Chronic Pain Patients Become Collateral Damage To Crackdown On Opioids
“Pendulums swing both directions,” said Dr. David Thorson, resident of the Minnesota Medical Association. "Sometimes when they are swinging, they go too far.” In other news on the crisis: a lawsuit claims McKesson didn’t audit controls for painkillers; the FDA is being urged to crack down on medications touting that they ease addiction side effects; with shortage on execution drugs, states are starting to eye opioids; and more.
The Star Tribune:
The Other Side Of The Opioid Debate: What To Do About The Pain?
This month, the Minnesota Department of Human Services rolled out stringent opioid prescribing guidelines, including a plan to track doctors and warn or sanction those who are too liberal with prescriptions. ...While none of the guidelines outlaw opioids for chronic pain, they might have spooked some doctors into cutting prescriptions and persuaded health insurers to impose limits that can create havoc for patients already on high doses of the drugs. (Olson, 12/9)
McKesson Records Show Failed Opioid Oversight, Lawsuit Says
McKesson Corp.’s board failed to audit the company’s system to spot suspicious shipments of opioid-based painkillers even after agreeing to do so as part of a settlement, according to a summary of board minutes unsealed Friday in a shareholder lawsuit. The suit, filed in October, alleges that McKesson directors paid scant attention to oversight of opioid sales after a 2008 settlement centering on the company’s insufficient monitoring of such shipments. The directors also disclaimed any responsibility for the growing opioid epidemic, seeing it as a “matter of public policy to be addressed by the federal and state governments,” the investor said in another unsealed portion of the complaint. (Melin and Feeley, 12/8)
The New York Times:
Supplements Claiming To Ease Opioid Addiction Come Under Scrutiny
Chris Beekman, whose company sells the dietary supplement Opiate Detox Pro, does not understand what all the fuss is about. “If it works, it works,” Mr. Beekman, the owner of NutraCore Health Products, said in an interview. “If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.” His customers, addicts trying to shake a dependence on opioids, can always get their money back, he said. (Kaplan, 12/8)
The Washington Post:
States To Try New Ways Of Executing Prisoners. Their Latest Idea? Opioids.
The synthetic painkiller fentanyl has been the driving force behind the nation’s opioid epidemic, killing tens of thousands of Americans last year in overdoses. Now two states want to use the drug’s powerful properties for a new purpose: to execute prisoners on death row. As Nevada and Nebraska push for the country’s first fentanyl-assisted executions, doctors and death penalty opponents are fighting those plans. They have warned that such an untested use of fentanyl could lead to painful, botched executions, comparing the use of it and other new drugs proposed for lethal injection to human experimentation. (Wan and Berman, 12/9)
Kaiser Health News:
Opioids After Surgery Left Her Addicted. Is That A Medical Error?
In April this year, Katie Herzog checked into a Boston teaching hospital for what turned out to be a nine-hour-long back surgery. The 68-year-old consulting firm president left the hospital with a prescription for Dilaudid, an opioid used to treat severe pain, and instructions to take two pills every four hours as needed. Herzog took close to the full dose for about two weeks. (Bebinger, 12/11)
Needle Exchange Programs Have Yet To Get Off The Ground, Lack Statewide Law Enforcement Support
Nearly six months after syringe services programs, known as needle exchanges, became legal in Virginia in an effort to curb surging rates of hepatitis C, the Department of Health has yet to receive a single application to launch one from any of the 55 eligible districts. (O'Connor, 12/11)