The rise of the opioid crisis has also coincided with a rise in trying to treat chronic pain without opioids. An interesting newcomer to this field is VR. Yes, that VR. There have already been studies showing that VR devices can be used to distract patients from acute pain and anxiety, but can they be used for chronic pain as well? The idea is that VR could be used to enhance current alternative pain management strategies, like meditation, mindfulness, and cognitive behavioral therapy. For instance, instead of being told to go home and meditate, you could be prescribed a headset and guided through breathing exercises on a virtual beach. Hook us up with some non-virtual drinks and we’re down.
Early last week, the founder of Insys Therapeutics resigned from his company’s board after being hit with racketeering and fraud charges. Essentially, the feds are alleging he and other Insys execs participated in a bribe scheme to get doctors to prescribe more of their synthetic opioid Subsys. This comes after President Trump did finally follow through on his declaration of an impending declaration of a state of emergency for the crisis. That means the US government is getting serious about a crackdown—here are some ways that could take shape. The FDA certainly didn’t mince words about getting serious either, with Commissioner Scott Gottlieb saying it would be taking actions that could be “disruptive” and “uncomfortable” for drug makers.
Remember when Michael Scott declared bankruptcy, only to learn that just shouting the word “bankruptcy” doesn’t make it official? That’s what people are telling President Trump right about now about his August “declaration” that the U.S. opioid crises is a national emergency. More than 2 months later this is yet to be made official. This writer has no idea how easy or difficult it is to make an official emergency declaration, but time is of the essence. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 33,000 Americans die each year—91 per day—from opioid overdoses. For context, about 41,000 American soldiers were KIA in all the years of the Vietnam War. Sure, POTUS has some big fish to fry but it’s probably time to jump on some paperwork.
CVS has announced a new policy to help curb the opioid crisis. According to NBC News, the pharmacy giant will now supply a maximum of 7 days of pills to patients prescribed the highly addictive medicine. According to a recent study conducted by the CDC, the average number of days for an opioid prescription rose to nearly 18 in 2015 compared to about 13 days in 2006—so CVS capping their dispensing at 7 days is a big deal. That feels a bit like saying, “if you really want to abuse opioids, you’re gonna have to make two trips to the drug store.” Nothing like more time in traffic to make you want to swallow a fistful of Vicodin.
Just days after declaring his administration would throw law enforcement resources at the opioid crisis, The Donald referred to the crisis as a national emergency. According to an article by NPR, that stops juuuust a bit short of an official declaration of emergency status, which would carry with it access to specific legal authorities and access to government coffers for a more wide-spread, wholistic approach to dealing with the crisis. The President has indicated the official designation is forthcoming. This is significant. National emergency status has historically been used for things like natural disasters (i.e., hurricanes) and communicable diseases (i.e., the Zika virus). Here’s a list of declared U.S. public health emergencies. Once official, expect states like Ohio and New Hampshire—among the hardest hit—to seek federal funds for help.
If you don’t get that reference, you’re doing TV / life wrong. A report from The Globe and Mail states that Canada’s federal government is considering action against U.S.-based Purdue Pharma over “potentially illegal activities in the marketing of OxyContin in Canada.” InsightCity covered instances of U.S. states going after Purdue (see Ohio and Washington), but a neighboring country’s federal government getting involved means the trouble is far from over. In 2007, Purdue paid out $634.5 million in the U.S. to settle similar charges, and the Canadian government wants a similar outcome for their opioid crisis dating back 21 years. As in Westeros, there’s a situation brewing with the neighbors in The North. New episode of Thrones this Sunday at 9pm…HBO, give me free stuff.