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Categories: Legal, Opiates

It will take years of sustained, coordinated efforts to "contain and reverse" the prescription and illicit opioids epidemic, says a new, far-reaching report to the Food and Drug Administration from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Contrary to current thinking,…

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download a free PDF copy of Pain Management and the Opioid Epidemic: Balancing Societal and Individual Benefits and Risks of Prescription Opioid Use.


A study of nearly 90,000 pediatric patients, ages 13 to 21 years, has found that new, persistent opioid use following surgery “may represent a significant pathway to nonmedical opioid use among adolescents.” In fact, compared to a control group of non-drug-using, non-operative…

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Endo Pharmaceuticals has agreed to pull Opana ER from the U.S. market, several weeks after being asked to do so by the FDA. The abuse-deterrent extended-release formulation of the opioid painkiller oxymorphone hydrochloride has been tagged by an Agency safety committee as too easily…

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recently reported, the FDA asked Endo to remove Opana ER from the market in June, based on a review of “postmarketing data” which revealed that addicts were easily overcoming the abuse-deterrent formulation and injecting the drug.

Needle-sharing – even among members of the same family – has been the source of the spread of HIV and Hep-C infections. And Opana ER abuse has also been found to be the source of ‘thrombotic microangiopathy’ among abusers. This rare but serious blood clotting disorder damages the tiny blood vessels in the body’s vital organs, most commonly the kidney and brain, and can be fatal.

A single Opana ER pill contains an average 12-hour dose of oxymorphone. The drug is 10 times as potent as morphine, and is intended only for serious pain control.

However, when abusers crush, dissolve and inject it, that huge 12-hour dose of oxymorphone is suddenly an overdose risk for any but seasoned addicts.

Of course, needle sharing by infected users raises the public health threat to the level of a disaster.

Not the first time

According to the FDA statement, “this is the first time the agency has taken steps to remove a currently marketed opioid pain medication from sale due to the public health consequences of abuse.”

Well, that statement is not 100% accurate. Back in 1979, the agency asked Endo Pharmaceuticals to remove its oxymorphone painkiller pills, called Numorphan, from the market.

That less-than-timely request followed a vicious epidemic of overdoses, ruined lives and deaths directly caused by diverted Numorphan pills, and which went on for 20 years – from 1959 to 1979 – before anyone did anything about it.

Neither the FDA nor Endo Pharmaceuticals admitted publicly they had anything to do with the epidemic or why Numorphan pills were suddenly pulled from the market.

Although the Numorphan pills were withdrawn, the Numorphan name remained on several injectable and rectal oxymorphone medications from Endo.

The new epidemic isn’t news either

As we reported two years ago, Opana ER was a favorite of opioid addicts centered around Austin, IN, and elsewhere for years.

One has to ask why the FDA sat idle for at least two years while the epidemic spread, claiming over 120 victims in the tiny city of Austin, IN, pop. 4,200 – and beyond. Or why the agency was paralyzed for 20 years while Numorphan ravaged the opioid addiction underworld through the ‘60s and ‘70s.

One also has to wonder why, in 2006, the FDA “reapproved” Endo’s Numorphan oxymorphone pills under a new trade name, Opana. And then in 2011, the agency approved the extended release Opana ER.

Bottom line, this is not the first time the FDA has asked for a market removal “due to the public health consequences of abuse.” Today’s Opana ER is essentially the same product, albeit extended release, that the FDA had Endo remove from the market 38 years ago because of abuse.

In its favor, Endo says it will coordinate the orderly removal of Opana ER from the market with the FDA, so that patients have enough time to seek alternative treatment options.

Categories: Health, Opiates

If you or someone you care for is being treated for anxiety, depression or some other mental health disorder, and are taking opioids to treat a painful condition, it would be wise to seek alternative pain relief. People with emotional problems who use opioids are more at risk for dependence and…

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(Novus writes inspirational stories of people in the news who have overcome addiction. This is not to infer that these people are connected to Novus Medical Detox Center but simply to provide hope and encouragement to those fighting addiction.) Early in his career with the San Diego Chargers of…

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(Novus writes inspirational stories of people in the news who have overcome addiction. This is not to infer that these people are connected to Novus Medical Detox Center but simply to provide hope and encouragement to those fighting addiction.)

Early in his career with the San Diego Chargers of the National Football League (NFL), Shane Olivea was pegged as one of the players to watch, one of the potential all-time greats.

Considered an early draft “steal” by the Chargers in 2004, Olivea rapidly exceeded his humble draft status by making several all-rookie teams.

By 2006, his third season with the Chargers, Olivea had signed a 6-year, $20-million contract extension with a $7.5 million signing bonus.

But late in the 2007 season, Olivea lost his starting position at right tackle, and was inexplicably benched. Soon the 6 foot, 5-inch, 325-pounder ballooned to nearly 400 pounds. And before the real story was made public, he was released by the Chargers in February, 2008 – the NFL term for contract cancellation – and vanished from the Charger’s bench.

Unknown to much of the press and public, by April, 2008, he was at the Betty Ford recovery center in Rancho Mirage, CA.

When he finally agreed to talk to reporters, they were shocked to hear that Olivea had actually asked the Chargers for his release so he could enter treatment for a serious opioid painkiller addiction!

Outstanding college record

Shane Olivea was born on October 7, 1981, and was raised in Cedarhurst, NY, a small town – a village actually – on the South Shore of Long Island just across the bay from JFK International.

Before the big teenager was drafted by the Chargers, Olivea had demonstrated his outstanding ability at right tackle with the Ohio State University (OSU) national champion Buckeyes. He had originally committed to Georgia Tech, but changes in the coaching staff there prompted him to switch his commitment to Ohio State.

Olivea was a Buckeyes star from 2000 to 2003 – so good, in fact, that a decade later in 2013, OSU-Buckeye alumni and fans voted him onto their “All-Decade Team 2000-2009.” The Buckeyes newsletter said Olivea played an integral role in OSU’s 2002 National Championship.
“Along with being a part of that great Buckeye team, Olivea also twice earned second-team All-Big Ten honors,” the journal said.

Olivea left OSU after his senior season in 2003 without having earned a degree. But he says his goals were clear and had been since childhood: “Play a decade or so in the NFL, get rich, and then go on about his life,” he told Bill Rabinowitz at the Columbus Dispatch recently.

“Everybody can tell you what to do to get to your dream. But when you actually achieve the dream that you have when you’re 5, 6 or 7 years old – to be one of the rare few in the NFL – no one tells you what to do,” Olivea said.

125 Vicodins a day

But childhood dreams don’t tell you about the pain suffered routinely by NFL players. Or about the dangers of opioid painkillers that are so widely used – and abused.

Olivea said that all through college and his rookie NFL year he didn’t take any painkillers. But by the end of the first NFL season he “was so sore and exhausted that he barely left his bed for a week.”

Then one night, a teammate had a friend who offered him Olivea a Vicodin. And almost immediately, he says, he was hooked.

“There wasn’t one day in the NFL I wasn’t high on a pill after my rookie year,” Olivea said. “At my height on Vicodin, I would take 125 a day. It got to the point I would take a pile of 15 Vicodin and would have to take them with chocolate milk. If I did it with water or Gatorade, I’d throw it up.”

Olivea told the Dispatch he didn’t get the pills from the Chargers doctors. He “had his own sources” including a taxi driver in Mexico, which is next door to San Diego, who for $100 went to a Tijuana “pharmacy” for him.

“You could buy anything you want if you had cash,” Olivea said. “I’d go buy a couple hundred Vicodin, or by then I’d progressed to Oxycontin. How I functioned and played is head-scratching,” he said.

Withdrew from teammates

Under the opioids, he withdrew from teammates and his relationship with coaches and management soured.

Eventually, his family noticed the personality changes.

“That was never the way our relationship was,” his mother Jean said. “I knew something was not right. You can’t just ignore it.”

Shane’s mom organized an intervention at his home – mostly friends and family, and Chargers teammate Roman Oben, a former Cleveland Brown player who’d become a mentor for Shane on the Chargers. Oben told Shane he loved him as a brother and a teammate, and that Shane “needed to get as much help as possible.”

Rather than put off by the intervention, Olivea says he was relieved. He knew he had a problem and he’d been unable to ask for help.

Too full of pride

“I was too full of pride,” Olivea said. “I always said that my pride got me to the NFL, and it got me to rehab. I’m an offensive lineman. You don’t show pain. We’re the tough guys on the team. We sort of suffer in silence. I wanted to reach out, that I needed help. I wanted to stop. I went through withdrawal, physical withdrawal. But I didn’t know how to ask for help. It almost killed me.”

He went to rehab that same day. And he says that doctors who’d been at the center for 20 years repeated the blood tests because they couldn’t believe the results.

“They both looked at me and said we’ve never seen anybody living with that amount of opioids in you. You’re literally a walking miracle. That was a punch to the gut.”

Olivea spent 89 days at the Betty Ford Center. “I’m like, ‘I just took pills. I’m OK. I made it to the NFL. I can do this,'” Olivea said. “It just shows you how strong and how much of a hook those pills have. I didn’t care about my career anymore. I didn’t care about a lot of things. I didn’t care about myself, unfortunately. You go there and you do a lot of soul-searching.”

A new beginning

Rehab may have saved his life but not his NFL career. Released by the Chargers, Olivea signed with the New York Giants while in rehab. But he hurt his back in training and they let him go too. It was clear that his NFL career was over.

But Olivea realized that he could go back to OSU and complete his degree and start a new life. He re-enrolled in the summer of 2015, took 11 courses to finish his degree in sports industry, and late last year was presented with his diploma.

He says he’s looking for a job as a coach. “I feel I have an ability to connect with kids,” he told Rabinowitz at the Dispatch. “I’m young at heart. Being around young people keeps you young. I feel there’s such a need to teach some of these kids how to properly play and teach technique.”

Shane Olivea is thrilled with his recovery, as are his mom and his family. The last report we saw, he’s got a few job leads for coaching, too.

As for the risks of drugs: “If you got it, you can spot it. I can spot an addict in a public setting. I know the behavior. I know the tendencies. I know what he’s going to do. I’ll be able to notice somebody going down that slippery path and maybe catch them.”


The state of New Hampshire has filed suit against OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma for its alleged role in helping create the opioid epidemic afflicting the nation. New Hampshire, which President Donald Trump recently dubbed a “drug-infested den,” is number two in the country for opioid…

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sued opioid distributors over its drug crisis, the first such case brought in a tribal court.

Back in 2007, Purdue was fined $634 million by the federal government for charges related to its “misbranding” of OxyContin. At that time, it was the largest fine ever levied against an American corporation. Purdue also reached a $19.5 million settlement with 26 states and the District of Columbia. New Hampshire wasn’t among those states that benefitted from the Purdue settlement.

Most recently, in 2015, the drugmaker agreed to pay $24 million to resolve a lawsuit by the state of Kentucky.

“To defeat the epidemic, we must stop creating new users, and part of that is making sure these highly addictive and dangerous drugs are marketed truthfully and without deception and in such a way as not to minimize addiction risks or overstate benefits to patients,” said Ann Rice, the state’s Deputy Attorney General. “New Hampshire continues to experience a severe opioid epidemic. Last year alone nearly 500 overdose deaths occurred – almost ten times more than in 2000.”

Purdue’s reply

Purdue provided a response to the New Hampshire lawsuit in a statement to the media:

“While we vigorously deny the allegations, we share New Hampshire officials’ concerns about the opioid crisis, and we are committed to working collaboratively to find solutions. OxyContin accounts for less than 2 percent of the opioid analgesic prescription market nationally, but we are an industry leader in the development of abuse-deterrent technology, advocating for the use of prescription drug monitoring programs and supporting access to Naloxone — all important components for combating the opioid crisis.”

The rash of litigation related to the opioid epidemic may not be over. According to a June report, some 20 state attorneys general have announced their own investigations into the roles played by pharmaceutical companies involved in opioid manufacturing and distribution.

If you or someone you care for is experiencing dependence or addiction to opioids, or any drugs or alcohol, don’t wait until it’s too late. Do something about it now. Call Novus today.

Categories: Opiates, Overdose

In 1999, North and South Dakota were the only states in America with zero deaths from drug overdoses. America’s escalating prescription opioid epidemic had begun a few years earlier, and everywhere else in the country drug deaths were increasing. The highest drug overdose rates in the country…

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incredibly powerful and deadly – 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. As a result, scores of users are dying every day after shooting up or snorting these deadly mixtures.

At Novus, our specialized medical opioid detoxification protocols are helping save lives every day, setting people back on the road to recovery.

If you or someone you care for is at risk because of opioids, whether prescription or illicit, don’t wait – call Novus today. We’re here to help people get their lives back, and we can help you.


Conventional medical practice generally holds that bringing up the subject of dependence and addiction can alienate patients - especially those already dependent and needing more pills. In fact, many doctors, if not most, tend to refill such patients' opioid painkiller prescriptions to avoid…

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Just how dangerous is fentanyl? The synthetic opioid painkiller that’s usually mixed into heroin is turning up almost everywhere. Fentanyl is so dangerous that the Drug Enforcement Agency has issued a formal warning to law enforcement and paramedic first responders to be super-careful when…

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The DEA warning guide

The DEA Warning Guide is a comprehensive and highly-technical 19-page report that also includes the history and development of fentanyl and its derivatives such as carfentanil – often called “elephant tranquilizer” in the media and its role in today’s opioid epidemic.

The guide cautions first responders to get educated about fentanyl and its many derivatives, and trained to recognize the drug when they see it. The DEA says that to be properly protected from any contact with the drug, first responders should at least use the basics – gloves, dust masks, safety glasses and disposable paper suits and shoe covers.

Entering a lab or “pill-milling” location is another story altogether, and requires full HAZMAT protective gear – and immediate notifications to the building’s owners and occupants.

The agency also says that first responders should always have a supply of the opioid overdose antidote naloxone with them. Fentanyl can bring on an overdose so quickly and unexpectedly that naloxone – and several doses of it – should be close at hand.

The DEA has also released Fentanyl Roll Call, a video for all law enforcement and first responders nationwide, about the deadly consequences of improperly handling fentanyl.

Not news to the feds

The fentanyl problem is not so new to the DEA. Following a surge in its use in 2013, the DEA formed a Heroin-Fentanyl Task Force (HFTF) in 2014 to address what was becoming a serious national health problem.

The HFTF involves at least six government agencies, all working together to facilitate what is called “a whole of government approach” to the fentanyl and synthetic opioid epidemic in the United States.

The HFTF currently includes people from the DEA, Homeland Security (HIS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the FBI, the IRS and even the Post Office Inspection Service – this last agency because most synthetic opioids have been arriving in North America from China by mail.

China agrees to crack down on fentanyl

During the 1st quarter of 2017, the DEA ID’d 230 fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances in seized drugs. Fentanyl was found in combination with heroin in 61 percent of the samples, as well as with U-47700, alprazolam, ketamine and cocaine in other samples.

Most of this fentanyl comes from China or Mexico – highly refined from China, not so refined from Mexico. As we reported in April, China has agreed to crack down on fentanyl and other synthetic drugs.

Brand-name look-alikes

Although it’s usually a chunky or powdered substance, Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are turning up as pills or capsules that look like OxyContin (oxycodone), Xanax (alprazolam) and other diverted pharmaceuticals. The dangers are the same as when mixed into heroin.

The DEA says criminals love fentanyl-type drugs because they’re so cheap and they boost the effect of other drugs when mixed into them.

“Due to the elevated potency of fentanyl over traditional opioid drugs (i.e., heroin), criminal organizations can use one kilogram of fentanyl to produce approximately 1 million 1-milligram counterfeit pills, resulting in potentially 10-to-20 million dollars in revenue,” the DEA says. “There are also reports that consumers in some areas are seeking fentanyl over heroin, as the ‘rush’ is greater.”

DEA Guidelines will save lives

The rush may be greater, but overdose deaths involving fentanyl are soaring and the drug is definitely threatening our first responders.

We recently read about a policemen who returned to the station after a drug bust, noticed a speck of white on his shirt, brushed it off and fell immediately into an overdose. The speck turned out to be fentanyl. Fortunately, fellow officers saved his life with naloxone. There have been numerous similar reports recently.

The new DEA fentanyl safety guidelines will help protect our first responders in the field. And we hope our report will help protect you. If you or anyone you care about needs help with opioid use or misuse, call Novus Detox today.


In a surprise move that won't please Endo Pharmaceuticals, newly-appointed FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb says the agency is asking drugmaker Endo Pharmaceuticals to remove its opioid painkiller Opana ER (oxymorphone hydrochloride) from the market. "We are facing an opioid epidemic - a…

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reported on the devastation Opana ER was causing. We described the checkered history of Numorphan, Opana and oxymorphone, and how it now was causing a new wave of overdose deaths and the spread of HIV and Hep-C – possibly the worst outbreaks in over a decade. We told how Opana ER had become the favorite among prescription opioid injection abusers in Indiana and the Appalachian states.

Since then, some federal and state agencies have been working on it, but until now we haven’t heard from the FDA.

So when Scott Gottlieb took over the reins at the FDA a couple of weeks ago and announced that his major priority would be to do whatever the FDA can to combat the opioid epidemic, we crossed our fingers and hoped for the best.

Well, it appears that Gottlieb is a man of his word. We’re happy to see that one of the major players in diverted prescription opioids soon may be off the market – a market already glutted with far more opioid painkillers than are needed.

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