You might recall the legal action taken by several U.S. states on tobacco companies that occurred about 20 years ago. Much like that, two California counties, Santa Clara and Orange, are suing painkiller manufacturing companies on the basis that they make misleading and false claims about the safety of their products, which are consumed by millions of Americans each year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that opioid painkillers, such as Oxycontin and Vicodin, were to be blamed for 16,651 deaths in 2010, a number that is more than twice the number of deaths that could be attributed to cocaine and heroin combined.
The two California counties have filed a lawsuit against five drug companies: Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Purdue Pharma, Actavis, Endo Health Solutions Inc., and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries’ Cephalon Inc. – accusing them of waging an intentionally deceptive campaign in order to boost the sales of their powerful painkillers – the same ones that currently the driving force behind our booming prescription narcotic addiction problem.
The suit, filed Wednesday in Orange County Superior Court, alleges false advertising, unfair competition and creating a public nuisance. The lawsuit goes on to say that the ever-increasing drug overdose cases serve only to burden already-busy hospital emergency rooms as well as add to rising medical costs.
Though filed by two specific counties, the lawsuit is being filed on behalf of the entire state of California; it intends to halt the opiate painkiller marketing campaigns in the state as well as to collect an unspecified amount for compensation due to alleged damage to the public’s health and California citizens.
In the News: Two California Counties Sue Over Painkiller Marketing
Besides the lawsuit against the tobacco industry, there seems to be another precedent to this latest litigious action.
Previously, Purdue, which manufactures OxyContin and is one of the 5 Big Pharma companies named in this latest suit, and three of its former executives paid $634 million to settle criminal and civil charges. The charges were filed by the U.S. Department of Justice and claimed that Purdue misled regulators, doctors, and patients regarding their product’s potential for abuse and addiction.
Despite its claims that it has since put certain practices into place in order to prevent misinformation and mishandling of Oxycontin, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said that Purdue continues to mislead the public despite the previous settlement.
“That didn’t change anything and that’s why this lawsuit can’t just be about money. We aren’t just looking to tax them on their profits. We are looking for them to change their behavior and to start telling the truth,” Rackauckas said in an interview Thursday.
The Wednesday lawsuit alleges that the named companies sought to expand narcotic painkiller sales back in the 1990s by promoting their use for more than serious pain-related cases such as those involving cancer patients and other terminally ill patients. It also claims that upwards of 254 million prescriptions for opiate-based drugs were filled in 2010 to treat a wide-range of common conditions, such as arthritis, back pain and headaches.
“Opioids — once a niche drug — are now the most prescribed class of drugs — more than blood pressure, cholesterol or anxiety drugs,” the lawsuit states. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
WEST PALM BEACH – Two Florida pill mill doctors were sentenced Friday for their part in irresponsibly handing out thousands of prescriptions for narcotic painkillers, such as oxycodone (Percocet), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and Roxicodone (“Roxy”), while employed in the so-called “pill mill” clinics owned and operated by the now infamous Wellington twins Chris and Jeff George.
Dr. Cynthia Cadet, 43, received a 78-month sentence, which translates to about 6 ½ years and Dr. Joseph Castronuovo, 74, was given an 18-month sentence. However, both Florida pill mill doctors have sworn to appeal their convictions and sentences. Both also asked to remain free while their appeals are pending.
Florida Pill Mill Doctors: Overdose Deaths
This isn’t the first time that Cadet and Castronuovo faced a judge: eight months, both of these Florida pill mill doctors were cleared of causing the opiate overdose deaths of eight patients in all. The two were in federal court in order to be sentenced on money laundering charges for their role in the extensive pill mill operation in the South Florida region.
Drs. Cynthia Cadet and Joseph Castronuovo were originally facing the possibility of stiff sentences of as much as 10 years a piece for their participation in the lucrative pain clinic enterprise masterminded by twins Chris and Jeff George. The Florida pill mill doctors’ attorneys argued that neither of their clients should be sent to prison for their work at the clinics – that were obviously designed to people addicted to opiates and other prescription pills, such as Xanax, desperate for a fix.
Florida Pill Mill Doctors Beg for Mercy
According to his attorney Thomas Sclafani, who wrote in memorandum to U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra, Castronuovo, being of advanced age and suffering with several health problems, wouldn’t survive long in prison. Sclafani urged for leniency, citing his client’s long career as a healer and his service to the community when he worked at St. Mary’s Medical Center in the 1970s, and suggested that Castronuovo be sentenced to house arrest.
Michael Weinstein, the attorney for Cadet, 43, the former emergency room physician in Broward County turned pill mill doctor, said that his client should be given probation.
Both attorneys wrote that the other Florida pill mill doctors who worked for the Georges admitted to knowing that their employers were drug dealers. According to their attorneys, both Cadet and Castronuovo say they believed they were professionally and ethically treating their patients, who appeared to have legitimate health issues. In fact – they pointed out – the two were the only ones among nearly three dozen of Florida pill mill doctors at the clinics in Palm Beach and Broward counties who rejected plea deals at the time of their indictment and chose to go to trial, believing in their own innocence.
Prosecutors: Florida Pill Mill Doctors Deserve Punishment
Prosecutors for the case wrote, “At trial, the government presented approximately seventy witnesses and over 400 exhibits. The evidence established that both defendants prescribed and dispensed controlled substances outside the usual course of professional practice and other than for a legitimate medical purpose.”
The prosecutors pointed out that both of the Florida pill mill doctors Cadet and Castronuovo knew what they were doing was illegal. They said that the two should be punished just like the 10 or so other pill mill doctors who pleaded guilty and received prison sentences.
Witnesses at trial testified that the clinic where Cadet worked was so successful that money literally spilled out of garbage bags. And neighbors of the clinics complained about the patients shooting up in clinic parking lots.
The prosecutors also point to the two Florida pill mill doctors’ guilt as evidenced in their actions while employed by the Georges. For instance, during the mere 15 months Cadet worked at the clinic American Pain, she wrote prescriptions for 2.5 million oxycodone pills and was paid $1.5 million. And Castronuovo, who worked for nine months at the twins’ clinic Executive Pain, made $160,000 and gave out prescriptions for 750,000 pills, prosecutors said.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
When you feel like you’ve gotten upside down in life – having become physically dependent and psychologically dependent on alcohol or other drugs, then it is time to consider getting help from detox centers in Jamestown. To begin the healing process from substance abuse, you should seek the comfort and knowledge of a professional and nurturing staff at detox centers in Jamestown, RI.
What are Detox Centers in Jamestown?
Detox programs are the first step in halting the cycle of substance abuse and addiction and can give you a new outlook on life.
Drug and alcohol detox centers in Jamestown, sometimes called inpatient medical withdrawal management programs, are facilities that administer medication to ease your withdrawal symptoms and give you comfort when getting off a substance or substances. And depending on what drug or drugs upon which you are dependent, a medical detox may actually be necessary.
Why is Drug Detox necessary?
When it is alcohol, benzos, or barbiturates, that you have been using and abusing, then medical detox, such as those offered by detox centers in Jamestown is necessary. If you have experienced withdrawal symptoms after you stop using a substance, this means that you are physically dependent on it. This is because the withdrawal syndrome from any of these substances has the potential to be life-threatening and even fatal. Severe symptoms include heart failure, seizure, stroke, coma, and death.
As for amphetamines, such as cocaine and speed, and methamphetamines, such as crystal meth, detox centers in Jamestown are also beneficial at treating those withdrawals, which often include uncomfortable and even terrifying psychological symptoms such as hallucinations and anxiety.
If you are dependent on opiates, such as prescription painkillers like oxycodone, hydrocodone (Vicodin), methadone, or illegal drugs like heroin, you will want to take advantage of the programs offered at medical detox centers in Jamestown because, although rare, the withdrawal from these substances can cause seizure. The main benefit of a medical detox from opiates is that it will alleviate the severity and length of time that you will experience withdrawal symptoms, which are best described as a being like a really severe flu.
Why Drug Detox Centers in Jamestown Are a Good Idea
Drug detox centers in Jamestown are crucial to success at getting clean and sober. It has been found that fear of withdrawal is the main obstacle to getting clean. The staff at detox centers in Jamestown is medically trained as well as compassionate and understanding to your situation. After all, drug dependence and substance abuse are recognized as medical conditions and should be treated as such. You will be treated with the utmost of care and respect while you get your life back on track. In detox, you will get all of the junk out of your system while learning tools and coping skills that will support you in living a lifestyle free from the dependence on alcohol and other drugs. If you or a loved one is struggling with drug abuse or addiction, or seeking detox centers in Jamestown RI please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
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Studies of the brain show images that indicate there are differences in the brain that are both cause and effect of addiction. Even before drug use begins, there are neurobiological differences between people who become addicted and people who don’t. Once someone starts using drugs, the prolonged drug use will actually change the structure and function of the brain, making it difficult to control impulses, feel pleasure from natural rewards like sex and food, and focus on anything other than getting and using drugs. Here are 10 addiction myths you probably believe.
#1 Addiction Myths You Probably Believe
People choose to be addicted.
People don’t choose to become addicted just like they don’t choose to develop any other disease. Research shows that both genetics and environmental variables factor into whether someone develops and addiction. Recovery isn’t as simple as having the willpower to say ‘no’ once you are already in active addiction – there is no choice at that point.
#2 Addiction Myths You Probably Believe
Addicts are bad people who should be punished.
If a person develops an addiction, there’s a general consensus that they’re bad, weak-willed or immoral. You don’t see this same level of hostility towards people with other chronic illnesses such as diabetes or cancer. People with these diseases aren’t subject to legal consequences and attitudes like, “let them kill themselves, they’re a waste of space.” Yes, often times addicts resort to desperate and illegal acts in order to feed their addictions bur consider this: they are driven to do so by actual changes in their brains due to prolonged drug use. Sometimes, good people do bad things, and sick people need treatment, not punishment in order to recover.
#3 Addiction Myths You Probably Believe
People only get addicted to one kind of drug.
Another addiction myth is that people generally have one drug of choice (DOC). However, today we’re finding that it is more and more common for people to be using and addicted to more than one substance, this is called polysubstance abuse.
Some addicts use a combination of drugs in order to increase the intensity of the ‘high’ such as “speed-balling.” Others use one drug then another in order to counteract any unwanted feelings, such as the experience of “coming down.” Other addicts will use whatever drug is available.
#4 Addiction Myths You Probably Believe
People who get addicted to prescription drugs are not addicts like the people who get addicted to illegal drugs.
Medications like oxycodone, Vicodin, Adderall, and Xanax all can be prescribed by a doctor, and, when taken as prescribed, are relatively safe. This has led to a widespread delusion prescription drugs are safer than so-called street drugs. First of all, prescription drug abuse has reached epidemic proportions in recent times and, secondly, when you take a prescription drug in a greater dose, more often than prescribed, or recreationally (taking a drug that is meant for treating a medical problem that you don’t actually have), it affects the same areas of the brain as illegal drugs and carries the same risk for addiction.
#5 Addiction Myths You Probably Believe
Treatment should put addicts in their place.
Despite the fact that physicians and other specialists agree that addiction is a chronic disease just like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, addicts are still treated as inferior. A lot of treatment centers still employ a confrontational and shame-based approach in order to “motivate” addicts. However, research shows that this is counterproductive: shame is a strong indication of relapse and besides, it only serves to continue the stigma that addiction means you’re a bad person which will keep people from getting help.
#6 Addiction Myths You Probably Believe
Court-ordered treatment doesn’t work.
Many people believe that treatment is only effective if the addict chooses to get help. While this is often the best case scenario for recovery from an addiction, it’s not necessarily true. Many people still find success at sobriety even if they initially went to treatment because they were court-ordered or threatened by family members. This is because, once in treatment, the addict has a sort of revelation, or moment of clarity that they do in fact have a problem. If the addict becomes open to the idea that they need help, they can certainly benefit from treatment and go on to live a healthy, sober life.
#7 Addiction Myths You Probably Believe
A 12 Step approach is the only way to recovery.
There are several different approaches to getting and staying clean and sober. Although 12 Step fellowship members have shown to have somewhat high success rates, this isn’t the only way to achieve sobriety. Some people like Smart Recovery, others find support from attending church, and so on.
#8 Addiction Myths You Probably Believe
You have to hit rock bottom first
This is certainly a dangerous attitude to have. What if, while waiting for your loved one to hit rock bottom, they actually succumb completely to the disease of addiction (this is a nice way of saying that you watch them continue to hurt themselves until they eventually die)? Then it’s too late.
Consider this: everyone’s “bottom” looks different. It might not be as extreme as becoming homeless or resorting to prostituting oneself. Sometimes, losing a relationship or a job, or being confronted by a loved one is enough of a reason for an addict to want to seek help.
There is little to no evidence that the greater the bottom means a better chance at success at recovering. Simply put: it’s better to get help early than to hold out for what you consider to be the perfect desperate moment.
#9 Addiction Myths You Probably Believe
Marijuana is a ‘gateway drug.’
This one drives me crazy! Never mind that most teens actually start with alcohol before smoking weed and then possibly using ‘harder stuff,’ the addiction rate for marijuana is actually lower than that of alcohol, and there is little scientific evidence that pot is a trigger for harder drugs.
After alcohol, the real possible threat of a “gateway drug” is more likely to be prescription painkillers, like OxyContin and Vicodin, and stimulants, such as Adderall. These drugs have strong addictive properties and are more accessible to teens – often they can be found in their parents’ medicine cabinet. Another category of highly addictive and easily accessible drug is that of inhalants, such as computer duster.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse did a study that found that 8% of 12th graders abused Vicodin and 5.1% abused OxyContin. Inhalant use peaks as early as 8th grade age at around 17%, which is far earlier than all other drugs.
#10 Addiction Myths You Probably Believe
Drugs cause irreversible brain damage.
Remember those anti-drug commercials that showed the image of an egg frying on the stove and said “this is your brain on drugs?” This was a gross oversimplification – saying that drug use causes permanent and severe brain damage. Yes, certain drugs are neurotoxic, meaning that they cause nerve damage, some examples being methamphetamine (crystal meth), MDMA, cocaine and inhalants. However, by no means do these produce a “damaged” person. This addiction myth implies that recovered addicts are “damaged goods” which can cause discrimination by employers, health care providers and the legal system.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Although we’re one big, cohesive country under the same government, several different regions make up the United States: there’s the northeast, the south, the Midwest, and the west coast. And for each region, there is a different dialect, slang, traditions, style signature foods, and even drug of choice. In Florida, the main drug of abuse is the narcotic painkiller: oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), roxycodone (Roxy), and hydromorphone (Dilaudid) – to name a few. These are all part of the opiate family, the same drug family that includes heroin.
Florida’s Painkiller Epidemic
According to a national report, Florida has the 11th highest drug overdose death rate in the country. And the rate has more than doubled since 1999.
That year, the number of drug overdose deaths – most of which were from prescription drugs – was 6.4 deaths per 100,000 Florida residents. Today that number is 16.4 deaths per 100,000, according to the Prescription Drug Abuse: Strategies to Stop the Epidemic report, by Trust for America’s Health, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting the nation’s health.
So, why Florida?
For years, Florida’s relaxed regulations on prescription drugs turned the state into a black market for synthetic opioids, which caused 16,625 deaths and 420,000 emergency department visits in 2010. The Sunshine State was home to 90 of the country’s 100 top pharmacies buying oxycodone in 2010, which often made their way into the hands of prescription drug dealers.
Calling prescription drug abuse a top public health concern, the report said that misuse and abuse of prescription painkillers alone costs the country an estimated $53.4 billion a year in lost productivity, medical costs and criminal justice costs.
In the News: Florida’s Pill Mills
A few short years ago, everything seemingly came to a head with mass raids on pain management clinics that were dubbed “pill mills” for their factory-like process of churning out painkiller prescriptions at an astonishing rate.
It took more than two years, but federal agents shut down the $40 million businesses that operated in Broward and Palm Beach counties until the March 2010 raids. DEA agents used several tactics – phone taps, posing as patients – which led to enough evidence to amass more than 1.2 million pages of records and statements used in the prosecution of suspects.
The evidence persuaded 28 co-defendants – the owners, staff and most of the doctors who wrote prescriptions – to plead guilty and go to prison.
Two doctors, however, chose to take their cases to trial and are facing other charges related to what federal prosecutors say was a conspiracy to sell as many pain pills as possible to addicts and street drug dealers, who sold them at a profit in Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.
And major pharmacies were in on it, too.
In June, Walgreen Co., the nation’s largest pharmacy operator, paid the Drug Enforcement Agency an $80 million settlement to resolves charges that it failed to control its sales of narcotic painkillers. As a result of its efforts, the amount of oxycodone sold in the state of Florida decreased by 97% from 2009 to 2010. Deaths related to oxycodone decreased by more than 17%, and the number of “doctor shoppers” has decreased by 58% since authorities began cracking down on pill mills in 2011. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.