Scientists Developing New Painkillers With Fewer Side Effects

Scientists are working with three compounds that show promise in treating pain, without the side effects of opioids, CNBC reports.

One experimental drug, oliceridine, is in the final stages of human trials. It is administered intravenously. Studies show the drug relieves pain like morphine, without causing respiratory depression or constipation. However, it is no less addictive than morphine and it can only be used in hospitals. The company that makes oliceridine, Trevana, is developing an oral form of the drug.

Full story of new painkillers without side effects at drugfree.org

Senate Bill Would Require Doctors to Use Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs

Three U.S. senators have introduced a bill that would require doctors to use prescription drug monitoring programs before they prescribe painkillers. The Prescription Drug Monitoring Act is co-sponsored by Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Angus King of Maine.

Minnesota is one of the states in which doctors’ participation in prescription drug monitoring is voluntary. At a news conference Tuesday, Klobuchar said if such programs are not mandatory, some doctors who excessively prescribe opioids can go undetected, theStar Tribune reported.

Full story of Senate bill for doctors to use prescription drug monitoring programs at drugfree.org

Some Doctors and Medical Groups Oppose State Limits on Opioid Prescribing

Some doctors are voicing their opposition to new state laws that limit opioid prescribing. The American Medical Association (AMA) and other medical groups say doctors and patients should be able to balance the need to treat pain against the risk of addiction, Stateline reports.

Dozens of states have enacted measures designed to reduce the amount of painkillers prescribed each year. Five states have set limits on the number of pills a doctor can prescribe to a patient for the first time, while 29 states increased monitoring of filled prescriptions to prevent patients from “doctor shopping” for more painkillers.

“Arbitrary pill limits or dosage limits are not the way to go,” said Dr. Patrice Harris, Chairwoman of AMA’s Committee on Opioid Abuse. “They are one-size-fits-all, blunt approaches.”

Full story of opposing state limits on opioid prescribing at drugfree.org

Heroin’s Low Cost and Easy Access Attract People Addicted to Painkillers: Study

A study of people addicted to painkillers who began using heroin confirms that many of them were drawn to heroin’s low cost and wide availability.

Researchers surveyed 15,000 people being treated for drug addiction, and conducted in-depth interviews with 267 of them. They found almost half of those interviewed were addicted to opioid painkillers such as OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet before using heroin,HealthDay reports.

Three-fourths of those interviewed said they tried heroin because of its lower cost and greater availability.

Lead researcher Theodore Cicero of Washington University in St. Louis said heroin use began rising after the federal government began shutting down “pill mills” and doctors who illegally prescribe opioids.

Full story of addiction to painkillers and heroin at drugfree.org

Oregon Will Fund Alternative Pain Treatments for Patients with Medicaid

Oregon will fund many alternative pain treatments for patients covered by the state’s version of Medicaid starting in January, NPR reports. The state hopes to reduce the number of people who become addicted to opioids or abuse them.

Medicaid traditionally has dealt with back pain through bed rest and prescription painkillers, according to Denise Taray, Coordinator of the Oregon Pain Management Commission. “The only thing that might have been covered in the past was narcotics,” she said. “But treatments such as acupuncture, chiropractic, massage therapy, physical therapy and rehab would never have been covered.”

Taray says pain pills aren’t always as effective as people think. “Research is out there that suggests that with back conditions we’re spending a lot of money on health care treatments and services that aren’t improving outcomes,” she said. While Oregon has not found overwhelming evidence that alternative treatment such as yoga or acupuncture are more effective than other treatments, at least they don’t involve drugs, she said.

Full story of Oregon and alternative pain treatments with Medicaid at drugfree.org