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Vertava Health’ Weekly Roundup 2/10 – 2/16

2/10/18 – 2/16/18

Some of the most noteworthy events that happened this week in the addiction and mental health community around the world.

Purdue Pharma To Stop Marketing Addictive Opioid To Doctors

After being sued for their role in the opioid epidemic by many states, the maker of the opioid painkiller, OxyContin, will stop promoting the drug to doctors. While many are heralding the company for their decision, others believe that this action is coming a little too late. America is already in the midst of an opioid epidemic, one that can partially be attributed to Purdue Pharma’s deceptive marketing practices of powerful opioid painkillers. Learn more about how this decision will help combat the opioid epidemic. [middle-callout]

One Doctor Struggles With How To Treat An Opioid Addicted Patient

In the early 2000’s, Dr. Mukherjee was randomly assigned a new patient he would come to know as S. As he read through her file, Dr. Mukherjee noted that she was complaining of headaches and had visited three walk-in clinics in the past week- each time she left with a small stash of opioid painkillers. Despite being taught that opioids were the most effective and non-addictive way of treating chronic pain, Dr. Mukherjee didn’t feel comfortable prescribing his new patient such a potent drug without a real diagnosis. His decision to not prescribe opioids lead to a 12-month battle between doctor and patient. Read about Dr. Mukherjee’s ethical dilemma on prescribing opioids pre-epidemic. 

The Opioid Epidemic Has Cost The U.S. $1 Trillion And Counting

The opioid epidemic isn’t just costing the United States lives, but approximately $1 trillion and climbing since 2001. While the greatest financial cost of the opioid epidemic is productivity loss and lost earnings to employers, this public health crisis has also financially impacted the healthcare industry and taxpayers. Read more about who bears the financial burden of the opioid epidemic.

New Research Could Help Treat Alcohol Addiction And Relapse

New research has been released by the Journal of Alcohol and Alcoholism on the potential causes of alcohol addiction and relapse. Researchers scanned the brain of individuals diagnosed with alcohol use disorder and found that the neurotransmitter glutamate could have a role in creating intense cravings. With approximately 30 percent of all Americans suffering from alcohol dependence of alcohol use disorders, this discovery couldn’t have come at a better time. Learn more about how researchers plan to use their findings.

Decline In Life Expectancy Linked To Opioid Epidemic, Alcohol And Suicide

The life expectancy for Americans has been declining for the last two years, and today, it sits about 1.5 years below the benchmark for other industrialized nations. This trend marks a stark reversal of nearly a century of improving health for Americans and it’s largely attributed to opioid overdoses, alcohol related deaths and suicide. While this trend has touched every American in some way, this epidemic of despair is disproportionately claiming the lives of rural white Americans in the prime of adulthood. Read more about how the opioid epidemic, alcohol and suicide has influenced the life expectancy of all Americans.

Experts Share How They Would Combat The Opioid Epidemic

The opioid epidemic was declared a public health emergency by President Trump in October 2016- but the administration has yet to pursue a specific strategy on how to combat it. This is where the New York Times stepped in. They asked 30 experts, including law enforcement officers, government officials and sociologists, how they would spend $100 billion to combat the opioid epidemic and developed the framework of a strategy. Read about their suggestions.

Massachusetts Opioid Overdose Death Rate Declines 8.3 Percent

Massachusetts experienced a surge in opioid related overdose deaths from 2013-2016, including a 39 percent increase in overdose deaths from 2013-2014. However, the public health commissioner of Massachusetts confirmed on Wednesday that fatalities by opioid overdose have fallen by 8.3 percent in 2017. While no one can pinpoint exactly what caused the downturn is overdose deaths, the state believes it can be attributed to the mass distribution of the overdose-reversal drug Naloxone, and a 30 percent decrease in prescribing opioids. Learn how Massachusetts plans to continue this trend.