Archive for April 2013

New York Doctor Head Of Oxycodone Ring

A New York City doctor has been charged in a scheme that allegedly distributed $10 million worth ofoxycodone pills.

“Well over half a million oxycodone pills were illegally sold in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, fueling the addiction of an untold number of people,” said Bridget Brennan, New York City’s special narcotics prosecutor.

Dr. Hector Castro, his office manager Patricia Valera and four dozen others were charged with running what the Drug Enforcement Administration called an “extensive interstate network of narcotics traffickers” responsible for the illegal distribution of a half million oxycodone pills worth at least $10 million.

Between September 2011 and February 2013 court records say New Jersey pharmacies dispensed nearly 500,000 pills of oxycodone based on thousands of prescriptions originating from Castro’s Manhattan office. In contrast, New York pharmacies dispensed approximately 75,000 pills based on approximately 600 similar prescriptions between August 2009 and January 2013.

The investigation into Castro’s alleged prescription sales began in late 2011 when an individual suffered a fatal oxycodone overdose in Middlesex, N.J., and authorities discovered a pill bottle with Castro’s name on the label at the scene. The deceased individual had received a prescription from Castro just a day earlier, authorities said.  (full story on ABC)


National strategy blueprint for tackling prescription drug abuse crisis in Canada

TORONTO – A national strategy to deal with the abuse and misuse of opioids and other potentially harmful prescription drugs is being unveiled in Ottawa today, a 10-year plan to tackle what’s being called a public health crisis of epidemic proportions.

The plan, drafted by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA), the National Advisory Council on Prescription Drug Misuse and other key organizations, aims to reduce the potential harms of such medications as opioids, stimulants and sedatives.

Canada is neck and neck with the United States as the country with the highest per capita use of opiates, the potent pain killers that include oxycodone, hydromorphone and fentanyl.

The national strategy, entitled First Do No Harm, is said to contain numerous recommendations on how to deal with Canada’s prescription drug problem. That could include stricter prescription monitoring and tighter supply chain control of high-potency opioids, for instance.

“I think it’s great really that the CCSA has finally taken this on, and hopefully the federal government and the provincial governments … and others who have a role to play will listen to many of the recommendations,” said Dr. Irfan Dhalla, a member of the National Advisory Council, who declined to discuss specifics of the report.

“It’s a great title because it illustrates that at the root of this problem, unlike most of the other substance misuse problems — alcohol, cocaine, tobacco — the root of this problem is a physician with a prescription pad.

“I think the report makes that quite clear, that if physicians prescribe these drugs more carefully, we will likely have fewer cases of addiction and overdose death,” said Dhalla, an internist and researcher at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital who has long spoken out against indiscriminate prescribing of opioids like oxycodone.

More than 1,000 Canadians will die this year as a result of taking opioids, often from overdoses, said Dr. David Juurlink, a physician and addiction researcher at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. “Sometimes they’re abusing them, sometimes they’re not.

“And for every person who dies, perhaps 10 seek treatment for drug addiction. And perhaps more than 100 — and no one really knows for sure — have a problem with misuse or addiction involving opioids,” he said. (Read more )


Study: Lax attitude on teens and Rx drug abuse

WASHINGTON (AP) — More parents need to talk with their teens about the dangers of abusing Ritalin, Adderall and otherprescription drugs, suggests a new study that finds discouraging trends on kids and drug use.

When teens were asked about the last substance abuseconversation they had with their parents, just 14 percent said they talked about abusing a prescription drug, said the report being released Tuesday by The Partnership at

“For parents, it really comes down to not using the power they have because they don’t think this is an immediate problem, meaning their own home, own neighborhood kind of thing,” says Steve Pasierb, president of the partnership. “They believe that this is probably a safer way, not as bad as illegal street drugs.”

By comparison, most teens — 81 percent — said they have talked about the risks of marijuana use with their parents. Almost the same number said they have discussed alcohol with their parents. Almost one-third said they have talked about crack and cocaine.

Some parents didn’t see a significant risk in teens misusing prescription drugs.

One in six parents said using prescription drugs to get high is safer than using street drugs, according to the survey. Almost one-third of the parents said attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications such as Ritalin or Adderall can improve a child’s academic or testing performance even if the teen does not have ADHD.

For Tracey and Jeff Gerl, of Cypress, Texas, their son’s drug abuse problem was a shock.

“We just didn’t know,” said Jeff. He and his wife had the “drugs are bad” talk with their son, Nick, and thought he got the message. They called the parents of friends when he said he was spending the night to make sure an adult would be home. They tried to get to know his friends. Despite their efforts, Nick started smoking pot at the age of 12.

In an AP interview, Nick said he and his friends often raided their parents’ medicine cabinets for anything they could get their hands on — codeine, Xanax, Ritalin. Some kids, Nick said, would have “skittles parties,” where the teens threw all the pills they poached from home into a big bowl, mixed them up and then took a few without knowing exactly what they were ingesting.

By 14, Nick’s parents knew something was wrong. The day before he turned 15, they sent Nick to The Center for Success and Independence in Houston for 7 ½ months of substance abuse treatment. It wasn’t easy on anyone in the family — Nick, his two younger brothers and his parents. Nick tried to escape twice, but made it through the program and has been sober now for a year.

“My family life is a lot better. I’m realizing there are fun things in life that I can do sober,” said Nick, now 16. “I got a chance to get clean and I have my whole life ahead of me.” (Read more)