Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Obama to attend prescription drug abuse summit next week; feds focused on fighting addiction

The White House announced on Tuesday that President Obama will headline the nation's largest prescription drug abuse summit next week in Atlanta "aimed at developing new guidelines for prescribing pain medications," Greg Bluestein reports for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Obama last month proposed spending $1.1 billion in new funding to address opioid and heroin abuse, which are growing problems in rural areas. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also this month proposed limits on painkiller prescriptions.

"The White House also sent letters to every governor urging more state involvement in 'turning the tide' of the drug and heroin epidemic," Bluestein writes. In his letter to Georgia Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, "the Obama administration said that Georgia and other states are 'on the front lines' and urged federal lawmakers to act quickly on Obama’s budget request." The letter stated: “We stand ready to work with you and your state to provide any technical assistance needed as you implement these best practices. And we encourage you to share the progress you are seeing as a result.”

CDC in September 2015 selected 16 states to receive funds through the Prevention for States program, with 13 more states selected for funding this month, states CDC. For example, Connecticut was awarded more than $1.3 million for the Department of Public Health to target prescription drug overdoses, Jaclyn Diaz reports for The Bulletin in Norwich. (CDC map: States funded by the Prescription Drug Overdose: Prevention for States program)
Maura Downes, communications director for the state Connecticut Department of Public Health, "said the money will help her department work with the Department of Consumer Protection and the Yale School of Medicine on enhancing the Prescription Drug Monitoring program and increasing education for physicians and pharmacists about the system," Diaz writes. "The monitoring program collects data for prescriptions greater than a 72-hour supply of any controlled substance and places the information into a central database. The department will also work with health departments in Hartford, New Haven and Fairfield counties to educate residents on the dangers of opioids and heroin."

The Food and Drug Administration also announced on Tuesday "that fast-acting opioid pain relievers will begin carrying 'black box' warnings about the risk of abuse, addiction and overdose deaths that the popular medications pose," Tony Pugh reports for The McClatchy Company. New guidelines will "call for the prescription labels to warn that opioids can cause a dangerous central nervous system reaction if they interact with antidepressants and migraine medications. Labels will also warn that opioid use can cause a rare condition in which the adrenal glands don’t produce enough cortisol, a hormone that helps the body handle stress. New labels will also explain that long-term opioid use is associated with lower sex hormone levels and reduced interest in sex, as well as impotence and infertility."

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