Entries in Vicodin (4)


Pharmacies Targeted by Dealers, Addicts Desperate for Painkillers

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In Phoenix, two men tied up pharmacy employees while another stole painkillers.

On New Year's Eve in 2011, an armed robber demanding Oxycontin and money at a Long Island, N.Y., pharmacy encountered an off-duty Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent and two police officers as he was leaving. He and the ATF agent were killed.

Law enforcement say that armed robbers looking for prescription drugs are turning some neighborhood pharmacies into danger zones.

At another Long Island pharmacy, an addict in search of drugs for his wife fatally shot four people, including a 17-year-old clerk days from her high school graduation, in June 2011. He then left with a backpack full of prescription painkillers. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Since 2006, there has been an 82-percent rise in pharmacy robberies -- from 385 in 2006 to 701 in 2011 -- and 3,535 pharmacies have been hit.

Police say the surge is being fueled by the nation's prescription drug abuse epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 14,800 prescription painkiller deaths.

Law enforcement says the robbers are typically drug dealers who know they can make huge profits -- up to $80 a pill -- on the street. But some of the thieves are simply desperate addicts.

In the summer of 2011, the bass player for the rock group Coheed and Cambria was accused of robbing a Massachusetts Walgreens pharmacy of Oxycontin. He allegedly threatened to detonate a bomb. He reportedly headed back to the band's concert venue with bottles of pills.

Bruce Goodarzi, a Rockville, Md., pharmacist, said the robbers who'd broken into his store twice in one month were after painkillers like Oxycontin or Vicodin.

"We're talking about thousands of the pills," he told ABC News. "They are going right to the drug cabinet."

Pharmacies are beefing up their security systems -- adding watchdogs and guards -- and also storing drugs in safes. Goodarzi said he built a steel cage to protect the painkillers.

Others are refusing to stock the medications or are getting guns to protect themselves in the hopes that potential criminals pass them by.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Doctors Express Concern over New 'Addictive' Painkiller

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- It has yet to hit the market, and already a powerful new painkiller is arousing debate among doctors specializing in pain management.

The drug is a new formulation that would allow doctors for the first time ever to prescribe pure hydrocodone to their patients. According to the National Institutes of Health, hydrocodone is already a component of 404 separate branded drugs; in each case, it is mixed with some other medication. Vicodin, a well-known example, is a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen, which is the active ingredient in Tylenol.

But should such a product even be available, particularly in light of the country’s growing battle with prescription painkiller addiction? At the center of the debate is the question of whether the possible benefits of such a pill, which would potentially carry many times the amount of hydrocodone than the amount in current combination medicines, would outweigh the risks linked to the addictive potential.

"Oh, it is very addictive," said Dr. Lloyd Saberski, medical director of the New Haven, Ct.-based Advanced Diagnostic Pain Treatment Centers. "But so are oxycodone, Dilaudid, Demerol and morphine. Why should this product be discriminated upon more so than the other products?"

Saberski added that existing FDA regulations would protect the public from the misuse of this new drug.

Other pain management physicians say adding pure hydrocodone to the mix of addictive prescription pain drugs already available will only make the country’s painkiller abuse problem worse. One of these physicians is Dr. Joel Saper, founder and director of the Michigan Head Pain and Neurological Institute in Ann Arbor.

"I don’t think we need another opioid," Saper said. “We need better education, more sanity, and we need to stop treating benign pain with more narcotics."

Saper said that while it would make sense for pain management doctors to be able to prescribe hydrocodone as a painkiller without the acetaminophen in Vicodin -- which can cause acute liver toxicity if too much is taken -- there are currently other approaches available to doctors that allow them to treat pain with existing drugs.

Saper said that adding another drug to the mix would be a mistake in light of the country’s prescription drug abuse problem.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Vicodin Times 10: New Painkiller Worries Doctors

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new prescription painkiller in the works might ultimately deliver far more pain than it relieves, health experts say.

Drug companies are racing to develop a pure form of hydrocodone, better known to consumers as Vicodin.  The new drug is considered 10 times more potent that regular Vicodin, the strength of which is cut with over-the-counter painkiller acetaminophen.

Zogenix of San Diego is leading the pack and could start marketing its drug Zohydro as early as next year.

Although the time-released drug is not intended to deliver all its painkilling relief at once, critics say that addicts will get around it by crushing pills as they've done with other drugs in the opoid class, which are from the opium family.

Hydrocodone is the second most abused prescription painkiller next to Oxycontin, although the purer hydrocodone could quickly supplant the current king of opoids.

Doctors say they need the drug to help alleviate moderate to severe pain in patients who claim that nothing else helps them.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Some Painkillers Safer Than Others, Study Finds

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BOSTON) -- For the first time, research has compared the safety of some of the most commonly used painkillers.  And the drugs that raised the biggest questions?  Opioids -- the regularly prescribed class of painkillers that include Vicodin and OxyContin.

In two new reports published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston found that opioid users experienced higher rates of serious problems than patients taking other types of painkillers, such as coxibs or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs.

The use of hydrocodone, brand name Vicodin, and oxycodone, brand name OxyContin, nearly doubled between 2001 and 2006.  Doctors said a major reason for the spike came from noncancer patients taking the painkiller.

And last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the number of fatal opioid poisonings more than tripled from 4,000 to 13,800 deaths between 1999 and 2006.

In the first report, researchers collected Medicare data between the years 1996 and 2005, including information from more than 31,000 older Americans who had been prescribed an NSAID, coxib or opioid.  The report found that opioid users experienced higher rates of cardiovascular problems and fractures than patients taking other types of painkillers.

In the second report, the authors compared the rates of serious problems occurring after 30 and 180 days among patients taking one of five opioids: codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, propoxyphene and tramadol.  They found that patients taking codeine or oxycodone were about twice as likely to die from any cause compared with patients taking hydrocodone, an opioid similar to oxycodone and stronger than codeine.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio