“Prescription drug overload: Critics fighting to curb an epidemic of medication side effects” – The Boston Globe
“Are you taking too many meds?
“If you’re an older American, chances are your medicine cabinet is crammed with bottles of pills to reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and treat everything from acid reflux to underactive thyroid.
“Forty-two percent of adults over 65 take five or more prescription drugs, and nearly 20 percent take 10 or more, according to the Lown Institute, a health care think tank in Brookline. The institute warns of a growing epidemic of overmedication that’s sent millions of seniors to hospitals and emergency rooms in the past decade with often serious side effects.
“Lown, which published a report on ‘medication overload” last year, will release a national action plan later this month alerting patients, caregivers, doctors, and pharmacists — as well as policy makers — to the perils of overprescribing. The plan was developed by a group of patient advocates, geriatricians, nurses, and health insurers concerned about the unintended consequences of the ‘pills for all ills’ mind-set.”
Continue reading this article at The Boston Globe, click here.
“Hank Skinner and his wife, Carol, are no strangers to pain, having collectively experienced multiple illnesses and surgeries. Hank relies on a fentanyl patch but is now being forced to lower his dosage.” (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)
Opioids and older Americans | clear and present threat; FREE presentations near you about “controlling the opioid epidemic in our aging and disabled populations”
Recent “revelations” about the pharmaceutical manufacturers producuction and marketing of opioids has garnered national media attention … finally.
“It was the early 2000s, and they usually talked over old-school computer message boards. Occasionally they gathered in person, carrying posters of their children and middle-aged spouses — all dead from OxyContin overdoses.”
We now know that the warnings these people tried to send matched the incidents that the 2015 book, Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic.
“In 1929, in the blue-collar city of Portsmouth, Ohio, a company built a swimming pool the size of a football field; named Dreamland, it became the vital center of the community. Now, addiction has devastated Portsmouth, as it has hundreds of small rural towns and suburbs across America—addiction like no other the country has ever faced. How that happened is the riveting story of Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic.
“Acclaimed journalist Sam Quinones weaves together two riveting tales of capitalism run amok whose unintentional collision has been a catastrophic opiate epidemic.
“The unfettered prescribing of pain medications during the 1990s reached its peak in Purdue Pharma’s campaign to market OxyContin, its new, expensive—extremely addictive—miracle painkiller.”
Opioids have reached into so many families across the nation; the addictions know no barriers. Young and old; male and female; black and white … the stories of people who have, and continue, to struggle with addiction abound.
Click on the above graphic to read more about chronic pain and opioids. “The rapid growth in opioid overdoses has put a spotlight on opioid prescribing patterns, with increased pressure on clinicians to reduce opioid prescribing, especially for long-term management of chronic, noncancer pain.”
Because many older persons contend with debilitating pain and in some cases addiciton, the Pennsylvania Link to Aging and Disability Resources is collaborating with the Office of the Attorney General to hold free presentations: “Opioids & Dangerous Drugs | A FREE presentation about controlling the opioid epidemic in our aging and disabled populations” in Berks, Lancaster and Lebanon Counties in August.
Each of these presentations is open to all and FREE to attend. Click on the links below for more information and RSVP specifics.
- Lebanon County – Tuesday, August 27 – 10:00 to Noon
- Lancaster County – Wednesday, August 28 – 10:00 to Noon
- Berks County – Thursday, August 29 – 10:00 to Noon
“The data in the DEA database tracks the path of every single pain pill sold in the United States, including oxycodone, above. (John Moore/Getty Images)”
by Scott Higham Sari Horwitz Steven Rich
“America’s largest drug companies saturated the country with 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pain pills from 2006 through 2012 as the nation’s deadliest drug epidemic spun out of control, according to previously undisclosed company data released as part of the largest civil action in U.S. history.
“The information comes from a database maintained by the Drug Enforcement Administration that tracks the path of every single pain pill sold in the United States — from manufacturers and distributors to pharmacies in every town and city. The data provides an unprecedented look at the surge of legal pain pills that fueled the prescription opioid epidemic, which has resulted in nearly 100,000 deaths from 2006 through 2012.
“Just six companies distributed 75 percent of the pills during this period: McKesson Corp., Walgreens, Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, CVS and Walmart, according to an analysis of the database by The Washington Post. Three companies manufactured 88 percent of the opioids: SpecGx, a subsidiary of Mallinckrodt; Actavis Pharma; and Par Pharmaceutical, a subsidiary of Endo Pharmaceuticals.”
Read this Washington Post article in its entirety, click here.
“Understanding Drug Side Effects as You Age | As your metabolism changes, common meds may trigger new, unwelcome reactions” – AARP
by Kathleen Fifield
While you’ve probably given your metabolism some thought when it comes to midlife weight gain, your digestive process affects other things, too — including how your body handles any drugs you take.
“‘Your metabolism changes a lot as part of the normal aging process,’ explains internist Michael Hochman, clinical associate professor of medicine and director of the University of Southern California Gehr Family Center for Health Systems Science. ‘Your liver breaks things down differently, your kidneys stop being as efficient, and your GI system works a little more slowly. That means a medication that your body may have had no trouble metabolizing when you were middle-aged becomes more problematic as you get older.’ As a result, you’ll be more susceptible to possible side effects from the medications you take than someone a decade or two younger, he says.
“Overall, 1 in 6 adults over age 65 are likely to have a harmful reaction to one or more of the meds they’re popping, according to the American Geriatric Society.”
C;lick here to read this article at AARP in its entirety.
Read this related information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Adverse Drug Events in Adults
by Kathleen Cameron
“n many households, spring cleaning is an annual event, and anyone who takes medication should use the opportunity to clean out their medicine cabinets. Whether they’re expired, your doctor told you to stop taking them, or ones you have not used and do not plan to use, medications lying around your home may lead to confusion about what to take.
“Unwanted medications are also a public safety issue! They increase the risk of accidental poisoning, misuse, and overdose. Properly disposing of unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medications can save lives and protect our environment.
“National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is Saturday, April 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and is held at thousands of convenient locations across the country.”
“Tomorrow, Saturday, April 27, 2019 | 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Eastern Time
Unused or expired prescription medications are a public safety issue, and can lead to accidental poisoning, overdose, and abuse. Unused prescriptions thrown in the trash can be retrieved and abused or illegally sold. The misuse and abuse of over-the-counter medications, illicit drugs, alcohol, and tobacco affect the health and well-being of millions of Americans.
Tomorrow, Saturday, April 27, 2019, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern Time, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement, businesses, medical offices, agencies, and first responders, will host events to collect and safely dispose of unwanted medications.
Removing unwanted or expired medications from the medicine cabinet is an easy and concrete step that everyone can take to make a difference in the opioid crisis. Make plans now to dispose of your unwanted medications during DEA National Rx Take Back Day.
“Some can be deadly. Some hit older adults harder than others. How to know how much is too much”
by Betsy Stephens
“If the good news is that over-the-counter pain killers such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen won’t put you at risk for addiction issues like prescription opioids or narcotics can, the less good news is that no pain pill comes without the potential for problems, says Nitin Sekhri, medical director of pain management at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, N.Y.
“Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, is considered the safest option by many, and yet, Sekhri notes, it’s still to blame for about 50 percent of acute liver failures in the U.S. Acetaminophen also is the leading reason behind calls to poison control and to blame for more than 50,000 emergency room visits a year.
“Often problems arise from people not realizing they’ve taken as much acetaminophen as they have. The over-the-counter painkiller isn’t just in Tylenol: It shows up in remedies meant to fight allergies, colds, flu, coughs and sleeplessness. It’s also an ingredient in prescription painkillers such as Vicodin and Percocet.”
Read this article in its entirety at AARP, click here.
“Spending on pharmaceuticals is on the rise worldwide. And it well should be. Today, we are able to cure some diseases like hepatitis C that were virtual death sentences just a few years ago. This progress required significant investments by governments and private companies alike. Unquestionably, the world is better off for it.
“Unfortunately, as President Trump pointed out in the State of the Union address, the United States has borne a significant amount of the negative effects associated with this development. For one, its regulatory apparatus has focused largely on drug safety, yet regulators have failed to emphasize cost-effectiveness when it comes to both new and existing drugs.
“At the same time, the United States also pays significantly higher prices than the rest of the developed world when it comes to prescription drugs, due primarily to limited competition among drug companies.”
Read this article at The Conversation in its entirety, click here.
Read this related article: “Paying for Prescription Drugs Around the World: Why Is the U.S. an Outlier?” – The Commonwealth Fund
“The Out-of-Pocket Cost Burden for Specialty Drugs in Medicare Part D in 2019” – Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
“Medicare Part D has helped to make prescription drugs more affordable for people with Medicare, yet many beneficiaries continue to face high out-of-pocket costs for their medications. Specialty tier drugs—defined by Medicare as drugs that cost more than $670 per month in 2019—are a particular concern for Part D enrollees in this context. Part D plans are allowed to charge between 25 percent and 33 percent coinsurance for specialty tier drugs before enrollees reach the coverage gap, where they pay 25 percent for all brands, followed by 5 percent coinsurance when total out-of-pocket spending exceeds an annual threshold ($5,100 in 2019). While specialty tier drugs are taken by a relatively small share of enrollees, spending on these drugs has increased over time and now accounts for over 20 percent of total Part D spending, up from about 6 to 7 percent before 2010.”
“Figure 1: Medicare Part D beneficiaries can pay thousands of dollars out of pocket for specialty tier drugs, with the majority of costs for many drugs above the catastrophic threshold.”
“More than half of older Americans lack the skills to gather and understand medical information. Providers must simplify, researchers say.”
by Paula Span
“Every time her parents pick up a new prescription at a Walgreens in Houston, they follow Duyen Pham-Madden’s standing instructions: Use the iPad she bought for them, log onto FaceTime, hold up the pill bottles for her examination.
“Her mother, 79, and father, 77, need numerous medications, but have trouble grasping when and how to take them.
“The label may say to take one pill three times a day, but ‘my dad might take one a day,’ said Ms. Pham-Madden, 56, an insurance purchasing agent in Blue Springs, Mo. ‘Or take three at a time.’
“So she interprets the directions for them, also reminding her mother to take the prescribed megadose of vitamin D, for osteoporosis, only weekly, not daily.”
Continue reading this important article at The New York Times, click here.