The fictional “Nurse Jackie,” in the Showtime series of the same name, is a very competent nurse in a busy emergency room.
She’s also addicted to prescription painkillers: Percocet, Vicodin, OxyContin.
This portrayal of addiction is jarring, but it’s not wildly unrealistic.
Drug abuse among people in the health professions is reportedly about at the same level as among the general population. And abuse of painkillers, the specific problem depicted on the program, is rampant, reaching all segments of U.S. society.
Last week, the FDA recommended tighter controls on how doctors prescribe the most commonly used narcotic painkillers.
The move follows a long debate over whether the drugs, which contain the narcotic hydrocodone, should be controlled as tightly as more powerful painkillers such as OxyContin.
The drugs at issue contain a combination of hydrocodone and an over-the-counter painkiller like acetaminophen or aspirin and are sold either as generics or under brand names like Vicodin or Lortab.
Rick Allen, director of the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency, said Monday that he believes the switch could help decrease overdoses and addictions to painkillers.
Hydrocodone “is probably the No. 1 forged prescription,’’ Allen said. New rules could help keep “so many large quantities out of the hands of patients,’’ he added. “It’s a pretty big problem.’’ full story