Essential Updates: Comp Medical News for November

Welcome to this month’s edition of Comp Medical News. Action on medical devices, workplace bullying, and a local pill mill are your headlines for November 2018.







New Orleans Doctor Sentenced in Pill Mill Case

A physician whose clinic was previously based in New Orleans East was sentenced to two and a half years in federal prison earlier this month for her role in illegally dispensing opioids to people without medical need. The doctor pled guilty last year to “conspiring to dispense the drugs outside the scope of her professional practice.” According to | The Times-Picayune, the 45-year-old conspired with a longtime advisor to Klansman David Duke to provide prescriptions for cash at the Axcess Medical Clinic on Lake Forest Boulevard.

Read more here.


Research Suggests Invasive Procedures for Chronic Pain Not Effective

A new systematic review with meta-analysis in the journal Pain Medicine has found that invasive procedures had “little evidence” to back them versus sham procedures in managing chronic pain. The authors noted that the procedures are becoming more common as patients and physicians seek to avoid opioid use. The review consisted of 25 randomized sham-controlled trials encompassing 2,000 participants. The seven conditions assessed were low back pain (seven trials), osteoarthritis of the knee (four trials), angina (four trials), abdominal pain (three trials), endometriosis (three trials), biliary colic (two trials) and migraine (two trials).

Read more from Pain Medicine News here.


Expansion Laws Have Not Increased Access to Naloxone in Drugstores

Many U.S. states have passed laws allowing drugstore pharmacies to dispense naloxone, the opioid reversal drug, without a prescription. However, many do not have it in stock. A report from Reuters found that in California, where naloxone could be dispensed over the counter since 2016, less than a quarter of pharmacies had the drug in stock. In Texas, 69 percent had it in stock. Disparities in insurance coverage are another obstacle. With insurance, brand name Narcan nasal spray is usually available without a co-pay, whereas uninsured patients may pay over a hundred dollars for two doses.

Read more here.


FDA Touts Improvements in Medical Device Oversight in New Report

The FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health issued a new Medical Device Enforcement and Quality Report that details several key findings. First, the FDA has increased its oversight through additional device inspections. Since 2007, the FDA has increased its annual number of device inspections by 46 percent and has increased annual inspections of foreign firms by 243 percent. The FDA has also helped establish the Medical Device Single Audit Program to allow for the conduction of a single audit of a medical device manufacturer’s quality management system on behalf of multiple countries. Second, the FDA has taken a targeted risk-based approach to addressing concerns with specific devices. The report also includes case studies and data on increases in voluntary recalls since the changes.

Read more here.


Workplace Bullying Tied to Heart Problems

A new study from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark found that workers exposed to bullying, especially when that bullying becomes violent, face a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Researchers assessed survey results from 79,000 workers, men and women, ages 19 to 65 with no history of heart disease. Nine percent reported violence on the job, and 13 percent reported bullying. After 12 years, four percent suffered a cardiovascular event and/or were diagnosed with heart disease. Bullying increased the likelihood of being in that four percent cohort by 59 percent, and violence by 25 percent. It is unclear whether the increase in risk is due to the workplace issues in and of themselves, or if it is due to behaviors leading from those stressors, such as poor diet and smoking.

Read more from Reuters here.


Insys Executive to Plead Guilty in Opioid Kickbacks Case

The Vice President of Sales for the Arizona-based Insys Pharmaceuticals, long embroiled in a legal battle over its opioid marketing practices, is expected to plead guilty this week on racketeering charges. The executive’s plea deal would put him at odds with his six co-defendants, all of whom have pled not guilty in response to an alleged bribery scheme. The U.S. Justice Department claims in its indictment that Insys paid kickbacks to doctors to prescribe Subsys, a fentanyl spray, often via speaker fees meant to “educate doctors” but actually meant to boost sales and pressure insurers into paying for the drug.

Read more from Reuters here.


Editorial: Conventional Wisdom that Opioid Withdrawal is Not Deadly is Wrong

In an editorial penned for MedPage Today, prison physician Jeffrey E. Keller, MD, argues that in today’s opioid crisis, the long held idea that opioid withdrawal is not fatal (compared to alcohol and benzodiazepine withdrawal) is false. He explains in part:

“When heroin addicts are young and otherwise healthy, it is probably true that most can weather the storm of withdrawal. But, in fact, not all heroin addicts in the modern era are young. I’ve seen heroin users in their 50s and 60s. And not all of them are healthy – even the young ones. Are you going to tell me that opioid withdrawal cannot be fatal in a 55-year-old addict who also has coronary artery disease and diabetes? Or even that a young but debilitated and malnourished young patient cannot be pushed over the edge by a nasty bout of cold-turkey opioid withdrawal?”

Read more here.


Image Credit: One Medical


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