Simvastatin with cyclosporine, danazol, gemfibrozil, or posaconazole.
 
Of course, you should always consult your doctor before you stop taking any of your medicines.  If you are worried about your medicines interacting, tell your doctor.
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Merck Redesigns Zocor Label after FDA Study

Merck announced it would be redesigning the label for its popular drug Zocor, generic name Simvastatin, after a study conducted by the FDA showed the drug put patients at an increased risk for muscle damage when taking the drug at the 80mg dosage.

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 Merck, the manufacturer of Zocor, drug name Simvastatin, announced it would be redesigning the label of its blockbuster drug.  The redesign comes on the heels of a seven year study that found that patients who took the higher dose of Zocor were at a higher risk of developing rhabdomyolysis, a disease that causes muscle fibers to break down and release myoglobin, a protein that damages the kidneys.

Symptoms of rhabdomyolysis include muscle cramps, muscle tenderness and stiffness, pain, and spasms.  The disease usually occurs in patients over the age of 65 or in those patients who have renal impairment or uncontrolled hypothyroidism.

Sales of the drug have been high in recent years, especially because the generic Simvastatin is available at a relatively low cost compared to some other statins currently on the market.  An estimated 1.2 million Americans are currently taking the 80 milligram dose of Simvastatin, the highest dose sold legally in the United States.

Despite its low cost, researchers urge that patients should talk with their doctors about switching to a newer generation statin, like Crestor, which has had a greater success rate with reducing cholesterol levels, without the harsh side effects.

Before muscle deterioration and damage became a worry to researchers, some worried that statins caused nerve damage.  

In 2002, Dr. David Gaist, MD, a researcher from Denmark, found that patients taking statins were at a nearly 16 times increased risk of developing neuropathy, compared to patients not taking statins.  And those taking statins for two or more years were at a 26 times higher risk for developing neuropathy.  Gaist concluded that the larger the dose given to the patient, the higher the risk that the patient would develop nerve damage.

Although the study conducted by the FDA did not reveal a link between Simvastatin and neuropathy, Dr. Gaist was on the right track with his research and the dangers posed by an increased dosage. Ultimately, Dr. Gaist’s report shows that the concern about the effects of Simvastatin on the human body was well-founded, even before the FDA saw fit to study the drug’s effects.

If you or a loved one has suffered from rhabdomyolysis while taking Simvastatin, call Van Wey Law today.

 

 

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Government robbed of millions for fraudulent prescriptions

Government bilked out of millions over fake prescriptions for dangerous addictive drugs. Oversight is lax at best. U.S. Senator calls for reform.

We, the taxpayers pay an estimated $60 BILLION dollars every year to criminals engaged in health care fraud. A new study reveals that the government (that’s us the hard working taxpayer) is getting robbed blind over fraudulent prescriptions for addictive drugs.

U.S. Senator Tom Carper , Democrat from Delaware called for an investigation. The results  and the report are astonishing.  The gist of it is that the government has not been checking to make sure the provider numbers on the prescriptions are valid or accurate. Furthermore, pharmacies have been pushing through prescriptions that lacked the requisite valid prescriber number. Therefore, criminals have been able to bilk us out of millions over fake prescriptions.

I was alarmed to read a quote from a government  spokesman who essentially said the government operated on blind trust. According to Peter Ashkenaz a spokesman for the Office of Inspector General (OIG),

"In the past the plan[medicare and medicaid] operated with the belief that everybody is honest. When we identify ways of finding who the bad actors are, then we take the steps to tighten it up.”

As it turns out, the study revealed that the government cannot even identify who the top prescribers of addictive drugs are. Not only would this help root out medicare and medicaid fraud, but it could also identify pill mills and keep addictive dangerous drugs off the streets.

 “Just as the disturbing as the potential misuse of taxpayer dollars is the threat that these vulnerabilities pose to American communities struggling with illegal drug use,” Senator Carper.

I totally agree with Senator Carper. You see, it’s not just the millions of dollars that are stolen from taxpayers, but think of where these drugs are going? We know there is a high demand and high street value for prescription drugs like oxycontin, xanax, hydrocodone, ritalin, soma, methadone, etc. 

Shutting down pill mills and getting dangerous prescription drugs off the streets saves lives.

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