Essential Updates: Comp Medical News for August 2018

Welcome to this month’s edition of Comp Medical News. Marijuana, standing desks, opioids, and depression are your headlines for August 2018.


Rival Pharmaceutical Companies Capitalize on OxyContin Fears

Purdue Pharma, the company that manufactures OxyContin and has faced intense criticism for its marketing techniques, is under fire again. According to several Kaiser Health News reports, newly public Purdue marketing documents show that the company was aware of its peers’ efforts to market their equally dangerous products (like Janssen Pharma’s Duragesic fentanyl patches) as safer alternatives to OxyContin. In the early 2000s, the FDA warned Purdue about overstating OxyContin’s effectiveness and safety for non-cancer pain, and also warned Janssen for marketing its patch as a safe alternative. KHN says that both companies cashed in on patients at either end of the effectiveness versus safety spectrum with misleading tactics.

Read more here.


Two Pharmaceutical Companies Sue Websites Over Opioid Crisis

Two pharmaceutical companies, Endo International and Mallinckrodt, are suing illegal websites and their operators, claiming that those sites, not their products, are actually responsible for the bulk of the opioid crisis. According to Bloomberg, the defendants are a host of convicted drug dealers and Internet sites. Among them: RxCash.Biz, which offers misbranded opioids online; an Italian man indicted for of operating pill mills; and a Tennessee resident who is serving 10 years for possessing fentanyl with an intent to distribute. The case is widely seen as an effort from Big Pharma to limit its perceived role in the opioid crisis and head off federal and municipal lawsuits some companies face for their marketing practices.

Read more via Insurance Journal here.


Study: Manager Support of Employees with Depression Decreases Absenteeism

A recent study with data from 15 countries and published in BMJ Open, reveals that managers that reach out to employees with depression instead of avoiding them enjoy better employee attendance and engagement. The authors analyzed a database of surveys done across an economically diverse range of countries: Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, the UK and the U.S. They looked at workers who had been previously diagnosed with depression, manager attitudes about discussing depression, work performance measures such as absenteeism, and country-level effects such as gross domestic product (GDP) as a sign of economic prosperity.

Read more from Reuters here.


Convertible Standing Desks Reduce Sitting by Over an Hour a Day

A review of research on reducing sedentary time in office settings shows that convertible standing desks (sit-stand desks) reduce sitting time by an average of 84 to 116 minutes a day, compared with traditional desks designed to be used only with chairs. The lead study author noted that the ideal amount of accumulated time for employees in sedentary jobs to be spending sitting or walking was two hours, and up to four when possible.

Read more from Reuters here.


Online Survey: American Perception of Marijuana’s Benefits Outstrip Reality

A report in the Annals of Internal Medicine discussing a nationally representative online survey of 16,280 U.S. adults found that many ascribe health benefits to marijuana that haven’t been proven. There is decent evidence that medical marijuana can treat seizures in children with hard to treat epilepsy, reduce nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, and soothe nerve pain. However, Americans generally think of it as a cure-all. In particular, 36.9 percent and 29.2 percent thought marijuana edibles or smoking/vaping marijuana could prevent illness, respectively. A full seven percent thought marijuana was safe during pregnancy, and 22.4 percent thought it had no addictive potential.

Read more from Reuters here.


Marijuana Legalization Found to Reduce Opioid Rx

Two studies recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine conclude that the enactment of medical marijuana laws has resulted in lower opioid prescribing rates in the United States, though causation is unclear. The first study examined a potential association between state medical marijuana and opioid prescribing in the Medicare Part D population, using data from 2010 to 2015. That study found that dispensaries coincided with a 14.4 percent reduction in opioid prescribing.

The second study examined the potential association of medical and recreational marijuana laws and opioid prescribing for Medicaid enrollees. This study found a 5.9 percent lower rate of opioid prescribing with state implementation of medical marijuana laws, whereas the implementation of recreational marijuana laws was linked to a 6.4percent lower rate of opioid prescribing.

Read more from Pain Medicine News here.



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