Prescription Drugs

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Earlier this week the Charleston Gazette-Mail published an investigative report about “pill mills” in southern West Virginia. These are pharmacies that accept and distribute extraordinarily large numbers of prescription painkillers. Some of the doctors who have sent patients to these pharmacies have since been indicted on federal charges related to drug trafficking and abuse.

Kara Lofton sat down with Gazette-Mail reporter Eric Eyre to talk about the current lawsuit surrounding the pharmacies and how they have fueled West Virginia’s drug epidemic.

Pills, Drugs, Prescriptions, prescription drugs
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Law enforcement agencies across West Virginia will participate in a national event Saturday attempting to get unused prescription drugs out of homes where they could potentially be abused.

The federal Drug Enforcement Agency and Department of Justice sponsor several National Drug Tack-Back days every year. Saturday's event marks the 11th annual event.

Dollar Photo Club

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed a bill this week giving the more than 1,700 nurse practitioners in West Virginia the ability to diagnose and treat patients without physician oversight.

Nurse practitioners in West Virginia are required to work under the guidance of a physician. But in the past, advanced practice nurses couldn’t always find physicians to sign off on their work, sometimes leaving patients without care.  House Bill 4334 attempts to address that problem.

Charleston Area Medical Center

Officials from Charleston Area Medical Center may consider changing their policies on prescribing opioid.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that CAMC chief operating officer Dr. Glen Crotty told members of the hospital's board of directors Wednesday that the hospital system would consider placing more limits on what can be prescribed in its emergency rooms. Crotty says the hospital system is working on limiting prescriptions from 30 or 45 days to about five days.

Dollar Photo Club

West Virginia has the highest rate of youth drug overdose deaths in the country, according to a new national report.

The study, produced by the non-profit Trust for America’s Health, found that nationwide, youth drug overdose deaths have more than doubled among people aged 12-25.

Pills, Drugs, Prescriptions, prescription drugs
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Two people have been sentenced on federal charges stemming from a crackdown on prescription drug trafficking in southern West Virginia. 

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin says 20-year-old Aree Lumpkins of Princeton received a two-year sentence on Tuesday. Lumpkins pleaded guilty in July to using a telephone to arrange a drug deal.

Pills, Drugs, Prescriptions, prescription drugs
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Nearly 2,900 West Virginians have overdosed on prescription painkillers or heroin over the past five years.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that the statistics are from the state Health Statistics Center, which also said overdose deaths last year were the highest in the state since 2011. Moreover, the state is on pace for a record year in drug overdoses.

state capitol
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Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says his office will host a National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day event at the state Capitol.

The event is set for 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday near the East Rotunda. Morrisey is asking residents to look through their medicine cabinets and bring any unused, unwanted or expired medications to the event for safe disposal.

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 A Circuit Court judge in Boone County has rejected a drug wholesalers' bid to dismiss a lawsuit that accuses drug companies of flooding West Virginia with pain pills.

In a ruling this week, Judge William Thompson ruled the case should proceed to trial, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

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Another prescription drug collection effort will be held in September.

U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and other Senate colleagues had asked U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to reinstate the national initiative after it was discontinued by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Brian Turner

The U.S. attorney in Louisville says an Internet drug company operating in West Virginia has agreed to forfeit $450,000 from the illegal sale of prescription drugs as part of a guilty plea.

The plea agreement says Aracoma Drug Co. electronically received invalid prescriptions from NationalRXRPartners for prescription drugs to be dispensed to people who filled out questionnaires over the Internet.

Pills, Drugs, Prescriptions, prescription drugs
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A crackdown by the Ohio Valley Drug Task Force has reduced illegal prescription painkiller operations in Northern West Virginia.

Now authorities are dealing with a new drug problem - heroin.

U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld II tells The Intelligencer and Wheeling News Register that heroin supply and demand is increasing for several reasons.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, Suzanne Higgins reports on a new drug that successfully treats Hepatitis-C, but it comes with a big price tag.  And we’ll visit a distillery in the Eastern Panhandle.

Pills, Drugs, Prescriptions, prescription drugs
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  A West Virginia Board of Pharmacy committee has identified 176 patients who could be "doctor shopping" for prescription drugs.

These patients have received pain medication prescriptions from at least 13 doctors over the past 12 months.

The Charleston Gazette reports that the committee recently warned medical professionals across the state that their patients could be "doctor shoppers."

West Virginia Attorney General's Office

GlaxoSmithKline LLC has agreed to pay West Virginia $22 million to settle a lawsuit alleging it illegally marketed three diabetic drugs.

 The drug maker didn't admit any liability in the settlement.
 West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrissey announced the settlement on Thursday. He says it's one of the largest pharmaceutical settlements in the state's history.


West Virginia University students recently finished up their final examinations for the school year. During this time period, of course, many stay up long hours to cram to prepare for the tests. And according to West Virginia University Journalism students who performed a research study, many are reaching for prescription drugs to prepare, without a prescription.

Pills, Drugs, Prescriptions, prescription drugs
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  Federal officials in southern West Virginia say they collected more than three tons of unwanted and expired drugs during last weekend's Prescription Drug Take-Back day. U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin and Drug Enforcement Administration supervisory agent Suzan Williamson said the collection set a record at 6,211 pounds of prescription drugs. West Virginians participated at nearly 130 locations around the state.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the State Senate goes through a very spirited debate on a prescriptions bill.

Also, the House of Delegates looks at allowing alcohol sales earlier in the day on Sunday, despite some opposition in the House.

A public hearing held by the House Judiciary Committee gives those concerned over frack waste a chance to weigh in.

Martin Valent / WV Legislative Photography

The Senate Committee on Health and Human Resources was the first to take action on Senate Bill 6 Tuesday, regulating the sale of drug products used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine.

Senate Bill 6:

Senator Joe Manchin held a conference call this morning to discuss the announcement that the Food and Drug Administration is recommending hydrocodone be reclassified.

  The FDA is recommending to the Department of Health and Human Services that hydrocodone drugs like Vicodin or Lortab be reclassified from a Schedule III to a Schedule II controlled substance.

Under this category, it’s acknowledged that the drug has a high potential for abuse, can cause severe psychological or physical dependence, and should be used with severe restrictions.