Welcome to this month’s edition of Comp Medical News. Trendy cannabidiol, new medication for low back pain, and opioids are your headlines for October 2018.
Better Insurance Coverage of Non-Drug Therapies Could Relieve Opioid Crisis
Researchers in JAMA wrote that wide variations in insurance coverage for non-drug therapies for low back pain make it difficult to promote alternatives to opioids. The authors further found that insurers in Medicare and commercial plans alike often provide little or no coverage for evidence-backed interventions for chronic pain such as acupuncture and psychological counseling.
Read more from Reuters here.
CBD is Enjoying a Moment, But is it Effective?
A recent New York Times feature investigates the rise of cannabidiol (CBD) in various forms. CBD is a supposed “health tonic” that unlike THC, is a derivative of the cannabis plant that does not cause acute intoxication. The rise of CBD products (which include everything from medical-grade oils to candy and bath bombs) spans generations. Author Alex Williams links the popularity to a cultural obsession with wellness and signaling wellness, as well as the tumultuous political climate.
Read more here.
A Commercial Opioid 10 Times Stronger than Fentanyl on the Table
The medical community is debating a new commercial opioid in tablet form that contains a small amount of sufentanil called Dsuvia. Sufentanil has been around as an IV drug for years, but the manufacturer says that the tablet form will help reduce accidental overdoses in hospitals. Opponents of FDA approval of the product (which was achieved in the 10-3 vote October 12th) believe that the tablets could be easily diverted and add fuel to the opioid crisis fire.
Read more from HealthLine here.
FDA Announces New Opioid Advisory Committee
The FDA announced an upcoming two-day advisory committee meeting in December to solicit input and advice on strategies to increase the availability of naloxone products intended for use in the community. At this meeting, FDA will ask external advisors from the FDA’s Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Products and the Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committees to consider various options for increasing access to naloxone. They will help consider logistical, economic and harm reduction aspects of different strategies. They will consider whether naloxone should be co-prescribed with all or some opioid prescriptions to reduce the risk of overdose death.
Read more here.
Opioid Combo Drug for Depression Considered
The FDA will consider a new buprenorphine/samidorphan drug this week that is designed to harness the opioid system to treat severe depression. The drug is intended to be used as adjunctive therapy to established antidepressants, will be voted on by the FDA Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee and the Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee. Buprenorphine is an opioid that is frequently used as a medication assisted therapy for opioid addiction. If approved by the FDA, the oral buprenorphine/samidorphan combination would be the first in an entirely new class of drugs for major depressive disorder.
Read more from MedPage Today here.
Higher Doses of Opioids Linked to Lower Pain Satisfaction Score
Researchers at Duke University have found that patients on significant opioid doses at the time of hospital admission consistently report worse pain management scores than do control subjects. Nearly all hospitals use the national Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey to determine patient experiences, controlling pain is a significant part of the survey. The researchers revealed in the paper that in these scores there was a dose-dependent relationship between patient satisfaction and opioid dose at the time of admission – the fewer opioids the patient was using at admission, the better their satisfaction with pain control.
Read more from Pain Medicine News here.