Illinois gov signs opioid alternative bill, improvements to medical cannabis program

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF MPP BLOG)

 

MPP Blog


Illinois governor signs opioid alternative bill, making huge improvements to medical cannabis program

Posted: 28 Aug 2018 12:28 PM PDT

Sweeping changes include medical cannabis access for opioid patients, streamlined process, and others

Illinois’s medical cannabis program took a major step forward today as Gov. Bruce Rauner signed bill SB 336, the Alternatives to Opioids Act, into law.

This historic change makes several key improvements:

• Opioid patients now qualify. Patients who are — or could be — prescribed opioid drugs will be able to register to obtain medical cannabis as an alternative.

• Shorter wait times. Patients will get provisional authorization to access medical cannabis as soon as their paperwork is submitted for registration — saving weeks of wait time.

• No more fingerprint requirement! Patients and caregivers will no longer be required to submit fingerprints to register for the program, and those with felony convictions in their past will no longer be denied access to the program.

Many thanks go to bill sponsors Sen. Don Harmon and Rep. Kelly Cassidy, and the many medical cannabis patients and supporters who worked to pass this major improvement to state law. The full text of the measure is here.

In other news, if you are in the neighborhood, the public is invited to tonight’s town hall on cannabis legalization for adults in La Grange, Illinois.

When: Tuesday, August 28 7:00 p.m.

Where: La Grange Village Hall Auditorium, 53 S. La Grange Road, La Grange, Illinois

Who: Bill sponsor Sen. Heather Steans, Rep. Jim Durkin, and several other panelists

Another big win for medical cannabis patients today — please spread the word! And if you can, come to tonight’s town hall and support a sensible legalization law in Illinois!

The post Illinois governor signs opioid alternative bill, making huge improvements to medical cannabis program appeared first on MPP Blog.

  

Heroin: What The Hell Are We Doing To Yourselves Folks?

Heroin: What The Hell Are We Doing To Yourselves Folks?

 

For those of you who do not know me from this blog I will tell you up front that what I am going to say if from my life’s experiences now being over 60 years old. I have never stuck a needle in myself for the purpose of getting some kind of a high, or even to decrease my own pain. I have had medical people do their thing quite a few times where I felt like a wore out pin-cushion before I got out of their care, but I have never stuck myself. I really hope that I do not end up needing Insulin shots someday. But, I have had quite a few folks whom I quickly found out where poking needles in themselves when they would get home from work or on the weekends for the purpose of getting a high was part of their normal day. As I set and watched quite a few people poking themselves or having their friends do it for them and putting them in very painful places, I had to wonder how, how and why they are where they are at this point in their lives? We hear on the news quite often now how Heroin is a major epidemic in many places in America today. I did not know until about a year ago that heroin is actually a very cheep costing drug, I had always though it would be a very expensive drug until I found out it is made from Morphine.

 

For those of you who have decided to first put a needle in yourself, I’m not talking about the first time you let someone else do it to/for you, I’m asking about the first time you yourself stuck a needle in yourself for the purpose of getting high, was it that? Was it in an attempt to get out of some type of pain, mental or physical? If there are ten million people in America alone that put that first drug, that first needle, in our-self, by our-self, are there ten million different stories? Stories of loss, of pain, of stupidity? In the ‘wired world’ about everyone has to have heard a lot of really bad things about this drug getting a power over you that you can no longer control so why? Why did you do that to yourself? All of the people who I knew way back then are gone now, old memories, I don’t know of any that made it anywhere near fifty. I have seen a few cases where people gradually got off of the drugs they were shooting up by turning more and more to the use of marijuana to calm themselves and start to see the world clearer and got themselves off of their own personal demon. I have learned and seen that marijuana is really a ‘step down drug’ that does help some folks, this ‘medication’ being illegal is insane and inhumane. There is another absolute fact and that is where Marijuana is a legal drug, pain pill use goes way down. Heroin or Morphine pills or how about the God-given medicine instead of the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on these pills, and then there is this Demon called Heroin that is killing so many people. The ‘War On Drugs’ got this part backwards folks. Drugs like Heroin are a disease on the human race as are these millions of ‘Pill Heads’ that the system is helping fan the flames of.

Biggest Opium Pushers In U.S. Are: U.S. Politicians & AG Jeff Sessions

In the United States, we have been hearing a lot about the drugs that are made from this plant over the past few years. I admit to those of you who don’t know me that I am neither a scientist, psychotherapists nor a medical doctor. I am just an average 61-year-old person who reads a lot and who pays attention to reality the best that I can. Even though I am not the smartest person in the U.S. I am a person that strives to be bluntly honest about everything even if I don’t personally like the results of the answer. Truth has ‘no spin’ to it! I have said a few times before on this website that there really is only one real Truth, and that is ‘God’s’ Truth. When you/we/I have an argument concerning any issue, if we can honestly say that we would stand before our Creator, look Him in His eyes and tell Him that we are speaking the Truth, then that argument would be the Truth, to the very best of our personal knowledge anyways. Either that, or we would be acting like a total idiot and or a fool because we would be condemning our own self on purpose.

I have a question for each of us, do we/you/I believe that the politicians in D.C. are looking out for our best interest or their own best interest? Do you believe that your Congressman/woman, Senator or President cares more about you, or about the lobbyist who is funding their next campaign and or their personal lifestyle? Now, before I get into the meat of this article on the Opium issue I will tell you up front that Marijuana legalization is something that I totally agree with. I believe, excuse me, I know, that Marijuana helps with nerve pain, I am 100% sure of that. Back when I was in the U.S. Army I was directly struck by a lightning bolt. Even Social Security says I am disabled even though the VA doesn’t agree that the lightning has anything to do with me being disabled no matter what the non-VA Doctors and other experts have to say about it. As most of you know the Federal Government and the crooked ignorant putz AG Jeff Sessions say that Marijuana is just as or even more dangerous than Heroin and they class Marijuana as a class one narcotic, just like Heroin. To believe the Federal Government’s argument a person would have to be either clueless just plain ignorant or ‘on the take.’ The Feds say that Marijuana has no medical value even though that is totally contrary to all of the scientific evidence that says the Feds are lying.

So, the argument comes down to, why does the Fed’s keep lying? Or, do you really believe they are simply that ignorant? As long as the Federal government continues this policy the VA is not allowed to prescribe Marijuana to the service-connected disabled Veterans. The VA has no problem pumping many billions of taxpayer dollars worth of pills into the disabled Vets every year whether we need them or not but they refuse to allow the Veterans to use God’s given Herbs for pain relief. What is even worse is that if the VA in one of their blood or urine test finds THC from Marijuana in your system, they will cold turkey you off of the drugs they are giving/selling to you. This is even though doing this to people on some of these medications can easily kill a person. Why would any remotely honest or caring person do that to people? The answer to this is simple folks, its money.

For those of you who don’t believe me, I am going to offer you some cold hard facts as to why I used the title of this article. Even if you are a person who says they would never ever smoke Marijuana, does that mean that you have any right to insist that others cannot, no matter what? I am going to use last November’s Elections in Arizona as a perfect example. This example shows just how dirty big Pharma is, I am going to show you just how much they want people to die from Opium use and the reason is simple, money!

Within everyone’s brain, there is what is called an MU Opioid Receptor. This is something that Opium sticks to in a person’s brain. Morphine is an Opioid drug, just like Heroin is so I am going to use them in this example. Even though Pharma made drugs like Morphine and Oxycontin are very expensive even on the street drugs like Heroin are amazingly cheap. Yet there is another man-made drug called Fentanyl, a synthetic form of Heroin that is even cheaper and easier to make than regular Heroin. Trouble is this that this street drug Fentanyl is about 100 times more powerful than Heroin and it is very deadly even to come into contact with very much of it at all. Fentanyl has become a major problem for first responders, EMS and Police as they do come into contact with it many times every day. These days Ambulances and Police Vehicles are being required to carry the ‘antidote’ for their own safety’s sake.

This ‘antidote’ is called Narcan and Narcan is a drug that is big Pharma made and distributed. Concerning Opium products like Heroin and Morphine the antidote, Narcan works quite well at knocking the Opium off of the MU Receptor yet it does very little to help get the Fentanyl off of the MU Receptor. Don’t get me wrong, people are still dying every day from Opioid overdoses also. The Fed said that Opioid overdoses are up more than 400% here in the U.S. since the year 2000. The big Pharma company’s who make Narcan know this fact very well, so do the politicians yet they prove to all of us that they do not care about all of these thousands of people who are dying nor their families, nor even the First Responders.

Now back to the 2016 Elections in the State of Arizona. The facts show that in the States that have made recreational Marijuana legal that Opioid overdoses and deaths are down about 50%. On a side note, in these states alcohol sales are down about 25%, think of how many people aren’t getting into car accidents because of drinking and driving. Also, think of how many domestic violence deaths aren’t happening in those States and how many fatal ‘bar fights’ aren’t happening. Yet the reality is that big Pharma companies make billions from their pharmacy-made drugs so just like last November in Arizona they pumped in many millions of dollars in false advertisements to try to get the people of Arizona to vote down making Marijuana legal in their State. The sad part is, they were successful in Arizona. The big Pharmaceutical companies have been pushing hard to get Narcan into every ambulance, police car, school, and home in America. There is only one reason for this and that is money, to heck with people’s lives, the only thing that really matters is a company’s profits. These Pharmaceutical companies know that Marijuana is a natural painkiller but they aren’t making any money off of a plant that anyone can grow in their own garden. Now, you do understand why I said that the politicians and people like AG Jeff Sessions want to keep Marijuana illegal don’t you? The answer is very simple, campaign contributions from these big Pharma Companies and because of many who own stocks in these same big Pharma Companies.

 

Here are some of the companies who put huge amounts of money into last November’s ‘anti-pot’ vote in Arizona. I got this information from (The Guardian, US News And World Report, Business Insider, the Huffington Post, and from Equities.com News.)

These companies are:

Chandler Pharma

Insys Therapeutics

Pfizer Inc

Walgreens Boot’s Alliance Inc

Amphastar Pharmaceuticals Inc

Mylan N.V.

Opnet Technologies Inc

 

Philippines plans to withdraw from from International Criminal Court

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNBC NEWS)

 

Philippines plans to withdraw from International Criminal Court amid crimes against humanity investigation

  • In a lengthy statement released Wednesday, the Filipino strongman leader decried what he believed to be an “outrageous” attack on his character by United Nations (UN) officials.
  • Duterte has been accused of facilitating extrajudicial killings and other rights abuses during a campaign to stamp out illegal drugs in the Asian country.
  • Police are thought to have killed more than 4,100 people since Duterte took office in May 2016 and rights groups allege approximately 8,000 others have been murdered during the country’s war on drugs.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte walks past honor guards as he arrives at Manila international airport in Manila on May 24, 2017, after returning from a visit to Russia. Duterte threatened on May 24 to impose martial law in Mindanao to combat the rising threat of terrorism, after Islamist militants beheaded a policeman and took Catholic hostages while rampaging through a southern city.

NOEL CELIS / AFP / Getty Images
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte walks past honor guards as he arrives at Manila international airport in Manila on May 24, 2017, after returning from a visit to Russia. Duterte threatened on May 24 to impose martial law in Mindanao to combat the rising threat of terrorism, after Islamist militants beheaded a policeman and took Catholic hostages while rampaging through a southern city.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte intends to pull his country out of the International Criminal Court (ICC), shortly after the judicial body launched a crimes against humanity investigation into his controversial war on drugs.

In a lengthy statement released Wednesday, the Filipino strongman leader decried what he believed to be an “outrageous” attack on his character by United Nations (UN) officials. Duterte has been accused of facilitating extrajudicial killings and other rights abuses during a campaign to stamp out illegal drugs in the Asian country.

Last month, the ICC said it was investigating allegations the Philippines president had committed crimes against humanity.

Duterte initially welcomed the move, suggesting it would provide him with an opportunity to clear his name of any apparent wrongdoing. However, in a dramatic U-turn, he has since decided the judicial body has demonstrated a “brazen ignorance of the law.” He also said the ICC was “useless” and “hypocritical.”

Duterte should ‘see a psychiatrist’

Police are thought to have killed more than 4,100 people since Duterte took office in May 2016 and rights groups allege approximately 8,000 others have been murdered during the country’s war on drugs. The Philippines has consistently said its legal processes are functional and independent, while the country’s police deny allegations of murder and cover-ups.

Duterte’s contentious bid to clamp down on illegal drugs has long been a source of international alarm, with several countries and UN officials condemning the campaign.

On Friday, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights said the maverick former mayor was in need of a psychiatric evaluation. Speaking at a news conference, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said Duterte’s attacks on human rights activists were “unacceptable” and should not continue “unanswered.”

According to the ICC’s guidelines, a pledge to withdraw from its organization would only become effective one year after the initial notification. The Philippines is currently under the jurisdiction of the ICC as a result of it being a member, while withdrawing from the group does nothing to change its jurisdiction retroactively.

Iraq’s drug habit is a threat to its stability

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MIDDLE-EAST MONITOR)

 

Iraq’s drug habit is a threat to its stability

Image an Iraqi hospital with wounded patients [file photo]

Iraqi hospital with wounded patients [File photo]

Inside Baghdad’s Ibn Rushd hospital are wards populated by male patients, old and young, battling drug and substance addictions. The hospital provides recovery services, but the misery of sufferers is kept out of sight and few possess the faith to let their tales be heard. The lasting imprint of wars, old and continuing, potentiates these habits. As a relief from suffering and with the degeneration of once sturdy belief systems, hundreds and thousands have turned to hard drugs.

A cauldron of illicit drugs covers all 14 of Iraq’s provinces with narcotics most visible in Basra where methamphetamine has emerged as a local staple. Some place the usage of meth here — or crystal as it’s known locally — at 62.1 per cent of the country’s consumption, as reports by The New Arab show.

The meth boom in Basra can be explained by the port city’s strategic position as it is able to handle the steady flow of goods and illicit drugs entering the country. Trafficking gangs are not strangers to using Basra as a transit point to sustain the expansion of the narcotics trade in the region.

Gangs in neighbouring Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan have no doubt toyed with the idea of using Iraq as a gateway for drugs consignments that Saddam Hussein’s toppling made possible in 2003. For them, the Iraqi arena is particularly profitable and it’s where drug Czars can capitalise on the need of young people to numb the pain and grief of war. The nightmare this poses is difficult for local security forces to combat as they are split between those aiding and abetting traffickers and those disgraced by the phenomenon but ill-equipped to fight it alone.

In Samawah alone a total of 600 dealers reside in the province according to jurist Wael Abdul Latif. In the decades before 2003 the Iraqi arena was clean of drugs: “one of the very few regional states that could claim that drug abuse was not a problem in society,” security consultant Mustafa Al-Ani expressed years ago, citing “strict laws” and “severe punishment” by the Baath regime as the reason for this. However, the security gap America’s invasion opened up caused a near-complete reversal of the past Al-Ani describes.

Indications of heroin trafficked from Iraq mentioned in the 2015 World Drug Report, speaks of the effectiveness of organised networks that operate along the east-west axis and the weakness of internal security and the inability to patrol Iraq’s unmanned borders.

Read: Investment in Iraq smacks of exploitation; regional big-hitters should open their coffers

Statics on the problem might be inconclusive but the protracted nature of drug abuse confirms predictions made by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in late 2003 that drug trafficking would increase. In Afghanistan opium generates one third of Afghanistan’s economic output, underscoring the need for its continuation and expansion in the minds of local narcotics actors.

Drug gangs are notably active in Iraq’s shrine cities of Karbala and Najaf, where there have been major seizures in the last 13 years. Drug-trafficking gangs enter these cities disguised as pilgrims, distributing heroin, hashish and amphetamine pills from Afghanistan, through Iran. Near weekly seizures are reported locally.

There is no one culprit but a convergence of actors and Iranian, Afghani, Iraqi and Turkish cartels. Shipments from Afghanistan pass through Iran into Iraq, bound for Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia and even European markets. Rising levels of drug dependency are also felt in Jordan, with the entry of hashish and opium. Jordan’s public security directorate (PSD), as quoted by the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (2006), conceded that 28 seizures at the Iraqi border occurred in 2005.

These menacing developments cannot be divorced from pervasive corruption and the rise of international terrorism, both of which are fed by drug-related proceeds. Expansive illicit networks are also working to satisfy multiple demands. Captagon tablets to enhance battle performance, intoxicants for Gulf-bound expat and local communities in the region, prescription drug abuse to feed the habits of Iraqi soldiers as reported in The New York Times in 2008, and above all else, the need for hard cash.

A US State Department report from 2013 rued Iraq’s leadership for failure to “devote significant resources to drug cases,” but unverified images and Twitter posts allege that Iraq’s special forces were dispatched last weekend to southern Iraq to combat the drug trade in southern Iraq.

Read: IRGC uses crack epidemic as a means of destroying resistance among Ahwazis

The funds needed to build public rehabilitation services are lacking and rarely considered; it is a priority eclipsed by defence spending. The high potential for abuse of certain drugs, for example meth, will crush the educational potential of Iraq’s millennials.

“Meth of course boosts dopamine levels and gives users a certain rush – the bigger problem are withdrawal symptoms. Addiction happens very quickly and weaning yourself is not without numerous challenges,” Dr Usama, director of Ibn Rushd rehabilitation hospital told Sumaria news.

Relapse, he added, is as much of an uphill struggle as the addiction and threatens to render an entire generation inoperative at a time when their contribution to national growth has never been needed more.

Categories

AfghanistanArticleAsia & AmericasIraqMiddle EastOpinion

Experts Tell Congress How To Cut Drug Prices

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF KAISER HEALTH NEWS)

 

Experts Tell Congress How To Cut Drug Prices


(Kaiser Health News)
 December 12 at 5:15 AM
This Kaiser Health News story can be republished for free (details).The nation’s most influential science advisory group will tell Congress today that the U.S. pharmaceutical market is not sustainable and needs to change.

“Drugs that are not affordable are of little value and drugs that do not exist are of no value,” said Norman Augustine, chair of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s committee on drug pricing and former CEO of Lockheed Martin Corp.

The report, “Making Medicines Affordable: A National Imperative,” identifies eight steps to cut drug prices. It also provides a list of specific “implementation actions” for various federal agencies, including Congress, the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services.

Today’s hearing, which is the third in a series by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, comes as Americans across the political spectrum say lowering the price of prescription drugs is a top priority. Yet, while individual states have passed laws for more transparency and price controls and President Donald Trump has publicly called for lower drug prices, Congress has stalled.

So, will the committee’s recommendations spur action? Kaiser Health News takes the political temperature, talks to experts and rates their chances:

Recommendation No. 1: Allow the federal government to negotiate drug prices

Current law prohibits the U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary from directly negotiating drug prices and the committee says that’s ridiculous.

The committee recommends Medicare and other agencies negotiate which drugs are placed on a list of covered drugs and, when necessary, exclude some drugs. This is not a new idea.

Some states are already restricting high-priced drugs in Medicaid, the state-federal insurance program for low-income Americans. But federal efforts to change Medicare are more complicated.

Just two months ago, top House Democrats introduced another Medicare negotiation bill. But don’t hold your breath, Trump hasn’t responded to multiple letters sent from Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) — including one after the most recent bill was introduced in late October. That bill hasn’t moved past the health subcommittee.

Subscribe to KHN’s free Morning Briefing.

Recommendation No. 2: Speed approvals of safe and effective generics and biosimilars

This recommendation has a strong ally at the Food and Drug Administration.

Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced a “drug competition action plan” in June and followed it up two months ago with a new set of policies aimed at speeding the drug approval process for complex generics. More changes are expected too, as Gottlieb wrote in his blog post “if consumers are priced out of the drugs they need, that’s a public health concern that FDA should address.”

But the pharmaceutical world knows which games to play to keep competition at bay. The committee specifically recommends the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission should watch for anti-competitive tactics, such as pay-for-delay and extending exclusivity protections. The U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on pay-for-delay, saying settlements between brand-name drug makers and generic rivals warranted antitrust review, The total number of these deals has fallen in recent years.

To further encourage generic approvals, Congress could include several proposed bills, such as the so-called CREATES Act, in a final year-end package, said Chip Davis, president of the generics and biosimilars lobby Association for Accessible Medicines.

“People are starting to pay more attention” to anticompetitive patent tactics, Davis said.

Recommendation No. 3: Transparency

The committee takes direct aim at drug prices by saying that Congress should make manufacturers and insurers disclose drug prices, as well as the rebates and discounts they negotiate. It also asks that HHS curate and publicly report the information.

States have taken the lead on price transparency with Vermont the first to pass a law, which requires an annual report on up to 15 drugs that cost the state a lot of money and have seen price spikes. In Congress, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), introduced a bill in June that would impose price-reporting requirements on some drugs. It now sits in the Senate finance committee. The pharmaceutical industry has fended off most price disclosure efforts in the past.

Notably, the committee also recommends that nonprofits in the pharmaceutical sector — such as patient groups — disclose all sources of income in their tax filings. That’s a move that would reveal exactly how much the pharmaceutical companies are supporting advocacy groups.

Recommendation No. 4:  Discourage the pharmaceuticual industry’s direct-to-consumer advertising

The U.S. is only one of two developed countries in the world to allow direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising (the other is New Zealand and doctors there have called for a ban). And U.S. taxpayers support the tax breaks with a deduction that politicians have tried to eliminate in the past.

Now, the committee recommends Congress eliminate the tax deduction pharmaceutical companies are allowed to take on direct-to-consumer advertising.

This is an idea that should have wide support. Polls show that most Americans favor banning the ads and federal lawmakers have tried to change the rules on so-called DTC for years. The American Medical Association called for a ban on pharmaceutical advertising directly to patients in 2015, saying there were concerns that the ads were driving up demand for expensive drugs. The FDA provides guidance for the advertising and, in August, FDA Commissioner Gottlieb said he may reduce the number of risks manufacturers must reveal when advertising a medicine.

In a sign of just how entrenched the tax break is in D.C. politics, Sen. Dick Durbin (D- Ill.) introduced a bill last month that doesn’t eliminate the break but takes a step to rein in the advertising. Durbin’s bill would require manufacturers to provide the wholesale price of a drug in their advertisements.

Recommendation No. 5: Limit what Medicare enrollees pay for drugs

The committee ticks off a to-do list for Congress when it comes to what older Americans and those with disabilities are paying for drugs.

Their recommendations include asking Congress to establish limits on total annual out-of-pocket costs for Medicare Part D enrollees and telling Congress to make sure the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services efforts to guarantee enrollee cost-sharing is based on the real price of the drug as well as how well the drug works.

Turns out, there is already some limited movement on this one.

Medicare allows negotiations between the corporate insurers and pharmacy benefit managers who help administer the Part D program. CMS announced last month that it is exploring how to pass on the behind-the-scenes manufacturer rebates to patients, though it warns premiums may rise if they make this move.

Recommendation No. 6: Increasing oversight of a very specific federal drug discount program

The committee is stepping into a hot-button political issue by recommending increased transparency and oversight of a program that Congress created in 1992.

The program, known as 340B, requires pharmaceutical companies to sell drugs at steep discounts to hospitals and clinics that serve high volumes of low-income patients. Congress held two hearings this year, questioning who is benefiting from the discounts and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently announced it was slashing Medicare reimbursement to some hospitals enrolled in the program.

Hospitals are fighting back, filing a lawsuit over the reimbursement cut. The committee, echoing concerns from House Republicans, recommends making sure the program helps “aid vulnerable populations.”

Recommendation No. 7: Revise the Orphan Drug Act

The committee wants to make sure the 1983 Orphan Drug Act helps patients with rare diseases.

The law, intended to spur development of medicines for rare diseases, provides financial incentives for drugmakers such as seven years of market exclusivity for drugs that treat a specific condition that affects fewer than 200,000 people.

The program has been under fire this year after Kaiser Health News, whose investigation is cited by the committee, reported that approved drugs often gamed this system and won won blockbuster sales for more common diseases. The Government Accountability Office has begun an investigation into the program after receiving a request from top Republican senators and FDA’s announced a “modernization” plan for the agency this summer.

The committee’s requests include limiting the number of exclusivity periods a drug can receive and making sure drugs that win the financial incentives really do treat rare disease. Finally, the committee says HHS should “obtain favorable concessions on launch prices, annual price increases,” and more.

Recommendation No. 8: Make sure doctors prescribe drugs for the right reasons

Medical practices, hospitals and doctors should “substantially” tighten restrictions on office visits by pharma employees, and the acceptance of free samples, the committee recommends.

This isn’t the first time the national group has recommended controlling drug samples and visits. In 2009, the then Institute of Medicine said doctors and medical schools should stop taking free drug samples. It may have worked — to some extent. A study this year found that academic medical centers that limited visits saw changes in prescribing patterns.

Now, the National Academies committee says doctors in private practice should also stop taking free samples and welcoming pharmaceutical visits. The AMA, which is nation’s largest membership group doctors, supports physicians using samples on a voluntary basis, particularly for uninsured patients.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

‘Please stop having children you aren’t willing to raise’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER)

 

Sen. John Kennedy: 

Imagine that you’re the parents of four children under the age of eight. Your home is strewn with stuffed animals and sippy cups. And, if you’re a couple named Colby and Lacey (a real couple from Utah), you keep drug paraphernalia next to the bassinet and smoke heroin in front of your children.For the life of me, I don’t know why anyone who is an addict would decide to become a parent and bring an innocent child into his or her sick drug den. My only conclusion is that some parents figure someone else will raise their children while they do drugs, drink, party, commit crimes, Snapchat, plant fake crops on FarmVille, and do anything but parent. They’d rather have the latest and greatest iPhone than help their children figure out eighth-grade algebra.

Thankfully, that’s not most parents in Louisiana, but it describes too many.

Life is precious. Anyone who’s looked into a newborn’s innocent eyes should realize how incredible it is to be blessed with a new life. That couple named Colby and Lacey allegedly gazed into their newborn’s eyes and then rubbed drugs into the child’s gums to hide the fact that she had been born addicted to heroin. Nurses say some parents do this all the time to hide their infant’s withdrawal symptoms.

Here’s my advice to couples like Colby and Lacey: Stop having children if you don’t plan to raise them.

A lack of good parenting sense isn’t just a problem for Colby and Lacey. Last month, an eight-year-old girl tested positive for cocaine in Baton Rouge, La., after a relative brought her to the hospital because her mother refused to do so. When authorities located the mother, she had cocaine and drug paraphernalia in her possession.

My heart aches for that child. At eight years old, you should be playing games, painting your fingernails purple, getting glitter on everything, and learning how to bake cookies. The last thing you should be doing at that age is testing positive for cocaine.

I don’t know that mother’s story, but I do know that she failed her child.

Too many parents are failing their children these days in Louisiana. Thousands of children are in the state’s foster care system. A woman in West Monroe was just honored for mothering 100 foster children over the years. Think about that: That one woman had to do the parenting for countless parents.

Too many people treat parenting like it’s the 20th item on their to-do list. Their social life, drug habit, and sleep schedule matter more to them than their children do. Talk to teachers and they’ll tell you: Children show up unbathed, unfed, and unprepared at school when they show up at all. Sometimes the system catches them and shuffles them into a foster home. Tragically, sometimes the system fails them like their parents did.

It’s not fair to those children, and it’s certainly not fair to our communities. Those children grow up broken. They don’t glue themselves together and get a scholarship to Louisiana State University. They often drop out of school, do drugs, commit crimes, and hold down minimum-wage jobs. They’re flushed down the toilet before they’re potty trained, and then taxpayers are left to take care of them.

Studies of high-performing schools tend to find a common thread: parental involvement. Those same studies show that the more interest you have in your children’s education, the better they do in school. The Southwest Educational Development Laboratory found that a family’s income does not determine how well kids score on tests or how often they show up for school. The determining factor is parental involvement.

Abraham Lincoln is a good example of the benefits of parental involvement. Lincoln easily could have died an illiterate farmer. He grew up on the frontier, where schoolteachers made sporadic appearances and lost his mother at a young age. An uneducated woman named Sarah Bush turned the tide for him. Sarah married Lincoln’s father and encouraged a rather feral Lincoln to nurture his love of reading. She thrust books in front of him. She ensured that he had a comfortable home and treated him like he was her natural child. That’s good parenting, and it helped shape Lincoln into one of this country’s greatest presidents.

But you don’t have to raise a future president. You just have to raise a child who has a little common sense, graduates from high school and stays off the road that leads straight to prison and drug addiction.

We launch public awareness campaigns to encourage people to recycle their soft drink cans, stop smoking and wear seat belts. Maybe we need to launch campaigns to encourage people to raise their children. Most Louisiana parents don’t need that encouragement. But if we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that some do.

Having children is a blessing. Treat your children like the blessings they are or don’t have them at all. Our foster care system and jails already are at capacity. There’s no more room at the inn.

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., was elected to the Senate in 2016. You can follow him on Twitter: @SenJohnKennedy

Biggest Opium Pushers In U.S. Are: U.S. Politicians & AG Jeff Sessions

In the United States, we have been hearing a lot about the drugs that are made from this plant over the past few years. I admit to those of you who don’t know me that I am neither a scientist, psychotherapists nor a medical doctor. I am just an average 61-year-old person who reads a lot and who pays attention to reality the best that I can. Even though I am not the smartest person in the U.S. I am a person that strives to be bluntly honest about everything even if I don’t personally like the results of the answer. Truth has ‘no spin’ to it! I have said a few times before on this website that there really is only one real Truth, and that is ‘God’s’ Truth. When you/we/I have an argument concerning any issue, if we can honestly say that we would stand before our Creator, look Him in His eyes and tell Him that we are speaking the Truth, then that argument would be the Truth, to the very best of our personal knowledge anyways. Either that, or we would be acting like a total idiot and or a fool because we would be condemning our own self on purpose.

I have a question for each of us, do we/you/I believe that the politicians in D.C. are looking out for our best interest or their own best interest? Do you believe that your Congressman/woman, Senator or President cares more about you, or about the lobbyist who is funding their next campaign and or their personal lifestyle? Now, before I get into the meat of this article on the Opium issue I will tell you up front that Marijuana legalization is something that I totally agree with. I believe, excuse me, I know, that Marijuana helps with nerve pain, I am 100% sure of that. Back when I was in the U.S. Army I was directly struck by a lightning bolt. Even Social Security says I am disabled even though the VA doesn’t agree that the lightning has anything to do with me being disabled no matter what the non-VA Doctors and other experts have to say about it. As most of you know the Federal Government and the crooked ignorant putz AG Jeff Sessions say that Marijuana is just as or even more dangerous than Heroin and they class Marijuana as a class one narcotic, just like Heroin. To believe the Federal Government’s argument a person would have to be either clueless just plain ignorant or ‘on the take.’ The Feds say that Marijuana has no medical value even though that is totally contrary to all of the scientific evidence that says the Feds are lying.

So, the argument comes down to, why does the Fed’s keep lying? Or, do you really believe they are simply that ignorant? As long as the Federal government continues this policy the VA is not allowed to prescribe Marijuana to the service-connected disabled Veterans. The VA has no problem pumping many billions of taxpayer dollars worth of pills into the disabled Vets every year whether we need them or not but they refuse to allow the Veterans to use God’s given Herbs for pain relief. What is even worse is that if the VA in one of their blood or urine test finds THC from Marijuana in your system, they will cold turkey you off of the drugs they are giving/selling to you. This is even though doing this to people on some of these medications can easily kill a person. Why would any remotely honest or caring person do that to people? The answer to this is simple folks, its money.

For those of you who don’t believe me, I am going to offer you some cold hard facts as to why I used the title of this article. Even if you are a person who says they would never ever smoke Marijuana, does that mean that you have any right to insist that others cannot, no matter what? I am going to use last November’s Elections in Arizona as a perfect example. This example shows just how dirty big Pharma is, I am going to show you just how much they want people to die from Opium use and the reason is simple, money!

Within everyone’s brain, there is what is called an MU Opioid Receptor. This is something that Opium sticks to in a person’s brain. Morphine is an Opioid drug, just like Heroin is so I am going to use them in this example. Even though Pharma made drugs like Morphine and Oxycontin are very expensive even on the street drugs like Heroin are amazingly cheap. Yet there is another man-made drug called Fentanyl, a synthetic form of Heroin that is even cheaper and easier to make than regular Heroin. Trouble is this that this street drug Fentanyl is about 100 times more powerful than Heroin and it is very deadly even to come into contact with very much of it at all. Fentanyl has become a major problem for first responders, EMS and Police as they do come into contact with it many times every day. These days Ambulances and Police Vehicles are being required to carry the ‘antidote’ for their own safety’s sake.

This ‘antidote’ is called Narcan and Narcan is a drug that is big Pharma made and distributed. Concerning Opium products like Heroin and Morphine the antidote, Narcan works quite well at knocking the Opium off of the MU Receptor yet it does very little to help get the Fentanyl off of the MU Receptor. Don’t get me wrong, people are still dying every day from Opioid overdoses also. The Fed said that Opioid overdoses are up more than 400% here in the U.S. since the year 2000. The big Pharma company’s who make Narcan know this fact very well, so do the politicians yet they prove to all of us that they do not care about all of these thousands of people who are dying nor their families, nor even the First Responders.

Now back to the 2016 Elections in the State of Arizona. The facts show that in the States that have made recreational Marijuana legal that Opioid overdoses and deaths are down about 50%. On a side note, in these states alcohol sales are down about 25%, think of how many people aren’t getting into car accidents because of drinking and driving. Also, think of how many domestic violence deaths aren’t happening in those States and how many fatal ‘bar fights’ aren’t happening. Yet the reality is that big Pharma companies make billions from their pharmacy-made drugs so just like last November in Arizona they pumped in many millions of dollars in false advertisements to try to get the people of Arizona to vote down making Marijuana legal in their State. The sad part is, they were successful in Arizona. The big Pharmaceutical companies have been pushing hard to get Narcan into every ambulance, police car, school, and home in America. There is only one reason for this and that is money, to heck with people’s lives, the only thing that really matters is a company’s profits. These Pharmaceutical companies know that Marijuana is a natural painkiller but they aren’t making any money off of a plant that anyone can grow in their own garden. Now, you do understand why I said that the politicians and people like AG Jeff Sessions want to keep Marijuana illegal don’t you? The answer is very simple, campaign contributions from these big Pharma Companies and because of many who own stocks in these same big Pharma Companies.

 

Here are some of the companies who put huge amounts of money into last November’s ‘anti-pot’ vote in Arizona. I got this information from (The Guardian, US News And World Report, Business Insider, the Huffington Post, and from Equities.com News.)

These companies are:

Chandler Pharma

Insys Therapeutics

Pfizer Inc

Walgreens Boot’s Alliance Inc

Amphastar Pharmaceuticals Inc

Mylan N.V.

Opnet Technologies Inc

 

Jeff Sessions Once Again Proves He Is Clueless Concerning Marijuana

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

A majority of Republicans are now in favor of marijuana legalization, a new Gallup poll released Wednesday finds.

The poll found that 51% of Republicans support marijuana legalization, a figure up nine points from a Gallup poll conducted last year.
The increase in legalization support comes as Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a Republican who has frequently criticized the use of marijuana, hasn’t yet announced whether he’ll continue to abide by more lenient Obama-era guidance and avoid enforcing federal law in states that have legalized the drug.
A record-high percentage of Americans — 64% — support marijuana legalization. Support was only 12% in 1969 when Gallup first started polling adults on this issue. A majority of Americans have supported legalization since 2013.
Among Democrats and Independents, legalization support is now 72% and 67%, respectively.
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A number of states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana at the state level and more than two dozen, including the district, have legalized it for medical purposes.
The Gallup poll is based on telephone interviews conducted October 5-11, 2017, with a random sample of 1,028 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia.

American Politicians And Opioid Stocks Equal Corruption And Death

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF EQUITIES.COM NEWS)

 

​Naloxone Stocks: Who’s Really Winning the Battle Against the Opioid Epidemic?

Henry Truc  | 

Despite wider recognition in recent years of the pervasive opioid epidemic spreading throughout the US, death rates from prescription drug overdoses have continued to skyrocket. Deaths from heroin and opioid painkiller overdoses have more than quadrupled since the start of the millennium and have now surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of accidental deaths in the country. But while admission of a problem is the first step to recovery, identifying and eventually addressing the numerous factors that led to this point will still take years, if not decades, to repair.

Until then, over 125 people are dying each day on average from drug overdoses—well over half of which are from heroin or prescription painkillers like hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin), oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin, Percocet), morphine (e.g., Kadian, Avinza), codeine, and related drugs. It’s a frightening statistic, and government and health officials around the country have been desperate for something to help them get a handle on the spiraling epidemic. That’s a primary reason for the exploding interest in Naloxone, a life-saving drug that counters opioid effects, including reversing overdoses.

On Monday, Walgreens (WBA) announced that it is making Naloxone, a medication that counters opioid overdose, available in more than 110 of its pharmacies in Alabama without a prescription. The rollout is part of Walgreens’ nationwide plan announced in February to make Naloxone available without a prescription in 35 states and Washington DC. Thus far, New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and now Alabama have expanded access to the medication. The program is expected to expand Naloxone availability to 5,800 of Walgreens’ 8,500 locations in the US. CVS (CVS) is also rolling out the drug in 14 states as well.

Pennsylvania, meanwhile, also made news recently when health officials introduced a plan to make Naloxone available at all of its high schools. Drug overdoses accounted for 2,000 deaths in the state last year.

The Race to Make Naloxone a Household Drug

Approved by the FDA in 1971, Naloxone is a generic drug that has actually been around for decades. It was used primarily in hospitals and by paramedics, but in recent years, higher demand for first responders and police officers to have the medication kits on hand has driven up the price of the drugfrom only $1 as recently as a decade ago to over $40 today. While the drug has been increasingly heralded by government and health officials as a biotech wonder drug and critical weapon against the growing epidemic in recent years, the outcry over aggressive price hikes has also been getting louder.



Now, with Naloxone becoming readily available over the counter across the US, demand is only going to increase, especially if consumers are being told they need to keep the medication handy in case of an emergency situation, however improbable that may be.

In November 2015, Adapt Pharma Ltd.’s NARCAN Nasal Spray formulation was approved by the FDA, opening the naloxone market up to the OTC market. The NARCAN Nasal Spray is based on the intranasal opioid antagonist platform technology of Opiant Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (OPNT)—which changed its name in February from Lightlake Therapeutics. In March, Opiant received a $2.5 million milestone payment from Adapt following the first commercial sale of the NARCAN Nasal Spray. Under the licensing deal, which was signed in December 2014, Opiant could receive total potential milestone payments of more than $55 million, and up to double-digit percentage royalties on net sales.

Suddenly, a Rapidly Crowding Market

But Adapt isn’t the only game in town. Hospira (a subsidiary of Pfizer [PFE]) and Amphastar Pharmaceuticals (AMPH) have been the leading providers of injectable naloxone for years, and the principle drivers of the price hikes.

Amphastar has also been selling an intranasal application, which administers its injectable formulation with an atomizer, for some time now. The company has also said it’s working on a naloxone nasal spray. In 2015, naloxone sales accounted for $38.6 million of the company’s $251.5 million in annual revenue, but was its fastest-growing segment with increased volume and higher average prices.

Another competitor, Kaleo Pharmaceuticals, is selling a naloxone auto-injector called Evzio at a considerably higher price of about $700-$800 per dose. Biotech giant Mylan (MYL) also sells a naloxone injectable formulation after obtaining FDA approval in 2014. Embattled INSYS Therapeutics (INSY)—which has seen its stock price collapse in the past year as a result of backlash to its opioid-based painkiller Subsys Fentanyl—also got its naloxone candidate designated on the fast track by the FDA.

More Price Hikes to Come?

For all the life-saving benefits of naloxone, it’s important to remember that, at best, it’s just a stop-gap solution to treat a symptom—albeit an incredibly significant one—rather than a cure for a condition. Critics of wider naloxone availability point to the possibility that expanded access creates a moral hazard and doesn’t address the crux of the problem—which is the actual opioid addiction. But again, that is a systemic problem that will take years, if not decades, to resolve.

In the meantime, pharma companies know they have yet another life-saving drug in their pipeline and the means to leverage it for more dollars from willing buyers. But one of the key advantages that companies like Hospira and Amphastar had a few years ago was that they owned an essential monopoly on the naloxone market—largely due to competitors leaving the space over time and thus reducing price competition. But as the field continues to get more crowded over time again, the window to maximize profits could be beginning to close. It’s just a matter of supply and demand at this point.

DISCLOSUREThe views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer

Companies

Symbol Name Price Change % Volume
INSY Insys Therapeutics Inc. 7.40 -0.21 -2.76 317,788  Trade
PFE Pfizer Inc. 36.16 -0.11 -0.30 12,238,708  Trade
WBA Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. 69.28 1.99 2.96 13,476,825  Trade
AMPH Amphastar Pharmaceuticals Inc. 18.19 -0.06 -0.33 78,906  Trade
MYL Mylan N.V. 38.78 -0.14 -0.36 3,030,309  Trade
OPNT OPNET TECHNOLOGIES INC 29.33 0.33 1.12 32,045  Trade

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