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June 25, 2015

PAW Weekly Update

SAMHSA Prescription Drug Abuse Weekly Update
Issue 128  |  June 25, 2015
The Prevention of Prescription Drug Abuse in the Workplace (PAW) TA Center addresses prescription drug abuse—a growing public health problem with increasing burdens on workers, workplaces, and our economy. To subscribe colleagues, family members, or friends to this listserv sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), please click here or send their e-mail addresses to paw@dsgonline.com.
Table of Content Featured Article Journal Articles and Reports Professional Education and Policy Debate National Marijuana International Northeast/Mid-Atlantic News Southern News Midwest News West News Other Resources Take-Back Events and Drop Boxes Upcoming Conferences and Workshops


C.M. Jones, M. Campopiano, G. Baldwin, and E. McCance–Katz. 2015. "National and State Treatment Need and Capacity for Opioid Agonist Medication-Assisted Treatment." American Journal of Public Health, doi:10.2105/AJPH.2015.302664.

According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration national data, in 2012 the rate of opioid misuse or use disorder was 892 per 100,000 people age 12 or older; maximum potential buprenorphine treatment capacity was 420 per 100,000; and maximum methadone outpatient treatment capacity was 120 per 100,000. Thirty-eight states reported that at least 75 percent of their treatment programs were operating above 80 percent of capacity.

Read more:

Employers Can Fire Medical Marijuana Patients for Private, Off-Duty Use, Colo. Supreme Court Rules
Matt Ferner, Huffington Post
June 15, 2015

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled employers can fire workers for using medical marijuana, even if they are not impaired at work. A quadriplegic medical marijuana patient was fired by Dish Network in 2010 for using the drug at home and off duty, which is not protected under the state's "lawful activities statute." He tested positive for THC during a random employee drug test. The court ruled the term "lawful" refers only to activities that are "lawful under both state and federal regulations. Therefore, employees who engage in an activity such as medical marijuana use that is permitted by state law but unlawful under federal law are not protected by the statute." The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 does not protect an employee's use of medical marijuana.

Read more:

Journal Articles and Reports

S. Brenwald. 2015. Program Performance Report: Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), January–December 2013. United States Department of Justice, NCJ 248834.

The federal Harold Rogers Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) provides grant support to all PDMPs. This summary of its grantee performance reports for 2013 indicates 48 states (and Guam) had operational systems, with 22 percent of licensed prescribers and 36 percent of licensed pharmacists registered to use them. On average, 91 percent of pharmacies that were required to participate reported data to the PDMP each quarter of 2013. The majority of all PDMP reports on individual patients were requested by prescribers (68 percent), followed by pharmacists (31 percent) and law enforcement (1 percent). The report provides limited data on quarter-over-quarter trends in PDMP use by dosage and federal drug schedule, but those trends might not be representative of prescriptions written.

Read more:

C.S. Davis, D. Carr, J.K. Southwell, and L. Beletsky. 2015. "Engaging Law Enforcement in Overdose Reversal Initiatives: Authorization and Liability for Naloxone Administration." American Journal of Public Health, doi:10.2105/AJPH.2015.302638.

The authors believe law enforcement officers face no more liability risk when reviving someone with naloxone than they face when performing many other policing duties.

Read more:

J. Goesling, M.J. Henry, S.E. Moser, M. Rastogi, A.L. Hassett, D.J. Clauw, and C.M. Brummett. 2015. "Symptoms of Depression Are Associated with Opioid Use Regardless of Pain Severity and Physical Functioning Among Treatment-Seeking Chronic Pain Patients." The Journal of Pain, doi:10.1016/j.jpain.2015.05.010.

Among all 2,104 patients who began treatment between November 2010 and February 2014 at a University of Michigan outpatient pain clinic, 56 percent who were using opioids at entry had higher pain severity or worse physical functioning than nonusers, and they were more likely to be depressed (measured using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale). Multivariate logistic regression showed the probability of opioid use increased as pain severity increased for non-depressed patients. For depressed patients, the probability of taking opioids did not vary with pain severity or level of functioning.

Read more:

K. Holtfreter, M.D. Reisig, and E.N. O'Neal. 2015. "Prescription Drug Misuse in Late Adulthood: An Empirical Examination of Competing Explanations." Journal of Drug Issues, doi:10.1177/0022042615589405.

The authors analyzed correlates of prescription drug misuse using summer 2011 telephone interview data from 2,000 people (age 60 and older) randomly selected in Arizona and Florida. Depression, low self-control, and poor health were associated with greater misuse.

Read more:

A.J. Jeffers, E.G. Benotsch, B.A. Green, D. Bannerman, M. Darby, T. Kelley, and A.M. Martin. 2015. "Health Anxiety and the Non-Medical Use of Prescription Drugs in Young Adults: A Cross-Sectional Study." Addictive Behaviors, doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2015.06.012.

Among 758 Virginia Commonwealth University undergraduates who completed an anonymous online survey from September to December 2011, those reporting nonmedical use of prescription drugs (NMUPD) had higher health anxiety scores, more frequent healthcare appointments, and more chronic health conditions. In multivariate logistic regression, hopelessness, sensation seeking, and health anxiety were risk factors for NMUPD.

Read more:

P. Leece, A. Orkin, R. Shahin, and L.S. Steele. 2015. "Can Naloxone Prescription and Overdose Training for Opioid Users Work in Family Practice?" Canadian Family Physician 61(6):538–43.

In focus groups with 17 family medicine physicians attending a 2012 forum in Toronto, Canada, many felt naloxone could be used safely by family practice patients, that the intervention fit well with their clinical practice settings, and that naloxone's use in family practice could enhance engagement with at-risk individuals and create an opportunity to educate patients, providers, and the public about overdosing. Participants said current guidelines and support systems for prescribing and administering naloxone were inadequate, that liability uncertainties existed for those who prescribed or administered the drug, and that high-quality evidence about the intervention's effectiveness in family practice was lacking.

Read more:

H.A. Lindstrom, B.M. Clemency, R. Snyder, J.D. Consiglio, P.R. May, and R.M. Moscati. 2015. "Prehospital Naloxone Administration as a Public Health Surveillance Tool: A Retrospective Validation Study." Prehospital and Disaster Medicine, doi:10.1017/S1049023X15004793.

A review of July 2009 through June 2013 data from a large private emergency medical services provider serving Buffalo, N.Y., showed naloxone was administered during 1,812 prehospital patient encounters. The regional trauma/psychiatric emergency department that receives most overdose patients logged 1,294 visits for opiate/heroin overdoses. Monthly rates of emergency department visits for overdose and prehospital naloxone administration were correlated.

Read more:

O. Mowbray and A. Quinn. 2015. "Prescription Pain Reliever Misuse Prevalence, Correlates, and Origin of Possession Throughout the Life Course." Addictive Behaviors, doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2015.06.006.

Based on 2011–12 National Survey on Drug Use and Health data, prevalence of past-year prescription pain reliever misuse was 5.9 percent for people ages 12–17. Among 18–25-year-olds, misuse prevalence was 10.2 percent; for those 26–34, it was 7.7 percent; for 35–49-year-olds, it was 4.3 percent, and for individuals 50 and older, misuse prevalence was 1.7 percent. Multivariate logistic regression found only past-year illicit drug use disorders (involving marijuana, cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, and hallucinogen use) were a significant predictor of pain reliever misuse among all age groups. Older misusers were more likely to report getting pain relievers from multiple medical doctors, whereas younger misusers were more likely to get the drugs from friends or relatives or buy them from a dealer.

Read more:

R. Rittenhouse, F. Wei, D. Robertson, and K. Ryan. 2015. "Utilization of the Arkansas Prescription Monitoring Program to Combat Prescription Drug Abuse." Preventive Medicine Reports, doi:10.1016/j.pmedr.2015.06.006.

The Arkansas prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) survey of enrollees in February 2014 received 1,541 responses—a 42 percent response rate. Daily users are considerably more likely than infrequent users to be prompted to access the PDMP by office/facility policy requirements.

Read more:

Trust for America's Health. 2015. The Facts Hurt: A State-By-State Injury Prevention Policy Report.

Drug overdoses are the leading cause of injury deaths in the United States—killing nearly 44,000 each year. These deaths have more than doubled in the past 14 years, and half of them are related to prescription drugs (22,000 annually). Overdose deaths now exceed motor vehicle–related deaths in 36 states and Washington, D.C. In the past 4 years, drug overdose death rates have significantly increased in 26 states and Washington, D.C., and decreased in 6 states. This publication includes a report card of 10 key indicators on leading evidence-based strategies that help reduce injuries and violence, including
  • Does the state require mandatory use of data from the prescription drug monitoring program by at least some healthcare providers? (Twenty-five states met the indicator; 25 states and Washington, D.C., did not.)
  • Does the state have laws to expand access to and use of naloxone by laypersons? (Thirty-four states and D.C. met the indicator; 16 states did not.)
Read more:

D.F. Weisberg, K.S. Gordon, D.T. Barry, W.C. Becker, S. Crystal, E.J. Edelman, J. Gaither, A.J. Gordon, J. Goulet, R.D. Kerns, B.A. Moore, J. Tate, A.C. Justice, and D.A. Fiellin. 2015. "Long-Term Prescription of Opioids and/or Benzodiazepines and Mortality Among HIV-Infected and Uninfected Patients." Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes 69(2):223–33, doi:10.1097/QAI.0000000000000591.

Using patient records on a clearly unrepresentative cohort of 64,602 people, including 16,989 who were HIV infected, researchers paired 13,564 of the HIV patients with demographically similar patients who did not have the virus. They looked at patients who were long-term opioid or benzodiazepine users. Hazard ratios (HRs) for death were 1.40 for long-term opioid receipt only, 1.26 for long-term benzodiazepine receipt only, and 1.56 for long-term opioid and benzodiazepine receipt. Being HIV positive raised the HR for opioids. These results measure correlation but not necessarily causation. Mortality risk was higher for patients who received long-term opioids and benzodiazepines when opioid doses were ≥ 20 mg morphine-equivalent daily dose and for patients receiving long-term opioids alone when doses were ≥ 50 mg morphine-equivalent daily dose. (The time period and source of the data were not stated in the accessible information about this study.)

Read more:

E. Wheeler, T.S. Jones, M.K. Gilbert, and P.J. Davidson. 2015. "Opioid Overdose Prevention Programs Providing Naloxone to Laypersons—United States, 2014." Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 64(23):631–35.

The Harm Reduction Coalition, a national advocacy and capacity-building organization, surveyed 140 managers of U.S. organizations that provided naloxone kits to laypersons. Sixteen responded. From 1996 through June 2014, surveyed organizations provided naloxone kits to 152,283 laypersons and received reports of 26,463 overdose reversals. Ninety-three organizations collected information on the characteristics of people who received kits: 82 percent used drugs; 12 percent were friends and family members; 3 percent were service providers; and 3 percent were unknown. Sixty-eight organizations provided information about laypersons who reported administering naloxone: 83 percent used drugs; 10 percent were friends and family members, 0.2 percent were service providers; and 7 percent were unknown. Forty-two organizations collected information about the drugs that appeared to be involved in the reversed overdoses: Heroin was involved in 82 percent, and prescription opioids were involved in 14 percent.

Read more:

Professional Education and Policy Debate

A. Harvin and R.J. Weber. 2015. "A Primer on Prescription Drug Abuse and the Role of the Pharmacy Director." Hospital Pharmacy 50(5):423–28.

This article reviews the causes and societal effects of prescription drug misuse, recent and proposed strategies to prevent misuse, and health system efforts to reduce narcotic diversion risks. Pharmacy directors play a vital role in safe prescription medication use by providing fail-safe systems to account for and control prescription drugs and by educating patients and providers about the dangers of misuse.

Read more:

I. Matarazzo, E. Cinosi, T. Acciavatti, S. Marini, M. Corbo, F. Vellante, L. Di Tizio, S. Dezi, M. Lupi, G. Di Lorio, R. Santacroce, G. Martinotti, and M. Di Giannantonio. 2015. "Manic Symptoms Associated with Stimulant and Cannabis Misuse: A Case Report." European Psychiatry 30(S1):1129, doi:10.1016/S0924-9338(15)30893-2.

Researchers reported a clinical case of a patient who experienced a manic episode after taking methylphenidate and cannabis during exams. The patient was hospitalized for disorganized behavior, increased aggression, delusions, and grandiosity. He was affected by attention deficit hyperactivity disorder during childhood and recent episodes of subthreshold depression. His therapy consisted of benzodiazepines and hydration.

Read more:

M. Maumus. 2015. "Bioethics in Practice—The Ethics of Opiate Use and Misuse from a Hospitalist's Perspective." The Ochsner Journal 15(2):124–26.

According to this author, Maumus, certain skills are required to properly assess patients with misuse, including how to identify and define misuse, how to assess risks of therapy, and how to withdraw from narcotic therapy. Maumus discusses six ethical practices she believes are the physician's responsibility. In addition, she believes addressing misuse and referring patients to treatment is the right decision when encountering addicted patients. She recommends for physicians to monitor legitimate pain patients more closely to reduce drug diversion.

Read more:

M.A. Merlin, N. Ariyaprakai, and F.H. Arshad. 2015. "Assessment of the Safety and Ease of Use of the Naloxone Auto-Injector for the Reversal of Opioid Overdose." Dove Press 7:21–24, doi:10.2147/OAEM.S82133.

On April 3, 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved EZVIO™, a naloxone auto-injector designed for public use. The injector is a battery-operated, disposable 0.4 mg/0.4 mL prefilled device to be used in the lateral thigh by patients, bystanders, or healthcare professionals. It has auditory and visual commands for ease of administration and instructs patients to seek further medical care after injection. This is a safe, portable device—the kind that should be available to anyone who has regular contact with an opioid user. The cost of two auto-injectors and a trainer is about $600.

Read more:

K. Scott, L. Nelson, Z. Meisel, and J. Perrone. 2015. "Opportunities for Exploring and Reducing Prescription Drug Abuse Through Social Media." Journal of Addictive Diseases, doi:10.1080/10550887.2015.1059712.

Researchers have used social media interactions to analyze patterns of use, risk factors, behaviors, prevailing attitudes, and misconceptions about various substances. By providing a platform for communicating health-related messages, social media has the potential to enhance screening, prevention, and treatment of substance misuse and misuse disorders.

Read more:


FDA Takes Action to Protect Consumers from Potentially Dangerous Counterfeit Medicines and Devices Sold Online
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
June 18, 2015

In partnership with international regulatory and law enforcement agencies, the Food and Drug Administration took action against more than 1,050 websites that illegally sold potentially dangerous, unapproved prescription medicines and medical devices.

Read more:

Smartphone App to Measure Pain Might Impact Opioid Use: Expert
Celia Vimont, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids
June 17, 2015

A speaker at the International Conference on Opioids reports that a new smartphone app undergoing testing by pain specialists at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital appears to help reduce opioid use among chronic pain sufferers. Sixty cancer and noncancer patients—about half of whom are taking opioids—are trying out the app, which is available for iPhone and Androids. It tracks patients' pain data and saves the data in their medical records. Patients rate their pain from 1 to 10 over the preceding 24 hours, how much the pain has interfered with their activity and sleep, their mood, and how much their pain has changed in the preceding 24 hours. The information is displayed as a line graph so doctors can track fluctuations. In addition, half the study patients receive supportive text messages. Patients are also called monthly, to monitor pain and opioid compliance. They may access the app for 3 months, at which point they are offered an additional 3 months of use. So far, all have opted to continue using the app. The trial is still enrolling patients, and the report did not indicate if a control group was included. In a preliminary look at outcomes, at the end of 6 months, fewer patients were taking opioids, and the number of patients who reported running out of their medication early significantly decreased.

Read more:

Introduction of Bill to Combat Heroin and Prescription Drug Epidemics
June 18, 2015

U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly introduced the Heroin and Prescription Opioid Abuse Prevention, Education, and Enforcement Act of 2015, which aims to better enable healthcare providers and public health officials to prevent prescription drug misuse, support law enforcement efforts to get heroin off the streets, give more first responders access to life-saving naloxone, and raise awareness among healthcare providers, patients, and the public about prescription opioid misuse and heroin.

Read more:

Baldwin Introduces Bill to Reduce Prescription-Drug Abuse at VA Hospitals
June 16, 2015

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin introduced a bill to help fight pain medication misuse among veterans. The bill would restrict how often doctors could prescribe pain relievers, when combinations of pain relievers with other drugs could be prescribed, and prescribing for patients with mental illness. It would also improve education about pain management in the Veterans Affairs health system and among doctors, patients, and their families. A hearing on the bill is scheduled for June. (Includes video: 1:24 minutes)

Read more:


D.S. Hasin, M. Wall, K.M. Keyes, M. Cerdá, J. Schulenberg, P.M. O'Malley, S. Galea, R. Pacula, and T. Feng. 2015. "Medical Marijuana Laws and Adolescent Marijuana Use in the USA from 1991 to 2014: Results from Annual, Repeated Cross-Sectional Surveys." The Lancet Psychiatry, doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(15)00217-5.

Multilevel regression analysis of 1991–2014 Monitoring the Future data showed youth marijuana use in the preceding 2 weeks was more prevalent in states that passed a medical marijuana law than in other states (odds ratio [OR] 1.27, p = .06). However, that elevated rate preceded passage of medical marijuana laws and did not change after passage. Results were generally robust across sensitivity analyses, including redefining marijuana use as any use in the previous year or frequency of use, and reanalyzing medical marijuana laws for delayed effects or variation in provisions for dispensaries.

Read more:

Colorado Adult Marijuana Use Now Almost Double the National Average
Scott Gagnon, Bangor Daily News
June 17, 2015

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported that 13.6 percent of adults in the state are regular marijuana users—almost double the national rate of 7.4 percent. Denver leads the state, with 18.5 percent of current adult users. The department's new survey also found one in three users are daily users, black adults are using at a rate almost 50 percent higher than the state average for adults, and Hispanics have the lowest use rate. Low-income adults are using at higher rates than the state average. Almost one third of 18- to 24-year-olds use marijuana, even though use by 18- to 20-year-olds is illegal in Colorado.

Read more:


Flandreau Tribe Votes to Legalize Marijuana
Brandon Van Westen, Keloland News
June 15, 2015

The Flandreau tribe in South Dakota voted to grow marijuana for recreational use and sell it for on-site consumption starting this fall. The marijuana control ordinance will establish a growing facility and a separate consumption facility, allowing only on-site consumption. The attorney general said it is still illegal for non-natives to be under marijuana's influence.

Read more:

Officials Learn About Medicinal Marijuana from the States
Ken Quintanilla, KUAM
June 12, 2015

Officials from Guam's Department of Public Health visited Arizona and California to learn how to implement a medicinal marijuana program. James Gillan, director of public health, foresees challenges in carrying out the program, including a need to hire more staff.

Read more:

Experts: Canada Must Develop Regulations on Cannabis Edibles, Extracts Quickly
Tony C. Dreibus, Marijuana Business Daily
June 17, 2015

The Supreme Court of Canada struck down a provision in the country's medical marijuana law that restricted cannabis production, possession, and consumption to the dried flower, calling it "arbitrary" and "not in accord with the principles of fundamental justice." With patients now able to possess edibles and extracts, illegal dispensaries and the black market might start selling infused products if Canadian officials fail to quickly draft rules governing infused product sales by federally licensed cannabis companies.

Read more:

For-Profit Marijuana Dispensaries Are Bad for Hawaii
Marcus R. Oshiro, The Garden Island
June 13, 2015

Representative Marcus R. Oshiro has five concerns about for-profit marijuana dispensaries in Hawaii. First, only 11 of 23 medical marijuana states have actual operating experience, and the average retail store experience is equivalent to about 2 years. Second, no state has consistent standards to ensure safe and uncontaminated products. Third, all states with medical marijuana dispensaries for adults have higher-than-average marijuana use among youth. Fourth, legalizing medical marijuana for retail sale will not eliminate the black market but disguise it and enhance its penetration into communities. Fifth, allowing out-of-state subcontractors access to Hawaii's 16 dispensaries will place families and communities at the mercy of rich Mainland interests. Oshiro prefers nonprofit, cooperative, or limited-imports dispensaries.

Read more:


Overdose Under the Microscope—Blood Tribe Two-Day Conference on Illegal and Prescription Drug Abuse Under Way
Melissa Villeneuve, Lethbridge Herald
June 16, 2015

Blood Tribe United hosted a 2-day conference in Lethbridge, Alberta, on illegal and prescription drug misuse affecting the community. Dr. Gabor Mate, addictions specialist and keynote speaker, said progress has been made curbing drug overdoses on the Blood Reserve, but prevention begins with addressing the root causes of addiction, such as trauma. He suggested devoting more resources to support families and prevention, instead of building jails, and advocated for more counseling, trauma-informed therapists, and detox beds within the community.

Read more:

Northeast/Mid-Atlantic News

Pennsylvania Releases Opioid Prescribing Guidelines for Dentists
June 15, 2015

The Departments of Drug and Alcohol Programs and Health released guidelines addressing opioid prescriptions for acute dental pain. The guidelines are also intended to help dental health providers improve patient outcomes through treatment. They have been endorsed by the Pennsylvania Medical Society and Pennsylvania Dental Association.

Read more:

New PSA on Opioid Abuse Targeting Parents
Matt Murphy, State House News Service
June 18, 2014

New Massachusetts public service announcements will inform parents about the risks teenagers take when misusing prescription pain relievers and opioids. The "Stop Addiction in Its Tracks" campaign directs viewers to the state's website.

Read more:

WCVB Launches Campaign Focused on Opioid Crisis in Mass
Derrick Santos, New England One
June 15, 2015

WCVB, Mass., launched a 13-week, multipronged public service campaign called "5 On: Opioid Crisis." This initiative will include featured news reports, a series of public service announcements, digital media coverage, community outreach, and special public affairs programming.

Read more:

NJ Heroin-Related Death Rise for 4th Straight Year, Up 155% Since 2010
Stephen Stirling, NJ Advance Media
June 13, 2015

In New Jersey, 781 people died from heroin-related overdoses in 2014—the fourth consecutive year with an increase. Overall deaths have risen 155 percent since 2010. In 2014, Middlesex, Monmouth, Bergen, and Passaic Counties each saw an increase of at least 25 percent from 2013. Hundreds more died from prescription drug overdoses.

Read more:

Leading Pennsylvania Health Official Warns of Drug Abuse Crisis
Jeremy Harley, Centre Daily Times
June 16, 2015

At the 2015 Public Health Preparedness Summit, Pennsylvania Physician General Rachel Levine said the biggest public health crisis in the state and possibly the country is prescription drug misuse, heroin use, and the threat of opiates. At least seven Pennsylvanians die each day from drug-related overdoses.

Read more:

Broome County Residents Learn to Reverse Heroin Overdoses
Stephen Adams, WBNG
June 15, 2015

Broome County residents were trained to administer Narcan® to reverse an opioid overdose. They also received take-home Narcan® kits. (Includes video: 1:54 minutes)

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Center for Rural Pennsylvania Schedules Three Hearings on Heroin, Opioid Treatment
June 18, 2015

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania's Board of Directors scheduled three additional hearings to discuss heroin and opioid treatment and recovery efforts. These public hearings will take place in Latrobe on July 21, in Scranton on July 29, and in York on August 18.

Read more:

Southern News

Alabama Continues to See Wide Success with the NPLEx System
June 18, 2015

National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx) data showed that during the first quarter of 2015, Alabama's real-time, stop-sale pseudoephedrine (PSE) tracking system blocked sales of more than 7,500 boxes of PSE-containing medicine, keeping almost 19,000 grams from being illegally purchased in the state.

Read more:

Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse Attract Attention in Virginia
Jenna Portnoy, The Washington Post
June 17, 2015

The Governor's Task Force on Prescription Drug and Heroin Abuse recommended that Virginia improve medical and police training, increase public education, and expand drug courts to help address heroin and prescription drug misuse. The task force also suggested a public education campaign, improved drug disposal through "take-back" events, and development of a treatment and substance misuse curriculum for doctors.

Read more:

Midwest News

Gov. Rick Snyder Forms Task Force to Address Prescription Drug and Opioid Problems in Michigan
State of Michigan
Accessed June 19, 2015

Governor Rick Snyder announced the new Michigan Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force, which will address the prescription drug and opioid problem, evaluate strategic options, and develop a statewide action plan by fall 2015.

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Schnucks Pays $65K to Settle Federal Prescription Drug Probe
The Bellingham Herald
June 12, 2015

Schnucks Markets Inc. agreed to pay a $65,000 civil penalty after a federal investigation questioned its methods of dispensing prescription drugs. The supermarket chain filled prescriptions written by unauthorized practitioners at several southwestern Illinois locations.

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Great Deal of State Disciplinary Action Reports for Medical Professionals Involve Prescription Drug Abuse, Over-Prescribing
Kylie McGivern, WJHL
June 17, 2015

News Channel 11's Kylie McGivern analyzed 6 months of disciplinary action reports centered on medical professionals in Tennessee. Between December 2014 and May 2015, reports for medical professionals in the Tri-Cities area revealed sexual misconduct with patients who were prescribed narcotics, a registered nurse diverting pain relievers for personal use, a physician failing to document patient histories and treatment plans justifying "chronic prescribing of Suboxone with benzodiazepines," and a pharmacist continually filling a controlled substance prescription for a patient after the prescription was cancelled. (Includes video: 3:08 minutes)

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Columbia Police Stuck With 'Enormous Amount' of Unwanted Drugs
Alan Burdziak, Columbia Daily News
June 12, 2015

The Columbia, Mo., Police Department previously used its own incinerator to destroy collected drugs, but it ran afoul of environmental regulations. Now the department has more than 50 pounds of discarded medication, with no cost-effective method of disposal. The closest incinerator is in southeast Missouri, but the transport would be too expensive and time consuming. If the Environmental Protection Agency and state regulators reached an agreement allowing departments with incinerators to once again use them, the problem would be solved.

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Organizations to Supply Porter County Cops with Anti-OD Drug
Matthew Stenfanski, The Times
June 12, 2015

Multiple organizations will join together to supply Porter County, Ind., law enforcement agencies with naloxone kits. This year alone, six lives have been saved in the county with existing kits.

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Madison County Asks State for Needle Exchange
Kendall Downing, Indianapolis Star
June 16, 2015

Public health officials in Madison County asked the Indiana State Department of Health for permission to start a needle-exchange program. Hepatitis C cases in the county rose from 70 in 2013 to 130 in 2014. Most involved people 20–39 who inject pain medications or heroin.

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New Sheriff's Department Unit Will Focus on Prescription Drug Abuse
Mike Longaecker, Hudson Star-Observer
June 18, 2015

St. Croix County Sheriff's Office in Wisconsin will launch a Crime Suppression Team focused on prescription drug misuse this August. Deputies are being trained by the U.S. Attorney's Office in diversion and opiate death investigations for this 2-year pilot project. They will forge relationships with doctors and pharmacists and assume public education and awareness roles.

Read more:

West News

Heitkamp Announces Significant Federal Funding for Substance Abuse Prevention in High-Need Communities
Heidi Heitkamp, U.S. Senator of North Dakota
June 16, 2015

North Dakota received more than $1.6 million in federal funding to address underage drinking and prescription drug misuse in high-need communities.

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Accidental Drug Overdoses on Rise in North Dakota
Sarah Volpenhein, Grand Forks Herald
Jun 14, 2015

The North Dakota Department of Health reported drug deaths have risen almost every year since 2005.

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Other Resources

Exploring Naloxone Uptake and Use—A Public Meeting
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
July 1, 2015, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
July 2, 2015, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Several federal agencies will host a public discussion on issues surrounding naloxone uptake in certain medical settings and outside conventional medical locations. Experts from academia, government, and industry and patient advocates will discuss which populations are at risk for opioid overdose and how public health groups can use naloxone to reduce the risk. The workshop will also explore legal, regulatory, logistical, and clinical issues surrounding naloxone's availability.

Read more:

Take-Back Events and Drop Boxes

Danbury Police Sponsor Prescription Drug Take Back Day
Stephanie Mojica, Danbury Daily Voice (Connecticut)
June 12, 2015

New Drug Drop Box in Portage County
Cassandra Vinch, WAOW (Michigan)
June 15, 2015

Bedford Police Begin Prescription Drug Collection Program
Tony Schinella, Bedford Patch (New Hampshire)
June 15, 2015

Large Haul of Unwanted Prescription Drugs Collected at Verona Green Fair
Joshua Jongsma, Verona-Cedar Grove Times (New Jersey)
June 16, 2015

Dispose of Unwanted Drugs at Senior Picnics
Mary Kaye Dolan–Anderson, Poughkeepsie Journal (New York)
June 13, 2015

Behavioral Health Holding Drug Take Back Campaign
Robert Joseph Baker, Manning Live (South Carolina)
June 18, 2015

Florence County Agencies Collaborate to Collect Old, Unused Prescriptions
Melissa Rollins, Morning News (South Carolina)
June 18, 2015

Medical Drop Box Now Available at Village of Marathon Police Department
Emily Davies, WSAW (Wisconsin)
June 17, 2015

Sheriff's Office Gets Drug Drop Box
Chris Mueller, Stevens Point Journal (Wisconsin)
June 15, 2015

Upcoming Conferences and Workshops

Pharmacy Diversion Awareness Conference
Drug Enforcement Administration, Office of Diversion Control
June 27–28, 2015
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Injury-Free NC: Medication and Drug Overdose Prevention Summit 2015
University of North Carolina Injury Prevention Research Center
July 14, 2015, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Chapel Hill, North Carolina


Mid-Year Training Institute
Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America
August 2–6, 2015
Indianapolis, Indiana


Fourth Annual Generation Rx University Conference for Collegiate Prevention and Recovery
The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy
August 4–6, 2015
Columbus, Ohio

28th Annual National Prevention Network Conference: Bridging Research to Practice
National Prevention Network
November 17–19, 2015
Seattle, Washington


2016 National Rx Drug Summit
March 28–31, 2016
The Westin Peachtree Plaza
Atlanta, Georgia
The Weekly Update is a service provided by the SAMHSA Preventing Prescription Abuse in the Workplace Technical Assistance Center (PAW) to keep the field abreast of recent news and journal articles to assist in forming policy, research, and programs to reduce prescription drug misuse or abuse. Please note, the materials listed are not reflective of SAMHSA's or PAW's viewpoint or opinion and are not assessed for validity, reliability or quality. The Weekly Update should not be considered an endorsement of the findings. Readers are cautioned not to act on the results of single studies, but rather to seek bodies of evidence. Copyright considerations prevent PAW from providing full text of journal articles listed in the Weekly Update.