Can Failed Weight Loss Drugs Be Repurposed To Fight Opioid Addiction?
Scientists see a common thread between fighting obesity and the opioid crisis: addiction. In other news on the epidemic: it's unclear whether a new proposal to empower the DEA will achieve its goal; a look at how a patient advocacy group is being used to promote a drugmaker's painkiller; despite methadone's proven effectiveness Medicare doesn't cover it; and more.
Weight Loss Drugs Were Commercial Flops. Can They Be Used For Addiction?
If dependence on cocaine or cigarettes is the result of addiction, is obesity in essence an addiction to food? Some scientists certain think so, which is why several weight loss drugs are being studied as potential addiction therapies. There are plenty to choose from: A wave of prescription weight loss drugs hit the market in recent years, and they were initially expected to perform well. But medications including Qsymia, Belviq, and Contrave have all flailed on the market — doctors and patients alike have been reticent to take them. (Keshavan, 4/24)
DEA Plan To Stem Supply Of Prescription Drugs Draws Skepticism
With pressure building on the the Drug Enforcement Administration to stem the supply of prescription drugs, a new proposal aims to empower the agency to more aggressively limit manufacturing levels and to put hundreds of drug makers on notice. It’s not yet clear whether the proposal will achieve either goal. According to a rule introduced last week, the DEA would be able to tighten overall quotas and individual quotas issued to manufacturers if it suspects supplies are being diverted for misuse — particularly in cases of “pill dumping.” (Facher, 4/24)
How A Patient Advocacy Group Is Used To Promote Insys' Fentanyl Drug
Two months ago, a Senate report suggested that Insys Therapeutics (INSY) provided $2.5 million to a patient advocacy group in order to influence usage and providing of its Subsys opioid painkiller. The link, however, was not fully explored, but a new essay in a bioethics blog takes us a step closer to understanding how that relationship may benefit the company. To do so requires a familiar exercise: follow the money. But it also helps to understand why Subsys and a handful of similar powerful medications, all of which are forms of fentanyl, are often favored by doctors for treating so-called breakthrough cancer pain. (Silverman, 4/23)
The Associated Press:
Opioid Treatment Gap In Medicare: Methadone Clinics
One in three older Americans with Medicare drug coverage is prescribed opioid painkillers, but for those who develop a dangerous addiction there is one treatment Medicare won't cover: methadone. Methadone is the oldest, and experts say, the most effective of the three approved medications used to treat opioid addiction. It eases cravings without an intense high, allowing patients to work with counselors to rebuild their lives. (Johnson, 4/24)
McKesson's Board Clears Itself Of Fault On Opioid Oversight
A year after McKesson Corp. announced a $150 million settlement with the U.S. government over allegations it failed to properly oversee shipments of painkillers, a board committee cleared directors and senior executives of wrongdoing. The drug distributor’s executives “placed great emphasis on compliance, encouraged ethical conduct” and improved the company’s opioid-monitoring processes, a panel of three independent directors said in an April 20 report. (Melin and Feeley, 4/23)
Energy And Commerce Releases 60 Opioid Bills For Wednesday Markup
The Energy and Commerce health subcommittee Monday night released 60 bills slated for markup Wednesday that aim to help curb the country’s opioid epidemic. The proposals address all aspects of the health system, from how FDA approves pain medicines to how government health programs pay for opioids and addiction treatment. (Karlin-Smith and Ehley, 4/23)
This Tiny House Village Allows Drugs. Should It Have Been Put In A High Drug-Traffic Area?
There are six such homeless camps operating on land owned by the city of Seattle, but Licton Springs is different in one big way. Other villages can ban residents for showing up intoxicated or using drugs. Licton Springs Village is designed for people with chemical dependencies. Seattle says this is the first encampment like it in the U.S., and the city will decide this week whether to renew the village’s one-year permit. The city is weighing the impacts on the neighborhood and trying to set criteria for success in a second year, according to Meg Olberding, a spokesperson for Seattle’s Human Services Department. (Greenstone, 4/23)
New Hampshire Public Radio:
Report: Opioid Prescriptions Declined By 15 Percent In N.H. Last Year
New Hampshire saw a 15 percent drop in opioid prescriptions between 2016 and 2017 — the largest drop, in percentage points, of any state in the country — according to a new report from the healthcare research firm IQVIA. IQVIA's Institute for Human Data Science looked at opioid prescribing rates across the country for a new report tracking healthcare use and spending. (McDermott, 4/23)