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Archive for January, 2010

Prescription fraud and misuse rising

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

This post is in response to a recent article highlighting the rise of prescription fraud. I wanted to highlight some important aspects of the article.

Frequent incidences of prescription drug abuse:
1. Doctor shopping – hopping from doctor to doctor in order to receive medication and deceive the doctor. Patients also go doctor shopping to find a doctor that will “address” all their prescription needs i.e. over prescribing.
2. Manually changing the dose of the prescription. Example: If the prescription is written for 25 pills, they might add a 1 in front of it to make it 125 or a 0 at the end to make it 250.
3. Medical identity theft – stealing a victim’s insurance card and obtaining prescriptions under the victim’s name.
4. Inside cooperation – stealing a doctor’s prescription pad and writing prescriptions.

This list is by no means exhaustive. It just gives you a clue to the types of abuse occurring.

What are Pharmaceutical companies doing?
1. Making pills tamperproof – meaning that if they’re crushed for a stronger, more rapid high they become ineffective.
2. Patient medication guides explaining the exact purpose of the drugs and the consequences of misuse.
3. Letters to doctors and additional physician training to end the misuse and inappropriate prescribing of painkillers.

Those last 2 strategies are debatable, but they are necessary steps that need to be taken to combat prescription drug addiction.

How can providers combat the misuse?
1. Electronic health records can help combat this problem. The physician would be able to see that the patient has seen an abnormal amount of doctors and see what the patient was prescribed – eliminating the ability for a patient to be over prescribed.
2. Stop over prescribing – simple as that.
3. Understand the warning signs of users.

Read the full article here.

Watch out for counterfeit weight-loss drug Alli

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

With weight-loss drugs all the rage these days I thought this post to be especially important. This is in response to an older post about counterfeit drugs. They are out there – even with over-the-counter medications like Alli. Tests conducted by drug maker GlaxoSmithKline show that counterfeit versions of Alli do not contain the active ingredient orlistat but instead a controlled substance called sibutramine. Sibutramine should not be taken without a doctor’s supervision and monitoring. Some frequent side effects include dry mouth, paradoxically increased appetite, nausea, strange taste in mouth, upset stomach, constipation, trouble sleeping, dizziness, drowsiness, menstrual cramps/pain, headache, flushing, or joint/muscle pain.

Counterfeit Alli looks similar to the authentic product, however some notable differences occur with packaging.
1. Outer cardboard packaging missing a “Lot” code
2. Expiration date that includes the month, day and year – authentic Alli only includes month and year
3. Packaging in a plastic bottle that has a slightly taller and wider cap with coarser ribbing than genuine product
4. Plain foil inner safety seal under the plastic cap without any printed words – authentic Alli seal is printed with “SEALED for YOUR PROTECTION”
5. Contains larger capsules with a white powder instead of small white pellets

See FDA’s full report here including pictures.

Remember – be a conscientious consumer and watch out for counterfeit medication, it could have very adverse outcomes on your health.