Articles Posted in Addiction

Mallinckrodtlogo-300x137Even as the opioid abuse and drug overdose crisis worsens and breaks annual records for its resulting death toll, the reckoning for parties blamed for fostering the national nightmare is grinding forward.

A federal judge in Cleveland has begun hearing arguments whether three giant pharmacy chains should be fined billions of dollars after a jury in November found them culpable for damages they caused in two Ohio counties in the opioid mess.

And new disclosures are emerging regarding bankrupt drug maker Mallinckrodt, which federal officials have described as the “the kingpin within the drug cartel” of legitimate companies driving the opioid epidemic.

newportsFederal regulators say they soon will ban the manufacture, distribution, and retail and wholesale selling of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, an action expected to take effect in a year or two and which anti-smoking advocates argue could save hundreds of thousands of lives of black and young Americans.

The Food and Drug Administration says the best available evidence argues powerfully for its planned ban, which some opponents have flipped as risky for one of the biggest groups that researchers say will benefit: African Americans.

Big Tobacco has targeted black consumers for decades, getting them and young people addicted to powerful nicotine by pushing the soothing effect of mint-derived menthol on the harshness of cigarette smoke, as the Washington Post reported:

dcpolicetweet-300x214The opioid abuse and drug overdose crisis has veered into a frightening new phase in which the rise of the easy-to-make, exceedingly powerful synthetic painkiller fentanyl is causing multiple, interconnected deaths at one time.

The nation’s capital already has experienced this grim situation, which only shows signs of worsening, the Washington Post reported on April 12:

“Ten people in two neighborhoods in Northeast Washington have now died from a lethal batch of fentanyl, police said .. the second mass-casualty incident involving the deadly opioid in the District this year. Police said at least 17 people overdosed on cocaine laced with fentanyl in Trinidad and Ivy City from [April 9-11] and seven of them survived. In January, nine people died after taking a similar concoction in a neighborhood near Nationals Park. Authorities arrested two people in that case and said they do not believe the most recent incidents are connected to the earlier overdoses.”

boozeabuse-150x150Alcohol abuse blew up from a rising concern to a significant killer during the coronavirus pandemic, with 100,000 Americans losing their lives to booze-related causes, a 25% increase year-over-year in the first 12 months of the global infection’s outbreak.

The figures from research newly published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows the lethal damage caused by the pandemic, not only directly by the 1 million-plus deaths blamed on the virus but also in its closely linked menaces.

blueberryicepuffbar-179x300Grownups have gotten stark reminders why they must stay vigilant against buck-raking enterprises that exploit young people’s experimentation with intoxicants. Even as Congress has shut a legal loophole used by the vaping industry to keep addicting its customers to harmful nicotine, other dealers are pushing candy-like marijuana edibles on youths.

In passing a $1.5 trillion bill to keep funding the federal government, lawmakers on Capitol Hill also extended the authority of the federal Food and Drug Administration to regulate not only nicotine from tobacco but also its synthetic varieties.

This was not an esoteric matter of chemistry or pharmacology. It became a flashpoint between regulators anxious to crackdown on harmful vaping and vendors who tweaked their products, so customers could get potent, addictive jolts from nicotine  purportedly was made in a lab. This, vendors claimed, put their vaping devices — notably the pen-like “Puff Bar” that surged in popularity among youths — beyond FDA oversight.

blamehearingoxytscott-300x197Three members of a plutocratic clan finally got a direct, bitter earful from those who suffered grievous harms from the opioid crisis which was fostered, critics say, by their family business — Purdue Pharmaceutical and its powerful prescription painkiller OxyContin.

As part of prospective $10 billion settlement of thousands of lawsuits by states, counties, cities, Indian tribes, and individuals against Purdue, members of the Sackler family have, at long last, expressed “regret” about the opioids crisis, for which they also emphatically deny any responsibility.

But they also agreed that a federal bankruptcy judge would conduct an unusual hearing at which claimants could confront the family. The Sacklers listened at the session to the speakers, as agreed upon, without comment. The family members, as the Associated Press reported, were:

oxycontin-150x150A plutocratic clan has upped its ante by $1.5 billion in an apparently successful bet that using bankruptcy courts, mediation, and offering to settle giant claims in the opioid abuse and drug overdose crisis will be cheaper and less risky than battling on with thousands of plaintiffs seeking billions of dollars more.

Members of the Sackler family, thus, may elude still the harshest possible reckoning that they have fought tooth and nail to avoid — losing maximum amounts of the fortune they amassed through their company, Purdue Pharmaceutical, and its potent, path-blazing painkiller OxyContin, and getting held personally liable in the civil system in a public health nightmare that has claimed 500,000 lives in a decade.

(Family members would not be free of potential criminal charges, though experts have long said these would be difficult to press.)

jJlogo-300x139States, counties, and cities within weeks could start to receive desperately needed money to battle the deadly opioid abuse and overdose crisis as part of a newly finalized, $26 billion settlement with the largest distributors of prescription medications and a onetime maker of powerful painkillers.

Janssen, one of the distributors, and the pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson will pay $5 billion a year for nine years as part of the deal struck in the summer and approved by plaintiffs in the case, according to the New York Times. The other three distributors — McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen —will pay a combined $21 billion over 18 years.

Under the settlement, 85% of these payouts will cover addiction treatment and prevention efforts aimed at quelling the opioid crisis. It has claimed an estimated 500,000 American lives over a decade. It worsened during the coronavirus pandemic, killing an estimated 100,000 Americans last year and setting disconcerting new fatality records, especially with the rise of synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Those drugs, which criminals are lacing into their wares, including marijuana, are extremely potent at even tiny doses.

pillslotsa-150x150As the opioid abuse and drug overdose crisis rages, experts — after decades now of experience with powerful painkillers — continue to struggle with their proper handling and prescribing.

The federal Centers for Disease Control, on the one hand, has softened its earlier tough guidelines on the medications, while a  top government commission assailed the spiking U.S. overdose deaths and called synthetic opioids like fentanyl and the damage they cause a threat to the “national security and well-being.”

The U.S. Supreme Court also is scheduled to consider when doctors cross a line and act in criminal fashion in prescribing drugs — a professional privilege with wide latitude. The justices, in taking up this issue, consolidated two criminal appeals from doctors whom federal authorities convicted of running pill mills or distributing drugs resulting in death.

jJlogo-300x139No matter how wrong-headed critics may assail the civil justice system, Native Americans have clear evidence that liability lawsuits really do work. For hundreds of tribes and their members, the pursuit of  justice in the courts soon will help remedy the disproportionate damage they suffered at Big Pharma’s hands in the still-raging opioid abuse and drug overdose crisis.

As major media organizations have reported, indigenous communities reached a tentative $590 million settlement with Johnson & Johnson and the nation’s three largest drug distributors: McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen.

J&J denied any wrongdoing, while the others either declined to comment or emphasized that the settlement — atop an earlier deal by the companies with the Cherokee Nation for $75 million — will provide big urgently needed sums to help Native people and communities struggling with the drug addicted and debilitated. The companies, in contrast to other cases in which they are involved, have said they will speed payments to plaintiffs. As the New York Times reported:

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