Unspoken Victims: At This Camp, Children of Opioid Addicts Learn to Cope and Laugh

Children are often called the hidden casualties of the opioid epidemic. They carry a lot of secrets and shame.

The majority of children at Camp Mariposa in Dayton, Ohio, have parents who are addicted to opioids. The nonprofit group Eluna runs camps in 13 states, many of them in areas hardest hit by the opioid crisis. All of these children have experienced trauma, sometimes abuse and neglect, and a growing number are in foster care. These children often struggle to reconcile the loving parents they remember with who they have become. 
 One of them is 8-year-old C. 
Take a few minutes to learn their stories and hear their pain. To read this touching and heart-wrenching article, click here

November Is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month

Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most common diabetes complications that affects eyes. It's caused by damage to the blood vessels of the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye (retina), according to the Mayo Clinic. 
November is diabetic eye disease awareness month, which is designed to help bring awareness to the eye issues that can develop with diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy usually has no early warning signs. It can be detected only through a comprehensive eye examination that looks for early signs of the disease.
At first, diabetic retinopathy may cause no symptoms or only mild vision problems. Eventually, it can cause blindness. This is why it's so important to spread awareness in your community. 
The condition can develop in anyone who has type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The longer you have diabetes and the less controlled your blood sugar is, the more likely you are to develop this eye complication.
For a full overview of diabetic retinopathy, click here

Those left behind: In the aftermath of an opioid death, families find ways to cope

Parents, family and friends come together to discuss their epic battle against opioid abuse after losing loved ones to addiction. They work to reduce the stigma and guilt associated with their trauma and do their best to prevent similar situations from occurring for other families.

From grief to acceptance to the impact of opioid overdoses on siblings, this thoughtfully written article covers the gamut. How do these families pick up their lives and move on after such a loss?

Click here to read the article published by the Daily Hampshire Gazette. 

Medication Safety Awareness for the Blind Hall of Fame 2019

Medication Safety Awareness for the Blind (#MSAB) is an initiative that brings together advocates from throughout the U.S. and Canada to spread the word in their communities about FREE accessible prescription labels available for individuals who are visually impaired.

This program is only as successful as the time and effort MSAB advocates put into it. Without further ado, here are some top photographs recognizing 2019 Medication Safety Awareness for the Blind Advocates.

Many of these individuals are Lions who go above and beyond for their communities. Many other groups are from organizations representing individuals who are visually impaired, aging agencies and more.

Eudora  Lions Club

Lion Angie with Cedar Lake Lions Club

October Is Medication Safety Awareness for the Blind Month

Medication errors can lead to illness, hospitalization or even death. Now imagine you can’t read your pharmacy prescription labels. If you are visually impaired, the danger of mistakes with your medication is real. Medication Safety Awareness for the Blind (MSAB) is a service project during the month of October that works to save lives. 

MSAB is an initiative that spreads the word about FREE accessible prescription labels that are available throughout the country for individuals who are visually impaired. One such option is ScripTalk. 

Through this program, an individual can receive a FREE talking prescription reader, or download a free mobile app that will read all their prescription label information out loud, including: drug name, dosage, instructions, instructions, warnings, pharmacy information, doctor name, prescription number and date. 

This is a life-saving awareness program that can make a real difference.

More than 7.5 million individuals are considered legally blind in the United States, according to the National Federation ofthe Blind.  As our population ages, this number continues to rise. 

To learn more about MSAB and become an advocate, visit https://mailchi.mp/envisionamerica/msab or call 1-800-890-1180 to find a pharmacy near you that offers accessible labels. 

Oregon Pharmacists Now Required to Provide Prescription Readers for Blind, Visually Impaired Patients

Oregon's governor has signed a new law into effect which requires pharmacies in the state to provide prescription readers to blind and visually impaired individuals. This is a life saving measure for those who cannot read their medication prescription labels.

KLCC, an Oregon NPR station has produced an audio story and written story on this new law.

For the written article, click here.

For the audio MP3 file, click here.

Here is a link to the law's language.

Oregon Passes Talking Prescription Reader Legislation

Both the House of Representatives and the State Senate in Oregon have passed new legislation to require pharmacies to provide prescription readers for patients who are blind, visually impaired or print impaired. The State Senate passed the proposed law late last week.

House Bill 2935 will now go back to the State House of Representatives for agreement on some minor amendments made in the Senate.

Once approved, it will then go to the governor to sign into law.

For full details, click here.

Oklahoma's Opioid Case Against Johnson & Johnson Goes to Court

The case filed by Oklahoma against Johnson & Johnson over its possible involvement in the opioid epidemic has begun. NBC calls it a precedent-setting trial. The state’s attorney general has accused Johnson & Johnson of misleading doctors for years by de-emphasizing the risks of opioids and instead touting the benefits.

Johnson & Johnson disputes the allegations and is fighting them in court. Oklahoma’s attorney general has accused other big pharma companies with similar allegations. Some of those companies have settled prior to going to trial. It appears that Johnson & Johnson will see the case through in court.

See NBC's coverage below:

Watch Now: Lion Advocates for ScripTalk

Pennsylvania Lion Loraine Brown talks about the benefits of ScripTalk with Attorney Gabriella Hashem Farhat. ScripTalk reads vital prescription information out loud, such as medication name, dosage, doctor and more,  for visually impaired individuals. 

MN Senate Follows Closely Behind State House in Passing Opioid Legislation

The Minnesota State Senate followed two weeks behind the state House in passing legislation that creates a new Opiate Epidemic Response Account to fund initiatives locally and statewide to address addiction.

“The opioid epidemic has ravaged families across our state,” said Sen. Rich Draheim (R-Madison Lake). “Nationally, it is now more likely to die from an opioid overdose than a car accident. While this legislation is not perfect, it preserves physician and pharmacist discretion while funding local programs that directly impact families and individuals impacted by opioid addiction.”

After passing the Senate, the bill now heads to a conference committee with the House of Representatives where the bills will be resolved into one proposal.  

To read the full Minnesota Sentate Republican Caucus press release, click here.

Writing Testimony in Support of Accessible Labeling Laws

Providing your testimony to the committee or legislature considering a bill regarding accessible prescription labeling can influence the passage and amendment process if changes need to be made to make it achieve the desired end result.
Ideally, the collection of testimonies provided to the legislature or committee will include a wide range of experiences that demonstrate the key points the law is designed to address.  If you are part of a group, perhaps have a discussion about who will focus their testimony on which of the talking points below so the gambit of issues are addressed through the testimonies. 
The purpose of the testimony is to demonstrate how the law would assist both you and the pharmacist in more effective communication, equal access to printed prescription information required by the FDA, and provide personal safety, independence and pursuit of health and happiness. 
When writing, keep these key points in mind:
  • The difficulty of managing prescriptions without sight
  • Equal access to mandated prescription information
  • The challenge of requesting accommodation at the pharmacy
  • The (in)effectiveness of solutions already offered
  • The personal and financial cost of medication errors for patient and pharmacy

NJ Bill to Require Warnings Label on Rx Opioids Passes Senate

Legislation sponsored by Senator Kristin Corrado (R-40) in New Jersey requiring prescription opioid medications to include a warning sticker advising patients of the risk of addiction and overdose has passed the New Jersey Senate.
“New Jerseyans who are prescribed opioid medications should be aware of the potential dangers every time they reach for the bottle,” Corrado said. “The unprecedented rise in opioid deaths proves that we must do more to combat the addiction crisis. The bill we passed today is a simple step, but it will save countless lives.”
Corrado’s bipartisan bill, S-2244/A-3292, would require any prescription opioid medication dispensed in the State of New Jersey to include a warning sticker describing the risks of opioid medications. Opioids that would qualify for a label under the bill include codeine, hydrocodone (Vicodin), hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol) and oxycodone (OxyContin).

7-day Prescription Bill Proposed to Mitigate Opioid Abuse

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. and Cory Gardner, R-Colo. announced the introduction of the John S. McCain Opioid Addiction and Prevention Act (S. 724), which would limit to a seven-day supply the initial prescriptions of opioids for acute pain. This limit would mandate what the Centers for Disease control already recommend.

Did the FDA ignite the opioid epidemic?

A drug manufacturer denounces his own industry and explains to 60 Minutes how a label change by the FDA expanded the use of opioids.  Bill Whitaker reports. Air Date: Feb 24, 2019  Watch the video.

Timeline of the Opioid Crisis

(Source: CNN) 
The opioid epidemic has roots that date back to the 1800s when Heroin was believed to be less addictive than morphine. CNN created timeline of how the United States got to where it is today. Go to the Timeline

Real Solutions-How One Small Town in Minnesota Beat the Opioid Crisis

Town halls and committees all over the country are looking for ways to combat the opioid epidemic.  Many are turning to the places that have succeeded in making a noticeable difference in their community.  

Little Falls, Minnesota, didn’t do anything revolutionary. They just made a real effort, and spent real money, treating addiction as a disease, not a crime. 

Read more about what worked for them.

What is the US Opioid Epidemic?

  • In the late 1990's, pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to opioid pain relievers and healthcare providers began to prescribe them at greater rates.
  • Increased prescription of opioid medications led to widespread misuse of both prescription and non-prescription opioids before it became clear that these medications could indeed be highly addictive.
  • In 2017 HHS declared a public health emergency and announced a 5-Point Strategy To Combat the Opioid Crisis
  • Visit the Department of Health and Human Services web page on the opiod epidemic for more information and statistics.
Opioids Information Graphic, link to accessible version follows

Download the Opioid Epidemic in the U.S. The Opioids By The Numbers” graphic and PDF are currently undergoing 508 review. Assistive technology users should email 508helpdesk@hhs.gov.

Controlled Substance Safety Labels: A Pharmacy Solution to Help Combat Opioid Addiction

More than half of patients lack confidence in their ability to properly take new medications as directed, according to a new survey. When patients answered how they would like to learn about new medications, written materials came in dead last.

“Rather than rely on written handouts from doctors and pharmacists, we must take advantage of technologies like smartphones and patient portals to deliver impactful, customized details about prescribed medications,” says Cameron Deemer, president of the company that completed the survey.

Videos would be one avenue. Physicians and pharmacists are short on time, so a safety video, especially when it comes to controlled substances, could make a huge difference in adherence and patient safety.

New to the market is a pharmacy label option: Controlled Substance Safety Label (CSSL). This auxiliary label distinguishes a Schedule II medication, calling attention to the addictive nature and risk for overdose, and reinforcing the need for caution when taking the drug. 
Try it now: scan the QR code to play safety video

A CSSL features a QR code which, when scanned, plays a brief safety video, detailing a drug’s instructions, side effects and warnings in an easy-to-understand audio and visual format.
Anyone, no matter their level of reading comprehension or sensory input, would benefit from a CSSL label when prescribed a dangerous drug.

CSSLs are available across the US and Canada at participating pharmacies by request.

Safe Medication Management: Ensuring Effective Communication and Accessibility for Individuals with Disabilities

If a person with a visual or print impairment struggles to read a prescription label, it’s time for the pharmacy to take action. Accessible prescription labels have been available since 2003 and are options that any pharmacy can implement. Formats include large print labels, Braille labels, and talking labels and prescription readers. Controlled Substance Safety Labels (CSSLs) are the latest addition to the options that keep patients safe. The National Council on Disability features a guide to help pharmacists with providing labeling accommodations: Best Practices for Prescription Drug Labeling 

A person has a right to reasonable accommodation to equal access, including the critical information on a prescription label. Not being able to read a prescription label can lead to medication errors, a trip to the ER, or worse. Anyone denied access to information can file a complaint with Health and Human Services or their state’s board of pharmacy and cite the protection laws discussed below.

Americans are now more likely to die from opioid overdoses than car crashes

The opioid epidemic is not a bigger public health and safety threat than car crashes.  For the first time in history, Americans are more likely to die from opioid overdoses than car crashes, according to a new report from the National Safety Council.
Based on 2017 data, people in the US have a 1 in 103 chance of dying in a motor vehicle crash over their lifetime, but a 1 in 96 chance of dying of an opioid overdose.

ScripTalk Talking Prescription Labels Featured in Glaucoma Today

Accessible prescription labels help people who are blind, visually and print impaired stay safe when managing medications.

Dr. Richard A. Lehrer writes about accessible prescription labels in his article, 'Improving Patient Access To Medication' featured in the November/December 2018 Glaucoma Today magazine. Read the article here.