OxyContin Maker Files for Bankruptcy

Purdue Pharma, the company that makes the opioid painkiller OxyContin, has filed for bankruptcy, CNN reports.

The filing is part of the company’s plan to settle litigation involving more than 2,000 cases brought by states, counties, municipalities and Native American governments. The plaintiffs in those cases say Purdue Pharma fueled the opioid epidemic. Under the settlement, the company will provide more than $10 billion in funding to address the opioid crisis.

Purdue also plans to create a company called NewCo, which will produce medicines to reverse overdoses, and will continue to develop an over-the-counter version of naloxone at little to no cost to communities across the country, according to a company statement.

Full story at Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma Agrees to Tentative Opioid Lawsuit Settlement

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma has reached a tentative settlement worth billions of dollars to resolve thousands of lawsuits brought by state and local governments who sued the drug company for its role in the opioid epidemic.

At least 16 state attorneys general said they have not agreed to the deal, NBC News reports.

Under the proposed settlement, the Sackler family, which owns Purdue, would give up control of the company, which would declare bankruptcy. Future revenue from the sale of OxyContin would go into a trust designed to assist communities hard hit by the opioid crisis.

Full story at Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

Racial disparities in prescribing opioids for chronic pain

Yale researchers have identified racial disparities in the treatment of patients who are prescribed opioids for chronic pain. Black patients who receive opioids long-term are more likely than whites to be tested for illicit drug use. Of those who test positive, blacks are more likely to have their opioid prescriptions discontinued, said the researchers.

More than 40% of opioid overdose deaths in the United States are attributed to prescription opioid painkillers such as Oxycontin and Percocet. Efforts to curb the crisis have focused in part on limiting opioid overprescribing. Less attention has been paid to how providers monitor and treat patients once opioids are initiated.

The Yale-led research team analyzed data from the electronic health records of more than 15,000 patients who received opioids from the Veterans Administration between 2000 and 2010. The researchers reviewed whether patients were screened for illicit drug use after starting opioids, which is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They also looked at whether opioids were discontinued in those who tested positive for either marijuana or cocaine.

Full story at Science Daily

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

American Indian Tribal Leaders Meet With Justice Department About Opioid Epidemic

The U.S. Justice Department is scheduled to meet with American Indian tribal leaders from northern New Mexico about the opioid epidemic, the Associated Press reports.

Opioid addiction has had a large impact on American Indian communities across the country, the article notes. A survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found use of heroin and OxyContin among American Indian students was about two to three times higher than the national averages from 2009 to 2012.

Full story on American Indian tribes and opioid epidemic at drugfree.org