Heroin Tops the List of Drugs Most Frequently Involved in Overdose Deaths

Heroin was the drug most often involved in overdose deaths between 2010 and 2014, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other drugs commonly involved in overdoses included oxycodone, methadone, morphine, morphine, hydrocodone, fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamine, alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium).

More than 47,000 people in the United States died from drug overdoses in 2014, up from more than 38,000 in 2010.

Full story of heroin most involved in overdoses at drugfree.org

Nasal Spray Version of Naloxone Approved to Treat Opioid Overdoses

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday approved a nasal spray version of the opioid overdose antidote naloxone (Narcan). Until now, the only approved version of naloxone was injectable, The New York Times reports.

The company that makes the spray, Adapt Pharma, said it will offer the spray at a discount to emergency workers, police and firefighters.

Naloxone is used to reverse overdoses of opioids including prescription medications such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and morphine, as well as heroin. The FDA noted in a press release that if naloxone is administered quickly, it can counter the effects of an opioid overdose, usually within two minutes.

Full story of nasal spray version of Naloxone at drugfree.org

DEA to Increase Restrictions on Hydrocodone Combination Products

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has announced it will reclassify hydrocodone combination products such as Vicodin. Under the new rules, patients will be able to receive the drugs for only up to 90 days without receiving a new prescription, The Wall Street Journal reports.

In October 2013, the Food and Drug Administration recommended tighter restrictions for hydrocodone combination products.

The DEA hopes the move will reduce prescription drug abuse, the article notes. Under the new rule, hydrocodone combination products will be classified as Schedule II drugs. Currently these products are Schedule III drugs, meaning they can be refilled up to five times, and prescriptions can cover a 180-day period. In most cases, patients who wish to refill their hydrocodone combination prescription will now have to give their pharmacy a prescription from a healthcare provider, instead of having it phoned or faxed in.

Full story of tighter restrictions on hydrocodone at drugfree.org

First Single-Ingredient Hydrocodone Drug Receives FDA Approval

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved the first pure hydrocodone drug in the United States. The drug, Zohydro ER (extended release), was approved for patients with pain that requires daily, around-the-clock, long-term treatment that cannot be treated with other drugs.

Drugs such as Vicodin contain a combination of hydrocodone and other painkillers such as acetaminophen, the Associated Press reports.

In December, a panel of experts assembled by the FDA voted against recommending approval of Zohydro ER. The panel cited concerns over the potential for addiction. In the 11-2 vote against approval, the panel said that while the drug’s maker, Zogenix, had met narrow targets for safety and efficacy, the painkiller could be used by people addicted to other opioids, including oxycodone.

Patient safety advocates criticized the FDA’s decision. “We’re just going to kill more kids and then the FDA is going to come back and say, ‘oh, we made a mistake,’” said Avi Israel, whose son Michael committed suicide while struggling with painkiller addiction. Israel is the founder of a group that aims to combat painkiller abuse in young people.

Full story of hydrocodone drug and the FDA at DrugFree.org

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education