Hospitals are putting Native American patients at risk for opioid abuse, audit says

Associated Press Published 11:17 a.m. ET July 22, 2019 | Updated 3:53 p.m. ET July 22, 2019

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — U.S. government hospitals placed Native American patients at increased risk for opioid abuse and overdoses, failing to follow their own protocols for prescribing and dispensing the drugs, according to a federal audit made public Monday.

The report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General does not draw conclusions about actual abuse or overdoses. But it said all five Indian Health Service hospitals that were reviewed had patients who were given opioids in amounts exceeding federal guidelines.

“There are vulnerabilities with this particular population in the opioid prescribing and dispensing practices,” said Carla Lewis, one of the auditors.

The overdose epidemic that has killed more people than any other drug epidemic in U.S. history has hit indigenous communities hard. Native Americans and Alaska Natives had the second-highest rate of opioid overdose out of all U.S. racial and ethnic groups in 2017, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report made more than a dozen recommendations to the Indian Health Service to better track patients’ health records and pain management, ensure opioids are stored under tighter security and update its information technology systems. The agency agreed on every point and said changes were coming.

The Indian Health Service, the federal agency that administers primary health care for Native Americans, has put an increased focus on opioids lately with a new website and the creation of a committee focused on decreasing overdose deaths, promoting culturally appropriate treatments and ensuring that communities know how to respond.

The audit covered five of the 25 hospitals directly run by the Indian Health Service: the Phoenix Indian Medical Center in Phoenix; Northern Navajo Medical Center on the Navajo Nation in Shiprock, New Mexico; the Lawton Indian Hospital in Lawton, Oklahoma; the Cass Lake Indian Hospital on the Leech Lake reservation in Cass Lake, Minnesota; and the Fort Yates Hospital on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in Fort Yates, North Dakota.

Auditors considered the amount of opioids each hospital dispensed and the percentage increase over three years when deciding which ones to review. They looked at 30 patient records at each hospital, visited the facilities and interviewed staff.

The auditors found that the hospitals strayed from guidelines in the Indian Health Manual in reviewing treatment for patients and their causes of pain every three months. Patients also must sign a written consent form and an agreement to treat chronic pain with opioids so they know the risks and benefits, as well as the requirement for drug screenings. More than 100 patient records did not include evidence of informed consent, and dozens did not have evidence that providers adequately educated patients.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that patients be prescribed no more than 90 morphine milligram equivalents per day, a measure used to compare an opioid dose with morphine.

The audit found that each hospital met or exceeded that amount at times. At the Shiprock hospital, the daily dosage was more than four times as high. The auditors also found some patients were prescribed opioids and benzodiazepines — commonly used to treat anxiety and insomnia —at the same time, which “puts patients at a greater risk of a potentially fatal overdose.”

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that patients be prescribed no more than 90 morphine milligram equivalents per day, a measure used to compare an opioid dose with morphine.

The audit found that each hospital met or exceeded that amount at times. At the Shiprock hospital, the daily dosage was more than four times as high. The auditors also found some patients were prescribed opioids and benzodiazepines — commonly used to treat anxiety and insomnia —at the same time, which “puts patients at a greater risk of a potentially fatal overdose.” (Click to Source)

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They knew: Recently unsealed court documents reveal that makers of OxyContin purposely misled doctors and consumers about the strength of the drug

(Natural News) The opioid epidemic has been costly, there’s little doubt about that. With 47,600 deaths from opioid overdose in 2017 alone, the wave of death shows no signs of slowing down. And all the while, Big Pharma has been cashing out. Purdue Pharma, owned by the Sackler family and producer of the most infamous opioid, OxyContin, was raking in $1 billion in annual sales at one point — and now, unsealed court documents show that the pharma giant purposely deceived doctors and used aggressive marketing tactics to bolster their profits. While all pharma companies stand accused of putting profits before people, the latest revelations in the case against OxyContin (and similar drugs) certainly takes the cake.

Thanks to Purdue Pharma’s misdeeds and unlawful behavior, thousands of lives have been lost or destroyed. And yet for some reason, the Sackler family has escaped culpability. David Sackler himself denies any responsibility for the opioid epidemic — even though recently disclosed court documents show that the good doctor advised Purdue’s marketing team to hide the truth about OxyContin and the danger it posed.

Purdue founders knew OxyContin was dangerous

As Natural Health 365 reports, sealed court documents from 2015 have recently been made public. The evidence clearly shows that OxyContin creators knew that the drug had an enormous potential for addiction and misuse — and instead of doing the right thing, the company lied about the risks involved with their product.

Not only did the makers of OxyContin market the drug as being “less strong” than morphine (even though it’s actually stronger), sales representatives were encouraged to say that OxyContin “couldn’t be abused” and was not addictive.

We have seen how well that played out: Up to 130 deaths per day from opioid abuse.

As Vox reports, Purdue Pharma got approval from the FDA to market OxyContin as “less prone to abuse” because of its extended-release formula. Purdue Pharma claims that by releasing a lot of the drug over time, they could prevent misuse. However, this extended-release formula also allowed Purdue to put a lot more of the drug into each pill. Users can then bypass the “extended release” by crushing up their pills before use. Ultimately, this made the drug more prone to being abused.

Hundreds of thousands of people have died as a direct result of opioid abuse — and countless others have gone on to become addicted to heroin or other opiates thanks to opioids. Statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse show that 75 percent of heroin addicts started off with an opioid.

Purdue Pharma founders deny reality

Even after Purdue Pharma and three top executives plead guilty in 2016, and even after dozens of doctors have lost their licenses for getting kick-backs and over-prescribing opioids, the Sackler family continues to deny the truth about OxyContin. In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, David Sackler even went so far as to claim that the addiction rate is only “between two and three percent,” and might rise to five percent with “more typical dependence and misuse.”

Never mind the fact that real science shows that the addiction rate with opioids is more like 26 percent — is it really supposed to be acceptable for a prescription drug to cause any level of dependence or misuse? Sackler isn’t just denying culpability — he’s normalizing drug addiction and talking about drug dependency as if its a simple fact of life.

Estimates suggest 22.4 million opioid prescriptions are doled out annually in the U.S. That’s 66.5 opioid prescriptions per every 100 people. Even if just two percent of those people were to end up addicted, it is two percent still too many. The opioid crisis has hit America hard, and it is high time the Sacklers owned up to what their misleading marketing tactics, shifty bribing practices and other bad behaviors have done to the country and its people. (Click to Source)

Learn more about toxic pharmaceuticals at DangerousMedicine.com.

Sources for this article include:

NaturalHealth365.com

Vox.com

 

decolores2bpostrer

 

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Trump Announces Opioid Crisis a Public Health Emergency

Declaration stops short of the ‘national emergency’ designation president had assured over summer

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WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump, surrounded by addicts and their families, declared opioid addiction a “public health emergency” Thursday as he sought to accelerate a federal government response to the crisis.

“We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic,” Mr. Trump said in a 25-minute speech from the White House in which he decried the tragedy of “opioid orphans” and described opioid abuse as a “plague” that Americans must defeat.

Mr. Trump, saying his administration was already “aggressively” fighting opioid abuse, pledged to raise the subject of Chinese-made bootleg fentanyl on his November visit with President Xi Jinping. Mr. Trump also praised pharmacy benefit managers’ efforts to limit the supply of some painkillers and touted a move by the Food and Drug Administration earlier this year to urge one drug maker to pull an opioid off the market.

Reaction to the move in the states was divided somewhat along partisan lines, with Democrats questioning whether Mr. Trump’s action went far enough, especially given that it didn’t include a commitment to new funding, and Republicans praising it as forceful and necessary.

Mr. Trump also said his administration was looking at bringing lawsuits against unspecified “bad actor” companies, but it wasn’t immediately clear what steps the federal government might take in that regard. This week, Purdue Pharma L.P., which sells the opioid painkiller OxyContin, said that the U.S. attorney’s office in Connecticut was investigating the company over the drug, and that it was cooperating with the investigation. The U.S. attorney’s office in Connecticut declined to comment.

Overall, more than nine states, and dozens of cities and counties, have sued Purdue and other opioid painkiller makers, alleging that their marketing has misled the public about addiction risks. Some state and county lawsuits have also targeted distributors of the opioid drugs. Purdue and many of the other firms have denied the allegations.

Opioids such as fentanyl, heroin, oxycodone and hydrocodone killed more than 34,500 people last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and administration officials Thursday likened the death toll to that in the Vietnam War. Opioid addiction has ravaged communities throughout the country in recent years, drawing attention from officeholders of both parties, many of whom have been urging Mr. Trump to take action for some time.

The president’s declaration Thursday stopped short of the “national emergency” designation that he had said over the summer he would invoke. It was twinned with an announcement that the administration would lift a rule that effectively prevented hospitals and treatment centers from maintaining more than 16 psychiatric beds at a time.

Senior administration officials said ahead of Mr. Trump’s comments that a public-health emergency declaration would allow existing funds for unemployed workers and people with HIV and AIDS to be shifted within those programs to specifically include participants with addictions.

The declaration, which must be renewed every 90 days, carries no specific commitments for additional funding. A senior administration official said that such funding had been proposed in previous GOP-led bids to repeal and replace Democrats’ 2010 Affordable Care Act, and that the White House now hoped to see the funding in a year-end spending deal.

A White House commission on the opioid crisis led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a onetime Republican rival and subsequent backer of Mr. Trump, suggested over the summer that the president declare a national emergency, leaving open different options for what form that declaration should take.

Declaring a national emergency would have allowed federal officials to access a pool of reserve funds through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But critics of that approach worried that would draw resources from hurricane-recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and several states, and officials said a public-health emergency declaration was more fitting for a continuing crisis.

Outside the White House Thursday, Mr. Christie praised Mr. Trump’s move as an “enormous first step” and urged Congress to appropriate additional funds. His commission is due to release final recommendations next week, and Mr. Trump said he was poised to adopt many of them. (Click to Source)

Opioid epidemic reaches whole new crisis level as Big Pharma drugs out America for profit

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(Natural News) A comprehensive study validates the impact opioid abuse has on our country, with results suggesting that from 2009 to 2015, overdose-related ICU admissions increased by 34 percent and the cost per ICU admission rose by 58 percent. During the same period, the number of opioid deaths within the ICU nearly doubled. Researchers from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center warn that their study implies a health crisis. Dr. Jennifer P. Stevens, the lead author, wrote that the review “tells [the public] that the opioid epidemic has made people sicker and killed more people, in spite of all the care we can provide in the ICU, including mechanical ventilation, acute dialysis, life support and round-the-clock care.”

Data from the study, which will be published ahead of print in Annals of the American Thoracic Society, are believed to be the first in the country to quantify how opioid abuse affects acute care services. Dr. Stevens and her team say that given the current trend, critical care services may not be able to meet the growing demand in the near future.

Over the course of seven years, the team analyzed more than 23 million hospital admissions of adult patients in around 162 hospitals across 44 states. Of the four million patients who required acute care, 21,705 patients were admitted due to an opioid overdose. Cross-analyzing the data even further, the researchers found that opioid-related ICU admissions increased by approximately half a percent each year. Researchers also noted that apart from the growth in number, patients who were admitted to the ICU required increasingly intensive care, which included more treatments of dialysis or other forms of high-cost renal replacement therapy. Moreover, the mortality rates of these patients also rose every year.

These findings have a worrying ramification in the medical industry. While more people are becoming addicted to opioids, hospitals and other health facilities appear to be unable to expand their prevention and treatment plans to treat this epidemic.

The authors also placed a disclaimer that their methodology limits the true scope of the health crisis. Their data came from mostly academic medical centers and were not reflective of opioid addiction in other settings. As such, it is reasonable to assume that overdose admissions in acute care may actually be higher. This study also did not take into account ICU admissions caused by complications related to drug use.

“The pace of the opioid epidemic continues to increase,” warned Dr. Stevens. “Those of us who work in hospital intensive care units need to make sure we have the tools we need to help patients with opioid use disorders when they are at their sickest, because there doesn’t appear to be any end to this epidemic in sight.” (Related: The United States has crossed the pandemic threshold in the opioid epidemic…and Big Pharma keeps cashing in.) (Click to Site)

Drug Companies Flooded W.V. With More Than 780 Million Pain Pills

The distributors ‘knew what was going on.’ They just ‘didn’t care.’

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The United States is embroiled in a fierce battle against opioid abuse. In 2014, there was a 3.4-fold increase in the number of opioid overdose deaths in America. The state hit hardest by the opioid crisis is West Virginia, where drug companies pumped 782 million pain pills into the state over the last 6 years.

In 2015, West Virginia had the highest rate of opioid overdose deaths in the country. Since 1999, overdose deaths have quadrupled in the state.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail obtained previously confidential drug shipping sales records sent by the DEA to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s office. The paper used the records to disclose the number of pain pills sold to every pharmacy in the state, as well as the drug companies’ shipments to all 55 counties in West Virginia between 2007 and 2012.

Their findings, both astounding and infuriating, were documented in a report published in the paper on December 17.

One drug company shipped nearly 9 million hydrocodone pills to a single pharmacy in Mingo County over the course of 2 years. The rural, impoverished county has the 4th-highest prescription opioid death rate of any county in the U.S. (Click to Article)