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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Prescription Drug Abuse, the DEA’s “Take-Back” Initiative, and CPDD research.

BOSTON,  MA  –  In New England alone, over 25,000 pounds of prescription drugs were collected this past Saturday from 401 of the 4000 locations participating in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) national “Take-Back” program, the first of planned bi-annual events.

R. Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), visited one of the Take-Back sites in Philadelphia during the event and pointed out that “More than 70 percent of people who abuse prescription drugs get them from friends or family…”  National Public Radio had an interesting interview focusing on the event, noting that prescription drug abuse affects all socioeconomic levels.

Statistics regarding the DEA Take-Back program’s success along with grim statistics about the prevalence and consequences of prescription drug abuse can be found on the DEA, ONDCP, and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) websites.

Prescription drug abuse has become a major public health problem, eclipsing most forms of illicit drug abuse and catalyzing a spike in criminal activity.  A report in the New York Times noted that some people now show up at real estate open houses not to look at homes but to search medicine cabinets for pain pills.

CPDD researchers are making progress in understanding the scope of the problem, its causes, and in finding possible solutions.  A number of abstracts presented at the 72nd Annual CPDD meeting in Scottsdale focused on prescription drug abuse.

For example, researchers from Michigan State University reported that more than 3% of people who took prescription pain medications for nonmedical purposes developed dependence soon afterward, and 20% developed some features of dependence (Adelaja et al., CPDD abstract book PDF, page 2).  To view this abstract and other abstracts on this and other topics, download the CPDD meeting abstract book PDF (2nd link under the 2010 "MEETING INFO..." heading on the left panel).

And, the epidemic extends to other types of prescription medications.  In this regard, a recent report in CPDD’s journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence described how non-prescription stimulant use also has been associated with rapid development of dependence at alarmingly high rates.

Clearly, much work needs to be done to stem the tide of prescription drug diversion and abuse by agencies that control the flow of prescription drugs and by researchers working to find new medications that are less likely to be abused.

CPDDBLOG welcomes CPDD member’s thoughts on this issue.

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