Welcome to this month’s Comp Medical News update. Suicide, kratom worries, and a potential non-profit drug company are your headlines for September.
FDA Issues Another Warning about Kratom Marketing
The FDA issued another warning about kratom and kratom manufacturers and distributors. Kratom is often marketed as a “natural” product to assist with a variety of serious ailments including opioid use disorder and its attendant withdrawal symptoms. The FDA singled out two companies – Chillin Mix Kratom and Mitra Distributing – and the claims on their packaging as examples of violations of federal law. The labels say that kratom products can assist in the treatment of addiction, depression, diabetes, obesity, alcoholism and other diseases, without appropriate evidence.
Read the FDA statement here.
New England Journal of Medicine: Suicide Accounts for Higher Percentage of Opioid Deaths than Previously Believed
A new study authored by Maria A. Oquendo, MD, the chair of the Psychiatry Department in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, and Nora D. Volkow, MD, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, estimated that 20 percent to 30 percent of the 42,000 opioid overdose deaths reported in 2016 by the CDC were likely by suicide. Part of the problem with categorizing suicides by drug intoxication is that, unlike gunshots or hanging, it can be unclear whether the overdose was intentional. The authors suggest that to remedy the misclassification, overdose and suicidal behaviors must not be artificially separated.
Read more from Pain Medicine News here.
Researchers Suggest that Surgery for Chronic Pain is Unjustified
A group of researchers report in Pain Medicine that evidence does not support surgeries to relieve chronic pain. The review of 25 clinical trials involved 2,000 patients with conditions including lower back pain, arthritis, angina, abdominal pain, and endometriosis. The researchers compared outcomes for invasive procedures and “sham procedures” (i.e. placebo surgeries). The actual procedures had a 12 percent adverse events, whereas the sham procedures had a 4 percent complication rate. The authors state that the risks for chronic pain surgeries are too high and more clinical trials should be conducted.
Read more MedPage Today here.
Non-Profit Drug Company Could be a Reality as Mayo Clinic and Others Invest
A range of health organizations, Intermountain Healthcare, the Mayo Clinic, five other health systems, and three foundations have officially launched Civica Rx, a non-profit drug company aimed at helping hospitals buy drugs at lower, more predictable prices. According to MedPage Today, the organizations represent over 500 hospitals. Civica Rx reportedly will start with 14 generic drugs and either subcontract manufacturing or produce the generics themselves.
Read more here.
EHS Today: Employee Addiction is a Delicate Matter
As the opioid crisis continues to wage war on American workplaces, human resources and safety officers recommend focusing the difficult conversation of substance abuse between employers and employees on performance, not self-definition. Key legal facts to note in terms of workplace policy include:
- Alcoholics, but not illicit substance users, are often protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- Rehab is usually covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
- Unionized workforces have different rules for “just cause” termination.
Read more here.
Editorial: Too Early for Trump Administration to Celebrate in Opioid Epidemic
An editorial by Ryan Hampton for Vice’s health news site Tonic takes the Trump administration to task for what he believes is its celebration for minor efforts. Hampton writes:
“Instead of taking credit for ‘progress,’ Trump needs to treat the drug epidemic like the public health emergency he said it was almost a year ago. We need a plan to save lives, not a participation trophy.”
Read more here.