Cigna Will Stop Covering OxyContin in Effort to Reduce Inappropriate Use

Health insurer Cigna announced this week it will stop covering the prescription opioid OxyContin in an effort to reduce inappropriate use of the drug. Instead it will cover an equivalent drug less vulnerable to being misused.

The alternate drug is Xtampza ER, made by Collegium Pharmaceutical Inc. Xtampza ER cannot be made more fast-acting through cutting or crushing, Cigna said. The change will go into effect January 1, 2018, Reuters reports.

Full story at drugfree.org

Study pokes holes in fetal alcohol hypothesis

A new study published in the journal Brain Behavior and Immunity appears to challenge the theory that cells in the brain’s immune system are the culprit behind the neurological damage that occurs in children exposed to alcohol while in the womb.

“In order to develop treatments for this condition, we must first understand how alcohol affects the developing brain,” said Ania Majewska, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) and lead author of the study. “While the hypothesis that dysfunctional immune cells play a role in fetal alcohol syndrome is logical and enticing, it appears that this idea may be a scientific dead end.”

Exposure to alcohol in the womb can lead to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), a condition that causes lifelong physical and cognitive impairments, and for which there is no available treatment. The symptoms suffered by individuals with FASD can range from poor impulse control and attention, learning disabilities, compromised fine motor skills, and delays in the ability of the brain to process visual and auditory information. FASD is diagnosed in about one out of every 100 babies born in the U.S.

Full story at Science Daily

Tobacco smokers could gain 86 million years of life if they switch to vaping, study finds

Up to 6.6 million cigarette smokers will live substantially longer if cigarette smoking is replaced by vaping over a ten-year period, calculates a research team led by investigators from Georgetown Lombardi Cancer Center. In all, cigarette smokers who switch to e-cigarettes could live 86.7 million more years with policies that encourage cigarette smokers to switch completely to e-cigarettes.

Published in the journal Tobacco Control, the first study to model public health outcomes if cigarette smoking was replaced by e-cigarettes “supports a policy strategy that encourages replacing cigarette smoking with vaping to yield substantial life year gains,” says the study’s lead author David Levy, PhD, professor of oncology at Georgetown Lombardi.

Full story at Science Daily

Quantum Units Education: New CEU Courses

Telehealth Challenges and Opportunities

Bridging the gap between rural and urban behavioral health services involves addressing many complex barriers and developing creative solutions to complex challenges that are often unique to rural areas.  This CEU course looks at common acceptability, availability, and accessibility barriers to mental and substance use disorder treatment and services in rural communities and presents ways telehealth can help surmount some of these barriers.

Substance Abuse Treatment and LGBT Cultural Competence

As lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals become more accepted and visible, they are seeking culturally sensitive, if not culturally specific, substance abuse treatment services.  This CE course discusses administrative policies and procedures for serving LGBT clients, training and educational issues related to serving LGBT clients, and how to monitor and assess efforts to improve quality.

Scabies Protocol in Prison Populations

This CEU course provides recommended procedures for detection, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of scabies in the correctional setting.

Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit (Updated)

Opioid overdose continues to be a major public health problem in the United States.  This CEU course discusses the essential steps for first responders and provides information for prescribers, patients, and family members.

For more on these new courses and many more, visit Quantum Units Education

Defining optimal opioid pain medication prescription length following surgery

A new study led by researchers at the Center for Surgery and Public Health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital analyzed opioid prescription data from the Department of Defense Military Health System Data Repository, identifying more than 200,000 opioid-naïve individuals who had undergone one of eight common surgical procedures between 2006 and 2014 and were subsequently prescribed opioid pain medication. Their findings appear in JAMA Surgery as a featured article for the week of Sept. 27.

Every day, more than 90 Americans die after overdosing on opioids, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Misuse of and addiction to opioids has become a public health crisis with more than 2 million Americans suffering from substance abuse issues related to prescription opioid pain medication. While over-prescription of pain medications has been implicated as a driver of this growing opioid epidemic, few guidelines exist on how to appropriately prescribe opioid pain medication following surgery with the goal of balancing pain with risk of addiction. There have been several recent governmental efforts to address the rise in opioid pain medication prescriptions, which quadrupled between 1999 and 2012. In Mass. and New York, legislation has limited initial prescription lengths to less than seven days and driven the development of drug monitoring programs.

Full story at Science Daily