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Many people rely on over-the-counter medicines like ibuprofen and naproxen for pain relief. But now a new study warns these pain relievers and others that are similar can prove harmful for older adults with heart disease who overuse them.
A University of Florida study shows older adults with high blood pressure and coronary artery disease using pain relieving, nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs or “NSAIDs” are at higher risk for adverse cardiovascular events. Researchers say the chronic use of this group of pain relievers can double an older adult’s chances of dying of a heart attack when combined with pre-existing conditions. The study doesn’t specifically identify which pain relievers are to blame for the elevated cardiovascular risk in the study.
Pill mills prevalent in Mississippi
Among the prescription medication frequently seized by the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics are OxyContin, Lorazepam, hydrocodone and Xanax In two vehicles parked outside a sandwich shop, the individuals aren’t just sitting and talking. They’re completing an illicit transaction. One of them, a physician, is writing a prescription for a pain killer. In another instance, a physician isn’t discussing a case as he talks excitedly in a crowded room with several people and offers to hire a women in the group. He is suspected of running a pill mill, another name for an illegal prescription drug trade. “Things are not always as they appear,” Thomas Washington said as he discussed the two scenarios before a crowd of about 100 gathered last week at the Eagle Ridge Conference Center in Raymond. The scenes depicted real cases of improper distribution of prescription drugs taking place in Mississippi, said Washington, director of investigations for the state Board of Medical Licensure.
Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem, including in Mississippi, according to Washington and those in law enforcement. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified prescription drug abuse as an epidemic. The conference brought together agency heads, law enforcement officials, nurses, doctors and others to talk and coordinate efforts to deal with the looming threat, said Washington, also president of the Mississippi chapter of the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators. “We’re not trying to prohibit anyone from pain medicine if it is legitimate,” Washington said. But Washington said the different parties must work together to stop pill mills and doctors who contribute to prescription drug trafficking. Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health show a third of all people over the age of 12 who used drugs for the first time in 2009 began by using a prescription drug nonmedically. Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics Director Marshall Fisher, a speaker at the conference, said prescription drugs may not have the stigma of illegal drugs such as crack cocaine and crystal meth, but the abuse involves a lot of dope. “Prescription drug is killing people,” Fisher said. Read more »
Johnson & Johnson said Thursday, July 28, 2011, that it’s reducing the maximum daily dose of its Extra Strength Tylenol pain reliever to lower risk of accidental overdose from acetaminophen, its active ingredient and the top cause of liver failure. It’s the painkiller found everywhere. Products like Tylenol, NyQuil and Theraflu all contain one key ingredient: acetaminophen.
With more than 600 medications containing the drug, doctors say patients often don’t realize how much of it they are consuming. Even painkillers like Vicodin contain acetaminophen. And in some cases, patients unknowingly overdose by mixing medications. To address the problem, Johnson & Johnson announced today that the company would reduce the maximum daily dose of its Extra Strength Tylenol pain reliever to lower the risk of accidental overdoses.
Dr. Michael Wolf, the associate division chief of general internal medicine at Northwestern, said Johnson & Johnson was moving in a good direction. “People misunderstand over-the-counter products,” Wolf said. Besides taking several medications that can contain acetaminophen, he said his research also found that people “don’t think they have to stick to the recommended daily dose.”
Acetaminophen is the leading cause of liver failure in the U.S., sending 56,000 Americans to the hospital each year.. Excessive use of acetaminophen can cause liver damage and even prove fatal. By the fall, labels on the bottles will list the maximum daily dose as six pills, or a total of 3,000 milligrams, down from eight pills a day or 4,000 milligrams. Read more »