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opioid epidemic 184 articles

FDA wants to know if opioids actually work for chronic pain

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) chief Scott Gottlieb M.D., wants to know whether opioids already on the market to treat chronic pain actually work. Opioids are a class of painkillers that also give users a feeling of euphoria, and oftentimes as the drug is continued, greater doses are needed to quell the pain, leading to dependence and addiction. Prescription opioids have opened the door to abuses of heroin and synthetic opioids like fentanyl, and created an opioid epidemic that in 2017 alone took the lives of 46,000 Americans. Studies have suggested that opioids may not be as effective for some ... Read More

Opioids more often to blame in fatal two-car crashes

The opioid epidemic has “spilled over to our national highway system with deadly consequences,” according to a Columbia University researcher, with drivers of fatal two-car accidents twice as likely to test positive for prescription opioids than those in two-car wrecks deemed not at fault. The study, published in JAMA Network Open, was taken on by Dr. Gouhua Li, founding director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, and colleagues, in order to investigate the impact of opioids on fatal car crashes. Researchers analyzed data from 18,321 fatal two-car crashes ... Read More

Too much off-label prescribing of potent fentanyl, study finds

Nearly half of the patients prescribed high potent transmucosal immediate-release fentanyl (TIRF) reserved to treat breakthrough pain in cancer patients already on round-the-clock opioid therapy, were given the drugs off-label. Yet, when this evidence surfaced, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) dragged its feet on addressing the problem. And when it did, the agency only made a “few substantive changes” to its Risk Evaluation Mitigation Strategy (REMS), according to a study published in JAMA. The REMS for TIRF drugs was approved by the FDA on Dec. 28, 2011, because the medications were very potent and there was a high risk ... Read More

Las Vegas doctor arrested for illegally prescribing fentanyl spray

After “Patient A” died from an overdose of the highly potent fentanyl spray Subsys, “hundreds of Subsys canister sprays were found in and around Patient A’s bedroom, bathroom, work place and vehicle,” and the Las Vegas doctor who prescribed him the drug is now facing charges of health care fraud and unlawful distribution of fentanyl, according to a federal jury indictment. Steven Wolper, M.D., allegedly illegally prescribed Subsys to 22 patients and lied that they had cancer to insurance companies and Medicare. Subsys is a highly addictive opioid 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. It is only approved ... Read More

Insys former sales chief dressed as a bottle of fentanyl to boost sales

In 2015, executives from Insys Therapeutics played a parody video during the company’s national sales meeting. Employees rapped to the tune of A$AP Rocky’s “F**kin’ Problems” and encouraged sales staff to boost sales of its potent fentanyl spray Subsys. Toward the end of the video, the company’s former head of sales appeared dressed as a 1,600-microgram bottle of Subsys – the highest dosage available. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t a great idea. The video became evidence this week in a racketeering trial against five former Insys executives, including the Subsys suit-wearing sales manager Alec Burlakoff. Former Insys CEO Michael Babich ... Read More

DOJ takes action against Tennessee pharmacies for illegally dispensing opioids

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a first-of-its-kind action to stop two pharmacies, their owner, and three pharmacists from dispensing controlled substances including highly addictive opioids that have been linked to the deaths of at least two people and have driven several others to hospitals for opioid overdose shortly after obtaining drugs from the pharmacies. “The pharmacists have a legal obligation to dispense controlled substances properly, so as not to put patients’ health at risk,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt for the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice will use every available tool to stop ... Read More

Organ recipients benefiting from opioid epidemic

The opioid epidemic is killing tens of thousands of people in the United States each year. It is also giving organ transplant recipients a new chance at life, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. With an increasing death rate from opioid overdoses, Dr. Muthiah Vaduganathan with Brigham and Woman’s Hospital, and colleagues, set out to explore the trends and statewide variation in the number of donor organs recovered from people who died from drug overdose. Using data from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network from 1999 to 2017, researchers examined state-specific patterns in the ... Read More

Overdoses of OTC diarrhea drug increase in wake of opioid epidemic

Overdoses of an inexpensive, readily available, over-the-counter diarrhea drug have multiplied in recent years, in many cases by people addicted to opioids. They are using the drug seeking to prevent or self-treat withdrawal symptoms or to mimic the high of opioids like heroin, fentanyl or oxycodone, according to a study published in the journal Clinical Toxicology. Loperamide, also known by the brand-name Imodium, is a safe and effective drug for diarrhea when taken at its recommended dosage. But at higher doses, loperamide can cause opioid-like euphoria, and has even been dubbed “the poor man’s methadone” by clinicians. The misuse of ... Read More

Abuse-deterrent OxyContin may have contributed to rise in hepatitis C

When the first abuse-deterrent formulation of the opioid OxyContin was introduced in 2010 as a way to deter misuse of the drug, it may have set off an increase in hepatitis C infections by pushing users toward injectable heroin, a new study suggests. Acute hepatitis C infections in the United States were declining in the 1990s and plateaued around 2003. But beginning in 2010, rates have been rising. Researchers with RAND Corporation told Medscape Medical News that while hepatitis C infection rates rose nationwide after abuse-deterrent OxyContin was introduced, states with higher rates of OxyContin misuse prior to the reformulation ... Read More

FDA approves new treatment for people addicted to opioids

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new prescription digital therapeutic (PDT) for people with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD). reSET-O is immediately available and is another effort to help curb the effects of the nation’s opioid epidemic. Sandoz Inc., a division of Novartis, and Pear Therapeutics Inc., are jointly launching reSET-O, a 12-week cognitive behavioral therapy intended as an outpatient therapy for patients addicted to opioids but trying to stay clean. reSET-O includes a transmucosal buprenorphine, a commonly used medication to treat opioid addiction, as well as contingency management that provides incentives to reinforce behaviors. Once reSET-O is ... Read More