Protesters Deliver Outgoing FDA Commissioner an 800lb “Heroin Spoon”

Protestors descended on the FDA today to mark the end of Scott Gottlieb's tenure with the delivery of a large “heroin spoon” sculpture stamped with the FDA’s logo. Activists say they are angry that the outgoing commissioner rubber-stamped Dsuvia, an incredibly powerful opioid that is meant for surgeries and late-term terminal cancer. The group of activists urged the FDA to stop approving “dangerous” opioids and to focus on more ideas for medication-assisted treatment and other drugs to help treat addiction. Dsuvia is a sublingual formulation of sufentanil, which is 500 times as powerful as morphine. The drugmaker says that the drug was created for the management of acute pain in adults in medically supervised healthcare settings. Activists and addiction specialist believe that the drug will eventually make it onto the street, causing overdose deaths, just like fentanyl. Fentanyl was developed mostly for surgical settings but after a few years began to be prescribed off-label for chronic pain, causing addiction or dependence in its patients. AcelRx Pharmaceuticals, says that the…

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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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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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