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

With no morphine, 25 million die in pain each year: report

October 13, 2017
Every year, some 25 million people—one in ten of them children—die in serious pain that could have been alleviated with morphine at just a few cents per dose, researchers said Friday.

Study finds few restrictions on Rx opioids through Medicare

October 9, 2017
Medicare plans place few restrictions on the coverage of prescription opioids, despite federal guidelines recommending such restrictions, a new Yale study finds. The research results highlight an untapped opportunity for ...

Nocebo effect: Does a drug's high price tag cause its own side effects?

October 5, 2017
Pricey drugs may make people more vulnerable to perceiving side effects, a new study suggests—and the phenomenon is not just "in their heads."

Pre-packaged brand version of compounded medication to prevent preterm births costs 5,000 percent more

October 2, 2017
Preventing a preterm birth could cost as little as $200 or as much as $20,000, depending on which one of two medications a doctor orders, according to a new analysis from Harvard Medical School.

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 ...

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.