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Study could pave way for creating safer opioids

10/14/21--In a study published in Nature Oct. 13, researchers looked at how opioids may have become so widely abused, and researchers may have uncovered answers on how to create a safer opioid: Design it to bypass the part of brain that feels pleasure, but retain the analgesic properties, which make opioids one of the most effective pain relievers. Read  

Opioid prescribing to US children and young in 2019

9/9/21--This study identified opioid prescriptions dispensed to children and young adults in 2019 in the IQVIA Longitudinal Prescription Database. Results indicate that almost half of pediatric opioid prescriptions are high risk, and to reduce high-risk prescribing, initiatives targeting high-volume prescribers may be warranted. However, broad-based initiatives are also needed to address the large share of high-risk prescribing attributable to other prescribers. Read

Calgary lawyer takes on Purdue Pharma to collect opioid-related costs for Canadian cities

8/4/21--A Calgary-based law firm, on behalf of all Canadian cities and municipalities, has filed an objection to Purdue Pharma L.P.'s multibillion-dollar bankruptcy proposal that would compensate U.S. cities, counties, states and Native American tribes for damages related to the opioid crisis while leaving out Canadian jurisdictions. CBC reports that Mathew Farrell with Guardian Law Group says the damage from the opioid crisis didn't stop at the Canadian border. Read

Frontline advocates view $26 bln opioid deal with frustration, worry

7/27/21--Four major U.S. drug companies Johnson & Johnson, AmerisourceBergen Corp, Cardinal Health Inc (CAH.N) and McKesson Corp) agreed to a $26 billion settlement last week to end lawsuits over the opioid crisis, but treatment advocates expressed frustration that the money will be slow to arrive and worry it could be misspent. The distributors will make payments over 18 years and Johnson & Johnson over nine years. Read

Johnson & Johnson to end sale of opioids, settles New York case for $230 million

6/26/21--Johnson & Johnson will pay $230 million to resolve an opioids lawsuit, days before the company was slated to go to trial, in a settlement reached with New York Attorney General Letitia James. In the agreement, the company will end the sale of all opioid products nationwide. Read

Strategies of effectively allocating opioid settlement funds

6/16/21--States and communities have one chance to get the allocation of settlement funds right and to avoid some of the missteps that substantially diminished the potential public health impact of tobacco settlements. Therefore, OPTIC researchers have compiled materials that include guiding principles for allocating opioid settlement funds, recommendations for addressing the root causes of overdose death, and profiles of studies assessing the effectiveness of specific programs and policies as a resource to focus on different aspects of the crisis, and use different methods to derive their assessments. Read

‘The crisis was manufactured’: inside a damning film on the origins of the opioid epidemic

5/10/21--Alex Gibney’s two-part docuseries The Crime of the Century reframes the opioid crisis as a crime of fraudulent marketing and callous corporate greed. Read

24 states mount legal fight to block sackler bid for opioid immunity

5/3/21--Members of the Sackler family that owns Purdue Pharma, the maker of Oxycontin, have portrayed their bid for immunity from future opioid lawsuits as somewhat of a take-it-or-leave-it fix to a legal morass. They have offered to forfeit control of their bankrupt drug company and pay $4.2 billion from their private fortunes. A growing group of public officials and activists is mounting a last-ditch effort to derail the plan, describing it in legal briefs as an unethical, and possibly unlawful, use of the bankruptcy court's power. Read

Unlocking federal funding for fentanyl test strips will save lives

5/4/21--According to a STAT article by Regina LaBelle, Tom Coderre, and Rochelle Walensky, fentanyl test strips not only have the potential to reduce overdoses, but the process of obtaining them can bring individuals with substance use disorders in contact with a community organization or other harm reduction supports for the first time and can lead to reduced risk for drug-related harms and improved health outcomes. Read

Understanding risk factors for persistent opioid use among youths

4/22/21--Growing evidence indicates that youths exposed to opioids for legitimate medical purposes have an increased risk of opioid use disorders in the future. According to a study, adolescents and young adults are especially susceptible to negative consequences of opioid misuse because of their ongoing biological, social, and psychological development. Read

Trajectories of opioid use following first opioid prescription in opioid-naive youths and young adults

4/22/21--Results of a study examining distinct patterns of opioid prescribing following the first prescription using group-based trajectory modeling and examine the patient-, clinician-, and prescription-level factors that may be associated with trajectory membership during the first year indicate 2 trajectories associated with elevated risk for persistent opioid receipt within 12 months following first opioid prescription. The high-risk trajectory was characterized by older age at time of first prescription, and longer and more potent first prescriptions. Read

Infant mortality associated with prenatal opioid exposure

4/12/21-- In this cohort study of more than 1 million maternal-infant dyads, the odds of mortality in infants with a history of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome was not significantly different from the reference population in adjusted analyses. In contrast, the odds of mortality in opioid-exposed infants not diagnosed with neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome was 72% greater than the reference population. Read

UCSF, Johns Hopkins release documents shining light on opioid crisis

3/24/21--UCSF and John Hopkins University released a trove of documents Wednesday culled from legal rulings, settlements and ongoing lawsuits related to the nation’s opioid crisis, which to date has claimed the lives of nearly 500,000 Americans since 1999. Read

The societal burden of the opioid crisis estimated at $1 trillion in 2017

2/28/21--This study found that the overall estimated cost of opioid use disorder and fatal opioid overdoses was $1.2 trillion in 2017, with 85% of this burden from the value of the reduced quality of life from opioid use disorder and life lost to opioid overdose, while lost productivity was estimated at $100 billion, healthcare costs were estimated at $34.8 billion, and criminal justice costs estimated at $14.8 billion. Read

America’s silent killer: the opioid addiction crisis (ex-congressman Patrick Kennedy)

2/27/21--On this episode of Going Underground, Patrick Kennedy, a former Congressman who is a nephew of the late President John F. Kennedy, discusses the US opioid & drug-addiction crisis, why the public health infrastructure built after the pandemic must also be able to deal with mental health and addiction problems, how the administration of President Joe Biden will approach the crisis, and much more. Read

McKinsey agrees to pay $573 million to settle opioid investigations

2/4/21--According to The New York Times, the consulting firm McKinsey & Company has agreed to pay $573 million to settle investigations into its role in the opioid crisis. The company reached an agreement with attorneys general in 47 states, five territories and the District of Columbia. Read

McLaren Health and feds reach record $7.75M settlement of drug allegations

1/19/21--McLaren Health Care Corp. agreed Tuesday to pay a record $7.75 million penalty to settle a federal investigation into officials distributing opioids and other drugs without prescriptions, the largest amount in U.S. history involving allegations of drug diversion. The penalty settles a years-long investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration into whether officials at the Grand Blanc-based health system violated federal drug laws by illegally distributing powerful pain medication central to the nation's opioid crisis. Read

Prevalence and childhood precursors of opioid use in the early decades of life

12/28/20--A study designed to examine how common opioid use is in the early decades of life, and which childhood risk factors are associated with opioid use in young adulthood indicates that childhood tobacco use and chronic depression may be associated with impaired reward system functioning, which may increase young adults’ vulnerability to opioid-associated euphoria. Preventing and treating early substance use and childhood mental illness may help prevent later opioid use. Read

Incidence and characteristics of nonfatal opioid overdose among youths aged 11 to 24 years by sex

12/17/20-- This cohort study found differences between female and male youths in sociodemographic and clinical characteristics and incidence of NFOD. Although female and male youths who experience overdose appear to have different risk factors, many of these risk factors may be amenable to early detection through screening and intervention. Read

Federal Judge puts hold on Philly safe-injection site

6/25/20--A federal judge ruled it is in the public’s best interest that the nation’s first supervised drug-injection site in Philadelphia be barred from opening while federal prosecutors appeal the site’s legality. An appeals court will now have the chance to review if the facility is legal before the Philadelphia nonprofit Safehouse can move toward opening the site. Read

Using contributing causes of death improves prediction of opioid involvement in unclassified drug overdoses in US death records

2/27/20--This study aimed to compare methodological approaches to predicting opioid involvement in unclassified drug overdoses in US death records and to estimate the number of fatal opioid overdoses from 1999 to 2016 using the best‐performing method. Results indicate that in modeling opioid involvement in unclassified drug overdoses, highest predictive accuracy is achieved using a statistical model—either logistic regression or a random forest ensemble—with decedent characteristics and contributing causes of death as predictors. Read

Study reveals urban hotspots of high-schoolers’ opioid abuse

11/14/19--A new study has found that in several cities and counties the proportion of high-schoolers who have ever used heroin or misused prescription opioids is much higher than the national average. Read

The opioid crisis, corporate responsibility, and lessons from the tobacco master settlement agreement

11/1/19--The opioid crisis has accounted for 770 000 deaths in the United States over the past 20 years, and this crisis has contributed to the decline in US overall life expectancy for 3 consecutive years. Responsibility for holding corporations accountable for their role in the opioid epidemic—and ensuring they contribute to solutions—falls primarily to state attorneys general who are responsible for protecting the public and can act individually or as a group through lawsuits or negotiations when public health is threatened. Read

Marijuana legalization reduces opioid deaths

8/7/19--A new Economic Inquiry study examined how the changing legal status of marijuana has impacted mortality in the United States over the past two decades. Investigators found that legalization and access to recreational marijuana reduced annual opioid mortality in the range of 20% to 35%, with particularly pronounced effects for synthetic opioids. Read

SF health director Garcia forced to resign over conflict-of-interest allegations

8/23/18--San Francisco Public Health Director Barbara Garcia’s abrupt resignation came after a months-long conflict-of-interest investigation into allegations that she had failed to disclose her wife’s income from an educational institution that had been awarded a million-dollar, sole-source contract with the health department, multiple sources have confirmed. Read

Fight drug abuse, don’t subsidize it

8/27/18--According to Rod J. Rosenstein, deputy attorney general of the United States, Americans struggling with addiction need treatment and reduced access to deadly drugs. They do not need a taxpayer-sponsored haven to shoot up. Advocates euphemistically call them “safe injection sites,” but Rosenstein believes they are very dangerous and would only make the opioid crisis worse. Read

Does cannabis use influence opioid outcomes and quality of life among buprenorphine maintained patients?

8/1/18--A recent study, published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, aimed to assess the pattern of cannabis use among opioid-dependent patients maintained on buprenorphine. Additionally, the study compared the dose of buprenorphine, opioid-related craving and withdrawals, productivity, and quality of life between those with and without recent (past 90-day) cannabis use. The study concluded that cannabis use does not negatively influence opioid outcomes among patients receiving buprenorphine maintenance treatment.  Furthermore, there is no difference in productivity and quality of life between individuals maintained on buprenorphine with and without current cannabis use. Read

Short answers to hard questions about the opioid crisis

8/10/17--Given the death toll from drugs rising faster than ever, The New York Times has provided a refresher on the opioid crises as well as answers to 12 critical questions. The information provided are only recommendations provided by The New York Times and state that it’s up to the president and the various executive agencies to implement them. Experts know how to attack the problem. It’s just a matter of having the will to put those policies into practice. Read