Essential Updates: Comp Medical News for March 2017

Welcome to this month’s edition of Comp Medical News. Overdose deaths in Orleans Parish, hospital waste, and the link between poor diet and a wide range of chronic disease are your headlines.




Orleans Parish Coroner Urges Reforms as Drug-Related Deaths Outpace Homicides

Dr. Jeffrey Rouse, Orleans Parish Coroner, spoke to WWL-TV recently to discuss drug-related deaths in New Orleans, which have risen again this year. Dr. Rouse noted that: “This is likely the first time that drug-related deaths have surpassed homicides in the history of New Orleans.” While deaths were seen across demographic groups, 80 percent were males, and African-American deaths jumped the most, from 28 percent to 45 percent. Opioids or fentanyl were involved in most of the overdoses, and multiple drug toxicity was common.

Read/watch more here.


U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill Investigating Opioid Drugmakers

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) is seeking details from the nation’s top opioid pharmacy companies on their sales and marketing practices, as lawmakers step up efforts to tackle the country’s deadly opioid crisis. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 91 Americans die from opioid abuse every day, and those numbers have prompted lawmakers to probe drug companies for improper activity. “This epidemic is the direct result of a calculated sales and marketing strategy major opioid manufacturers have allegedly pursued over the past 20 years to expand their market share,” McCaskill, the top Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, wrote in a letter to the drugmakers. McCaskill asked Johnson & Johnson, Mylan NV, Purdue Pharma, Insys Therapeutics Inc and Depomed Inc for internal estimates of the risk of abuse, addiction and overdose of opioids.

Read more from Reuters here.


Pre-Surgery Opioid Use Can Lead to Higher Costs, Complications

A new study published in the Annals of Surgery suggests that doctors should focus more on patients who were taking opioid medicines before their operations, rather than just on prescribing opioids post-surgery. People who received prescriptions for opioid painkillers in the months before elective abdominal operations had longer hospital stays, and a higher chance of needing follow-up care in a hospital or rehabilitation facility, than patients who weren’t taking such medications before they had the same operations, the study finds. The extra care translated into higher costs for their post-surgery care – double or triple the amount, with higher opioid doses associated with higher costs.

Read more via Insurance Journal here.


Naloxone Spray Shows “Real-World” Efficacy

A survey conducted with police and community organizations describing real-world experiences and outcomes using the FDA-approved naloxone 4-mg nasal spray formulation (Narcan) shows efficacy similar to intramuscular formulations. Led by George Avetian, a family physician in Upper Darby, PA, the study examined the outcomes of 261 attempted opioid-related overdose reversals reported by first responders and community health organizations. The study found that of the 261 attempted reversals, 245 recorded a known clinical outcome. Of the reported outcomes, 98.8 percent of the attempted opioid-related overdose reversals were reported to be successful.

Read more from Pain Medicine News here.


ProPublica: Hospitals Waste Massive Amounts of Usable Equipment

A new series by ProPublica assessing the impact of “wasted health care dollars” has uncovered an epidemic of suitable equipment like IV bags and catheters ending up in landfills. According to the piece, in 2012, the National Academy of Medicine estimated that the U.S. health care system squandered $765 billion a year, more than the entire budget of the Defense Department. Reporter Marshall Allen and photographer Tristan Spinski focused on the work of a nonprofit in Maine called Partners for World Health, which collects unused equipment and supplies in several warehouses and ships it out to countries in need.

Read the entire story here.


Ten Foods are Tied to Nearly Half of U.S. Deaths from Lifestyle Disease

A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that about 45 percent of deaths from three major causes of death in 2012 (heart attack, stroke, and type 2 diabetes) could be blamed on people eating too much or too little of ten types of foods. The identified foods were: sodium, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, unprocessed red meats, processed meats, polyunsaturated fats like soybean or corn oils, seafood omega-3 fats and sugar-sweetened beverages. According to the researchers, which hailed from Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, too much sodium was tied to 66,508 deaths and not enough nuts and seeds was tied to 59,374 deaths. Further, too much processed meat was tied to 57,766 deaths, too little fatty fish to 54,626 deaths, and too few vegetables to 53,410 deaths. There were also 52,547 deaths attributed to too little fruit and 51,695 deaths tied to too many sugar-sweetened beverages.

Further details here.


Experts Urge Tougher Potency Regulations as Legal Marijuana Industry Grows

A panel speaking in London this month said that more regulations governing allowable amounts of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) should be in place to decrease the risk of psychosis and increase the drug’s therapeutic effects. According to Reuters, scientific evidence suggests that CBD partially neutralizes the potent effect of THC, including reducing paranoia or memory loss – and experts say this is why oils and other high potency cannabis products are linked to a higher psychosis. Some U.S. states do not regulate potency at all, and labelling can be imprecise. Some policymakers in the Netherlands and Uruguay have suggested capping THC content to 15 percent. Alternative options might include taxing cannabis according to its THC content.

Read more here.



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