How Sackler Family, Purdue Pharma Targeted Veterans

In Massachusetts, veterans are three times more likely than others who take prescription painkillers to die from an overdose. A new court filing in an ongoing lawsuit between the state and the pharmaceutical company and its stakeholders says that this statistic may have been by design. Discovery in a Massachusetts lawsuit against the private company Purdue Pharma, the maker of Oxycontin, and their stakeholders, the infamous Sackler family, has uncovered documents that appear to show how they specifically developed a marketing campaign to target veterans for Oxycontin sales, hoping to increase their usage dramatically. The unredacted complaint filed against the pharmaceutical manufacturer, as well as a total of eight members of the Sackler family, unveils a targeted marketing campaign facilitated through a self-help book for service members. Similar to an infomercial, the “survival guide” targeted newly home veterans, telling them if they were in pain, they should request opioid prescriptions. The “guide” assured readers that the pills were non-addictive unless substance abuse ran in the family. The lawsuit says…

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How/Why Are Children Overdosing on Opioids?

Children are overdosing on opioids, but it's not something that's being mentioned often. The media often mentions the opioid epidemic regarding addiction that lands people on the streets. The current addiction epidemic is taking place in communities that house lower to middle-class residents. Few news reports tell us about the people who love the addicted that live under the roof each home. Often there are spouses, babies, children, and pets in families affected by opioid addiction. In 3 and four bedroom homes in counties across America, children are becoming victims of the opioid epidemic in depressing ways. Almost 900 children have died from opiate overdoses since 1999, according to a new study conducted by Julie Gaither, an instructor at the Yale School of Medicine. Causes of Overdoses Using numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and other data sources, they were able to discover the types of deaths children suffer through opioids. Many children accidentally took the drugs, while others were poisoned or took them recreationally. Some of the…

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Fentanyl is Officially America’s Deadliest Drug

According to a new CDC report, deadly fentanyl overdoses are now costing more lives than any other illicit drug. Fentanyl is an opioid similar to morphine, but 50 to 100 times more potent. Doctors use the drug in major surgeries and cancer treatment, but now that it’s become a street drug, drug dealers add it to other drugs like heroin or cocaine. Fentanyl was the deadliest drug in 2016 according to the CDC, but heroin and oxycodone were the most dangerous in previous years. About 29% of drug overdose deaths involved fentanyl. However, as the drug shows up with other substances, fentanyl has often become a culprit without the user themselves knowing they ingested it. Overdoses of heroin and cocaine have also gone up, which may also be thanks to fentanyl. Drug use trends aren’t getting better, either. Heroin overdoses tripled in 2016, and deadly overdoses of methamphetamines doubled. Data on Overdoses Gathering data on drug overdoses isn’t an exact science. Experts believe that even the CDC data is…

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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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Death Certificate Project Charges 9 CA Doctors With Opioid Overprescribing

In California, nine doctors have been charged with overprescribing opioids along with other violations after a years-long investigation into their prescribing habits by a controversial state project. Dubbed the “Death Certificate Project,” the state scans death certificates to find people whose death was caused by prescription drugs such as opioids or benzos. The state then finds out what doctors prescribed a controlled substance to that patient within three years of death. (The doctors may not have been the current provider of prescriptions at the time of death, however.) After implementing the highly controversial “Death Certificate Project,” California officials have charged nine doctors with overprescribing opioids. The state's prescription drug database, CURES (California Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System), flagged the doctors for investigation alongside hundreds of their peers who were presumably cleared from trouble. In the complaints, the Project’s complaints cite "gross negligence," "furnishing dangerous drugs without examination," "unprofessional conduct," and "inadequate record keeping." Several of the doctors under investigation didn’t use the state's prescription database, CURES. While…

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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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House Will Vote to Potentially Ban Kratom, Synthetics

The House of Representatives faces nearly two dozen votes on new drug-related bills in an effort to stem the addiction epidemic. Among those bills is H.R. 2851, The Stop Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues (SITSA) Act, a bill aimed at Kratom and other synthetic drug imports, even those that have not been created yet. The bill, if passed and made into law, will significantly expand the powers of the Department of Justice, under the guise of unilaterally prohibiting any synthetic drugs the DOJ decides is chemically similar to currently banned drugs. People who import such drugs would face similar penalties to people who import substances that are alreadu banned. While the measure may have been proposed with good intentions, critics say that if passed, a new era will be entered in the War on Drugs, and it may cause more harm than good. Indeed, it seems that many people with opioid use disorders and other addictions import drugs online. While this has given rise to overdoses from drugs…

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Maryland Doctor Charged with Forging Oxycodone Prescriptions

A doctor in Montgomery County, Maryland is charged with writing hundreds of prescriptions for oxycodone (the generic version of Oxycontin) for a patient that doesn’t exist. The total amount of pills he prescribed totaled 11,000. Doctor Brandt E. Rice, 50, took the prescriptions to the pharmacy himself. The orders were for a patient Named Aaron Rice, who the police relentlessly attempted to find to no avail. Police say that last December, Doctor Rice, 50, went to a Rite-Aid store with his driver’s license, DEA card and a prescription for Oxycodone in Rice’s name. He also handed the pharmacist with a prepared letter explaining his patient was homebound and suffering from prostate cancer, and the patient has been battling cancer for a decade. The pharmacist at the Rite-Aid grew suspicious of Dr. Rice's claims and told the doctor she needed to verify a few things before completing the order. After an investigation, she contacted Montgomery County Police, resulting in a months-long investigation into Dr. Rice and his prescription writing habits.…

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