Essential Updates: Comp Medical News for October

Welcome to this month’s edition of Comp Medical News. FDA’s refusal to approve a new opioid, poor sleep’s effect on chronic pain, and $8,000 pain creams are your headlines for October 2017.






FDA Declines to Approve New Opioid

Intellipharmaceutics International Inc. announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declined in a 22-1 vote to approve its opioid painkiller in its current form, asking for more proof of the drug’s ability to prevent abuse. Toronto-based Intellipharma’s drug, Oxycodone ER, is designed to be an abuse-deterrent version of the original oxycodone formulation OxyContin, contains a blue dye and a nasal irritant meant to help identify abusers and discourage misuse. The FDA asked Intellipharma to conduct more studies to test the abuse-deterrent qualities of the long-acting drug when used via oral and nasal methods. The agency also requested more information related to the blue dye.

Read more here.


Gun Injuries Cost U.S. $46 Billion in Lost Work and Medical Care

A new report in Health Affairs calculates the price tag for firearm injuries in America: $2.8 billion a year in American hospital charges and $46 billion a year in lost work and medical care. The researchers analyzed a nationally representative sample of patients who arrived alive in U.S. hospital emergency departments with firearm-related injuries from 2006 through 2014. More than 700,000 people sought care in emergency rooms for gunshot wounds during the nine years, they estimated. Males were nine times more likely than females to be victims of gunshot injuries, and men ages 20 to 24 were at the highest risk, the study found. Unintentional shootings led to more than one-third of the non-fatal firearm injuries.

Read more from Reuters here.


FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb Issues Statement on Patient Engagement in Agency’s Work

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hosted a new event last week: the first meeting of the Patient Engagement Advisory Committee or PEAC. It’s a significant step forward in the FDA’s efforts to broaden its engagement with patients – and to deepen the involvement of patients in regulatory activities. This is the agency’s first advisory committee that’s comprised solely of patients, care-partners, and those who represent their needs. The Committee will begin with medical devices.

Read more here.


Cigna to End OxyContin Coverage

Health insurer Cigna Corp announced that it will stop covering OxyContin, the opioid painkiller sold by Purdue Pharma LP, as of January 1st, 2018, and will instead cover an equivalent with a formulation less vulnerable to abuse. According to Reuters, the insurer has signed a “value-based contract” with Collegium Pharmaceutical Inc for Xtampza ER, an extended-release oxycodone equivalent with characteristics to prevent crushing. Under the contract, Collegium will reduce the cost of the medication for many of Cigna’s benefit plans. Cigna said the contract makes the drug maker “financially accountable” if prescriptions exceed a specific daily dose threshold.

Read more here.


Doctors, Pharmacists Named in $4.7 Million Workers’ Comp Pain Cream Lawsuit

A number of Philadelphia-area pain-management doctors, pharmacists, and related entities have been sued for prescribing $4.7 million in allegedly fraudulent pain creams – some costing nearly $8,000 per tube. According to coverage from, Liberty Mutual Insurance filed the lawsuit September 14th, in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, claiming that 18 doctors have been sending workers’ compensation patients to pharmacies in which the doctors have a financial interest. The pharmacies would then bill employers’ insurance carriers for “vast quantities” of compounded pain creams at inflated prices.

Read more here.


Poor Sleep Associated with Higher Risk of Chronic Pain

A new study from the UK suggests that poor sleep quality dramatically increases the risk of developing a chronic pain condition. Researchers found that a general decline in both the quantity and quality of hours slept led to a two to threefold increase in pain problems over time. Pain is known to prevent sleep in some cases, but this study found “that the impact of sleep on pain is often bigger than (the impact of) pain on sleep.” The research team based out of the University of Warwick and publishing in Sleep Medicine reviewed 16 studies involving more than 60,000 adults from 10 countries. Overall, sleep reductions led to impaired responses to bacteria, viruses and other foreign substances, more inflammation, higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol and other biomarkers related to pain, fatigue and poor health. Newly developed insomnia doubled the risk of a chronic pain disorder and hip fracture problems.

Read more from Reuters here.


The Late Dr. Sarno Believed Pain was Almost Entirely Psychosomatic, A Look at His Theories

Vox’s medical reporter Julia Belluz, whose recent work has focused on the changing methods of treating chronic pain in America, took a deep dive into the work of Dr. John Sarno in a new piece. She explains: “Though he may not be a household name, Sarno is probably America’s most famous back pain doctor. Before his death on June 22, a day shy of his 94th birthday, he published four books and built a cult-like following of thousands of patients – including Howard Stern, and Larry David. Many of them claim to have been healed by Sarno, who essentially argued back pain was all in people’s heads. And Sarno himself often said that some 80 percent of his patients got better.” However, Sarno’s peers were skeptical of his methods through his entire career.

Read more here.


Aeon: Look at the Brain to Treat Chronic Back Pain

A new piece in Aeon Magazine argues that patients need to focus more on the mental side of how chronic back pain operates, as opposed to physical condition. Imaging inaccuracies, surgeries, and frustration are all addressed.

Read it here.



Image Credit: Healthcare Finance



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