Weekend Round Up - May 2nd

Happy Spring Break! A few of the news stories that caught our eye at AffirmHealth this past week.  


MARCH 18, 2018

Trump’s Opioid Plan to Take Three-Pronged Approach, Including Possible Death For High-Volume Drug Dealers

Source: CNN

AffirmHealth Key Take Away: President Donald Trump will roll out new plans to tackle the country's opioid epidemic on Monday in New Hampshire, a senior administration official tells CNN. The plan will likely include stiffer penalties for high intensity drug traffickers, including the possibility of the death penalty. Trump's long-awaited plan, the official said, will focus on three areas: Law enforcement and interdiction, prevention and education through a sizable advertising campaign, and improving the ability to fund treatment through the federal government and help those impacted by the epidemic find jobs while fighting the addiction. The official also notes that Trump's plan includes the Department of Justice Prescription Interdiction and Litigation Task Force, which Attorney General Jeff Sessions unveiled in February to focus particularly on opioid manufacturers and distributors. The task force will "use all available criminal and civil remedies available under federal law to hold opioid manufacturers accountable for unlawful practices," according to the department.

Congress recently appropriated $6 billion to combat the opioid epidemic,and the official said Trump's plan will also lay out how the administration believes that money should be spent.

 Find the article here: Trump Opioid Plan



March 16, 2018

Pennsylvania Launches New Initiative to help Combat Opioid Epidemic

Source: CBS Pittsburg

AffirmHealth Key Take Away: The state has just launched a new online tool called the Opioid Data Dashboard, which shows opioid overdose data county-by-county, pin-pointing areas where drug overdoses are doing the most damage. At the same time, it breaks down visits to emergency rooms and links prevention and treatment options. Acting Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, said, “We need really good data to target our resources.” The database will also provide other information online as well, including the number of babies born to addicted mothers.

Find the article here: Pennsylvania Launches Opioid Database



FDA Advances Plan To Slash Nicotine In Cigarettes

Source: NPR

March 15, 2018

AffirmHealth Key Take Away: The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday it wants to sharply reduce the amount of nicotine in cigarettes. The idea is to help wean millions of smokers off their deadly habit and prevent millions more from becoming regular smokers in the first place. "Despite years of aggressive efforts to tackle the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, tobacco use — largely cigarette smoking — still kills more than 480,000 Americans every single year," FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. "Given their combination of toxicity, addictiveness, prevalence, and effect on non-users, it's clear that to maximize the possible public health benefits of our regulation, we must focus our efforts on the death and disease caused by addiction to combustible cigarettes," he said.

Find the article here: FDA Advances Plan To Slash Nicotine In Cigarettes



March 14, 2018

Stricter Warning Labels on Opioid Prescriptions Proposed in New Jersey

Source: The Fix

AffirmHealth Key Take Away: A bill currently under consideration in the New Jersey legislature proposes stricter warning labels on all opioids prescribed throughout the state. The measure, introduced by Assemblyman John Armato (D-Atlantic), would specifically highlight the medication's potential for dependency and overdose, and would supplement both federal warning labels and existing regulations on such prescriptions in New Jersey, which are among the most restrictive in the country in regard to distribution of opioids. If the bill passes, the Garden State would be the first in the country to require such extensive warning labels.

Find the article here: Stricter Warning Labels On Opioid Prescriptions Proposed in New Jersey



March 12, 2018

The Opioid Crisis and Compliance – A Primer for Prescribers

Source: Frier Levitt Attorneys at Law, Blog

AffirmHealth Key Take Away: An effective compliance plan can include (but is not limited to) the following:

  • Written policies and procedures related to drug-dispersion, drug disposal and high-risk patients;
  • The inclusion of a Compliance Officer on staff.
  • A system for proactive self-reporting of potentially violative conduct;
  • A system for recordkeeping, patient prescription tracking and an appropriate mechanism for enforcement and disciplinary action;
  • Training regarding relevant state prescription drug monitoring programs and/or laws restricting prescriptive authority or imposing additional reporting requirements;
  • Procedures regarding the thorough investigation of all instances of noncompliance;
  • Audits and/or other monitoring methods to track and identify potential problem areas, including employee interviews etc.;
  • Protected lines of communication between the compliance officer and all employees.
  • Periodic Compliance Reviews facilitated between the Compliance Officer and upper management.
  • The use of an Opioid Compliance Checklist (or OCC)

Find the article here: Frier Levitt The Opioid Crisis and Compliance A Primer For Prescribers


March 9, 2018

Some Patients Are In Pain. Some Just Want Drugs. How Do I Tell Them Apart?

Source: The Washington Post

AffirmHealth Memorable Quote: "My first task as a doctor was to rule out the seemingly far-fetched possibility that an actual pathology was causing her pain this time. So I began asking my usual questions, looking for clues as to whether her pain was real. It’s difficult to prove that pain exists and even more difficult to disprove it. Inherently private, pain is a subjective scream of neurons that no one else can hear. But in medical school, I learned several tricks, part of a universal but unofficial curriculum, and the prescription-fed epidemic had since honed my detective skills."

Find the article here: Outlook: Some Patients Are In Pain Some Just Want Drugs How Do I Tell Them Apart

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