Italy Starts its Own Oxycontin Probe

In Italy, a peculiar rise in opioid prescriptions brought suspicion against Perdue Pharmaceuticals and a doctor named Guido Fanelli. Authorities began to suspect a conspiracy among a group of pharmaceutical executives police nicknamed “The Pain League.” Used to fighting corruption and the inner workings of criminal cases such as mob bosses, authorities sought to find culpability within Mundipharma — the international arm of Purdue Pharma. They began an investigation using wiretaps and subpoenas to follow the money. Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of Oxycontin, faces over 2,000 lawsuits in the United States over its role in the opioid crisis. This case is the first known case outside the U.S., where executives and employees of Perdue are criminally charged and implicated. While the opioid epidemic has cost fewer lives in Italy, the criminal intent, prosecutors say, is clear. Making Money Promoting Opioids According to the investigative file, 464,000 euros from Mundipharma, and 640,855 euros from Grunenthal (about $700,000) flowed into businesses Fanelli allegedly set up to hide the payments, beginning in…

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Drug Distributor McKesson Settles WV Opioid Lawsuit

McKesson, a drug distribution giant, has decided to settle a lawsuit in West Virginia with a 37 million dollar settlement. The company paid $14.5 million upon settling and will pay another $4.5 million a year for the next five years. About the Lawsuit The original lawsuit accused the drug distributor of turning a willfully blind eye to suspicious behavior. Many opioid distributors have been charged with ignoring abnormally large orders, such as massive amounts of pills sent to different pharmacies across the state repeatedly. When irregularities were noted, the company did nothing to investigate. As part of the settlement, McKesson did not have to admit any wrongdoings. McKesson’s Ongoing Trouble This lawsuit is not the company’s first lawsuit for its practices regarding opioids. In 2017, the McKesson paid $150 million in penalties. They were forced to suspend sales of opioids in Colorado, Ohio, Michigan, and Florida after being accused of violating the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). McKesson agreed with the federal government to make “improvements” to its system. Alongside…

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In Delaware, 3000 People Run 5K to Raise Awareness of Addiction

More than 3,000 people rallied, ran and walked in Old New Castle, Delaware last Saturday morning to raise awareness for what organizers say is the public health crisis of this generation. Family members, friends, and people in recovery ran the annual atTAcK Addiction "Erase the Stigma 5K" is an event that attracts people personally affected by addiction. The annual race was started by parents who lost (or almost lost) their children to opioid overdose. They bonded and created a nonprofit to combat opioid abuse and addiction in Delaware. Their grassroots nonprofit helps to educate people about addiction in the community. They have a special high school just for students in recovery from addiction and they also provide addiction-related services such as support groups. AtTAcK Addiction provides services directly to people who are looking for safe sober housing. Their 5K has come to serve as a rallying moment for families new to recovery. They also provide comfort for people who have lost loved ones to overdose and want to make sure…

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Florida Sues CVS and Walgreens Over Opioids

The state of Florida has announced it is suing Walgreens and CVS, blaming them for the local and national opioid crisis. They say the two retailers, who also happen to be the most significant two pharmacy chains in the US, helped create the crisis by “overselling painkillers” and not taking actions that would help stop the increasing illegal sales once the opioids left the pharmacy. In essence, they are being accused by the government of turning a blind eye to the opioid crisis. The lawsuit isn’t a new lawsuit, but rather an amended lawsuit filed by Attorney General Pam Bondi. The lawsuit also points fingers to Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, and several opioid distributors. All of these entities, she says, profited as they willfully turned blind eyes to the addiction epidemic. In Bondi’s press release, she alleges that CVS and Walgreens "played a role in creating the opioid crisis." By failing to halt "suspicious orders of opioids," the two stores then "dispensed unreasonable quantities of opioids from…

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Smaller Pill Packs a Priority for FDA

President Donald Trump is planning on signing bipartisan bill H.R. 6 into law next week. When this happens, the new legislation will be going into effect the week of October 22, according to Scott Gottlieb, the FDA commissioner, who recently spoke at a Politico event. The first thing his agency wants to tackle? Creating smaller pill packaging for opioids, in hopes that it will prevent people from abusing their prescriptions for acute pain. The legislation affects Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, and other large opioid manufacturers. It will force them to create new packaging for the drug to accommodate small quantities. The provision is an effort to prevent excess pills from being prescribed. With this policy, doctors may prescribe more limited amounts of pills. This could also prevent people from keeping leftover opioids around. “The first thing that we’re going to do is the blister packs,” Gottlieb said. “Nobody should be getting 30 days for a wisdom tooth extraction,” Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said about the measure. He also said…

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New Class Action Suit Lawsuit Launched on Behalf of Opioid Babies

In Philadelphia, a law firm is taking action to file a class-action lawsuit against some opioid manufacturers on behalf of babies born addicted to opioids or otherwise affected medically by their exposure to drugs in the womb. John Weston, an attorney from Sacks Weston Diamond, brought the suit Friday on behalf of an anonymous baby boy and his mother. Similar to other lawsuits filed by states, counties, and municipalities, he believes that this case is the first of its kind, at least in the state of Pennsylvania. Other states have chosen to file lawsuits sometimes, usually on behalf of babies diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). Many of these babies suffer severe withdrawal effects from the lack of opioids in their system, as well as birth defects, racing heartbeats, and other medical symptoms. Most lawsuits are merely seeking monetary help from the pharmaceutical manufacturers for the treatment and study of the long-term effects. Weston admits the lawsuits are similar to others filed against opioid manufacturers and distributors in recent…

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Oxycontin Manufacturer Helped Write the Laws it Claims Justify Marketing

Mired in lawsuits, Oxycontin manufacturer Perdue Pharma is quick to deflect blame when it comes to the opioid crisis. Marketing tactics such as paying doctors to do little more than discuss the drug with their colleagues and pushing the drug to ER physicians were all legal, according to the company. But is this reality, or are these the pleadings of a company that is watching its ship sink? The truth is more complicated than that; it turns out. The FDA and Purdue Pharma have a close relationship, although until recently, the FDA may not have realized it. Purdue Pharma operatives were consulted when the FDA created policies that affect the entire nation, often getting the government agency to agree to policies and procedures that limit the manufacturer’s liability. However, the FDA officials didn’t realize that Perdue was paying the people they were consulting with to continue promoting Oxycontin. These operatives were the people consulted when the FDA refused to put limits on how doctors prescribe Oxycontin, meaning that doctors…

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Drug Ring Salvages OxyContin and Vicodin Pills from Medical Waste Company

The demand for narcotic prescription drugs is so high that drug dealers will go to almost any length to get their hands on drugs to sell. A San Diego drug ring took this to an extreme by intercepting thousands of pills that were slated to be destroyed and selling them on the black market.   Agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration arrested John Bonavita and two employees of Enserv West LLC, a medical waste disposal firm. The employees diverted pills that were slated to be destroyed to Bonavita, who sold them to other dealers. As part of a plea agreement, Bonavita admitted to purchasing and reselling 13,000 hydrocodone tablets (a pain medication that's sold under the brand name Vicodin), 900 oxycodone tablets (another painkiller sold under the name OxyContin), 111 methadone tablets and 350 morphine tablets.   The drug ring operated from 2009 to 2010. DEA investigators learned about the group when an informant who had purchased thousands of prescription pills from Bonavita began working with authorities in…

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NarxCheck – Prescription Drug Abuse Can Now Be Scored

A recent article on the Sober Living by the Sea Blog offered a glimpse into the future of prescription drug abuse detection and management. According to the write-up, a physician living in the Dayton Ohio area has created a new type of software that is able to “score” a patient’s risk of becoming abusive with prescription drugs. The physician, Dr. Jim Huizenga, has labeled the new software NarxCheck. This newly devised software, according to the article, will be used in a pilot study designed to look at prescription drug practices. It appears that the software is able to use information from the electronic health records of the patient to forewarn of the potential for possible prescription drug abuse. The way the system is designed it will actually track the number of prescriptions an individual receives, as well as the dosages of those prescriptions. In addition, NarxCheck will also look at and determine the number of doctors and individual has seen for a particular prescription, and track the number of…

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Former NFL Quarterback Arrested on Oxycontin Burglary

Ryan Leaf in 1998 had one of the most promising futures of any quarterback in history. Now, his future seems as bleak as a hardened felon, as he stares at the possibility of serving 50 years in prison on probation violations, burglary charges and possession of Oxycontin that he did not have a prescription for.   To really understand his fall, you have to look back at where he was 14 years ago. The major debate in the sport's world at the time of the 1998 NFL draft was, Ryan Leaf or Payton Manning. Who would the Colts take with their number one draft pick? Over and over the debate raged, and it seemed like a toss up of whom would go first. It ended up being Payton Manning, who would go on to be possibly the greatest quarterback of all time, with Leaf getting drafted 2nd, and receiving a huge multi-million dollar contract.   Ryan Leaf's on-field troubles began almost immediately. He fought with coaches, other players, missed…

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