KHN Morning Briefing

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In Latest Setback, Painkiller-Maker Agrees To Pay $500K In Suit Over Marketing Tactics

Massachusetts brought the lawsuit on claims that the company "aggressively marketed its product and made illegal payments to providers to boost sales."

Stat: Insys To Pay $500,000 To Massachusetts For Illegal Marketing Of Painkiller
Insys Therapeutics (INSY) agreed on Thursday to pay $500,000 to Massachusetts to resolve charges of illegally marketing its highly addictive Subsys painkiller and paying kickbacks to doctors to write prescriptions. Between 2012 and 2014, state officials charged that Insys marketed Subsys for patients whose pain is caused by an ailment other than cancer, even though the medicine was only approved by regulators for treating cancer pain. And Insys made misleading statements suggesting that Subsys was appropriate for combating mild pain, even while citing a study that found the drug was only appropriate for “moderate to severe” pain. (Silverman, 10/5)

In other news on the opioid crisis —

CQ: Health Officials Call For Resources To Address Opioids
Top Trump administration health officials appearing before a Senate committee Thursday called for sustained resources to address prescription opioid and heroin abuse, although the president's budget request called for cuts in many health programs. The officials emphasized to senators on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee the importance of insurance coverage to securing treatment and expressed a desire for Congress and the administration to agree on more appropriations to promote anti-opioid programs. (Siddons, 10/5)

The Philadelphia Inquirer/Philly.com: Pa. To Fund Opioid Overdose Antidote For First Responders
Gov. Wolf said Thursday that Pennsylvania would supply 120,000 doses of the opioid overdose reversal medication naloxone to first responders. The budget includes $5 million for bulk purchases of Narcan Nasal Spray, a consumer-brand version of the emergency antidote, administration officials said. Narcan is made by Adapt Pharma Inc., an Irish company with U.S. headquarters in Radnor. Unlike the generic, which emergency room physicians and paramedics administer by injection, the nasal spray is intended for use by people with minimal medical training, including police, ambulance crews, and friends and families of people at risk of an overdose. (Sapatkin, 10/5)

Nashville Tennessean: Opioid Epidemic Getting Worse Instead Of Better, Officials Warn
A top public health official warned Thursday the nation’s opioid epidemic is showing no signs of abating. “It is one of the few public health problems that is getting worse instead of better,” said Dr. Debra Houry, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Houry and public health officials testifying at a Senate hearing described an addiction crisis that has spiraled so out of control that it is far beyond the scope of any particular agency to address. (Collins, 10/5)

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