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addiction 14 articles

Landmark Mental Health Ruling Finds Top Insurer Illegally Denied Patients Coverage

Mental health patients in the U.S. scored major victory when a federal judge issued a landmark ruling against the nation’s largest health insurer, finding that it has been illegally denying coverage to policyholders seeking treatment for mental health and substance abuse. United Behavioral Health, a unit of UnitedHealthcare, “deviated” from national health care standards by implementing cost-cutting policies that effectively deprived mental health patients of access to critical, life-saving treatments, U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero found. He also suggested that the company was more intent on feeding its bottom line than providing adequate and appropriate coverage to mental health ... Read More

Propelled by Fraud, Opioid Overdose Soars To New Levels

The opioid crisis is on a disturbingly sharp upward trend across the U.S. despite the federal government’s tough talk and costly crackdown efforts, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). From July 2016 through September 2017, emergency hospital visits due to opioid overdose rocketed 30 percent overall and 35 percent in the 16 states hardest hit by the opioid epidemic, according to the CDC. “We have an emergency on our hands,” said acting CDC Director Anne Schuchat, according to NPR. “The fast-moving opioid overdose epidemic continues and is accelerating.” The U.S. Department of Justice ... Read More

Medicaid Fraud targeted by Massachusetts to Fight Opioid Addiction

The State of Massachusetts is tackling Medicaid fraud and opioid addiction by warning doctors who provide treatment services through the state’s Medicaid program not to unlawfully charge patients struggling with addiction to opioid painkillers. Massachusetts law requires providers of opioid addiction treatment to accept payment from the state’s Medicaid program, MassHealth, as full payment for their services. The buprenorphine-based drugs Suboxone, Subutex, and Vivitrol are used to treat opioid addiction under the Medicaid program to suppress opioid withdrawal and cravings. According to Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, the state has brought numerous criminal and civil enforcement actions against Medicaid providers that ... Read More

DOJ Addresses Opioid Epidemic’s Human and Financial Tolls

The ever-growing and alarmingly deadly opioid epidemic sweeping the U.S. has triggered the formation of a three-year pilot program designed to combat health care fraud related to prescription painkillers, including pill mill schemes run by doctors and pharmacies for profit. The U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) new Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit will focus on the “middleman” of the prescription opioid epidemic by identifying and prosecuting individuals who are contributing to the crisis. These perpetrators illegally divert and dispense the drugs for illegitimate purposes and often bill Medicare, Medicaid, the VA, and other taxpayer-funded health care programs for them. ... Read More

Anti-abuse drug sickens hundreds of children each year

Medical safety specialists are concerned at the growing number of young children who are sickened or die from accidentally swallowing a relative’s prescription for a medication used to treat opioid drug addiction. For every 100,000 patients who are prescribed buprenorphine, 200 children are hospitalized – a rate more than four times higher than the second-most accidentally ingested medication, blood pressure mediation. The research is published in the current issue of the journal Pediatrics. Buprenorphine is a narcotic much like the drugs it is designed to help patients wean off, such as heroin or prescription painkillers. While it can produce typical ... Read More

DEA introduces new drug take-back program to combat prescription drug abuse

A new Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) rule aims to combat a growing epidemic of prescription drug addiction and abuse by authorizing pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, and others to serve as drop-off sites for unused prescription medications. Attorney General Eric Holder said that the new regulation will help save lives and protect families from the dangers of prescription drug misuse. In 2011, unintentional prescription drug overdoses accounted for more than half of the 41,300 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. Prescription opioids, which are increasingly prescribed for pain relief, are particularly addictive and likely to be abused. Opioid pain killer overdose caused ... Read More

Five new black box warnings added to long-acting, extended-release opioid painkillers

Five new black box warnings are being added to the safety labels of extended-release and long-acting opioid painkillers, warning that the drugs are addictive, can cause life-threatening problems, and are easily abused and misused, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced. Opioids are a potent class of painkillers that also give patients a feeling of euphoria, making them choice recreational drugs. The following brand-name drugs and their generic counterparts have updated labels reflecting the new warnings: Avinza (morphine sulfate) Extended-Release Capsules,
 Butrans (buprenorphine) Transdermal System, 
Dolophine (methadone hydrochloride) Tablets,
 Duragesic (fentanyl transdermal system), 
Embeda (morphine sulfate and naltrexone hydrochloride) Extended-Release ... Read More

FDA approves pure form of painkiller hydrocodone, deemed stronger than Vicodin

Just days after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed stricter rules for drugs containing hydrocodone – such as Lortab and Vicodin – to help curb the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse, the agency announced that it has approved a purer form of hydrocodone that is even stronger than other drugs in its class. The FDA approved Zohydro ER to treat pain severe enough to require around-the-clock, long-term treatment. The drug is approved for patients for whom alternative treatment has proved inadequate or ineffective. The FDA did require the drug’s maker, Zogenix, to conduct post marketing studies for Zohydro ER ... Read More

FDA panel recommends approval of drug to treat heroin, prescription drug addiction

A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel voted to recommend the approval of a small, experimental implant to treat heroin and prescription drug addiction. The drug, Probuphine, made by Titan Pharmaceuticals, is a matchstick-sized implant that is designed to help addicts overcome their habit. The panel voted 10-4 with one abstention to approve the drug. If approved, the drug could receive a $50 million milestone payment. Titan purchased the U.S. and Canadian rights to Apple Tree Partners’ Braeburn Pharmaceuticals. “Opioid dependence is a rapidly growing public health concern and we remain committed to expanding the treatment options available to ... Read More

Prescription drug deaths rise for 11th consecutive year

The number of prescription drug-induced deaths rose for the 11th straight year, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analysis. Most of the drug deaths were accidents involving potent painkillers such as OxyContin and Vicodin. “This is a big problem that has gotten much worse quickly,” said CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden. Prescription drug deaths continue to rise despite efforts to raise awareness of the risks among doctors and patients. The CDC reported a total of 38,329 drug-overdose fatalities nationwide in 2010. Nearly 60 percent of those deaths involved medicines, most of them prescription drugs. In 2009, the ... Read More