This Week's News in Substance Use: 3/30/18

SUD news 3/30/18

FDA’s Gottlieb Discusses the Agency’s Plan to Take On Drug Prices, Big Tobacco and The Opioid Epidemic , NBC News

“When he took the lead at the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Scott Gottlieb was seen as a pro-pharma choice. His legacy thus far, however, has been far more complicated.

“Gottlieb was a former FDA deputy commissioner, but he also worked as a physician and a consultant to drug industry. Still, he's taken on market inefficiencies, called for expanding access to biosimilars, is approving generics at a record pace and trying to bring down drug prices.”

Cigna Says It Reduced Opioid Use by 25%, Forbes

“Cigna, one of America's largest health insurers, says it has reduced the use of prescription opioids among its members by 25%.

“That percent reduction had been set as a goal in May 2016 by the $41.6 billion (sales) Bloomfield, Conn.-based firm. But Cigna had expected to take three years to reduce opioid prescriptions that much. Instead, it did it in two.

"A big part of this chapter, of the intensity of our focus, was to reduce the risk for future onset of addiction by decreasing the number of people and decreasing the availability of these highly addictive opioids," said David Cordani, Cigna's chief executive officer.”

Nearly 1 Million People Were Out of the Workforce Because Of Opioid Addiction in 2015, According to Study , The Washington Post

“Nearly 1 million people were not working because of opioid addiction in 2015, the latest research to show that drug use is having a profound effect on the U.S. economy.

“A study released Tuesday by the American Action Forum found 919,400 people between the ages of 25 to 54 were absent from the workforce because they were dependent on opioid drugs, a number that grew each year between 1999 and 2015.

“The loss of employees and their productivity during that period cost the U.S. economy $702 billion, or just under $44 billion per year, the study calculated.”

Healing Drug Injection Wounds Can Help Get Care Closer to Patients , NPR

“Sheila Dhand treats a lot of people who might not step foot in a health clinic or hospital — until an emergency.

“’People don't want to show just anybody their wound,’ Dhand says. ‘A lot of time when talking about wounds, we're talking about drug use. And those things are so taboo.’

“Dhand is a wound care nurse with Prevention Point, a nonprofit organization that provides addiction, health and harm reduction services in Philadelphia. Her job involves going out in a mobile-wound-care-van where she tends to skin and soft-tissue infections that often result from injecting drugs.”

Treating Pain Without Opioids , Fox 21

“The opioid crisis is causing concern around the country and several doctors are looking at ways to fight it.

“A program in Colorado is testing new strategies for dealing with chronic pain without the heavy use of opioids.

“Barkin says, ‘It was a huge reduction, and you know it was a comprehensive effort.’ Researchers hoped to see a fifteen percent drop in the number of opioids prescribed in emergency rooms; instead, they saw a thirty-six percent decline.”

Americans Take More Pain Pills — But Not Because They’re in More Pain, The Washington Post

“Americans consume prescription opioids at a greater rate than any other population in the world, according to research data. Could this outsized level of prescribing be a rational, appropriate response to an unusually high level of pain in the U.S. population? Comparative international research suggests not.

“In 2008, an international team of researchers assessed population pain using the same methods in 18 countries. The age standardized prevalence of experiencing chronic pain in the United States was 43 percent. The two countries most similar to the United States in their prevalence of chronic pain were Italy (42.8 percent) and France (47.8 percent). But that is where the parallels among the three nations ends.”