Workplace drug tests recently have shown a decrease in cocaine positives during the first half of 2007. The positive tests for cocaine dropped 16% as the overall rate was 0.58 percent. This rate is the lowest since tracking the information back in 1997 by one lab. The lowest rate of decline was in the Midwest while the highest rate of decline was in the New England areas. The total tests counted for this tracking included about four and one-half million urine drug tests, which all included testing for cocaine and other drugs of abuse. Some believe the shortage of cocaine and higher costs are driving the decline, while European cocaine abuse is becoming increasingly popular, adding to world-wide demand. As a Medical Review Officer for Work-Place Drug Testing, cocaine remains popular.
In another report on drugs of abuse, marijuana recently was highlighted. It is apparent that reefing the great weed is about 5 times more harmful than one cigarette. The apparent problem is a greater intensity of airway obstruction. This effect may be caused by an increased “holding” of the smoke which is a longer time of interaction with the lung tissue. Another concept is that the smoke is literally hotter, creating a deeper thermal injury to the lung tissue itself. Interestingly, when compared to regular smokers, the marijuana smokers had less emphysema changes.
DAWN, or the Drug Abuse Warning Network, continues to focus on hydrocodone. This narcotic goes with the brand names of Norco, Lortab, Vicodin – but is generic in many prescriptions. Sales of hydrocodone and oxycodone have dramatically increased over the past years. The Pharma industry spends over 3 times as much on advertising as it did a decade ago.
www.castMD.com has written on this plague and the advertising push to addiction by the Pharma industry in past postings.
Despite the pressure to put these dangerous and addictive drugs on a higher schedule of restriction of prescribing, Schedule II, the FDA and DEA has been lobbied heavily to not do so.
With all the Pharma advertising, a push toward better pain management, and the abuse of narcotics, hydrocodone based drugs and combo drugs ranked number 2 in 2006 just behind the cholesterol lowering brand name, Lipitor. From 2001 to 2006, hydrocodone prescriptions rose by 2/3rds.
Hydrocodone is the number one drug in its category to arrive at the Emergency Department. It is also the number one drug of its category reported to the National Forensic Lab Info System.
www.castMD.com says, “Ban hydrocodone or elevate the Schedule.” It is a considerable concern of abuse in junior high kids, high school kids, and patients.” Should it be banned?