HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html WV Chosen To Participate In Project To Stop Oxycontin Abuse
Pubdate: Fri, 08 Jun 2001
Source: Charleston Daily Mail (WV)
Copyright: 2001 Charleston Daily Mail
Author: Associated Press


JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- Mississippi, West Virginia and three other
states have been chosen for a federal prescription monitoring pilot
program aimed at stopping abuse of the painkiller OxyContin, officials

The Drug Enforcement Administration approached the State Board of
Pharmacy about the computerized reporting system on June 1, said board
executive director Buck Stevens. Stevens said pharmacies would only
participate on a voluntary basis.

"We have not been asked officially and the board's directors have not
given official approval,'' Stevens said. "But the DEA is moving
aggressively on this OxyContin issue. They want to create a model
project for the country.''

Florida, Ohio and Virginia were also chosen to participate in the DEA
project, which is in the preliminary stages.

Nationally, 16 states have prescription monitoring systems, but only
two, Kentucky and Utah, are computerized.

In Mississippi, six residents have died from OxyContin overdoses since
Nov. 28. The drug is usually prescribed for cancer patients or those
who suffer from chronic pain. It is designed to be swallowed whole.
Abusers cripple the protective coating by chewing, snorting and injection.

Twenty West Virginia deaths last year had ties to oxycodone, the sole
ingredient in OxyContin, according to autopsy reports and an
investigation by the state medical examiner's office.

The Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics has ample Medicaid data to
document an explosion of OxyContin prescriptions, said Tim Rutledge,
the agent in charge of MBN's diversion investigation.

"What we don't know is how much insurance companies spend on
OxyContin. And how much cash is paid out for it. This will give us the
total picture,'' Rutledge said.

Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin plans to pay for part of the
project, said company spokesman Jim Heins.

"We're not denying there is abuse of OxyContin,'' Heins said. "But the
majority of patients are not abusers. Many of these people who
overdose are taking multiple drugs and drinking alcohol.''
- ---
MAP posted-by: Andrew