Avi Israel is no fan of the major pharmaceutical companies. The Buffalo father, visibly perturbed, went on a bit of an angry rant earlier this week minutes after a big western New York public service campaign regarding painkiller abuse kicked off. As Israel sees it, Doug Throckmorton, FDA Deputy Director for Regulatory Programs in the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, and Bob Rappaport, head of the FDA Division of Anesthesia & Analgesia Products, Acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak and the Obama administration all are complicit as the numbers of people dying, like Israel's son, from prescription drug abuse, are rising. "I miss C. Everett Koop," Israel said finally.
Michael Israel’s death of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 2011 was a tragedy. The Buffalo 20-year-old had become despondent about his addiction to the powerful painkillers prescribed him for his Crohn’s disease.
“But the ultimate Greek tragedy is we allow this to happen every day,” father Avi said at the State University College at Buffalo kickoff of the western New York-wide public awareness campaign about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.
“We want to stop the dying of our youth,” he said.
The campaign -- which grew out of a push by Israel after his son’s death -- features billboards; television, print, and online advertising; a website and a 30-minute documentary produced by Buffalo public broadcaster WNED-TV that will air Oct. 22 simultaneously on a number of Buffalo-area TV
Israel has been a frequent and vocal advocate since 2011 for tackling the growing problem of prescription drug abuse, including testimony in 2012 before the U.S. Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control And his advocacy helped lead to New York lawmakers unanimously passing the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing law, or “I-STOP,” which went into effect in August.
Prescription drug abuse itself is a rapidly growing concern across the USA. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2012 called prescription drug abuse “the fastest growing drug problem in the United States.” Between 1999 and 2009, the number of deaths nationwide from opioid painkillers such as hydrocodone and oxycodone nearly quadrupled, and such overdoses cause more deaths than cocaine and heroin combined, according to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
A growing number of states are trying to crack down on the rapidly growing problem of prescription drug abuse.
Alabama Republican Gov. Robert Bentley in August signed into law a trio of bills giving more medical personnel, as well as Alabama’s Medicaid Agency, access to the state’s prescription monitoring program database; tightening the regulations on pain management clinics; and making “doctor shopping” a Class A misdemeanor punishable
The prescription drug abuse problem likely has numerous causes, from lack of education on the part of medical professionals prescribing the drugs to the ample supply in the form of forgotten or unused drugs sitting in people’s medicine cabinets, Bentley said.
Bentley said he would at times encounter such doctor shopping himself when he was a practicing dermatologist: “Patients would call and tell me the name of the only drugs they’d tell me would work, and usually it was Dilaudid or Percoset or one of the stronger narcotics.”
Indiana earlier this year gave the state Attorney General new oversight powers on pain management clinics and is moving toward mandatory annual drug screenings of people prescribed opioids to ensure they’re taking the drugs as prescribed.
Kentucky in 2012 began requiring the licensing of pain clinics, giving law enforcement officials greater access to the state’s prescription drug monitoring database, and mandating that doctors examine patients and check electronic prescription records before writing prescriptions for opioids.
Washington state in 2012 started setting dosage limits for doctors and others who prescribe pain medicines, with any prescriptions over a certain amount requiring a