Opioid Prescriptions Drop for the First Time Since Beginning of Crisis

Here is some good news, sort of, within the context of the terrible news that our country is mired in the worst opioid epidemic in U.S. history.

The number of prescriptions for opioids written by health-care providers declined between 2012 and 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC announced that prescriptions for highly addictive painkillers such as oxycodone dropped 13.1 percent over the three-year period, from 81.2 per 100 people to 70.6.

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Judge Tells ‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli to Pipe Down

NEW YORK (AP) — A judge has told “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli (SHKREL’-ee) to keep his mouth shut at his securities fraud trial.

Prosecutors had sought a gag order after an impromptu gaggle by Shkreli last week with news reporters covering his case.

The judge got assurances on Wednesday from the lawyer of the former pharmaceutical company CEO that his client wouldn’t talk to reporters anymore in or around the courthouse to avoid tainting the jury. She stopped short of halting his running commentary on social media.

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Big Pharma Legal Battles Reminiscent of Lawsuits against Tobacco Industry

As we have often reported, there is a wave of litigation by state attorneys against opioid manufacturers and distributors, such as OxyContin billionaire owners of Purdue Pharma—often referred to as singlehandedly causing the current opioid crisis in the country.

Some U.S. state attorneys general, as well as in Canada, have filed class action lawsuits against these opioid pushing companies—again, mostly Purdue Pharma—over the hazards of their products, misleading information that accompanies them and even for allowing their addictive meds to knowingly be sold on the black market.

National Public Radio likened these cases to the way individual U.S. states sued the tobacco industry in the 1990s.

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Big Pharma Is Developing Cannabis Painkillers

Ever since reports began to surface about how a growing number of patients in medical marijuana states are now using the herb as an alternative to prescription painkillers, the pharmaceutical industry has been trying to find an angle in order to win back profits.

In fact, it was recently revealed that some of America’s drug makers are currently on a mission to manufacture cannabis-based pain relievers in hopes of cashing in on the call for opioid substitutes.

According to a report from Reuters, pharmaceutical companies such as Axim Biotechnologies Inc, Nemus Bioscience Inc and Intec Pharma Ltd are in the midst of developing cannabis painkillers that could one day be sold in pharmacies across the nation.

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Overcoming Opioids: Easing an Epidemic 1 Doctor at a Time

BY CARLA K. JOHNSON

AP MEDICAL WRITER

MONROEVILLE, Pa. (AP) — The U.S. opioid epidemic began in doctors’ offices as drug companies marketed the pills to an ever-widening circle of patients. An estimated 2 million Americans are now addicted to opioid pain relievers and nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involve prescription drugs.

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Pot Matters: Deadly Drug Policies

The death rate for young Americans has increased by 8 percent between 2010 and 2015, according to a recent analysis by the Washington Post—and the driving force behind this increase is the current opioid epidemic.

From the Post: “Since the beginning of this decade, death rates have risen among people between the ages of 25 and 44 in virtually every racial and ethnic group and almost all states, according to a Washington Post analysis. The death rate among African Americans is up 4 percent, Hispanics 7 percent, whites 12 percent and Native Americans 18 percent. The rate for Asian Americans also has increased, but at a level that is not statistically significant.”

The Post looked at mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  For context, the 10 leading causes of death in 2015 were heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, unintentional injuries, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease and suicide. These account for 74.2 percent of all deaths in the United States.

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Prosecutors’ Lawsuit Says Opioid Drug Makers Deceived Public

BY SHEILA BURKE

ASSOCIATED PRESS

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A new lawsuit invokes the plight of a baby born dependent on opioid drugs, as three Tennessee prosecutors and the baby’s guardian accuse several drug manufacturers of unleashing an epidemic through deceptive marketing that downplayed the risks of addiction to painkillers.

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Prescription Drugs Still Vanishing at VA Hospitals

If you are in need of prescription opiates, make your way to the nearest Veterans Affairs hospital. Not because VA hospitals prescribe opiates to anybody for any reason, even when it is very bad and dangerous to do so—though they do that, too—but because VA hospitals do a very bad job at stopping employees from stealing armloads of the stuff.

In February, the Associated Press discovered that opiates are going missing from VA hospitals at double the rate private hospital employees are swiping prescription pain pills. In response, the VA announced a “zero tolerance” policy, putting the doctors, nurses and other staffers at its nearly 1,200 medical centers and clinics around the country on notice… who then starting stealing even more.

As the AP reported on Tuesday, another 36 criminal investigations into pill theft were opened between Oct. 1 and May 19 of this year, “an increase from a similar period” the year before.

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GW Pharmaceuticals Files for FDA Approval After Report Confirms Success in Treating Epilepsy

GW Pharmaceuticals has chosen the perfect moment to file its cannabis-derived therapy, Epidiolex, with U.S. regulators.

The New England Journal of Medicine just published results from a Phase III study showing that GW’s Epidiolex (derived from cannabidiol) significantly reduced monthly convulsive seizures, especially in children with Dravet syndrome, one of the most difficult types of epilepsy to treat. Children can have dozens, even hundreds, of seizures per month.

GW Pharmaceuticals first reported in March 2016 that CBD-derived Epidiolex cut monthly convulsive seizures by 39 percent in children with Dravet syndrome, but full results of the 120-patient study were only published last week.

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British Health Authorities Accused U.S. Pharma Giant of Price-Fixing

American drug companies are some of the most profitable corporations in the world. Profit margins of 10 percent, 20 percent, even 40 percent—returns even banks struggle to achieve—are not unknown for firms lucky enough to manufacture life-sustaining prescription pharmaceuticals.

They enjoy this stupendous success in no small part thanks to what amounts to price-fixing.

Not actually conspiracy to artificially keep drug prices high—although some companies allegedly do that, too—but by leaning on the U.S. government hard enough to ensure that potential competitors, who might offer sick people a similar product for less money, don’t have access to the domestic market despite promises from people like the president of the United States to give Americans cheaper prescription drugs (the prices of which meanwhile magically rise by four to eight percent every year).

Read more at High Times