Tag Archives: clonazapam

Guess What Kills One Person Every 19 Minutes?

Guess What Kills One Person Every 19 Minutes?

Posted by Joshua Corn

( the above picture has absolutely nothing to do with this story…but scary eh?)

When it comes “how you’re going to die,” many people fear things like airplane crashes or shark attacks, even though statistics show that deaths from these events are very rare. Conversely, far too many people mistakenly believe that certain common aspects of everyday life are extremely safe — when, in reality, this is often far from the truth.

Once such daily ritual that is far more dangerous than many people believe is taking properly prescribed pharmaceutical drugs. Popping pills on a daily basis to “improve health” has become far too common for many Americans. In fact, according to the CDC, approximately 50% of all Americans take a pharmaceutical drug daily. When you isolate senior citizens, the number shoots up to an astonishing 90%. And perhaps even more troubling, 20% of children take a pharmaceutical drug.

At the same time, statistics are showing that deaths from pharmaceutical drugs are rising at an alarming rate. But don’t take my word for it. Just google the term “pharmaceutical drugs kill” and you’ll see headlines from major news organizations such as Fox and CNN that read:

“Prescription drugs 62,000 times more likely to kill …

“Prescription drugs kill 6200% more Americans …”

“Prescription Drugs Kill 300 Percent More Americans than Illegal Drugs…”

“Prescription drugs are now killing more people than traffic accidents…”

“Prescription Drug Deaths Skyrocket…”

“Prescription drugs kill one person every 19 minutes…”

“Prescription Drugs Now Kill More People Than Heroin And Cocaine Combined…”

Sadly, most people don’t know that properly prescribed prescription drugs kill over 100,000 Americans each year. (This excludes prescription drug abuse, which causes this number to skyrocket even higher). This is more than or equal to the number of people who die from accidents, Alzheimer’s, influenza and diabetes!

One reason that most people are in the dark about the dangers of pharmaceutical drugs is due to a fundamental misunderstanding of how these drugs get tested and approved. Too many people believe that the FDA has some kind of rigorous testing and evaluation system. Sadly, this is far from the truth.

The current system puts almost the entire burden to test the safety of a new pharmaceutical drug on the developer of that drug. And since developing a new drug costs billions of dollars, you can imagine the immense pressure on the entire organization to make sure that drug gets to market. Making things worse are the fees that the pharmaceutical companies pay the FDA, which amount to about 20% of its total budget. Now, I’m no expert on organizational structure, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this system is inherently flawed and corrupt.

What’s the final product of this cozy relationship between Big Pharma and the FDA? It’s simple – dangerous drugs being put on the market, leaving us hapless consumers as real world guinea pigs. Simply put, the big drug companies profit and we die.

One of the most infamous examples of this is what happened with the painkiller Vioxx. It’s widely known that Merck engaged in several illegal and dubious strategies to influence the research backing the safety of Vioxx. Sadly, this easily tricked the FDA who approved the drug, only to remove it from the shelves after it killed approximately 60,000 people – more than the number of brave soldiers who died in Vietnam. Will we be building a memorial for the Vioxx victims?

The latest example of the flaws in the process for getting pharmaceutical drugs approved by the FDA is the diabetes drug Avandia. A Senate Finance Committee investigation showed that GlaxoSmithKline intentionally hid reliable scientific data clearly showing that Avandia significantly increases the risk of heart attack. Naturally this came to light after the FDA approved the drug, and it didn’t take long before it was linked to 83,000 heart attacks and deaths, according to the FDA’s own scientists.

If you think Vioxx and Avandia are flukes, think again. There are dozens, and perhaps hundreds, of drugs killing people every day, because their makers provided flawed, biased and corrupt data to the FDA. And since the FDA is unequipped, incapable or unwilling to change the system, more and more people are going to die.

If you believe your doctor provides the final line of defense for you, think again. Despite good intentions, guess who trained your doctor on all of the “benefits” of the drug they are prescribing to you? You guessed it – the company that stands to make billions of dollars from its sale. Your doctor got duped (and probably got a free golf trip in Hawaii). Meanwhile, you got a potentially harmful drug that may put your health in jeopardy.

The bottom line – don’t trust that pharmaceutical drugs are safe. Big Pharma has a long, sad track record of lies, corruption and deceit, all in the name of profits. And the FDA’s system to approve drugs is as flawed as perhaps any function of government.

My advice: If your doctor prescribes you a drug, take your health into your own hands! Consider lifestyle changes, look for natural alternatives, get second opinions and do your own research. Only take the drug after you are 100% certain it is safe and in your best interests. After all – your life may depend on it!
SOURCE

Abuse of Xanax Leads a Clinic to Halt Supply

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Gayle Mink, a nurse practitioner at a community mental health center here, had tired of the constant stream of patients seeking Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug coveted for its swift calming effect.

It is such a drain on resources,” said Ms. Mink, whose employer, Seven Counties Services, serves some 30,000 patients in Louisville and the surrounding region. “You’re funneling a great deal of your energy into pacifying, educating, bumping heads with people over Xanax.

Because of the clamor for the drug, and concern over the striking number of overdoses involving Xanax here and across the country, Seven Counties took an unusual step — its doctors stopped writing new prescriptions for Xanax and its generic version, alprazolam, in April and plan to wean patients off it completely by year’s end.

The experiment will be closely watched in a state that has wrestled with widespread prescription drug abuse for more than a decade and is grasping for solutions as it claims more lives by the week. While Kentucky and other states have focused largely on narcotic painkiller addiction, experts say that benzodiazepines, the class of sedatives that includes Xanax, are also widely misused or abused, often with grim consequences.

While the patients at Seven Counties are mostly poor, experts say the appeal of Xanax cuts across socioeconomic lines. Alprazolam was the eighth most prescribed drug in the nation last year, according to SDI, a data firm that tracks drug sales. Even more than the figures suggest, Xanax has become part of the popular lexicon, as well known as a panic antidote as Prozac is for depression.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last year reported an 89 percent increase in emergency room visits nationwide related to nonmedical benzodiazepine use between 2004 and 2008. And here in Kentucky, the combination of opiate painkillers and benzodiazepines, especially Xanax, is common in fatal overdoses, according to the state medical examiner.

Seven Counties is not the first health care provider to cut off prescriptions for controlled substances — at least several others around the country have stopped giving patients certain opiates and benzodiazepines — but the practice remains contentious. Some doctors say that refusing to prescribe certain drugs under any circumstance is overly rigid, noting that Xanax helps many people who use it responsibly.

“What they’re doing is a noble idea,
” said Dr. Laurence H. Miller, who heads a committee on public and community psychiatry for the American Psychiatric Association. But he added: “I could never say never to anything. There are some people who may have done very well on it, are on a small dose and manage their lives on it, and that’s probably O.K.”

But Dr. Scott Hedges, senior vice president for medical services at Seven Counties, said he felt certain that Xanax did not need to be among the options offered there.

“The literature strongly suggests there are lots of really good ways to treat panic and anxiety disorders without using this particular medication,”
Dr. Hedges said. “And the risk to the community, if we continue to use this medication, is very high.”

Xanax poses a particular risk for abuse and withdrawal, doctors say, because its effects are felt almost immediately, but last only a few hours. Users often quickly want more, experts say, and as their tolerance builds, they want increasingly higher doses.

Dr. Hedges said that while Seven Counties bore some blame for prescribing Xanax in the first place, many patients initially got it from primary care doctors. Alprazolam is one of the three most-prescribed controlled substances in Kentucky, along with hydrocodone and oxycodone, according to the state’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

“We pick these folks up way down the road,
” said Dr. Robert Caudill, a Seven Counties psychiatrist, “where they’re already on a big dose and don’t want to give it up because they’ve been given no skills along the way” for otherwise dealing with panic and anxiety.

For people dependent on opiates, Xanax can be especially alluring because the fear of withdrawing from the opiates is so huge. After someone has experienced opiate withdrawal, Dr. Caudill said, “they really are scared to go into it again because it’s so horrible.”

“They will panic,
” he added, “literally.”

At Seven Counties, some of the roughly 3,000 patients who were on Xanax have been switched to clonazepam, a longer-acting benzodiazepine that does not kick in as quickly and is thought to pose less risk of addiction.

“They don’t get the high that’s associated with Xanax,
” Dr. Hedges said, “nor the withdrawal associated with it.”

The eventual goal is to wean patients off clonazepam, too, he said. People with severe anxiety should ideally take an antidepressant as well as a benzodiazepine, he said, and learn coping mechanisms with cognitive behavioral therapy.

The doctors and nurses at Seven Counties have encouraged patients on Xanax to consider these options in addition to clonazepam or instead of it. But the transition has been cautious and slow, Dr. Hedges said, with Xanax doses generally being reduced in half-milligram increments over a number of months.

“It’s a very slow and intentional process of weaning down,
” Dr. Hedges said, “precisely because we don’t want to create all this anxiety and panic over, ‘Well, I’m not going to get it anymore.’ ”

After the policy change was announced in March, everyone from the doctors to the receptionists at Seven Counties anticipated some tense moments as patients got used to the idea. It was not lost on them that a doctor in rural eastern Kentucky was shot to death by a patient in 2009 after refusing to prescribe a painkiller.

Indeed, some transitions have been rough. Tina Graham, 44, a Seven Counties patient who suffers debilitating panic attacks, said her anxiety had sharply increased after switching from Xanax to clonazepam this summer. Clonazepam helps for about two hours after taking a pill, but for much of the day, she said, “I’m scared to do anything.

“I’m not saying I have to be back on Xanax,”
Ms. Graham said. “But if this ain’t doing it, something’s got to change.”

But Dr. Hedges said that such complaints had been relatively few, with about 90 percent of the patients who were taking Xanax already off it.

“We haven’t had any episodes of violence, any acting out or difficult behavior in our clinics,
” he said. “We tried to prepare for that, but in fact it hasn’t happened.”

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