Archive for January, 2015

Wayne Co. Pharmacy Tech to be sentenced for selling pills

Posted on: January 8th, 2015 by sobrietyresources

By Dave Williams Published: January 8, 2015, 10:21 am Updated: January 8, 2015, 11:15 am

Buffy Bradford (Wayne Co. Sheriff’s Office)

SAVANNAH, GA. (WJCL) — A pharmacy technician in Wayne County pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute thousands of pain pills.

Buffy Bradford entered the plea earlier this week in federal court in Brunswick.

She worked at Wayne Memorial Hospital in Jesup as a pharmacy technician.

Court records show that between September 2013 and March 2014, Bradford stole Hydrocodone and Xanax so they could be sold illegally on the streets.

She faces up to 10 years in federal prison.

LCSO: Heroin overdose deaths up 400% since 2012

Posted on: January 7th, 2015 by sobrietyresources

Since 2012, the number of people dying in Loudoun County from heroin overdoses has increased 400 percent, according to a bulletin recently released by the sheriff’s office. “Heroin overdoses continue to pose a significant problem for our area and do not show signs of stopping,” the bulletin reads.

According to the report, almost 20 percent of all LCSO overdose cases are attributed to heroin.
As of Dec. 8, 2014, the sheriff’s office had responded to 29 suspected heroin overdoses – a 71 percent increase compared to the same time in 2013 and an 263 percent increase from 2012. Ten of those cases resulted in death – a 67 percent increase compared to 2013 and a 400 percent increase since 2012.

“What you’re seeing is a misuse in pharmaceutical drugs … and what happens is when people run out of money or can’t get prescriptions for them anymore, they turn to heroin,” said Sheriff Mike Chapman. Chapman said he restructured the Special Investigations section to combat the problem on a regional scale with deputies working with the High Intensity Drug Task Force, the DEA Diversion Task Force and the Northern Virginia Gang Task Force.

“… Working with these task forces gets us to mid- to higher-level distributors to have a higher impact [on the problem,” he said. The problem has been so severe and apparent to law enforcement that last year members of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, Leesburg Police Department, Virginia State Police and Attorney General Mark Herring met to discuss ways to curb heroin usage. In June members of the Virginia congressional delegation asked Gov. Terry McAuliffe to set up a heroin task force, which he did.

A recent report from the Journal of the American Medical Association said: “Our data show that the demographic composition of heroin users entering treatment has shifted over the last 50 years such that heroin use has changed from an inner-city, minority-centered problem to one that has a more widespread geographical distribution, involving primarily white men and women in their late 20s living outside of large urban areas.” Heroin addiction is rampant in not only Loudoun, but all of Northern Virginia.

Northern Virginia has had a triple-digit increase in heroin overdose deaths over the last two years. According to the Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, more than 800 Virginians died from drug overdoses in 2012, with heroin overdose deaths nearly doubling from a total of 103 in 2011 to 197 in 2013. According to the medical examiner report, every region of the state experienced an increase in heroin fatalities during those two years, but Northern Virginia led the state with a whopping 164 percent increase during that time period.

Leesburg has also had its problems with the deadly drug. Leesburg Police, in its third quarter crime analysis, reported increases in narcotics cases, including more heroin on the streets. Leesburg Police Chief Joesph Price in a December interview with the Loudoun Times-Mirror said the department relies on community-based policy to try and eradicate the problem.

“I think our guys have done a yeoman’s job over here and it really is looking … at community policing. But we take it to the next level and we’re incorporating evidence-based policing and intelligence-based policing,” said Price “Where’s our crime happening and what strategies can we put in place to either eradicate or at least reduce that crime?”

Price said he sees the number of officer-generated arrests for narcotics in Leesburg as a positive, meaning police are doing what they can to take distributors off the streets. “It’s showing that they’re really doing pro-active work, so I consider that plus mark a positive indicator, but with that we’re using CIs [confidential informants] to do a lot of the drug purchasing because we don’t have the resources.”

Overdose Deaths due to Prescription Painkillers May Peak Soon: Study

Posted on: January 7th, 2015 by sobrietyresources

By Dave Williams Published: January 8, 2015, 10:21 am Updated: January 8, 2015, 11:15 am

Will the number of overdose deaths attributed to prescription drugs peak in a few years?

A new analysis suggests this may be possible when viewing the problem as an epidemic. After applying a theory known as Farr’s Law, a group of Columbia University professors calculate that the number of prescription drug overdoses each year in the U.S. will peak in 2017 at 16.1 deaths per 100,000 people, and by 2034 will fall back to much lower rates last seen in the early 1980’s. What is Farr’s Law? Named after an epidemiologist known as William Farr, the premise is that an epidemic generally follows a symmetrical curve – a pattern indicates a natural uptake before subsiding. The motion has previously been applied to mapping outbreaks of smallpox, cattle disease and the AIDS epidemic, although with mixed results, as the authors acknowledge.

Nonetheless, as the Columbia University researchers write in Injury Epidemiology, a medical journal, they applied the theory to existing data and plan to test whether their projections will hold in coming years. They do not, however, see this as an academic exercise. Rather, they believe the patterns may hold clues into the extent to which public policy is making a dent in a serious problem. “Our projections, if partially accurate, may help assess intermediate outcomes to gauge whether interventions are working and guide long-term planning and management of public health resources and prevention efforts,” they write. Two of the four authors, by the way, are also editors of the journal.

Indeed, the burgeoning abuse and misuse of prescription painkillers has been a troubling issue for a number of years. The authors noted, for instance, that a 2011 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control found that opioid painkillers accounted for approximately two-thirds of the total number of deaths attributed to prescription drug overdose. As we have written previously, the FDA has been struggling to find ways to ensure that drug makers develop abuse-resistant painkillers. However, efforts to restrict access have also caused a backlash among some physicians and patients, who say that well-intentioned moves to reduce addiction and overdoses have, in some cases, also overlooked legitimate need for pain relief.

We should note that there are some limitations to their theory. As the authors concede, the method they applied “originated from studies of infectious diseases” and “it is unknown whether Farr’s Law applies to epidemics of a non-infectious origin.” Nonetheless, the authors maintain “it is plausible that a non-communicable disease, such as drug overdose, can follow infectious patterns.” As they explain it, a “theory of social contagion” has been used to explain various behavioral disorders and a “social mechanism of transmission may underlie” the reasons some people start using these drugs. From there, the usage may mimic infectious disease patterns, they write, “proliferating through the population until some natural threshold or intervention prevents further spread.” Of course, such thinking has been applied to obesity, which the authors also acknowledge has been controversial. Whether public policy interventions, such as prescription drug monitoring programs, prove to be effective remains to be seen. But the authors argue that if the rate at which deaths occur does drop, as their projections indicate, this would imply such efforts are “working and should be continued.

Union Co. deputies won’t carry overdose drug

Posted on: January 6th, 2015 by sobrietyresources

Pam Tharp 3:03 p.m. EST January 7, 2015

LIBERTY, Ind. – Union County deputies won’t administer anti-narcotic medications to addicts who overdose.
Last month, St. Clair EMS owner Nathan St. Clair suggested county deputies carry Narcan in their cruisers so they could administer the lifesaving anti-narcotic if ambulance crews are on other runs. Narcan, the brand name of naloxone, is used for complete or partial reversal of opioid depression, including respiratory depression, which can be fatal. Sheriff Dale Dishmond told county commissioners Monday that administering Narcan puts deputies at risk and could create a liability for the county if deputies don’t get to the scene in time to save the person. Determining a patient needs that treatment is a medical assessment beyond the scope of officers’ training, he said.

“It’s encouraging the use of heroin, and I’m against it,” Dishmond said. “They make a bad decision, and we put people at risk running lights and sirens to get to them. (Addicts) call dispatch and ask them to bring Narcan. We’re trying to be a deterrent to drug use.” Addicts also might deny to police officers that they’ve used opiates, raising officers’ liability in administering Narcan, Chief Deputy Shawn Tudor said. St. Clair said Narcan won’t harm anyone if it’s not needed and it saves the lives of those who do. Narcan’s $60 per-dose cost also is an issue. If deputies stock and administer the drug, the cost would be a sheriff’s department expense. Currently, the ambulance service buys Narcan, but it often can’t collect any money for those runs. Overdose numbers in Union County were down in December, with only one call, down from six in October.

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