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Saturday, June 3, 2017

Ohio Sues Big Pharma for Causing Opioid Epidemic

The lawsuit says Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and its subsidiary Cephalon, Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, and Allergan violated the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act and created a "public nuisance."
The drug companies, he said, "put profits above the health and wellbeing of Ohio consumers" by "flooding the market with misleading information about the risks and benefits of prescription opioids, including OxyContin, Percocet and others."
The result has been a "human tragedy of epic proportions," DeWine said, noting that Ohio saw an 36 percent increase in unintentional overdose deaths from opioids last year.

Manhattan family doctor, 81, is arrested after 'writing 14,000 unnecessary opioid prescriptions worth $20million over five years' Regina F. Graham Dailymail.com 6 June 2017

Opioid lawsuit likens big pharma to big tobacco Lisa Bernard-KuhnAbby Anstead Jun 2, 2017

Overdose 'Tsunami' in Ohio Killed Over 4,000 in 2016 Zachary Siegel 05/31/17

Overdoses now leading cause of death of Americans under 50 DEAN REYNOLDS CBS NEWS June 6, 2017

One-Year-Old Ohio Toddler Overdoses On Heroin, Barely Survives Timothy Bella Jun 02, 2017

51 Toddlers Died From Opioid Poisoning 24 MARZO 2017

It's being called "gray death" and the new and dangerous drug combination underscores the ever-changing face of the opioid epidemic.
Investigators have found it and recorded overdoses blamed on it in Alabama, Georgia and Ohio. 
The drug looks like concrete mix and varies in consistency from a hard, chunky material to a fine powder. It's a combination of several opioids that are tied to thousands of fatal overdoses in the U.S., including heroin, fentanylcarfentanil (sometimes used to tranquilize large animals, including elephants) and a synthetic opioid called U-47700.

"Gray death" is the latest, "scariest" opioid drug threat May 4, 2017

These drug manufacturers led prescribers to believe that opioids were not addictive, that addiction was an easy thing to overcome, or that addiction could actually be treated by taking even more opioids," DeWine said in a statement. “They knew they were wrong, but they did it anyway — and they continue to do it."
The companies used “a page from Big Tobacco’s playbook” by recruiting sales experts, influences and doctors to preach the supposed benefits of drugs that include OxyCotin and Percocet, the lawsuit alleges.
All the while, the suit says, they “knew that its misrepresentations of the risks and benefits of opioids were not supported by or were directly contrary to the scientific evidence.”
Big Pharma’s success has created “a population of patients physically and psychologically dependent on them...And when those patients can no longer afford or legitimately obtain opioids, they often turn to the street to buy prescription opioids or even heroin,” according to the complaint.
Ohio is one of the top five states in terms of deadly overdoses over the last year, a trend that has continued for a decade. It has plagued both rural and urban areas of the state.
More than 4,000 Ohioans died of an unintentional drug overdose in 2016, according to a survey by the Columbus Dispatch last month, a 36% increase from a year earlier.
About 20% of the state’s population — 2.3 million patients — were prescribed an opiate last year, according to the attorney general’s lawsuit.
The complaint was filed in Ross County, where 17 overdose cases were recorded in two days earlier this year.
The Trump administration’s proposed budget would virtually destroy funding for the Office of National Drug Control Policy — an agency fighting addiction — despite the President’s pledge to fight the opioid crisis.
Reducing the agency’s budget from last year’s $388 million to potentially $24 million has sparked bipartisan outrage — especially in Ohio.
The President “will need to explain himself to the families whose loved ones have been taken by this epidemic and to the Ohio county morgues who’ve had to bring in extra refrigerated trucks to keep up with the overdose deaths in our state,” Brown said last month.
Ohio became the second state to file a lawsuit against major drug companies, following Mississippi.
Purdue Pharma, which makes OxyCotin, told NBC News that the drug made up under 2% of all prescription painkillers sold across the U.S.
"But we are an industry leader in the development of abuse-deterrent technology, advocating for the use of prescription drug monitoring programs and supporting access to Naloxone — all important components for combating the opioid crisis," Purdue said in a statement to NBC.
A Janssen spokeswoman told ABC News that the company “acted appropriately, responsibly and in the best interests of patients regarding our opioid pain medications, which are FDA-approved and carry FDA-mandated warnings about the known risks of the medications on every product label."
Teva Pharmaceutical told ABC it was reviewing the allegations and wouldn’t comment until that was done.
Endo declined to comment to the network.
At an opioid addiction forum in Cleveland last month, former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said while the crisis has been in the public eye for just a few years, addiction has quadrupled since 1999, according to local Fox affiliate WJW.
Meanwhile, “that's coincided with a near quadrupling of the quantity of opioids prescribed, so this has been building for a while,” Murthy said.

Ohio sues five drugmakers it says downplayed painkiller effects, sparking state’s opioid abuse crisis TERENCE CULLEN NEW YORK DAILY NEWS June 1, 2017

Columbus Dispatch analysis substantiates that fact, finding there were at least 4,149 unintentional drug overdoses in Ohio in 2016, a 36 percent increase from the previous year’s 3,050, which led the nation. The analysis shows 119 overdose deaths in Stark County.

Eleven people died each day in the state last year from an overdose — up from eight in 2015.

It might be that recent investments have yet to take hold and that we’ll begin to see a curtailing of the epidemic soon. The trend for 2017 does not provide much encouragement, however. The state still needs to direct additional resources toward the problem. As one expert told the Dispatch, Ohio has not provided enough medication-assisted treatment to drug addicts, which combines therapy with medications to achieve sobriety.

“If you are looking at the crisis as it exists today with so many people at risk of death from overdose, the most important immediate strategy is to expand access to effective treatment, because that’s what pulls people back from the edge,” Joshua Sharfstein, an associate dean at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told the Dispatch.

He also noted that the state needs more timely reporting of overdose data. Had the Dispatch not contacted each county coroner for the information in its analysis, the numbers wouldn’t have been available until August, when they are released by the Ohio Department of Health. The paper’s numbers are expected to rise because not all coroners have completed their data, and coroners in six smaller counties did not respond to the Dispatch’s request for the information.

Large investments in data reporting in medication-assisted treatment must be part of the state’s comprehensive approach to the problem, as should educational campaigns. Gov. John Kasich met Drug Enforcement Agency officials earlier this spring who told him education is the most promising method for curtailing the epidemic. That, however, should not preclude the state from making other sizable investments in treatment.

Another important factor emerged Wednesday on the opioid front, as Attorney General Mike DeWine announced the state has filed suit against five pharmaceutical companies for putting “profits above the health and well-being of Ohio consumers” by pushing addictive prescription painkillers onto the market through millions of dollars in marketing campaigns.

“The companies knew what they were doing was wrong but did it anyway — and continue to do so,” said DeWine, who believes the manufacturers committed Medicaid fraud and violated the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act, according to reports.

The suit is long overdue. It could help hold accountable the manufacturers responsible for kick-starting the epidemic in the first place.

Damages potentially awarded to the state could provide another crucial funding source to help combat this harrowing problem.

March Against Monsanto 2017 MAY 22, 2017

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