The FDA is being asked to ban OxyContin, the powerful painkiller blamed for the rising number of heroin addicts in the region and country. Parents of addicts will also appear at a Washington, D.C., public hearing next week, asking that OxyContin be banned or its distribution severely restricted.
The FDA is being asked to ban OxyContin, the powerful painkiller blamed for the rising number of heroin addicts in the region and country.
A petition started by a national radio talk show host calling for the ban now has more than 1,800 signatures. Parents of addicts will appear at a Washington, D.C., public hearing next week, asking OxyContin be banned or its distribution severely restricted.
“It is time to take OxyContin off the street,” said Larry Golbom, a pharmacist and host of prescriptionaddictionradio.com.
The petition, circulating online, asks for an immediate ban on OxyContin distribution to new patients and the establishment of a program to wean those now taking the drug.
“I can honestly say we now have a plague because of OxyContin,” said Joanne Peterson, founder of Learn to Cope (learn2cope.org), a Brockton area support group for parents.
Peterson, who will speak at the hearing next week, said the number of opiate addictions will continue to grow until OxyContin is banned.
“I’m seeing more now who are addicted than I ever have in my entire life,” the Raynham woman said.
Throughout the region, young heroin addicts — particularly those in the suburbs — say they first got hooked on OxyContin and then turned to cheaper heroin when their addiction got too expensive.
OxyContin sells on the street for $80 for an 8 mg tablet while a bag — or single dose — of heroin can cost less than a pack of cigarettes.
The Enterprise in 2006 and 2007 detailed the opiate death toll in the region in two reports, “Wasted Youth” and “Wasted Youth: Deadly Surge.” Those reports exposing the local epidemic can be found at www.enterprisenews.com under “Special Reports.”
“We believe OxyContin was the virus that started this epidemic,” Golbom said.
Programs to help addicts are also expanding throughout the greater Brockton area and community leaders are stepping up to deal with the issue.
The Brockton Police Department hosted a program, “Not My Kid,” this week at the Fuller Craft Museum to educate parents about drugs, among other things.
“Most parents said we need more of these types of programs,” said officer Nancy Leedberg, one of the city’s Gang Resistance Education and Training officers. “It was very well-received.”
The Brockton Mayor’s Opioid Overdose Prevention Coalition has been training people on what to do in the event of an overdose and are working to educate schoolchildren about the dangers of opioid use. It will be hosting a kickoff event on June 11 to encourage community groups to join the effort.
“We are creating awareness to let people know there is a problem,” said Koren Cappiello, coordinator of the coalition.
Narcan, an overdose antidote, is being distributed to addicts’ families, addicts leaving treatment and those known to be at risk. It is available through the Community Outreach, Prevention, and Education program, called COPE, at the Brockton Area Multi Services Inc.
Maureen Boyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.