CVS Sets Limits on Opioid Prescriptions

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CVS announced it will set limits on opioid prescriptions and add in-store disposal units for consumers so they can drop off unwanted and unused medications. CVS said it wants to ensure that opioids are being prescribed and used appropriately, consistent with guidelines for prescribing opioids set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to a company news release, CVS will limit the supply of opioids dispensed for certain acute prescriptions to seven days; limit the daily dosage of opioids dispensed based on the strength of the opioid; and require the use of immediate-release formulations of opioids before extended-release opioids are dispensed. USA Today reports the company will instruct pharmacists to contact doctors when they come across prescriptions that appear to offer more medication than would be deemed necessary for a patient’s recovery.
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FDA: Don’t Mix Opioid Addiction Medication with Anti-Anxiety Drugs

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a new warning about mixing medication to treat opioid addiction with anti-anxiety drugs. Both types of drugs slow breathing and brain activity. Combining opioid addiction medications with anti-anxiety drugs can lead to difficulty breathing, coma or death, the agency said. In addition to anti-anxiety drugs such as Valium and Xanax, other drugs that should not be combined with opioid addiction medication include Ambien and Lunesta for insomnia, muscle relaxers Soma and Zanaflex, and antipsychotic drugs Abilify, Invega, and Saphris, the Associated Press reports. Buprenorphine and methadone, also known as medication-assisted treatment, reduce opioid cravings and withdrawal without producing a high. The FDA is requiring changes to medication-assisted treatment drug labels. The new labels recommend that health care providers develop a treatment plan that closely monitors any simultaneous use of these drugs.
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Mandatory Guidelines for Urine Testing Updated

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New federal mandatory guidelines for workplace drug testing became effective on October 1, 2017, and will include the authority to test for four semi-synthetic opioids: oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone, and hydromorphone. These are prescription opioid pain medications that have commonly known names such as OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, Dilaudid, etc. These four prescription pain medications were added to the standard testing panel because data indicates that although they are prescribed, they are the prescription pain medications that are most frequently used without medical authority. However, under the revised Mandatory Guidelines, positive drug testing results that have a legitimate medical explanation (e.g., supported by a valid prescription), as determined by a Medical Review Officer (MRO), will not be reported to federal agencies. These revised Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs using Urine (UrMG) affect all federal employees in a testing designated position, which is defined by each agency’s Drug-Free Workplace Program....
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New York and New Jersey Governors Launch Efforts to Combat Addiction

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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a series of aggressive new actions to combat the fentanyl crisis in communities across New York State. In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie Allocated $200 million to fight opioid crisis in the state Governor Cuomo will advance legislation to add 11 fentanyl analogs to the state controlled substances schedule, giving law enforcement the ability to go after the dealers who manufacture and sell. To further protect New Yorkers, the Governor is also directing the New York State Department of Financial Services to take immediate action to advise insurers against placing arbitrary limits on the number of naloxone doses covered by an insurance plan. As fentanyl can be up to 50 times more powerful than heroin and it can take multiple doses of naloxone to reverse a fentanyl overdose, this new measure will ensure access to adequate doses of overdose reversal medication and save lives. In...
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Marijuana Use Is Associated With an Increased Risk of Rx Opioid Misuse and Use Disorders

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New research suggests that marijuana users may be more likely than nonusers to misuse prescription opioids and develop prescription opioid use disorder. The study was conducted by researchers at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, and Columbia University. The investigators analyzed data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, which interviewed more than 43,000 American adults in 2001-2002, and followed up with more than 34,000 of them in 2004-2005. The analysis indicated that respondents who reported past-year marijuana use in their initial interview had 2.2 times higher odds than nonusers of meeting DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for prescription opioid use disorder by the follow-up. They also had 2.6 times greater odds of initiating prescription opioid misuse, defined as using a drug without a prescription, in higher doses, for longer periods, or for other reasons than prescribed. A number of recent...
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Patient Advocacy & Health Care Orgs Launch ‘Campaign to Protect Patient Privacy Rights’

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The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence has joined more than 110 organizations in a campaign to protect patient privacy rights. Many of the nation’s leading addiction treatment, recovery, health care and advocacy organizations announced a new coordinated effort – the Campaign to Protect Patient Privacy Rights – to advocate for maintaining the confidentiality of substance use disorder (SUD) patients in the face of proposals to eradicate these essential rights. The Campaign, which includes the Legal Action Center, the American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence, AIDS United, Community Catalyst, Faces and Voices of Recovery, Facing Addiction, Harm Reduction Coalition, National Advocates for Pregnant Women, National Alliance for Medication Assisted Recovery, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence , and over 100 other patient and provider advocacy groups, has issued a set of principles to guide its advocacy and to help inform policymakers and the public on the...
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National Prescription Drug Take Back Day - October 28, 2017

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On Saturday, October 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the Drug Enforcement Administration will give the public its 14th opportunity in 7 years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked. Last April Americans turned in 450 tons (900,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at almost 5,500 sites operated by the DEA and more than 4,200 of its state and local law enforcement partners. Overall, in its 13 previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 8.1 million pounds—more than 4,050 tons—of pills. This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings...
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FDA Approves Marketing of First Mobile App to Help Treat Substance Use Disorders

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has permitted marketing of the first mobile app to help treat substance use disorders (SUD). The app is designed to be prescribed by a doctor and used along with counseling, CNBC reports. The Reset device delivers cognitive behavioral therapy to patients to teach skills that aid in the treatment of substance use disorders, the company says. These skills are “intended to increase abstinence from substance abuse and increase retention in outpatient therapy programs,” according to a news release from the FDA. The agency said the Reset device is indicated as a prescription-only adjunct treatment for patients with SUD who are not currently on opioid replacement therapy, who do not abuse alcohol solely, or whose primary substance of abuse is not opioids.
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Some Insurance Companies Restrict Access to Less Addictive Pain Medications

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Some insurance companies are restricting patients’ access to pain medicines with a lower risk of dependence or addiction, while making it easier to get generic opioid drugs, The New York Times reports. Opioids drugs are generally less expensive than safer alternatives, the article notes. The New York Times and ProPublica analyzed Medicare prescription drug plans covering 35.7 million people. They found only one-third of people had access to Butrans, a painkilling skin patch containing buprenorphine, a less-risky opioid. Every drug plan that covered lidocaine patches, which are not addictive, but are more expensive than other generic pain drugs, required that patients get prior approval for the patches. Almost all plans covered common opioids, and few plans required patients to obtain prior approval for them.
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Google Restricts Ads for Addiction Treatment

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Google has announced it is restricting ads for addiction treatment. “We found a number of misleading experiences among rehabilitation treatment centers that led to our decision,” a company spokeswoman said. Prosecutors and health advocates have warned that many online searches for addiction treatment lead people to click on ads for rehab centers that are not suited to help them, or may even endanger their lives, according to The New York Times . Many rehab centers buy ads that would come up when someone searched for phrases such as “alcohol treatment centers” or “drug rehab.” “This is a bold move by one of the world’s biggest companies, saying people’s lives are more important than profit,” said Greg Williams, co-founder of the advocacy group Facing Addiction.
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