Chelsea group creates standards for OxyContin
Page 2 of 2 -- Shraiar said he would like the Department of Public Health to use the data to send individual letters to doctors with questionable prescription patterns.
OxyContin, for example, is a long-acting medication (lasting between 10 to 12 hours) that should be prescribed as a twice-a-day dosage depending on the severity of the patient's pain, Shraiar said. Without revealing which doctor it came from, Shraiar said he received an OxyContin prescription request that called for three different dosages, four times a day, totaling 90 milligrams. In most cases, that kind of OxyContin prescription creates a dependency and can lead to accidental overdoses, Shraiar said.
''We frequently call the doctors when we get a prescription like that," Shraiar said, adding that pharmacists have to fill the prescriptions as written by doctors. ''On occasion, we do tell the patients about the risks, but then we tell them their doctors have chosen to give them a higher dose."
According to the Department of Public Health, more than 82,000 people in the state received treatment for substance abuse last year. Although no statistics were available for Chelsea, Boston had a 153 percent increase in emergency room visits related to OxyContin in the past year. Still, Shraiar said he is not in favor of a measure by state Representative Brian Wallace of South Boston and state Senator Steven Tolman of Brighton to ban OxyContin prescriptions.
''It is a good drug, when used properly," Shraiar said.
Police Chief Frank Garvin, who was at the summit, said Chelsea, like many other communities, has a problem with opiate addiction on the streets. While most police raids usually find heroin, Garvin said there has been an increase in street OxyContin use by Chelsea teens, despite its higher street value.
''The drug that's most problematic is OxyContin," Garvin said. ''OxyContin has unfortunately become the new heroin."
Chelsea police are working on a method to collect opiate overdose data in the city, but Garvin said it is difficult to track because most people usually call an ambulance and ''we'll never hear about that stuff."
Harris, of the Chelsea Alcohol/Substance Abuse Program, said the coalition hopes to apply for another public health grant next year, which it would use to focus on ''doctor shopping," a practice used by people seeking to get their hands on multiple prescriptions.
''The point of this year's work is to get the community to recognize the problem, taking an interest and responsibility, and extending that to their families," Harris said.
Katheleen Conti can be reached at email@example.com