prescription drugs

Investigative
10:30 pm
Sun June 29, 2014

Unraveling the mysteries of the GI Bill, Coast Guard and EPA

“The programs we offer are the ones that (veterans) desire,” says Garland Williams, the University of Phoenix’s vice president for military affairs.
Credit Carlos A. Moreno / CIR

Update 10:30 p.m.

The showed has already aired on Michigan Radio. If you missed it, you can catch it again here.

Original post- 11:30 a.m.

Who’s really benefiting from the GI Bill? Why does the U.S. Coast Guard have some explaining to do? How much arsenic in our water is actually safe? There’s always more to the story.

“Reveal,” the radio show dedicated to investigative reporting, is back. Brought to you by The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX, the third pilot episode examines the value of a degree from a for-profit colleges reaping millions of dollars from GI Bill funds, explores the Coast Guard’s shaky safety record, exposes the backroom deals over arsenic in our water and delves into the secrecy around lethal injection drugs.

Catch Reveal tonight on Michigan Radio at 7 p.m.!

Here’s a rundown of the stories you’ll hear:

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The Environment Report
9:38 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Can sewage treatment plants protect fish from the chemicals in the water?

The USGS found that a third of all the male smallmouth bass they sampled had intersex traits.
micropterus_dolomieu Wikimedia commons

So you know the saying, right? Stuff flows downhill? Myron Erickson knows a lot about that "stuff."

He heads up the sewage treatment plant that sits along the Grand River in Wyoming, Michigan (right next to Grand Rapids).

The screening room is where they take out the "grit." Erickson calls them "knick knacks."

"It's a small particle like sand, and also all things that come to us in sewage, like peas, and corn, and peanuts," says Erickson.

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Health
4:31 pm
Mon October 7, 2013

Prescription drug abuse top public health concern

Prescription Drug Abuse and Prevention
Credit Morgue File

The number of Michigan deaths from drug overdose has tripled since 1999. The majority of these deaths were caused by prescription drugs.

Michigan has the 18th highest drug overdose mortality rate in the country, according to a national report on Prescription Drug Abuse by the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) in Washington, D.C. 

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Environment & Science
4:59 pm
Fri September 6, 2013

Study finds 32 different drugs in Lake Michigan

Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

We excrete these drugs or dump them down the drain, and they find their way into our water.

Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) in rivers and lakes have been documented before, but this research finds levels in Lake Michigan that could have deleterious effects on the ecosystem.

Thirty-two different drugs were found - 14 of them were found at levels "of medium or high ecological risk."

The study was published in the journal Chemosphere:

The environmental risk of PPCPs in large lake systems, such as the Great Lakes, has been questioned due to high dilution; however, the concentrations found in this study, and their corresponding risk quotient, indicate a significant threat by PPCPs to the health of the Great Lakes, particularly near shore organisms.

Brian Bienkowski wrote about the study for Environmental Health News. Of the 14 chemicals found in concentrations of concern, Bienkowski writes triclosan has been studied the most.

...it has proven acutely toxic to algae and can act as a hormone disruptor in fish.

“You’re not going to see fish die-offs [from pharmaceuticals] but subtle changes in how the fish eat and socialize that can have a big impact down the road,” said Kolpin, who did not participate in the study. “With behavior changes and endocrine disruption, reproduction and survival problems may not rear their ugly head for generations.”

The four most commonly found drugs were:

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Health
4:07 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

UM study finds adolescents have easy access to prescription drugs

Tom Varco Wikimedia commons

Three out of four 14-year-olds who have been prescribed medication during the last six months have had unsupervised access to the drugs.

That's according to a new study by the University of Michigan.

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Law
1:45 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

Drug Enforcement Agency says 'We'll take your drugs, no questions asked'

Tom Varco Wikimedia commons

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency is asking, "Got Drugs?"

As part of a "National Prescription Drug Take Back Day" the Michigan State Police and the DEA will collect accumulated unwanted, or unused prescription drugs. The goal is to safely dispose of the medications.

State police say the service is free and anonymous, and drugs may be dropped off without questions.

Drop spots will include 29 state police posts.

You can find the drop off locations here.

The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The DEA says this is the fifth "Take Back Day" they have organized. Last April, the agency says "a record-breaking 552,161 pounds (276 tons)" of unwanted or expired medications were turned in for disposal.

DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart says the effort is part of the fight against prescription drug abuse.

"While a uniform system for prescription drug disposal is being finalized, we will continue to sponsor these important take-back opportunities as a service to our communities. Our take-back events highlight the problems related to prescription drug abuse and give our citizens an opportunity to contribute to the solution."

morning news roundup
6:59 am
Thu September 13, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Clearing up voter confusion

"The ACLU of Michigan is trying to clear up confusion about who can vote in the upcoming November election. ACLU attorney Michael Steinberg says the Secretary of State's office created some of that confusion. Voters in Michigan are given applications that ask them to check a box stating they are U.S. citizens. Steinberg says people do not have to check that box in order to vote, although they do have to be citizens. He says people can also vote if they don't have a driver's license or other state-issued photo identification. The ACLU has a voters' rights card on its website that people can print off and take with them to the polls. The website also helps students figure out how to register and where they should vote," Tracy Samilton reports.

Donation of prescription drugs

"The Michigan Senate plans a hearing on House-backed legislation that would allow collection and redistribution of prescription medication. The Senate Health Policy Committee has scheduled a hearing for Thursday to discuss the measures that would allow medical facilities to donate unused drugs for distribution to needy patients. The bills also would require that drugs donated to pharmacies participating in the redistribution program have never left medical facilities or oversight to ensure safety. The legislation also would require participating pharmacies to become disposal sites for excess drugs. Most other states have enacted similar laws," the AP reports.

Legislation moves forward to require American flags and the pledge in all public school classrooms

The Michigan House has passes legislation to require all public school classrooms to have an American flag displayed and allow students an opportunity to recite the pledge of allegiance. The House Fiscal Agency says 43 other states already require recitation of the pledge.

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Health
12:03 pm
Tue May 22, 2012

Rep. Dingell supports bill to speed up FDA reviews

Tom Varco Wikimedia commons

Congress is trying to speed up the review process for new medicines and devices while still keeping them safe.   A bill before the House would increase the amount of money and authority given to the Food and Drug Administration to do that.

Congressman John Dingell represents Michigan's 15th District and supports the bill.  He says one way the new bill will protect the drug supply is by increasing the FDA's authority over imported medicine.

"[The User Fee bill] enables [the] Food and Drug [Administration] to address the problems that we had (i.e. unsafe pharmaceuticals and unsafe commodities and components for the manufacture of pharmaceuticals in this country," Dingell said.  "So Food and Drug can control them now."

Drug and medical device manufacturers typically pay user fees that fund the reviews by the Food and Drug Administration.  The new bill will expand those fees to more companies, including international ones. 

"This is the best way of leveling the playing field between American manufacturers and foreign manufacturers" said Dingell, "and also seeing to it that everybody -- consumers, manufacturers and all get the services that they're entitled to from [the] Food and Drug [Administration]."

Patient safety advocates are against parts of the bill. They say even tougher reviews should be applied to medical devices.

-Nishant Sekaran, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Health
4:01 pm
Sat May 12, 2012

MSU study finds 16 year olds at peak risk for abusing prescription drugs

What's in you medicine cabinet? And does your 16 year old know too?
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A new Michigan State University study finds the peak of teen misuse of prescription drugs comes earlier than previously believed.

MSU researchers say teen misuse of prescription drugs peaks at age 16, not the later teens as previously believed.   Many children start using pain killers and other prescription drugs to get high in their tweens.   

The MSU study shows about 1 in 60 young people between 12 and 21 years old starts abusing prescription pain relievers each year.    That ratio rises to roughly 1 in 30 at age 16.  

Jim Anthony is a professor of Epidemiology at MSU.    He says the study shows it’s important to get the public health message against misusing prescription drugs to children when they are in middle school.

“We don’t want to delay public health programs…until the high school years or college years," says Anthony,   "We want to begin to think about them as early as 12 and 13.”

Anthony says it may also be a good idea for doctors to write some pain killer prescriptions for just a few day supply instead of the more common one or two week supply.   He says that might reduce the number of prescription drugs that sit unused in the family medicine cabinet.  

Anthony says parents need to pay close attention to their teenager and their medicine cabinet and properly dispose of unneeded painkillers and other prescription drugs.

The MSU study appears in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

 

Science/Medicine
5:54 pm
Tue March 13, 2012

Multiple insurance forms are giving Michigan doctors a headache

Michigan doctors say they are spending too much time writing prescriptions for their patients.

‘Prior authorization’ was intended to reduce the cost to insurance companies by having patients use generic drugs. But doctors say the process is bogged down in Michigan by 150 insurance companies each requiring doctors to fill out different forms.   

Stephen Newman is the president of the Michigan State Medical Society. He says doctors often spend half their time with a patient trying to wade through the ‘prior authorization’  process.

"That’s a waste of time, both for the patient as well as the physician,"  says Newman,  "And it leads to inefficiencies…that leads to emergency room visits that are unnecessary. 

The State Senate Insurance committee today approved legislation to streamline ‘prior authorization’ by requiring all insurance companies use the same form.      

Insurance industry representatives at the committee meeting were divided on the legislation.

Science/Medicine
4:01 pm
Sat September 17, 2011

Pharmacists want to help Michiganders dispose of old prescription drugs

What's in your medicine cabinet?
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan’s pharmacists are encouraging people to clean out their medicine cabinets.    

Paul Jensen is the president of the Michigan Pharmacists Association. He says  old, out of date, unused prescription drugs are increasingly being abused by teenagers.  

“The majority of people who abuse a medication…a prescription medication…it comes from somebody they know.   Quite often out of the medicine cabinet in their own home."

Michigan pharmacies collected more than a thousand pounds of prescription drugs in the first year of their ‘drug disposal’ program. Jensen is hopeful that amount will increase this year.

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Science/Medicine
1:31 pm
Mon July 11, 2011

Prescription drug abuse on the rise in Michigan

User: Almond Butterscotch Flickr

Death from prescription drug overdose is on the rise in Michigan.

More Michiganders are dying from prescription drug abuse than from heroin and cocaine combined. In 2009, almost 460 Michiganders died of overdoses from one or more prescription drugs, up from nearly 410 deaths the year before. Data from 2010 is still being collected.

Larry Scott is with the Michigan Bureau of Substance Abuse and Addiction Services. He says there is one way to prevent the rise of prescription drug abuse.

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Health
5:43 pm
Sun June 19, 2011

A County Takes Down Prescription 'Pill Mills'

Portsmouth Public Health Nurse Lisa Roberts helped found the Scioto County Prescription Drug Action Team. Behind her is a memorial to victims of prescription drug abuse.
Noah Adams NPR

Originally published on Sun June 19, 2011 3:41 pm

Ohio's pain management clinics come under tough new regulations Sunday. Many of the clinics are blamed for prescription drug abuse in a state where the leading cause of accidental death is unintentional drug overdose. In the south of the state, Scioto County is leading the fight against the so-called "pill mills."

Anybody you talk to around the city of Portsmouth can tell you about a family member, a teammate or a colleague who's been in trouble with painkillers.

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Science/Medicine
2:39 pm
Fri March 18, 2011

Michigan loses prescription drug lawsuit

The state Court of Appeals today ruled against Michigan in a prescription drug case.  The decision could cost the state millions of dollars. 

In 2004, the pharmaceutical company Merck pulled the arthritis drug, Vioxx, off the market, because it caused serious heart and other health problems.

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Substance abuse & older Michiganders
2:25 pm
Mon October 18, 2010

The number of older Michiganders in substance abuse treatment doubles in a decade

 The number of adults over 50 entering into substance abuse treatment nearly doubled in Michigan during the past decade, according to a new state health department study.

 The Department of Community Health compared data on substance abuse treatment admissions from 2000 and 2009. 

Alcohol was and is the main reason most older adults ended up in treatment Michigan.

A decade ago, alcohol was the reason 85% of older Michiganders ended up in substance abuse treatment.  But by 2009,  that percentage dropped to 59%.

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