Pennsylvania State Senator Introduces Ban on Kratom Sales to Minors

A Pennsylvania state legislator is spearheading a bill to more stringently regulate the sale of the painkiller kratom.

The Kratom Consumer Protection Act, sponsored by state Senator Tracy Pennycuick (R-Red Hill), would ban the substance’s purveyance to anyone aged 21 or younger. The legislation would also limit the product’s potency, bar its combination with controlled chemicals and require its display of “adequate labeling directions for… safe and effective use….” 

Read the full story

Pennsylvania Senate Panel Passes Ban on Supervised Injection Sites

Pennsylvania’s Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday passed legislation banning supervised injection sites anywhere in the Keystone State. 

Under the bill sponsored by Senator Christine Tartaglione (D-Philadelphia), no locality in Pennsylvania could permit the operation of a center wherein people could take illegal substances without risking prosecution. Such locations which are also called “safe injection sites,” “safe consumption spaces” or “overdose prevention sites” aim to avert opioid overdoses and drug-related disease transmission. Opponents like Tartaglione say the sites more effectively worsen opioid addiction and the carnage it creates. 

Read the full story

Michigan Doctor Sentenced to More Than 16 Years for His Role in Healthcare Fraud, ‘Shots-for-Pills’ Scheme

A Michigan doctor was sentenced to 16.5 years in prison for his part in a health care fraud scheme that billed more than $250 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare, Medicaid, and health insurance programs and illegally distributed over 6.6 million doses of opioids.

In September 2021, Francisco Patino, M.D., 68, of Wayne County, was convicted at trial in the Eastern District of Michigan of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, health care fraud, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and pay and receive health care kickbacks, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and money laundering.

Read the full story

Ohio Attorney General Announces Preliminary Agreement with Walmart on Opioid Addiction Liability

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (R) announced on Tuesday that he and 15 other state attorneys general have negotiated a preliminary deal with the multinational retailer Walmart, from which Ohio would get $114 million for opioid recovery programs.

The $3.1 billion national agreement comes after Yost and other prosecutors sought accountability for what they characterize as the superstore’s failure to safely and securely dispense high-strength prescription pain relievers through its more than 5,100 pharmacies across America. Other state prosecutor’s offices who worked alongside him include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, New York, Tennessee and Texas.
The agreement comes after Yost and other prosecutors sought accountability for what they characterize as the superstore’s failure to safely and securely dispense high-strength prescription pain relievers through its more than 5,100 pharmacies across America. Other state prosecutor’s offices who worked alongside him include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, New York, Tennessee and Texas.

Read the full story

DeSantis Stumps for Vance in Youngstown, Ohio Suburbs

Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) came to the Youngstown area this weekend in support of Ohio Republican JD Vance’s U.S. Senate campaign against U.S. Representative Tim Ryan (D-OH-13), whose district includes Youngstown.

“It is important that the people of Ohio send JD Vance to the U.S. Senate this year,” the Florida chief executive, whose mother is from Youngstown, told an audience at the Metroplex Expo Center in Girard. “Yes, Republicans need to take back the majority, and I think we will. But just as important as having the majority, we need people who are willing to go up there and do something with the majority; stop talking and actually get something done. And I think JD is somebody who’s going to be a leader and not just be a follower and we need that in that swamp more than ever.” 

Read the full story

Tyler Shanafelter’s Mother Urges Law to Strengthen Fentanyl Dealer Sentencing

On Monday, Laura Shanafelter joined lawmakers at the Harrisburg Capitol’s East Wing Rotunda to urge passage of legislation named after her late son to strengthen sentences for fentanyl dealers.

Called “Tyler’s Law,” the measure sponsored by state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Gettysburg) would impose a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years on any fentanyl pusher who facilitated a sale resulting in someone’s death. The senator has lamented that these dealers often get sentences of only a few years in cases when investigation even occurs.

Read the full story

Pennsylvania Senate Committee Passes Mastriano Bill to Strengthen Overdose Data Gathering

A Pennsylvania Senate panel this week passed a measure sponsored by Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Gettysburg) to strengthen the commonwealth’s tracking of overdoses.

All Republican and Democratic members of the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee supported the bill. It awaits consideration of the state House of Representatives.

Read the full story

As Fentanyl Distribution Rises, AG Moody Calls on Biden Administration to Enforce Existing Immigration Laws

Ashley Moody

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is calling on President Joe Biden and the leaders of the House and Senate to “stop posturing” and acknowledge the magnitude of the crisis at the southwest border, which she says is enabling the illicit importation of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, fueling a drug crisis in America.

More than 21 Floridians die every day from accidental opioid overdoses, Moody said.

“Biden’s lax border policy is an open invitation to dangerous criminals, human traffickers and drug traffickers to enter the United States – creating a crisis at the Southern Border like we have never seen,” Moody, who last year sued the Biden administration over reinstating an Obama-era catch and release program, said. “Because Biden is not requiring those crossing the border to go through the legally mandated channels, they are coming into our country without being properly processed.

Read the full story

Former Tennessee Clinic Owner Sentenced for Opioid Distribution

Close up of white pills

The Department of Justice announced last week a former Tennessee clinic owner was sentenced for opioid distribution. Mark Daniel Allen, who now lives in Venice, Florida, was sentenced to 168 months in prison and $700 in special assessments, “followed by three years of supervised released.”

According to court documents, Allen was found guilty on six counts of “unlawfully distributing controlled substances” and one count of “maintaining a drug-involved premises after a three-day trial” which started September 1, 2021. Evidence at the trial showed Allen unlawfully prescribed 15,000 opioid pills to three women “with whom he had sexual relationships,” and to a male patient who later passed away.

Read the full story

Attorney General Ellison Announces $50 Million Settlement with Purdue Pharma

Keith Ellison

Attorney General Keith Ellison announced Minnesota will get $50 million from the settlement of the state’s lawsuit against the Sackler family’s company Purdue Pharma, which manufactured the opioid drug Oxycontin that contributed to the deadly opioid crisis nationwide.

The resolution will make public more than 30 million documents related to Purdue’s role in the opioid crisis and require the Sacklers to pay $4.3 billion for prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts in communities across the country.

Minnesota’s share of those payments is expected to exceed $50 million over nine years, the spending of which will be overseen by the State’s Opioid Epidemic Response Advisory Council.

Read the full story

Ohio Sees Spike in Drug Overdose Deaths as Pandemic Rages

Nineteen counties in Ohio have exceeded or equaled records for the most overdoses in a year as the nation continues to see a spike in drug overdoses during the coronavirus pandemic.

Harm Reduction Ohio, a drug policy advocacy group which says it is the largest distributor of naloxone in the state, says the biggest increases in death caused by overdoses have occurred in central and east Ohio.

Read the full story

Opioid Prescriptions Drop 15 Percent in Michigan

by Tyler Arnold   Opioid prescriptions dropped 15 percent in 2018 from the previous year in Michigan, according to numbers released by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). The number of opioid prescriptions dropped from 9.7 million to 8.2 million in that timespan. “The decrease in dispensions could be attributed to a number of things such as prescribers weaning patients off of opioids or perhaps using treatment alternatives, to not prescribing the opioids due to the patient risk based on what the patient had been prescribed previously,” Matthew Erickson, public information officer for LARA, told The Center Square in an email. The increased awareness among doctors through the participation in the government-sponsored Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS) has significantly contributed to the decline of prescribing these drugs, according to Erickson. MAPS is a monitoring program that tracks controlled substances and helps prescribers and dispensers see potential risks in patients to prevent drug abuse. “MAPS has played a critical role in both combating the opioid epidemic here in Michigan and in ensuring patients who need prescription drugs have access to them,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a news release. “As leaders, we have a responsibility to help patients…

Read the full story

Blackburn, Other Senators Introduce Bill to Crack Down on Fentanyl Drug Traffickers, Dealers

  U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) is tackling the fentanyl crisis. Last week, Blackburn and Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR), John Kennedy (R-LA) and Ben Sasse (R-NE) introduced he Ending the Fentanyl Crisis Act of 2019, the Tennessee senator said in a press release. The bill aims to ensure that sentencing penalties for trafficking fentanyl reflect the deadliness of the drug. This legislation marks a major step toward addressing the nation’s opioid epidemic, Blackburn said. “Fentanyl is deadly, and it is killing Americans every single day,” Blackburn said. “It’s time the punishment fit the crime for these drug traffickers.” The bill reduces the amount of fentanyl that drug traffickers and dealers must be caught with in order for mandatory sentencing minimums to apply. Under current sentencing guidelines, a trafficker with 2 grams of fentanyl is treated the same as a trafficker with 5 grams of heroin even though fentanyl is 50 times deadlier than heroin. Cotton and the other senators joined Blackburn in discussing their reasoning for introducing the bill. “Fentanyl is one of the most dangerous drugs there is,” Cotton said. “It killed nearly 30,000 Americans last year and has been a driving force behind the opioid crisis in the…

Read the full story

Feds Bust 60 For Alleged Participation in Illegal Prescribing and Distributing of Opioids, Other Narcotics, As Well As Alleged Health Care Fraud

The U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday announced a major multi-agency national bust against 60 people for their alleged participation in the illegal prescribing and distributing of opioids and other dangerous narcotics and for health care fraud schemes. The DOJ announcement is available here. The defendants are from 11 federal districts and include 31 doctors, seven pharmacists, eight nurse practitioners, and seven other licensed medical professionals, including Ohio. “The opioid epidemic is the deadliest drug crisis in American history, and Appalachia has suffered the consequences more than perhaps any other region,” Attorney General William P. Barr said. “But the Department of Justice is doing its part to help end this crisis. One of the Department’s most promising new initiatives is the Criminal Division’s Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force, which began its work in December. Just four months later, this team of federal agents and 14 prosecutors has charged 60 defendants for alleged crimes related to millions of prescription opioids. I am grateful to the Criminal Division, their U.S. Attorney partners, and to the members of the strike force for this outstanding work that holds the promise of saving many lives in Appalachian communities.” In the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force’s Southern District…

Read the full story

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine Announces Plan for 30 New Drug Courts to Combat Opioid Epidemic

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine unveiled the latest aspect of his plan Tuesday to fight opioid addiction by creating more specialty courts statewide. The plan is the latest announced component of his upcoming budget proposal for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.  If approved, it would allocate $2.5 million in 2020 for the creation of “15 specialty dockets” as well as an additional $5 million in 2020 to “support the newly created specialty dockets and fund an additional 15.” Governor DeWine said of the courts: Specialty dockets give judges the flexibility necessary when they encounter someone in the court system who is may benefit more from treatment for substance use disorder rather than serving jail time,…These specialty courts are a proven way to hold those with substance use disorder accountable and ensure participation in mental health and addiction treatment. According to the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services, Specialty Courts, often referred to as “Drug Courts,” “specialize in the adjudication and treatment of offenders who use drugs.”  Judges across the state found that they were seeing the same individuals again and again for drug-related offenses. These courts were designed to more effectively address the issues relating to these individuals. The only offenders eligible for these courts are those who have been…

Read the full story

Report: One in Three Children Enter Foster Care Due to Parental Drug Abuse, Ohio Rate Jumped 29 Percent

A report released Tuesday by the nonprofit Child Trends revealed that for the sixth consecutive year, 2017 saw a significant rise in the number of children entering foster care due to parental drug abuse or drug seeking behavior. According to the report, 131 out of every 100,000 children in America ends up in foster care because one or both of their parents’ behavior in connection to drug use, representing a “5 percent increase from the previous fiscal year and a 53 percent increase since FY 2007.” The study ascertained the findings by combining statistics from several organizations and government agencies, most notably the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect (NDACAN), an initiative U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Cornell University. The HHS also provides their own statistics through the Children Bureau. Lastly, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a privately funded nonprofit, also provides data on children and families throughout the country. In addition, the study also found that “six states and territories – Puerto Rico, Wyoming, New York, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Ohio – saw the largest rate increases.” Of all fifty states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia, 17 states and territories saw rate decreases, 3…

Read the full story

Study: After a Generation Lost to the Opioid Epidemic, Ohio is Among the Few Hardest Hit to See Signs of Recovery

According to a study released Friday, Ohio is among the 8 states with the highest overall rates of opioid-related deaths in the 18-year span from 1998-2016. However the study also suggests that among those states hardest hit, Ohio is seeing a drop in opioid-related deaths in 2018. Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, and New Hampshire all joined the Buckeye State in having opioid rates that doubled every three years from 1998-2016. Only two states, Florida and Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia had a higher increase in death rates, doubling every two years, yet still were surpassed in total deaths. Overall, in the United States opioid overdose deaths have quadrupled in that time period. The study found that by far, one of the greatest contributors to the startling rise was the proliferation of synthetic opioids. These are most forms of opioids produced commercially, specifically for pain relief. Fentaynl and Methadone were among the most common to be responsible for overdose-related deaths. In 12 states, more than 10 out of every 100,000 people died from synthetic opioid-related deaths. The study also called the opioid epidemic “one of the largest health crises facing the United States,” adding: Opioid-related deaths in the United States have increased more than…

Read the full story

An Ohio Medical Examiner Issued a Public Health Warning After Multiple Opioid Deaths Were Traced to Powerful Animal Sedatives

Dr. Thomas Gilson, the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner, issued a Public Health Warning Thursday for the entire county. It stated that, after testing opioids seized at multiple crime scenes, the Cuyahoga County Regional Forensic Science Laboratory had discovered a “significant increase” in the presence of carfentanil, a synthetic opioid that is both extremely potent and deeply unsafe for use by humans. According to the Preliminary 2018 Drug Overdose Death Statistics, Cuyahoga County suffered “24 carfentanil-related deaths in 2018.” Though alarming, this is a “significant reduction from the 191 carfentanil-related deaths in 2017.” Carfentanil is the most potent opioid currently available for commercial use, and of the most potent ever developed. It is officially sold under the commercial title of Wildnil. The main use for the drug is sedating large animals, including “ungulates, elephants, and rhinoceros.” It is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more powerful then fentanyl. “The re-appearance of carfentanil in the local illicit drug supply is alarming,” Gilson said. “This is a very lethal drug and anyone using illicit or diverted drugs needs to be aware of the possibility of being exposed to it…Having another person in the vicinity to call 911 and/or administer naloxone can be…

Read the full story

Ohio Sells 42 Pounds of Medicinal Marijuana in First Weeks of Legal Sales

Ohio sold $330,000 of medicinal marijuana in 12 days. According to the Marijuana Business Daily, that’s almost double the sales rate of, both, Hawaii and Massachusetts when they legalized the drug. These strong numbers are made all the more impressive by the fact that Ohio marijuana prices are almost five times more expensive than if bought illegally and that only four locations are currently open and selling in Ohio. While it’s too early to say what is driving these strong numbers, Ohio’s complicated relationship with other drugs might be a major motivating factor. Of Ohio, Hawaii, and Massachusetts, Ohio, by far, has the highest opioid prescription rate as well as the highest opioid overdose death rate. While many Ohioans may be concerned that marijuana legalization is simply victims of drug addiction switching from one drug to another, it actually has positive implications for the future of the Buckeye State. Marijuana use does carry side effects, however, these effects are far less severe than opioid abuse. Furthermore, a heroin user is 19 times more likely to have started out by abusing an opioid prescription. Marijuana is somewhat more complicated. While historically it has been considered a “gateway drug,” new reports and insights reveal that…

Read the full story

Ohio Medical Board Tightens Rules for Opioid Prescriptions

Long overdue limits on opioid prescriptions are finally being introduced to the Buckeye State. As of Wednesday, the State Medical Board of Ohio has enacted new requirements that must be met for the prescribing and continuing use of opioids. The rules will affect both short term and long term prescriptions. How stringent the rules are depend on the current dosage. MED or “Morphine Equivalent Daily Dose” is the unit of measurement by which all opioids are measured for effectiveness. For prescriptions of up to 50 MED: prescribers are required to re-evaluate the status of the patient’s underlying condition causing pain, assess functioning, look for signs of prescription misuse, consider consultation with a specialist and obtain written informed consent from the patient. For up to 80 MED, prescribers will do all of the above and consider prescribing naloxone, a drug that functions as an incredibly effective treatment for opioid overdoses. Though it can be administered in a myriad of ways, naloxone is most commonly prescribed as a nasal spray. Lastly, for prescriptions of 120 MED and above, “there must be a recommendation from a board-certified pain medicine physician or board certified hospice and palliative care physician that is based upon a face-to-face visit…

Read the full story

As Many as 34 Deaths in Ohio Now Attributed to Doctor Husel’s Lethal Opioid Dosing

Thursday, the Mount Carmel Hospital released a shocking report that revealed the crimes of Doctor William Husel were far more extensive and well known than previously noted. As first reported on January 18th, the Mount Carmel Hospital confirmed that Dr. Husel was being investigated for malpractice. The young doctor had allegedly prescribed dangerous – and in some cases fatal – doses of fentanyl to at least 27 patients. All the victims were in a “near death” state when the doses were administered. In some cases, the doctor was prescribing 50 times the recommended dose. No motive had yet been established and the doctor was suspended from service until the investigation is complete. Thursday’s report revealed that a “formal report” about the questionable methods of Dr. Husel was first filed on October 25th, 2018. However, he was not removed from providing patient care until November 21st, almost a month later. During this time, three of his victims were administered the lethal doses and all three died shortly after. The hospital conceded that “we should have begun a more expedited process to investigate and consider immediate removal of Dr. Husel from patient care.” There is no clear answer as to why the waited so long to remove the doctor…

Read the full story

Ohio Department of Health Confirms Investigation of Doctor Who Prescribed Lethal Opioid Doses to 27 Patients

In most major surgeries, a doctor will prescribe, at most, 20 micrograms of fentanyl, a powerful opioid pain killer. At most, as an “adjunct to general anesthesia,” 20-50 micrograms are used. Doctor William Husel of Columbus was administering, in some cases, 1,000 micrograms. After prescribing these lethal doses to at least 27 patients, justice may finally be coming for him. The Ohio Department of Department of Health confirmed Friday that it was launching an investigation into the shocking revelations regarding Dr. Husel. The investigation came after a Monday report that the critical care physician had prescribed these unprecedented doses of fentanyl to 27 patients. The earliest death, as discovered, appears to have taken place in March 2015. Jan Thomas, a near-death patient, was prescribed 800 micrograms of the opioid. Thirty-one minutes after the lethal prescription was administered, she was declared dead. As of reporting, the doctor faces at least four lawsuits, representing more than a dozen of the affected families. While the prescribing doctor is at fault in every one of these instances, the nature in which the deaths occurred raises additional and serious questions. Whenever a doctor requests a large amount of a controlled substance, like fentanyl, there is an extensive process of approval that…

Read the full story

Ohio State Board Considers Approving More Conditions for Marijuana Treatment

With medicinal marijuana sales imminent in the Buckeye state, the Ohio State Medical Board is currently considering a slew of additional medical conditions for medicinal marijuana treatment. Currently, 21 conditions are approved for the controversial treatment. A number of the conditions cover a wide swathe of ailments. For example, cancer is an approved condition but it does not specify which of the more than 100 known forms of cancer that occur in humans are covered and which aren’t, so, presumably, all of them could be. It would ultimately be at the mercy of the prescribing doctor, though any doctor found overprescribing could be fined, lose their medical license, and even face jail time. Per Ohio Administrative Code 4731-32-05, every year the state is required to give citizens the opportunity to submit petitions for new conditions to be approved for marijuana treatment. Thus far, the Ohio State Medical Board has received 110 petitions. Forty-four of these documents were asking treaments that are already included in the Code. Fifty-four did not meet the final requirements or number of signatures but may be resubmitted. Among the new conditions being considered are anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Per a recent medical study, there is very little research on the…

Read the full story

Drug Companies Seek Gag Order Against Republican Gov.-Elect Mike DeWine for Speaking Out on Opioid Crisis

Friday, lawyers representing some of the nation’s largest drug manufacturers began an attempt to sanction and silence Governor-elect Mike DeWine, stemming from his involvement in a lawsuit he initiated as Ohio Attorney General. The motion, filed by an amalgamation Big Pharma attorneys, accuse DeWine, along with lawyers Mike Moore and Burton LeBlanc of engaging in “a concerted campaign to taint potential jury polls in this district-and across the country-through misleading, inflammatory, and improper public statements.” According to the motion, the attempt came as a direct result of an explosive 60 Minutes episode that aired on December 16th featuring attorney Moore. The program detailed the massive lawsuit DeWitt and others are pursuing against the opioid industry. The 13-minute segment that aired on CBS focused primarily on Moore’s association with the case. The veteran lawyer was directly involved in two of the largest legal settlements in history. On May 1994, while serving as Attorney General of Mississippi, the Magnolia state became the first state to officially file suit against the tobacco industry. Forty-six other states eventually joined the suit. The Tobacco Master Settlement was agreed to in November 1998. Among many concessions, the tobacco industry would be required to pay over $200 billion dollars to the states…

Read the full story

Opioid Abuse Estimated to Leave Over 20,000 Children in Foster Care by 2020

While the rampant opioid epidemic that has overtaken much of the country is finally getting the attention it deserves, some of the most vulnerable to its effects have been tragically overlooked. A startling report from the Public Children’s Services Association of Ohio estimates that, should current trends continue, over 20,000 children will be in foster care by 2020. From July 2017 to July 2018 alone, the total number of children entering foster care jumped from over 13,700 children to over 15,000. The main reason for this acceleration appears to be severe drug abuse throughout the state. In 2015, half of the children taken into foster care had come from families with some form of drug abuse. 28 percent were actively taking opioids when their children were removed. 67 percent of these children were under the age of 12 and over a quarter of them are three or younger. While the number of children in need continues to rise, support services are more strained than ever. The report also reveals that Ohio’s State Share for children services spending is currently dead last in the nation. Further, “even if the State’s Share…doubled, Ohio would still be 50th in the nation.” The majority of child…

Read the full story

Ohio Federal Judge Clears Way for Massive Opioid Lawsuit

A massive lawsuit by 1,500 counties, cities, townships, and other communities nationwide, against the opioid industry has been permitted to move forward by a federal judge in Ohio. Over the past two years, local and state governments in Mississippi, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Nevada, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee, Illinois, New York, Washington, and California have all filed separate suits against the various manufacturers, distributors, and sellers comprising the opioid industry. These local governments allege that the “defendants have contributed to the addiction of millions of Americans to these prescription opioids and to the foreseeable result that many of those addicted would turn to street drugs.” In the past year, the majority of these cases were folded into one giant multidistrict litigation that has been consolidated in the Ohio federal courts. The defendants in this case include the three largest drug wholesalers in America: AmerisourceBergen, McKesson, and Cardinal Health. These three entities are commonly referred to as the “Big Three,” accounting for “about 85 percent to 90 percent of all revenues from drug distribution in the United States.” United States District Judge Dan A. Polster of the Northern District of Ohio rejected Wednesday a Motion to Dismiss by the…

Read the full story

Congress Demands Key Documents From Largest Opioid Makers In The Country


by Steve Birr   Lawmakers are demanding answers from three of the largest opioid manufacturers in the country, particularly when executives became aware their medications were addictive. Leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent letters Thursday to drug makers Purdue Pharma, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals and Insys Therapeutics asking they send a variety of legal documents and internal communications to help Congress better understand its role in igniting the national addiction epidemic, reports The Washington Post. All three companies said they plan to cooperate with the committee’s request. Representatives for Purdue Pharma, the makers of OxyContin, also expressed their “concern about the opioid crisis.” “The opioid crisis continues to destroy the lives of our friends and neighbors, and it’s imperative we examine the full scope of this crisis,” Oregon Republican Rep. Greg Walden, chairman of the committee, and New Jersey Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. said in a statement, according to The Washington Post. The committee is specifically demanding an unredacted copy from Purdue of a deposition given by Dr. Richard Sackler, a member of the family that owns Purdue, during a 2015 settlement with the state of Kentucky. Dr. Richard Sackler became president of Purdue Pharma in 1999 and co-chairman of the board of directors in 2003,…

Read the full story

Gov. Haslam Signs Legislation to Restrict Opioid Access, Punish Trafficking, Provide Treatment Help

Bill Haslam

The state of Tennessee is adding restrictions to opioid prescriptions and measures to track and punish unlawful distribution of the powerful pain medications. Gov. Bill Haslam signed two bills and issued an executive order last Friday to support TN Together, the latest effort to fight the opioid crisis, WBIR reported, citing a press release from Haslam’s office. TN Together focuses on prevention, treatment and law enforcement. The legislation seeks to prevent opioid addiction, and misuse and abuse by limiting the supply and dosage of opioid prescriptions with an emphasis on new patients, according a statement on the governor’s office’s website. Initial prescriptions will be limited to a 5-day supply with daily dosage limits (40 MME or “morphine milligram equivalent”). Higher dosages of opioids have been associated with higher risk of overdose and death while proving ineffective at reducing pain over the long term. The legislation also addresses appropriate exceptions, including exceptions for individuals undergoing active or palliative cancer treatment or who are receiving hospice care for chronic pain. The second bill will better track, monitor and penalize the use and unlawful distribution of opioids by adding synthetic versions of fentanyl to the controlled substance schedules, among other updates, WBIR said.…

Read the full story

Report: Medicaid And Obamacare May Be Incentivizing Opioid Trafficking And Abuse

One of the largest entitlement programs in the country is incentivizing prescription drug trafficking and exacerbating the national opioid epidemic, according to a Senate report. The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs released a Majority Staff Report Wednesday, which details how Medicaid policies governing prescription drug prices, expanded at the state level through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2014, “perversely” incentivize opioid abuse and illicit sales, as well as larger scale trafficking operations involving both criminal drug lords and respected doctors.

Read the full story