New Drug Deactivation System Allows Patients to Safely Dispose of Opioids at Home

A new technology allows patients to safely dispose of unwanted or expired prescription painkillers at home. Hooshang Shanehsaz, RPh, DPH, Director of Pharmacy at Cardinal Health, who co-directed a pilot study of the drug deactivation system, says patients found it easy to use.

A person using the Deterra® Drug Deactivation System simply puts their medication in a bag containing a carbon that bonds to pharmaceutical compounds when water is added. The person adds water and shakes it up to neutralize the active ingredient in the drug, explains Dr. Shanehsaz, who is Vice President of the Delaware Board of Pharmacy. The biodegradable bag can then be placed into the trash.

In the past, pharmacists have told patients to dispose of unused or expired medications by putting them in cat litter, sawdust or used coffee grounds. These materials absorb some of the medication, but much of it still remains and can still be dug out of the garbage and abused, Dr. Shanehsaz says. These materials only absorb between 15 to 23 percent of the medications, he added.

Full story of Deterra Drug Deactivation System at drugfree.org

State Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs Prevent 10 Deaths a Day: Study

State drug prescription monitoring programs help prevent 10 opioid-overdose deaths daily in the United States, a new study finds. Implementing the programs in all states, and improving less effective programs could save another two people daily, the researchers said.

Missouri is the only state with no drug monitoring program. Its opioid overdose rate has increased more quickly than the national average, the study found.

Drug prescription monitoring programs are designed to prevent “doctor shopping” by patients, and to identify doctors who prescribe unusually large doses of opioids. The programs that tracked the most potentially addictive medications and updated their databases at least once a week had the biggest decreases in overdose deaths, Reutersreports.

Full story of state prescription drug monitoring program at drugfree.org

Doctors, Drug Companies Responsible for Opioid Crisis: Drug Policy Director

Doctors and drug companies share responsibility for the opioid crisis sweeping the nation, the head of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy told USA Today.

“The root cause of our opiate epidemic has been the over-prescribing of prescription pain medications,” Michael Botticelli told the newspaper’s editorial board. “Physicians get little to no training related to addiction in general, but particularly around opiate prescriptions.” In the past year, he added, “you hear more and more physicians admitting ‘we are part of the problem and can be part of the solution.’”

Doctors need increased education on safe and effective prescribing, Botticelli said. He added doctors have a responsibility to use prescription drug monitoring programs.

“Drunkorexia” on the Rise Among College Students

A growing number of college students are trying to avoid alcohol-related weight gain through a practice known as “drunkorexia,” CBS News reports. Students skip meals, exercise heavily before drinking alcohol, take laxatives or diuretics, or vomit after drinking.

Some students engage in drunkorexia to get a faster buzz, the article notes. Researchers at the University of Houston presented data at the recent Research Society on Alcoholism annual meeting that suggests the practice is increasing.

They surveyed 1,184 college students, who said they had drunk alcohol heavily at least once in the previous month. More than 80 percent said they had engaged in at least one drunkorexia-related behavior in the previous three months. College athletes and those who lived in fraternity and sorority houses were more likely to engage in drunkorexia, study author Dipali Rinker told CBS News.

Full story of drunkorexia at drugfree.org

Study Suggests E-Cigarettes Enticing New Group of Teens to Use Nicotine

The rate of teens who use nicotine, through e-cigarettes or tobacco cigarettes, is increasing, a new study finds. Researchers say many teens who never would have smoked traditional cigarettes are now using e-cigarettes.

The study included data from 5,490 California high school seniors who graduated between 1995 and 2014. It found about 14 percent of high school seniors in Southern California in 2014 said they had smoked or vaped in the past month. About 8 percent of seniors said they had smoked tobacco in the past 30 days.

Nicotine use has not been so high among teens since 1995, when 19 percent of high school seniors said they smoked, The New York Times reports. The study appears in the journalPediatrics.

Full story of e-cigarettes enticing new groups of teens at drugfree.org