This Week's News in Substance Use: 6/15/18

SUD news 6/14/18

NIH Targets $500 Million at Opioid Crisis, Forbes

“The National Institutes of Health is explaining how it will spend $500 million in research funds Congress appropriated to address the current opioid crisis.

“The list of objectives, published this morning in the Journal of the American Medical Association, includes: developing new medications to treat opioid addiction; tinkering with existing medications so they can be taken less often; improving medicines that reverse overdoses; developing new models of caring for people with opioid addiction in the healthcare and criminal justice systems; determining the best way to care for newborns in opioid withdrawal; discovering and validating new targets for non-addictive pain drugs and devices, and partnering with pharmaceutical companies to accelerate new pain and addiction medications. The $500 million will be distributed as research grants after a call for proposals later this summer.”

Major Opioids Legislation Is Taking Shape. Can It Make a Dent in a National Epidemic? STAT News

“By the end of next week, the House will have considered more than 50 bills aimed at staunching the opioid crisis. The volume ‘may well be a record for legislating on a single issue,’ Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said Tuesday on the House floor.

“The House’s work touches on most aspects of the crisis, aiming to better monitor opioid prescriptions, increase treatment funding, improve drug enforcement efforts, and provide additional support to families affected by the epidemic. But does quantity equal quality?

“On and around Capitol Hill, it depends who you ask.”

How a Businessman, After Losing a Son, Is Battling to Fix Opioid Addiction Treatment, Opioid Watch

“When his son Brian needed addiction treatment, money was never an object for Gary Mendell. A graduate of Cornell and Wharton, Mendell co-founded HEI Hotels and Resorts of Norwalk, Conn., a prosperous investment and management firm. So, over a nearly ten-year span, Brian enrolled in eight different addiction treatment programs.

Seven of them didn’t offer any of the three FDA-approved treatment medications, Mendell told Opioid Watch in a recent interview. And though one did, he continued, ‘the next one took him off it.’

“Brian committed suicide in 2011, at age 25. Mendell, now 61, founded Shatterproof in 2012.”

How America Got Hooked On a Deadly Drug, Kaiser Health News

“Purdue Pharma left almost nothing to chance in its whirlwind marketing of its new painkiller OxyContin.

“From 1996 to 2002, Purdue pursued nearly every avenue in the drug supply and prescription sales chain — a strategy now cast as reckless and illegal in more than 1,500 federal civil lawsuits from communities in Florida to Wisconsin to California that allege the drug has fueled a national epidemic of addiction.

Kaiser Health News is releasing years of Purdue’s internal budget documents and other records to offer readers a chance to evaluate how the privately held Connecticut company spent hundreds of millions of dollars to launch and promote the drug, a trove of information made publicly available here for the first time.”


Nan Goldin Survived an Overdose to Fight the Opioid Epidemic, The New York Times Style Magazine

The Sackler name can be found not just on the walls of the Smithsonian, but on dozens of buildings and wings at some of the most prestigious institutions across the world, including the Louvre Museum in Paris; the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Serpentine Galleries in London; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, the Guggenheim Museum and the Dia Art Foundation in New York; and Yale, Columbia and Harvard universities. But search for the Sackler name within Purdue Pharma’s website, marketing and research materials, and it scarcely can be found. Two recent investigative articles that Goldin read late last year — one by Christopher Glazek in Esquire and the other by Patrick Radden Keefe in The New Yorker — outline in precise detail how the Sackler fortune was built by drugs. Goldin argues that the Sacklers have laundered their reputation with their philanthropy, and that their legacy as those who have profited from helping to create the opioid crisis will eventually supersede their charitable giving in the public consciousness. “They have a chance to change the meaning of their names,” Goldin told me. She wants Purdue to direct 50 percent of its future profits to funding effective treatment, the reduction of harm, and education, and to halt the aggressive marketing of its painkillers. She also wants institutions to stop taking Sackler money.”

Massachusetts Sues OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma, Saying It 'Peddled Falsehoods', NPR

“The state of Massachusetts is taking a new step in the fight against the opioid epidemic, filing a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma that also names the OxyContin maker's executives. The suit alleges the company and 16 of its current and former directors misled doctors and patients about the risks of its opioid-based pain medications.

“‘Their strategy was simple: The more drugs they sold, the more money they made — and the more people died,’ the state's attorney general, Maura Healey, said at a news conference on Tuesday, flanked by Gov. Charlie Baker and law enforcement officials.”

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