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Thread: The Opiod Crisis

  1. #76
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    One of the Leaders of the Opioid Abuse scandal has been convicted for corruption

    Former billionaire and pharmaceutical executive John Kapoor has been sentenced to five years and six months in prison. His sentencing is the culmination of a months-long criminal trial in Boston's Moakley U.S. Courthouse that resulted in the first successful prosecution of pharmaceutical executives tied to the opioid epidemic.

    The 76-year-old is the founder of Insys Therapeutics, which made and aggressively marketed the potent opioid painkiller Subsys.

    Kapoor's 66-month prison term is substantially less than the 15-year sentence recommended by federal prosecutors, but it is more than the one year requested by Kapoor's defense attorneys, who maintained the executive's innocence and stressed his old age as reason for a short prison sentence.

    U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs explained that she reached the lesser sentence after considering Kapoor's advanced age and philanthropy, as well as "his central role in the crime," The Associated Press reported.

    Kapoor and four other executives were found guilty last year of orchestrating a criminal conspiracy to bribe doctors to prescribe the company's medication, including to patients who didn't need it. They then lied to insurance companies to make sure the costly oral fentanyl spray was covered.

    The painkiller, which was intended for cancer patients, could cost as much as $19,000 a month.

    Two other executives pleaded guilty and became cooperating witnesses.

    The other executives received between one year and 33 months, significantly less than many of the prison terms recommended by the federal prosecutors.

    Opioid Executive John Kapoor Found Guilty In Landmark Bribery Case
    Opioid Executive John Kapoor Found Guilty In Landmark Bribery Case
    Earlier on Thursday, Insys sales chief Alec Burlakoff was sentenced to 26 months in prison for his role in the bribery and fraud scheme.

    "This was an offense of greed," Burroughs said before sentencing Burlakoff.

    The sales executive hired a stripper as a Subsys sales representative to help persuade doctors to boost prescriptions. The woman, named Sunrise Lee, eventually was promoted to oversee a third of the company's sales force.

    "I didn't think of who we were at Insys and how unethical what we were doing was," he told the judge on Thursday, according to Bloomberg. "The only thing I could think was how could I keep up with the fast and furious pace necessary to get ahead."

    Opioid-Maker Insys Admits To Bribing Doctors, Agrees To Pay $225 Million Settlement
    Opioid-Maker Insys Admits To Bribing Doctors, Agrees To Pay $225 Million Settlement
    For the federal government, this was a landmark trial in which corporate executives were charged under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, a charge often reserved for mob bosses and drug lords. Experts saw the trial as sending a message to drug companies that they will be held criminally accountable for their alleged role in fueling the opioid crisis.

    "I think this is just the tip of the iceberg," said Brad Bailey, a former federal prosecutor and current defense attorney who has been following the Insys trial closely. "It's a template that prosecutors will continue to use."

    While these seven Insys executives have been in court and awaiting sentencing, the company entered into an agreement with the government to settle criminal and civil investigations. Insys agreed to pay $225 million and admitted to the kickback scheme. Shortly after the agreement was announced, the company filed for bankruptcy.

    Insys Files For Chapter 11, Days After Landmark Opioid Settlement Of $225 Million
    Insys Files For Chapter 11, Days After Landmark Opioid Settlement Of $225 Million
    Bailey said that between the prison sentences and the company's financial woes, "there's no question that this was a cautionary tale to all executives."

    Ameet Sarpatwari, a physician and the assistant director of Harvard University's Program on Regulation, Therapeutics, and Law, thinks this trial will have a chilling effect on the pharmaceutical industry.

    "It's an important warning to other pharmaceutical manufacturers and executives who may be considering pushing their products through aggressive, and possibly legally dubious, marketing schemes," said Sarpatwari. "The consequences for such actions may not simply be fines — which has historically simply been the cost of doing business — but possibly jail time."

    However, he said, this successful prosecution does not mean the practices that contributed to overprescribing and addiction to opioids will go away.

    "A lot of the activities that you see within the industry that are effective are technically legal. And so, if that's the case, is this going to curb those aggressive tactics? No, but it will give second thought to pushing the boundaries," said Sarpatwari. "I think that is going to be the hopefully helpful fallout of the case."

    This Sunday, 60 Minutes continues its groundbreaking investigative series on the American opioid epidemic and interviews Alec Burlakoff, a former top executive at Insys Therapeutics.

    Pharma execs used strip clubs, broke FDA laws to boost opioid sales
    The opioid epidemic: Who is to blame?
    Insys, the Arizona-based maker of opioid painkiller Subsys, filed for bankruptcy in January 2020. After a 10-week trial in a Boston federal court, Burlakoff, CEO John Kapoor and six other executives were sentenced to prison for their part in a racketeering scheme based on a conspiracy to recklessly and illegally boost profits from Subsys, a potent, fast-acting fentanyl intended for cancer pain patients. This landmark criminal case was the first to bring pharmaceutical executives to trial for their role in fueling the opioid epidemic, potentially indicating a shift in how the government approaches white collar crime.

    60 Minutes correspondent Bill Whitaker sat down with Burlakoff before his sentencing in January, after he had testified about the illegal sales tactics he employed at Insys.

    Burlakoff explained the inner workings of the company, and what it took to be a top sales executive at what prosecutors would come to call an organized criminal enterprise.

    "There's a story behind each story, but I got real sick in high school," Burlakoff said.

    He was diagnosed with a bacterial infection, was treated for three years and then began to see a therapist, getting "a taste of what therapy can do for you."

    "I knew what it was like to be sick every day, and wake up feeling ill every day, and go to bed ill every day," Burlakoff said. "I made a decision that if this is how I have to live the rest of my life, quite frankly, I don't want to live."

    Burlakoff, whose father and brother were successful car salesmen, chose to major in child psychology, get a master's degree in social work and begin what he found to be a rewarding career as a school guidance counselor. How did he make the leap to pharmaceutical sales? One incident stands out in his mind:

    From that moment, Alec Burlakoff's life took a sharp turn. His first sales job was at Eli Lilly, an American pharmaceutical giant. Burlakoff began selling Prozac and "central nervous system products, psychology products," something he knew about from personal experience.

    "I studied depression. I've lived with depression. I've been treated for depression. And I know what medication can do," Burlakoff said. "So I went in there starry-eyed and explaining to my father, 'Hey Dad, I'm not just going into sales. I'm parlaying the education that you helped me with, you know, through college and my masters."

    Burlakoff said his father never wanted his son to pursue sales, even offering to supplement his income as a guidance counselor to keep him on that career track.

    "When I was young, he didn't have any strong opinions one way or the other, but when push came to shove and I was getting ready to leave my work as a guidance counselor at a school, he actually forbade me to go into sales," Burlakoff recalled.

    Despite his family's disapproval, Burlakoff entered the field. He says he was determined to get his family's support by earning "the type of dollars that my father and brother were earning." Burlakoff said he initially set out to help people, but within hours of being shown the ropes by fellow sales reps and managers, that notion was quickly dispelled. Salesmen, he learned, needed to hammer in rationalizations to justify their behaviors and be successful in the field.

    Burlakoff would be named Eli Lilly's "Rookie of the Year'' for the southeast region. In his retelling, the job came down to this: "How do you find a way to get into the customer's [doctors'] mind, manipulate them, overcome their objections, incentivize them, get them excited, and move product?"

    Aggressive sales tactics ultimately led to Eli Lilly becoming targeted in a lawsuit. And though the scheme was, at the end of the day, ruled legal by the judge, Burlakoff was fired. But the incident only enhanced his reputation, he said, and within three .

  2. #77
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    This story is part of a collaboration with the Financial Times, which includes the documentary Opioids, Inc. — now streaming, and premiering Tuesday, June 23 on PBS.

    Deborah Fuller had just heard the sentences that were the closest she would get to justice.

    In March 2016, her daughter Sarah died from an overdose of drugs that included Subsys: a tiny yet potent spray containing fentanyl, an opioid 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. The day before her death, mother and daughter had chatted about her upcoming wedding. Sarah had already bought a garter. Deborah was planning to sew her veil. The next morning, Sarah’s fianc? found her dead, keeled over on her face. “It was not a vision I would wish on anyone. We had to have her cremated because there was no way they could have made it so that she was recognizable,” Deborah recalls in an interview.

    The former nursing assistant had first become addicted to opioids when she was prescribed them for fibromyalgia and neck and back injuries. After she recovered from the addiction, she visited a new doctor. With an Insys sales representative in the room, she was put back on opioids including Subsys – and within 20 days, her dose of the spray was tripled. Admitted to hospital for hyper-sedation, physicians recommended she stop using the spray – but her doctor continued to prescribe it.

  3. #78
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    One of the leaders of the Opioid abuse scandal is dead at 65.

    STAMFORD, Conn. — Jonathan Sackler, one of the owners of OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, has died, the company confirmed.

    Sackler died June 30, according to a court filing. He was 65 and the cause of death was cancer.

    He was the son of Raymond Sackler, one the brothers who bought drug company Purdue Frederick in 1952, and served as an executive and board member for the company that was later renamed Purdue Pharma. Like other members of the Sackler family, he has stepped off the board of the company in recent years, though family members retain ownership.

    The company is seeking bankruptcy protection as part of an effort to settle nearly 3,000 lawsuits brought against it by state and local governments that blame the company for sparking the opioid crisis that has killed more than 400,000 Americans since 2000. Hundreds of the lawsuits also name family members.

    The company's settlement plan calls for the family, which has been listed among America's wealthiest, to pay at least $3 billion and give up ownership of Purdue

  4. #79
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    America's pervasive addiction crisis is intensifying because of COVID-19. To cite one horrific example, suspected overdoses increased 42 percent in May.

    Social distancing, which has led to the loss of support from family and friends, has made worse the sense of isolation those who are addicted already feel because of the unjust stigma associated with this illness.

    Treatment and recovery support also have become more difficult to access because of the pandemic.

    Worse, COVID-related unemployment is expected to lead to millions more people becoming uninsured, which will make it more difficult for people with substance use disorders to receive treatment.

    With an opioid-related death occurring every 11 minutes, the already devastating opioid epidemic is getting worse.

    For many, this crisis is something that happens to other people. For me, it is personal.
    My son Brian’s struggle with addiction began in high school. Over eight years, Brian battled his disease courageously, attending eight treatment programs.

    On Oct. 20, 2011, I was awakened in the middle of the night and told my son had just died.

    Perhaps more tragic, it was not addiction that took my son’s life. On his last day alive, Brian researched suicide notes, wrote one of his own, lit a candle, and took his life. Alone.

    When you lose a child, you spend countless hours revisiting what you could have done differently — the moments that may have made the difference. Shatterproof, like so many other philanthropic organizations, was born from profound loss and pain.Movement born from pain

    For me, dedicating the remainder of my life to helping others avoid the tragedy my family had suffered started as a tribute to my son’s life and has now grown to be a tribute to millions of Americans.

    Our nation has responded to the addiction epidemic by changing prescribing practices for dangerous opioids, increasing funding for treatment and expanding the use of naloxone, a medication that can instantly reverse an overdose. But we have missed one of the most important causes of this devastation — the stigma around addiction.

    The key to ultimate change lies in changing the way people think about this disease. Addiction is treatable, and change lies in addressing and eliminating the stigma that causes so much shame, loneliness, and ultimately, so much tragedy.

    To this end, Shatterproof has researched case studies and data from effective social-change movements, including those related to HIV/AIDS, marriage equality and mental health, to create a comprehensive national strategy to engage individuals and institutions across our country in transforming how our society views the disease of addiction. Our research suggests that the stigma unjustly associated with this disease can be significantly reduced. And we built a plan to do so.

    Stigma must end

    The Movement to End Addiction Stigma helps those who want to learn how to drive change to confront the pervasive stigma in this crisis. It includes a framework for combating addiction stigma — and numerous practical suggestions on how to impart that change.

    Maybe you’re someone who’s coping with addiction, or maybe you have a family member who is. Maybe you’re a provider looking to improve the care you deliver, or maybe you’re the CEO of a large company. Or maybe you’re someone who simply wants to help save lives. No matter who you are, this movement is built for you.

    I often think about my son’s last visit home, four months before he died. His last night at our house, we were sitting on the back porch talking, and the conversation turned to his addiction and stigma.

    Brian looked at me and said, “Dad, I wish that someday… someday people would understand that I’m not a bad person. I am a good person with a bad disease. And Dad, I am trying my hardest to be a good son.”

    It’s too late to bring my son back. But it’s not too late to save the next son, daughter, brother or sister who suffers from addiction and has so much love to bring to their family.

    It is time that addiction become a national conversation and safe to discuss at work, in the community and around the kitchen table, because telling our stories, honestly and without shame, is one of the most powerful ways to change hearts and minds.

    Breaking down the stigma will open the opportunities for more people to seek high quality treatment and create a path for a full and fulfilling life.

    And a Spike in Opioid Overdoses are being reported in Wisconsin.

    MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin health officials say suspected opioid overdoses have increased 117% since the coronavirus pandemic began compared with the same period last year.

    Data from Wisconsin emergency departments show 325 suspected overdoses from March to July 13 compared with 150 suspected overdoses over that span in 2019.

    State Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm says financial pressures and isolation can exacerbate behavioral and substance abuse problems. DHS officials say calls to the state’s help line indicate requests for information on behavioral health have been increasing as well.

    DHS provided several resources including Resilient Wisconsin, which was launched by DHS in April to provide information on how to handle stress and build the ability to recover from adversity.

    Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline, available 24/7: 211 or 833-944-4673.
    You can also text your zip code to 898211
    HOPELINE Text Service, available 24/7: Text HOPELINE to 741741
    National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, available 24/7: 1-800-273-8255

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    LOUDONVILLE, NY (WRGB )A dose of reality, as the latest TimesUnion/Siena Poll shows that of those polled, over half have been impacted by opioid abuse at 54%

    In the last two years, between 57 and 78% have seen what the poll says is a increases in the awareness of the dangers of prescription pain medication, lifesaving drugs like Naloxone or Narcan being more available.

    Those polled also say that doctors are showing more care in prescribing opioids.

    “Seventy-eight percent of state residents, down slightly from 82 percent in 2018, say that opioid abuse is a somewhat or very serious problem in their area. And most people are touched by this epidemic. Fifty-nine

    percent have at least one if not several of these experiences; someone in their immediate or extended family or a co-worker has abused opioids, a friend shared with them that they had family member suffering opioid

    addiction or they knew someone that died due to opioid abuse,” said Don Levy, SCRI’s Director.

    The poll also shows that a majority of New Yorkers, 74%, believe that hospitals law enforcement and government acknowledge and are working on a solution for the opioid epidemic.

    84% are in favor of punishing doctors who over-prescribe opioids, with an overwhelming support strengthening prescription monitoring.

  6. #81
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    Never thought I would say COVID-19 and Opioids would connect though

    As both national and D.C. area health departments deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid crisis that has devastated communities across the U.S. hasn’t gone away.

    Brendan Saloner, associate professor in the Department of Health, Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said provisional data show that fatal drug overdoses in 2019 reached their highest level on record, with 72,000 reported.

    “Going into COVID, we were in an incredibly bad situation, and there is plenty of reason to think that COVID is making it worse,” Saloner said.

    He explained the grim outlook this way: “Social isolation, job loss, a sense of anxiety and depression that a lot of people are feeling — all of these things are triggers,” he said.

    Dr. Aliya Jones, deputy secretary for the Maryland Department of Health’s Behavioral Health Administration, agreed.

    COVID-19 has exacerbated all of the factors that can drive overdoses, Jones said, and research has shown that people with substance abuse disorder will use at higher rates under those conditions.

    One piece of data provides a snapshot of what seems to be the trend, said Jones. In May 2019, there were 191 opioid overdose deaths. In May 2020, there were 217. And she noted that an uptick in overdoses was evident going back to December.

    In the D.C. area, Arlington County in Virginia reported a spike in fatal opioid-related overdoses.

    In August, Arlington County police said they investigated five deaths that are possibly drug-related, and they suspect the deaths are linked to heroin prescription painkillers mixed with fentanyl, according to a news release.

    In 2019, there were six reported fatal opioid overdoses in Arlington County. As of Aug. 11 this year, the number of fatal overdoses in the county is currently reported at 15.

    Jones said another result of COVID-19 is that, because of social isolation, people who abuse opioids end up taking them alone, reducing the likelihood that someone could revive them with naloxone, an overdose reversal drug.

    And there’s another issue, according to Jones: “There’s been a decreased utilization of substance use services,” such as methadone maintenance programs.

    There’s also been a drop in the number of people with substance abuse issues showing up at hospital emergency rooms.

    Saloner said that’s a big concern, “because we treat a lot of people who are in the midst of an overdose or who are just having conditions related to their substance abuse in hospitals.”

    “I worry quite a lot about that issue, actually,” he added.

    One thing that Jones said health officials are trying to figure out is why the number of overdoses have dropped in Baltimore City but have increased in Prince George’s County, “which is not a county which typically has a high number of overdoses.”

    Asked why that is, Jones said it’s not clear: “We’re not really sure what that’s about, to be really honest with you,” she said.

    Despite the concerns that the opioid crisis continues to rip through communities, Saloner saw a glimmer of hope.

    “The federal government has provided more regulatory flexibility to allow people to get their drug treatment through telehealth options,” and that means that patients don’t have to go to a clinic every day to get their medicines, he said.

    But Saloner added, “That ability to continue to offer those options will only continue as long as we have a declared federal public health emergency.”

    For information on where and how to get help, visit these sites:

    For D.C.
    For Maryland.
    For Virginia.

    Jones said there’s been an emphasis on a public education campaign to let people know that although COVID-19 has caused lots of shutdowns, services and treatment remain available.

    Her message: “Know that treatment is available — and that it works.”

    WTOP’s Abigail Constantino contributed to this report.

  7. #82
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    A panel of government health advisers said Friday there’s no clear evidence that a harder-to-crush version of the painkiller OxyContin designed to discourage abuse actually resulted in fewer overdoses or deaths.

    The conclusion from the Food and Drug Administration advisory panel comes more than a decade after Purdue Pharma revamped its blockbuster opioid, which has long been blamed for sparking a surge in painkiller abuse beginning in the 1990s.

    In a series of non-binding votes, the FDA experts said that the updated OxyContin appeared to cut down abuse via snorting and injecting, compared to the original drug. But panelists overwhelmingly ruled that data from Purdue and other researchers did not show that the reformulation curbed abuse overall or led to fewer overdoses.

    Panelists said the shortcomings were due, in part, to the challenges of studying overdoses, which often involve multiple drugs.

    “I think it’s very difficult to tease out cause of death and overdose,” said Dr. Lewis Nelson of Rutgers University. “Overall, I think the quality of evidence was fairly poor.”

    The long-acting OxyContin tablets can still be misused by simply swallowing them, which remains the most frequent route among those with opioid addiction.

    The FDA will consider the group’s opinions as it weighs whether to revisit OxyContin’s terms of approval. That could include scaling back the drug’s prescribing labeling, which currently states that it is “expected to” reduce abuse via injecting and snorting.

    Purdue’s 2010 revamped OxyContin was the first of several opioids developed by drugmakers to help curb abuse. But whether the drugs met that goal remains unclear and the FDA is reviewing their use.

    These so-called abuse-deterrent formulations account for just 2% of U.S. opioid prescriptions. The vast majority of opioids prescribed are generic versions of short-acting opioids like hydrocodone.

    Purdue representatives said during the meeting that multiple studies showed the updated tablets are harder to crush and dissolve, making them harder to snort or inject. They said those changes represent a “meaningful incremental improvement,” over the original OxyContin launched in 1996.

    Data submitted by Purdue showed both prescribing and illegal trafficking of OxyContin decreased after the company pulled and replaced the original version of the drug.

    But panelists said it was impossible to decipher whether those positive trends were due to the reformulation or a host of other factors affecting opioid use, including government crackdowns on pill mills and an influx of illegal opioids like heroin and fentanyl.

    Several studies suggest many people who abused OxyContin switched to generic pain pills or illicit opioids, but patterns of switching varied widely across the country and populations, further blurring the drug’s overall impact.

    Purdue said in a statement following the meeting it would continue to work with the FDA as it reviewed the OxyContin studies. The company declared bankruptcy last year in an effort to settle thousands of lawsuits accusing it of over-promoting OxyContin.

    U.S. drug overdose deaths hit a new high last year of 71,000, according to federal data, driven mainly by fentanyl and similar synthetic opioids which were involved in about half of all deaths. Deaths tied to prescription overdoses have plateaued at around 15,000 annually. The slowdown follows years of prescribing restrictions and warnings aimed at physicians.

  8. #83
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    WASHINGTON ? Purdue Pharma, the company that makes OxyContin, the powerful prescription painkiller that experts say helped touch off an opioid epidemic, will plead guilty to three federal criminal charges as part of a settlement of more than $8 billion, Justice Department officials announced Wednesday.

    The company will plead guilty to three counts, including conspiracy to defraud the United States and violating federal anti-kickback laws, the officials said. The resolution will be detailed in a bankruptcy court filing in federal court.

    The deal does not release any of the company?s executives or owners ? members of the wealthy Sackler family ? from criminal liability, and a criminal investigation is ongoing. But one state attorney general said the agreement fails to hold the Sacklers accountable.

    The settlement is the highest-profile display yet of the federal government seeking to hold a major drugmaker responsible for an opioid addiction and overdose crisis linked to more than 470,000 deaths in the country since 2000.

    The deal comes less than two weeks before a presidential election where the opioid epidemic has taken a political back seat to the coronavirus pandemic and other issues. But it does give President Donald Trump?s administration an example of action on the addiction crisis, which he promised early in his term.

    To Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, the Justice Department ?failed? and she said in a statement that she was not done with either Purdue or the Sacklers. ?Justice in this case requires exposing the truth and holding the perpetrators accountable, not rushing a settlement to beat an election,? she said.

    As part of the resolution, Purdue is admitting that it impeded the Drug Enforcement Administration by falsely representing that it had maintained an effective program to avoid drug diversion and by reporting misleading information to the agency to boost the company?s manufacturing quotas, the officials said.

    A Justice Department official said Purdue had been representing to the DEA that it had ?robust controls? to avoid opioid diversion but instead had been ?disregarding red flags their own systems were sending up.?

    Purdue is also admitting to violating federal anti-kickback laws by paying doctors, through a speaking program, to induce them to write more prescriptions for the company?s opioids and for using electronic health records software to influence the prescription of pain medication, according to the officials.

    Purdue will make a direct payment to the government of $225 million, which is part of a larger $2 billion criminal forfeiture. In addition to that forfeiture, Purdue also faces a $3.54 billion criminal fine, though that money probably will not be fully collected because it will be taken through a bankruptcy, which includes a large number of other creditors. Purdue will also agree to $2.8 billion in damages to resolve its civil liability.

    Purdue would transform into a public benefit company, meaning it would be governed by a trust that has to balance the trust?s interests against those of the American public and public health, the officials said. The Sacklers would not be involved in the new company and part of the money from the settlement would go to aid in medically assisted treatment and other drug programs to combat the opioid epidemic, the officials said. That arrangement mirrors a key element of the company?s proposal to settle about 3,000 lawsuits filed by state, local and Native American tribal governments.

    As part of the plea deal, the company admits it violated federal law and ?knowingly and intentionally conspired and agreed with others to aid and abet? the dispensing of medication from doctors ?without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice,? according to a copy of the plea agreement obtained by the AP.

    The company is also required to cooperate with the ongoing federal investigation and potential other prosecutions.

    But even before the deal was announced, it was facing resistance from state attorneys general, Democratic members of Congress and advocates who wrote Attorney General William Barr asking him not to make the bargain with the company and the family. They said it does not hold them properly accountable and they raised concerns about some of the details.

    ?Millions of American families impacted by the opioid epidemic are looking to you and your Department for justice. Justice for the sleepless nights spent worrying about sons and daughters trapped in the grip of substance use disorder, justice for the jobs lost and the lives ruined, and justice for the lives of loved ones lost to overdoses,? 38 Democratic members of Congress wrote. ?If the only practical consequence of your Department?s investigation is that a handful of billionaires are made slightly less rich, we fear that the American people will lose faith in the ability of the Department to provide accountability and equal justice under the law.?

    The Sackler family has already pledged to hand over the company itself plus at least $3 billion to resolve thousands of suits against the Stamford, Connecticut-based drugmaker. The company ? but not the family ? declared bankruptcy as a way to work out that plan, which could be worth $10 billion over time.

    About half the states oppose that settlement, and also wrote Barr to ask him not to make the federal deal that includes converting Purdue into a public benefit corporation. They say it would be wrong for governments to rely on earnings from the sale of more OxyContin to fund programs to mitigate the toll of an opioid crisis wrought by prescription drugs as well as heroin and illicitly produced fentanyl.

    With the terms of the Justice Department deal, the federal government gives a strong endorsement to the idea of a version of Purdue continuing as a ?public benefit corporation.? If that plan does not end of being the heart of the reorganization through bankruptcy court, the U.S. could make Purdue pay it more, potentially unraveling any other settlement arrangement.

    The state governments that oppose the settlements are pushing in bankruptcy court for documents that would spell out how much Sackler family members made from the sale of OxyContin over the years.

    The Sackler family was once listed among the nation?s wealthiest by Forbes magazine. A 2019 court filing said they had made up to $13 billion over the years from the blockbuster drug, though a lawyer said they brought in far less after taxes and reinvestment in the company.

    Until recently, the family?s name was on museum galleries and educational programs around the world because of gifts from family members. But under pressure from activists, institutions from the Louvre in Paris to Tufts University in Massachusetts have dissociated themselves from the family in the last few years.

    It?s not the first time Purdue has admitted wrongdoing: The company and three executives pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges in 2007 and paid more than $630 million in a settlement. But after that, the nation?s addiction crisis only deepened.

    As the maker of the best-known prescription opioid, Purdue is the highest-profile player in the opioid crisis, but it?s far from the other one. Trials against other drugmakers and distributors that were scheduled for this year have been pushed back due to the coronavirus.
    I got an idea I would like to change the title of this thread as the "The Opioid Crisis Thread" Thanks.

    Here is the settlement of the Purdue Pharma fallout.

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    Shaun Thaxter a former CEO of Indivior Plc, is convicted for failing to stop the Opioid Abuse scandal

    Shaun Thaxter, the former chief executive officer of U.K.-based Indivior Plc, was sentenced in federal court Thursday, four months after pleading guilty to one misdemeanor count of sharing false information about the addictive properties of Suboxone Film, an opioid-based product.

    Thaxter, who stepped down from his role as CEO of Indivior earlier this year, was sentenced to six months in prison for his role. Thaxter’s sentencing marks the second time the U.S. Department of Justice has sent the CEO of an opioid maker to prison. In June, Insys Therapeutics founder John Kapoor was sentenced to more than five years in federal prison for the role his company played in the opioid epidemic.

    According to the Department of Justice, Indivior attempted to convince prescribers that there was less chance of abuse with Suboxone Film than the pill formulation. The company attempted to have prescribers switch to its sublingual formulation, for which it had patent protection. Suboxone and its active ingredient, buprenorphine, are powerful and addictive opioids. Thaxter was charged in connection with Indivior’s misrepresentations to a state Medicaid program regarding the safety of Suboxone Film.

    In June, Thaxter pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of violating the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by causing the distribution of misbranded Suboxone Film in interstate commerce. He agreed to pay a $600,000 fine.

    In July, Reckitt Bensicker Group, the parent company of Indivior, agreed to pay $1.4 billion to settle charges over the sales and marketing of Suboxone Film. The DOJ said Indivior made billions of dollars by “deceiving health care providers and health care benefit programs into believing that Suboxone Film was safer, less divertible and less abusable than other opioid-addiction treatment drugs.” Indivior, the charges allege, was able to encourage prescribers to prescribe the treatment “at high rates and in a clinically unwarranted manner.”

    In a brief announcement this morning, Indivior said the plea agreement between the U.S. government and Thaxter is “in his personal capacity and not on behalf of Indivior.” The company said the July agreement between Reckitt Bensicker and the government remains unchanged, however, it is subject to approval by a federal judge at a hearing currently scheduled for Nov. 12.

    “As previously noted, the incident to which the agreement relates occurred well in the past and does not reflect the values Indivior has strived to demonstrate during its long history of fighting the opioid crisis,” the company said.

    Thaxter’s sentencing comes days after another opioid manufacturer agreed to pay stiff penalties for its role in the ongoing opioid crisis in the United States. This week, Purdue Pharma agreed to pay an $8 billion settlement with the U.S. government and pled guilty to three counts of criminal activity regarding the marketing of its opioid pain reliever, OxyContin. The Connecticut-based company will plead guilty to violating federal anti-kickback laws, including providing monetary incentives for doctors to write more opioid prescriptions and using electronic health record data to increase the rate of prescriptions for pain medication.

  10. #85

  11. #86
    Senior Member JohnLanders's Avatar
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    May 2020
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    SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A San Diego doctor who unlawfully prescribed more than 78,000 prescription pills as part of a wide-ranging “pill mill” scheme was sentenced Monday to 18 months in federal custody.

    Egisto Salerno, 76, whose medical practice was located on El Cajon Boulevard in the College Area, pleaded guilty in January to signing prescriptions for 78,544 pills without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional medical practice, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

    Prosecutors said Salerno and co-defendants took part in a scheme to issue prescriptions that were signed for patients he did not see, including prescriptions written for people who were dead or in jail when he supposedly examined them.

    Seven co-defendants have been convicted and all but one has been sentenced.

    “While the vast majority of doctors prescribe medications in compliance with federal laws, there will always be doctors like Egisto Salerno who seek profit over their patients’ best interests,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge John W. Callery.

    According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Salerno’s co-defendants recruited homeless people — who he wrote prescriptions for — to pose as patients.

    Co-defendants would transport the “patients” to pick up the pills at pharmacies, than provide them with cash in exchange for the medication, prosecutors said. The pills were then sold in San Diego and a pharmacy in Mexico.

    Prosecutors said Salerno provided an undercover federal agent with six hydrocodone prescriptions on six visits to his office, but then issued another prescription in the agent’s fake name on a date he did not visit Salerno’s office.

    Salerno also signed a progress note for the purported visit with the patient.

    “Corrupt doctors who blatantly ignore their medical oath and the best interests of their patients to illegally distribute opioids in the midst of a nationwide opioid crisis will face severe consequences,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer.

  12. #87
    Senior Member JohnLanders's Avatar
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    May 2020
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    SAN DIEGO (CNS) – According to a San Diego County prescription drug abuse report released Thursday, local opioid and prescription drug overdose deaths have increased significantly in recent years.

    The 2020 San Diego County Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force Report Card found that between 2018 and 2019, the number of unintentional fentanyl deaths increased by 64% and prescription drug deaths rose nearly 12%.

    The report card provides a variety of data to measure the prescription drug misuse problem in the region by looking at multiple factors and data points over the last five years in San Diego County.

    In 2019, 645 people died of an unintentional overdose caused by prescription and illicit drugs, as well as alcohol.

    UCSD joins network to examine Mexican opioid production
    Local psychiatrist pays $145k to resolve opioid overprescription allegations
    Doctor admits writing fake prescriptions to sell opioids
    Local company gets federal funding for opioid detection technology
    Those include:

    151 fentanyl deaths compared to the 92 reported the previous year. The number continued to increase in 2020. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid primarily coming from Mexico that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and 25 to 50 times stronger than heroin;
    275 deaths due to prescription drugs — opioids and non-opioids — up from 245 in 2018; and
    124 heroin deaths, up from the 105 reported the year before.
    In addition to deaths, the report card tracks additional key indicators of opioid misuse in the region.

    The report also found 6,162 visits to local emergency rooms in 2018, compared to 6,607 in 2017. Data for last year won’t be available until 2021.

    Additionally, nearly half of adults arrested reported misusing prescription drugs in 2019. One silver lining is that fewer 11th graders reported prescription drug use in 2019 than in 2015.

    San Diego County funds prevention and treatment services throughout the region. Preventing drug misuse and getting people into treatment is one of the goals of the county’s Live Well San Diego vision, which aims to improve the health and safety of residents in the region.

    Treatment is available by calling the county’s Access and Crisis Line at 888-724-7240.

    In 2008, the County Board of Supervisors established the Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force, which includes the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, the District Attorney, the Health and Human Services Agency, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and multiple other key partners, including local law enforcement, treatment and health and prevention organizations.

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