Brain Implant To Treat Addiction Comes With High Risk, High Reward
Deep brain stimulation has shown some success in countering addiction, but implementing it requires a dangerous surgery. In other news on the nation's drug crisis: the financial toll; police involvement in needle exchanges; opioid-makers' donations to patient advocacy groups; and more.
Risky Tactic, Desperate Need: Trial To Test Brain Implants For Opioid Addiction
The arsenal of therapies available to combat opioid addiction has expanded beyond pills and shots to include over-the-ear electrodes and virtual reality headsets. But an upcoming clinical trial could push the boundaries of addiction treatment further, and by a more invasive means than any therapy currently embraced by medical experts. The therapy, called deep brain stimulation, requires electrodes to be implanted into the brain to regulate activity in the brain’s neurons, much like a pacemaker does to the heart. Deep brain stimulation is currently used to treat tremors related to Parkinson’s disease, and is being tested on patients diagnosed with a variety of brain disorders. (Blau, 2/13)
U.S. Opioid Crisis Has Cost $1 Trillion Since 2001, Economists Say
The opioid epidemic has cost the U.S. more than a trillion dollars since 2001, according to a new study, and may exceed another $500 million over the next 3 years. The report by Altarum, a nonprofit group that studies the health economy, examined CDC mortality data through June of last year. The greatest financial cost of the opioid epidemic, according to the report, is in lost earnings and productivity losses to employers. Early deaths and substance abuse disorders also take a toll on local, state and federal government through lost tax revenue. (Allen, 2/13)
Why Police Backing Is Key To Needle Exchanges
Until the opioid epidemic began seeping into nearly every city and town in the country, the idea of a Main Street storefront offering free needles, alcohol wipes and small metal cookers for heroin users was unthinkable in a conservative Southern city like this one. But these days, most of the roughly 100,000 residents of this historic port on the Cape Fear River are painfully aware that their community has a serious drug problem. Syringes carpet sections of public walkways, drug users congregate in vacant lots, and an increasing number of residents are attending the funerals of friends and family members who have died of an opioid overdose. (Vetal, 2/13)
Opioid Makers Gave Millions To Patient Advocacy Groups To Sway Prescribing
As the nation grapples with a worsening opioid crisis, a new report suggests that drug makers provided substantial funding to patient advocacy groups and physicians in recent years in order to influence the controversial debate over appropriate usage and prescribing. Specifically, five drug companies funneled nearly $9 million to 14 groups working on chronic pain and issues related to opioid use between 2012 and 2017. At the same time, physicians affiliated with these groups accepted more than $1.6 million from the same companies. In total, the drug makers made more than $10 million in payments since January 2012. (Silverman, 2/12)
Patient Advocacy Groups Get Kickbacks From Opioid Manufacturers, Report Says
The report is the second to be published as part of a wide-ranging investigation by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee into the marketing and sales practices of opioid manufacturers. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, has been spearheading the effort, which started in March. A report released in September found that manufacturers falsified medical records, misled insurance companies and provided kickbacks to doctors. (Kounang and Goldschmidt, 2/12)
Ohio Drug Overdose Deaths Up 39% -- Nearly Triple US Average
The state’s opioid crisis continued to explode in the first half of last year, with 5,232 Ohio overdose deaths recorded in the 12 months ending June 31, 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. The death toll increased by 1,469 or 39 percent, which trailed only the 43.4-percent hike in Pennsylvania and 39.4-percent increase recorded in Florida. (Ludlow, 2/12)
Can Cannabis Save Us From The Opioid Crisis?
Have California’s medical marijuana dispensaries helped ease the state’s opioid crisis? Several studies have found lower rates of opioid-related overdoses in states that have legalized marijuana for medical purposes. (Replogle, 2/12)