Australian pain-killer switch affects hundreds

October 16, 2012

Hundreds of Australians were given water instead of pain-killing medication after thieves siphoned off the drugs from ambulance supplies and refilled the empty vials from the tap, officials said Tuesday.

Authorities in the state of Victoria said large amounts of the drug had been taken and an investigation was under way.

"We can confirm that Victoria Police are investigating allegations of theft from a number of Ambulance Victoria response stations," a police spokesman said, adding that two men had been questioned over the theft.

Ambulance Victoria chief executive Greg Sassella said hundreds of patients were affected by the switch.

"We have been able to identify all those patients that may have come into contact with this issue and we have been in direct contact with them and we can assure them they are safe," he said.

"We apologise for any sub-optimal pain relief they had."

Sassella said Victoria's had changed its protocols for the use of fentanyl, which would now be stored in vials that contained less of the drug and had a more robust steel cap.

Fentanyl is a potent often used by paramedics as a fast-acting pain-killer and usually administered as a . It can be addictive and is used by some drug abusers as a substitute for heroin.

Explore further: Non-narcotic pain medication is safe and effective after sinus surgery

Related Stories

Non-narcotic pain medication is safe and effective after sinus surgery

March 23, 2012
Patients who have undergone sinus surgery can safely take an alternative pain medication that does not cause the side effects of narcotics such as fentanyl and Vicodin, a Loyola University Health System study has found.

Bolus epidural fentanyl cuts post-spinal decompression pain

September 7, 2012
(HealthDay)—Intraoperative bolus epidural fentanyl is effective at alleviating early postoperative pain after lumbar canal decompression, according to a study published online Aug. 27 in The Spine Journal.

Heroin addicts have higher pain sensitivity, even during treatment

April 25, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Heroin addicts often have an increased sensitivity to pain, and this sensitivity does not subside over the course of treatment with methadone or other opioids, new research finds.

Most crack users in Victoria, Vancouver risk disease by sharing pipes

July 18, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Most people who smoke or inject crack in Victoria and Vancouver share their crack paraphernaliaa practice—that can spread serious infectious diseases. That’s according to new data from the University ...

Recommended for you

Cancer drugs' high prices not justified by cost of development, study contends

September 12, 2017
(HealthDay)— Excusing the sky-high price tags of many new cancer treatments, pharmaceutical companies often blame high research and development (R&D) costs.

Non-psychotropic cannabinoids show promise for pain relief

September 4, 2017
Some cancers love bone. They thrive in its nutrient-rich environment while gnawing away at the very substrate that sustains them, all the while releasing inflammatory substances that cause pain—pain so severe that opioids ...

Fentanyl drives rise in opioid-linked deaths in U.S.

August 31, 2017
(HealthDay)—Fentanyl, a synthetic narcotic, is a key player in America's continuing epidemic of opioid-related overdose deaths, two new studies report.

Eating triggers endorphin release in the brain

August 28, 2017
Finnish researchers have revealed how eating stimulates brain's endogenous opioid system to signal pleasure and satiety.

Cholesterol-lowering drugs may fight infectious disease

August 21, 2017
That statin you've been taking to lower your risk of heart attack or stroke may one day pull double duty, providing protection against a whole host of infectious diseases, including typhoid fever, chlamydia, and malaria.

Data revealed under FOI shows benefits of multiple sclerosis drug currently blocked by regulators

August 17, 2017
A drug that is blocked by the EU regulatory system has now been found to improve the quality of life of people with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

PhotonX
not rated yet Oct 16, 2012
Seems to me that a thief would simply take off with the vials. Replacing the contents looks more like an inside job. A stupid one, albeit, since the switch immediately throws suspicion on the paramedics and anyone else with regular access to the ambulances.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.