Saturday, November 1, 2008

Military Rise in drug prescriptions may signal abuse

Rise in drug prescriptions may signal abuse
By Gregg Zoroya - USA TodayPosted : Saturday Nov 1, 2008
The sharp rise in outpatient prescriptions paid for by the government suggests doctors rely too heavily on narcotics, says Army Col. Chester “Trip” Buckenmaier III, of Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.

Recently, at least 20 soldiers in an engineer company of 70 to 80 soldiers at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., shared and abused painkillers prescribed for their injuries, according to court testimony.

“The groundwork for this toxic situation was laid out through the continual prescription of highly addictive, commonly overused drugs,” said Capt. Elizabeth Turner, the lawyer for one defendant in the case.

In response to six suicides and seven drug-related deaths among soldiers in Warrior Transition Units — created for the Army's most severely injured — aggressive efforts are underway to manage prescription drugs, says Col. Paul Cordts, chief of health policy for the Army surgeon general. These include limiting prescriptions to a seven-day supply and more closely monitoring use.
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