Vicodin

At a public hearing yesterday at the Dept. of Health, doctors, dentists, physician assistants, and advanced practice nurses voiced their opposition to the department's proposed regulations governing the prescribing of opioids. The new rules would require prescribers to sign a fairly lengthy agreement with patients, alerting them to the risks of taking prescription painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin, and agreeing to certain kinds of monitoring. Many health care providers feel these agreements aren't necessary and that, in fact, they're patronizing.

What do you think?

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island health officials are considering new regulations governing how health care providers prescribe painkillers. So far this year, 212 Rhode Islanders have died from accidental drug overdoses, most involving opioids, according to the health department.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island and Connecticut are now able to share prescription drug data across state lines. Linking the states’ prescription drug monitoring programs is designed to help doctors spot possible abuse and addiction.

Aaron Read / RIPR

Rhode Island’s health department has started tracking the number of prescriptions written for opioid painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin. Agency head Dr. Michael Fine says that’s because those drugs are addictive. And four out of five people who use heroin got started on prescription painkillers. In July, he says, 118,000 Rhode Islanders got prescriptions for opioid painkillers.

State health officials say they don’t know why Rhode Island has the nation’s 13th highest rate of accidental deaths caused by illicit drug overdoses.  They say doctors may be part of the problem.

Twenty-eight year old Ross Ricciarelli is a recovering heroin  addict. He got started on Vicodin and progressed to Percocette. When prescriptions became hard to come by he started shooting up.

"I was prescribed them at one point and I really had no idea that it was going to just take me down roads that I never would have imagined that I would have gone down," said Ricciarelli.

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