Weekend Round Up - April 2018

By: Jody Lutz

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Date: 01/08/2020

Filed Under: weekend round up

With opioid prescribing regulations being updated, national policy announcements, state guidelines as well as daily commentary regarding the opioid epidemic flooding news outlets, the AffirmHealth Weekend Round Up looks at the top headlines that caught our team’s eye. From controlled substance protocols to research focusing on pain management, addiction medicine, the ER and more provided to you in an easy to access summary. News you can use. Welcome to the Weekend Round Up.


April 5, 2018

Drug crisis: Opioid addiction costs employers $2.6B a year for care

Source: USA Today

AffirmHealth Key Take Away: A new report shows large employers spent $2.6 billion to treat opioid addiction and overdoses in 2016, an eightfold increase since 2004. More than half went to treat employees' children.

The analysis released Thursday by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation finds such spending cost companies and workers about $26 per enrollee in 2016.

Employers have been limiting insurance coverage of opioids because of concerns about addiction. The report finds spending on opioid prescriptions falling 27 percent from a peak in 2009.

Find the Full Article Here: Opioid Addiction Costs Employers 2.6b a Year


April 6, 2018

New FDA Regulation of Clinical Decision-Support/Digital Health Applications and Medical Software Has Consequences For Medical Laboratories

Source: DARK Daily

AffirmHealth Key Take Away: Softened FDA regulation of both clinical-decision-support and patient-decision-support software applications could present opportunities for clinical laboratory developers of such tools Late 2017, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released guidelines on how the agency intends to regulate—or not regulate—digital health, clinical-decision-support (CDS), and patient-decision-support (PDS) software applications. The increased/decreased oversight of the development of these physicians’ tools could have important implications for anatomic pathology groups and clinical laboratories. Physician decision-support software utilizes medical laboratory test data as a significant part of a full dataset used to guide caregivers. Thus, if the FDA makes it easier for developers to get regulatory clearance for these types of products, that could positively impact medical labs’ ability to service their client physicians.

Find the Full Article Here: New FDA Regulations of Clinical Decision-Support/Digital Health Applications


The Intensifying Conflict Between Opioid Control and Pain Control

Source: Practical Pain Management

AffirmHealth Key Take Away: Many medical experts say the CDC guidelines play up the hazards of opioids while playing down their benefits. The overall message is that clinicians should be stingy with these medications, prescribing them only as a last resort and maintaining the lowest possible doses. Despite the CDC’s protestations to the contrary, the mission of preventing abuse and diversion seems to be interfering with the average pain practitioner’s duty to provide appropriate care, leading in extreme cases to suicides by patients who are unable to get the pain relief they need. After the CDC guidelines were published, Dan Carr, MD, then the president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM), worried about unintended consequences. “The CDC guideline makes disproportionately strong recommendations based upon a narrowly selected portion of the available clinical evidence,” he said in an AAPM statement at the time.2 “It is incumbent upon us all to monitor the deployment of the guideline to ensure that it does not inadvertently encourage under-treatment, marginalization, and stigmatization of the many patients with chronic pain that are using opioids appropriately. ”Two years later, Carr’s warning is proving prescient. “There are many pain clinics flooded with patients who have been treated previously by their primary care physician,” said AAPM President-Elect Jianguo Cheng, MD. These refugees include patients who “have been functional” and “responding well” to opioids for “many years,” he said.

Find the full article here: The Intensifying Conflict Between Opioid Control and Pain Control


April 4, 2018

CMS Finalizes Regulations To Curb Opioid Misuse Among Part D Beneficiaries

Source: FierceHealthcare

AffirmHealth Key Take Away: Pharmacies and Part D beneficiaries will start seeing new limits on opioid prescriptions starting next year. As part of a Medicare Advantage final rule, the Medicare agency is also moving forward with policies to curb opioid misuse. And the agency seems to have taken some policy advice from Congress. The rule established a ceiling of 90-milligram morphine-equivalent units for opioid prescriptions under the Part D Medicare program starting in 2019. A prescription at or above 90mg will require the pharmacist to speak with the prescribing doctor regarding the dosage and determine if an override is appropriate. The agency's initial proposal, which would have limited the prescription override to the insurer, received widespread backlash during the comment period.

Find the Full Article Here: CMS is Signaling It Is Taking the Opioid Crisis Seriously


April 3, 2018

CMS Tweak Opioid Proposal After Backlash

Source: The Hill

AffirmHealth Key Take Away: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released a sweeping final Medicare rule that included altering a draft proposal aimed at curbing the opioid epidemic that had proven controversial. The agency had received pushback on a proposal that would have meant a prescription for high doses of opioids (90 milligrams of morphine per day or more) automatically wouldn’t be filled and the patient would need special permission from their private insurance company in order to receive the medication. Many doctors and patients expressed opposition during the draft proposal’s public comment period, which ended March 5, and the proposal “was strongly opposed by nearly all stakeholder groups for a variety of reasons,” CMS wrote in its final letter on new Medicare policies released Monday.

Find the Full Article Here: CMS Tweaks Opioid Proposal After Sparking Backlash


APRIL 4, 2018

FDA Committee Recommends Approval of Lofexidine for Opioid Withdrawal

Source: Pain Medicine News

AffirmHealth Key Take Away: In a nearly unanimous vote, an FDA committee recently recommended approval of lofexidine (Lucemyra, US WorldMeds), a non-opioid drug designed to relieve symptoms of opioid withdrawal and prevent discontinuation of opioid withdrawal treatment.

Find the Full Press Release Here: FDA Committee Recommends Approval of Lofexidine for Opioid Withdrawal

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