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WP: As opioid overdoses rise, police officers become counselors, doctors and social workers


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There's a growing problem in the opioid fight: diarrhea medication

 

This lends itself to way more questions than answers, a friend of mine wrote on Facebook the other day above a weird photo.

 

It showed three boxes of Imodium A-D — that trusted anti-diarrhea medication — lying crumpled in a parking lot. What nightmarish emergency, he wondered, could have possibly led to this?

 

Turns out, it was nightmarish. Just not in the way most of us would think.

 

A few commenters on the post explained what was probably going on: People battling opioid withdrawal sometimes gobble Imodium by the fistful.

 

Imodium is the brand-name of loperamide: a drug that, if taken in gigantic quantities, can produce an opioid-like high — and present serious dangers to a person's health.

 

I had no idea this was a problem. But apparently it’s nothing new.

 

According to U.S. News & World Report, the U.S. National Poison Data System reported a 90 percent spike in loperamide overdoses between 2010 and 2016.

 

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On 1/4/2020 at 3:43 PM, China said:

Black Americans Were Prescribed Opioids Less Frequently Because Of Racial Bias, New Analysis Shows

 

Doctors are less likely to prescribe narcotics if a patient is black, and new analysis finds this racial bias has saved thousands of lives....

 

...A 2010 study found white Americans two times more likely to receive an opioid prescription than black Americans. Since pharmaceutical companies began aggressively marketing new prescription opioids in white rural areas in the 1990s, racial stereotyping has had a “protective effect” on black Americans, he says.

 

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Maybe we could get big pharma out of opioids and replace them with the CIA. They did a bang up job with crack and it would be revenue generator for the govt. that would allow for another tax cut for the job creators.

 

Rarely, if ever do disparities in treatment result in good outcomes. Despite the way this article paints this as a silver lining, what it leaves out is that if you’re poor, a woman and/or a POC, doctors are more likely to under treat or your pain in general, or not treat it at all, not just more often avoiding opioids.

 

Quote

Healthcare Disparities in Pain Management

...Todd et al6 reviewed University of California at Los Angeles emergency department records for analgesia rates in patients with isolated extremity fractures. Although there were no differences in pain assessment of Hispanics and non-Hispanic white patients with long-bone fractures, Hispanics were two times more likely than the non-Hispanic white patients to not receive any pain medication.6,7 African Americans were no exception, either. Bernabei et al8 illustrated how African Americans residing in nursing homes were assessed and treated less often than white persons. Asian and Hispanic women were less likely to receive epidural analgesia than white women in a study done in Georgia among patients with identical insurance coverage with Medicaid.9

 

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Two more former Insys executives get prison

 

Two more former pharmaceutical executives will go to prison for conspiring to bribe doctors and nurses to prescribe a highly addictive opioid painkiller. One got a longer sentence than prosecutors wanted Wednesday, the other a shorter one than they desired.

 

Michael Babich, the erstwhile chief executive of Chandler, Ariz.-based Insys Therapeutics, and Sunrise Lee, a former regional sales director, were the fourth and fifth former employees of the firm to be sentenced to prison, since Jan. 13, for their roles in the scheme.

 

US District Court Judge Allison Burroughs sentenced Babich, 43, of Scottsdale, Ariz., to two years and six months behind bars. Prosecutors had recommended only two years because Babich pleaded guilty and testified for the government at last year’s closely watched trial in Boston.

 

The judge also sentenced Sunrise Lee, 40, a former stripper who became a regional sales director for Insys, to a year and a day in prison. That was far less than the six years prosecutors sought, which Burrough characterized as “heavy handed.”

 

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https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-01-29/health-records-company-pushed-opioids-to-doctors-in-secret-deal

 

Health-Records Company Pushed Opioids to Doctors in Secret Deal With Drugmaker

 

...Groundwork for the deal between the companies began in 2013, according to the statement of facts agreed to by Practice Fusion under a deferred prosecution agreement. The idea was to get the opioid maker’s pain drugs to certain kinds of patients: ones who weren’t taking opioids, or those being prescribed the company’s less profitable products. It also aimed to secure longer prescriptions...

 

In 2016, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put out new guidelines on opioids and treating patients with chronic pain. The guidelines emphasized non-drug and non-opioid alternatives. When opioids were prescribed, quicker-acting versions were preferable to the long-acting type, the agency said.

Both Practice Fusion and the drug company shared those guidelines internally but “did not incorporate the recommendations contained in those guidelines,” according to the court papers.

Practice Fusion reported to the drug company in 2016 that the project was working as intended, shifting prescriptions to the company’s extended-release opioids. The arrangement between Practice Fusion and the opioid company continued even after a lawyer for the drugmaker raised concerns about the substance of the program and started a legal review, according to the papers.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Teaching Children How to Reverse an Overdose

 

ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. — Shortly after his first-grade class let out for the day, Nash Kitchens sat with a dozen other young children at a library and played a murder mystery game that had a surprising plot twist.

 

The victim was a restaurant worker who had been found dead in a freezer. The killer, the children would discover, was heroin laced with fentanyl, an often fatal opioid.

 

Nash, who at 7 years old has a relative who has struggled with addiction, was wide-eyed as Jilian Reece, a drug prevention educator, talked about an ongoing opioid epidemic in their small rural community. She then demonstrated how to administer Narcan, an overdose reversal nasal spray.

 

“It’s just like a little squirt gun,” she told the group of children, before passing around the small plastic device for them to hold and squeeze. At the end of the session, each child received a blue zippered bag containing two doses of Narcan to take home.

 

Like scores of communities across America, Carter County, Tenn., which includes Elizabethton, has been struck hard by an opioid crisis that has ravaged families and reshaped how a generation of young people are being raised. Nationally, few cities have been spared as more than 400,000 Americans have died from opioid overdoses.

 

In Carter County, where 56,000 people live in a cluster of small cities and rural towns on the North Carolina border, nearly 60 people have died from opioid overdoses since 2014. That year, 8.1 million painkiller prescriptions were written in Tennessee, more than the state’s population of about 6.5 million.


Desperate to save lives, county health officials have embraced a practical — if radical — strategy for stemming the tide of addiction: Teaching children as young as 6 how to reverse an overdose.

 

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  • 2 months later...

Hernando man had enough fentanyl to kill half a million people, deputies say

 

BROOKSVILLE — David Gayle was arrested Friday for having enough fentanyl to potentially kill more than 500,000 people, according to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.

 

Deputies obtained a warrant to search the 43-year-old’s Brooksville home on Friday and said they found more than 2.2 pounds of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid pain reliever that is fatal when taken in high doses, and methamphetamine. They also found half an ounce of hashish and small amounts of cocaine, oxycodone and marijuana, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

 

That’s enough fentanyl and methamphetamine to create 500,000 “potentially fatal” doses, the agency said.

 

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  • 5 months later...

OxyContin maker to plead guilty to 3 criminal charges, agree to $8 billion-plus settlement

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — Purdue Pharma, the company that makes OxyContin, the powerful prescription painkiller that experts say helped touch off an opioid epidemic, will plead guilty to three federal criminal charges as part of a settlement of more than $8 billion, Justice Department officials announced Wednesday.

 

The company will plead guilty to three counts, including conspiracy to defraud the United States and violating federal anti-kickback laws, the officials said. The resolution will be detailed in a bankruptcy court filing in federal court.

 

The deal does not release any of the company’s executives or owners — members of the wealthy Sackler family — from criminal liability, and a criminal investigation is ongoing. But one state attorney general said the agreement fails to hold the Sacklers accountable.

 

The settlement is the highest-profile display yet of the federal government seeking to hold a major drugmaker responsible for an opioid addiction and overdose crisis linked to more than 470,000 deaths in the country since 2000.

 

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Long Island legislator and doctor arrested in sex-for-drugs sting

 

A Long Island, New York, doctor who is also a legislator and minister, was arrested while allegedly attempting to exchange oxycodone for sex, according to law enforcement officials.

 

Dr. William "Doc" Spencer, 53, was taken into custody in a parking lot in Elwood. 

 

Spencer, of Centerport, was allegedly under the presumption he would be meeting a prostitute in a parking lot to trade the oxycodone pills for sex -- but it was a sting operation.

 

Spencer is a well-known doctor who has been a legislator in Suffolk County's 18th District since 2011 and serves on an opioid task force. A pediatric surgeon, he was reported as the first doctor to serve on the Suffolk County Legislature in its 50-year history, according to Smithtown Matters. He is the chief of otolaryngology at Huntington Hospital and an associate clinical professor at Stony Brook University Hospital, according to his biography on the Suffolk County Legislature's website.

 

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  • 2 months later...

DOJ sues Walmart for 'fueling the opioid crisis' by 'turning its 5,000 stores into leading suppliers of addictive painkillers and failing to properly screen questionable prescriptions'

 

The Department of Justice has sued Walmart, accusing the retail giant of fueling the opioid crisis by unlawfully dispensing controlled substances from its thousands of pharmacies across the country.

 

The 160-page civil complaint filed on Tuesday accuses Walmart of hundreds of thousands of violations of the Controlled Substances Act and seeks penalties which could total in the billions of dollars.

 

As one of the largest pharmacy chains and wholesale drug distributors in the country, Walmart had the responsibility and the means to help prevent the diversion of prescription opioids,' said Jeffrey Bossert Clark, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Division, in a statement. 

 

'Instead, for years, it did the opposite — filling thousands of invalid prescriptions at its pharmacies and failing to report suspicious orders of opioids and other drugs placed by those pharmacies,' he added.

 

Walmart blasted the lawsuit as factually inaccurate and legally baseless in a strongly worded statement to DailyMail.com, vowing to fight the DOJ's claims in court.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

2020 'exacerbated all of the issues' driving record drug abuse in America

 

The coronavirus pandemic has had devastating mental health effects on Americans, and drug abuse is hitting record levels.

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that over 81,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the U.S. in the 12-month period ending in May 2020. That’s the highest number ever recorded by the CDC.

“This pandemic and all that’s come along with it has really just exacerbated those vulnerabilities and the shortcomings of our own approach to treating those people,” Dr. Ryan Marino, a medical toxicologist and emergency physician based out of Ohio, told Yahoo Finance.

In San Francisco, the number of overdose deaths (621) outpaced COVID-related deaths (173) in 2020. More than 40 states reported annual increases in opioid overdose deaths, “as well as ongoing concerns for those with a mental illness or substance use disorder,” according to the American Medical Association.

Marino said while the pandemic certainly intensified addiction issues, much of the blame lies in the fact that those struggling with substance use disorder still aren’t getting the proper help they need.

“I don’t know that anyone was anticipating it, but I think it just shows that we really haven’t learned from our own mistakes in the past,” he said. “2020 has really just exacerbated all of the issues that we have in terms of drug policy and just the way we treat people in our society in general.” ‘Sometimes we reach out in different ways to cope’

It’s no surprise that Americans are looking to cope in various ways amid the pandemic. A CDC survey in June found that 40.9% of Americans reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition, with 13.3% of respondents having started or increased substance use to cope with stress or emotions related to COVID-19.

 

https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/2020-drug-overdose-in-america-154115211.html

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  • 6 months later...

15 States Drop Opposition To Controversial Purdue Pharma OxyContin Bankruptcy

 

Fifteen states that led the effort to block a controversial bankruptcy plan for OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma have abandoned the fight.

 

That's according to court documents filed by a mediator late Wednesday as part of a federal bankruptcy proceeding in White Plains, N.Y.

 

Among the states that have agreed to sign on to the bankruptcy deal are Massachusetts and New York, whose attorneys general had mounted fierce legal opposition to the agreement.

 

"The negotiations were difficult and hard-fought, with the outcome uncertain," said federal bankruptcy Judge Shelley C. Chapman in the legal filing.

 

Chapman was appointed in May to try to hash out a modified deal that the so-called non-consenting states could accept.

 

The settlement plan, which is now all but certain to be finalized next month, would shelter members of the Sackler family, who own Purdue Pharma, and many of their associates from future opioid lawsuits.

 

In return, the Sacklers have agreed to give up ownership of the bankrupt drug company. They will also pay out roughly $4.2 billion from their private fortunes in installments spread over the next decade.

 

According to the mediator's report, the Sacklers have now agreed to boost their settlement payment by a relatively modest amount — roughly $50 million.

 

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