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Analysis of death records shows growing disparities in opioid epidemic

February 15, 2022 | NIH Director's Blog

Based on the most recent data, about 100,000 people now die in the United States from drug overdoses over the course of a year, about half of them from synthetic opioids and primarily fentanyl [1,2]. That’s more than a 30 percent increase over 2019 levels, and a reminder that the exact causes of these tragic overdoses continue to evolve over time, including from changes in how people use drugs. Now, an NIH-funded study provides a detailed look at one shift in drug use: overdose deaths involving some combination of opioids and stimulant drugs, including cocaine and methamphetamine. These latest findings on the nation’s opioid epidemic, from a thorough analysis of death certificate data over a decade and up to the start of the pandemic, showed an alarming rise in overdose deaths from combined opioids and stimulants in all parts of the country. The data also reveal extremely troubling racial disparities. Opioid/stimulant deaths among Black Americans have risen at more than three times the rate seen among non-Hispanic white people, especially in Eastern states. In other parts of the country, there’s also been a disproportionate increase in these combination overdose deaths among Hispanic and Asian Americans.

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Opioid alternatives: FDA offers insights on developing non-addictive drugs for acute pain

February 9, 2022 | RAPS

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued draft guidance to industry on the development of non-opioid analgesics for acute pain in an effort to spur the development of non-addictive pain treatments. The draft guidance, which is part of a larger Overdose Prevention Strategy from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), focuses on generating data for an indication of management of acute pain, labeling claims related to the elimination or reduction of opioid use, and the potential use of expedited programs for regulatory approval.

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Drug overdoses are costing the U.S. economy $1 trillion a year, government report estimates

February 8, 2022 | CNBC

Fatal opioid overdoses are thought to be costing the U.S. economy $1 trillion each year, government officials have said. In a report published Tuesday by the bipartisan U.S. Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking, it was revealed that synthetic opioids — primarily fentanyl — were responsible for almost two in three reported drug overdose deaths in the U.S. in the year to June 2021.

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Drug overdose deaths in the U.S. have topped 100,000 for the first time

November 17, 2021 | NPR News

More than 100,000 people died over a 12-month period from fatal drug overdoses for the first time in U.S. history, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. "This tragic milestone represents an increase of 28.5%" over the same period just a year earlier, said Dr. Deb Houry with the CDC in a call with reporters Wednesday. "[Overdoses] are driven both by fentanyl and also by methamphetamines," said Dr. Nora Volkov, who heads the National Institute On Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health.

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Pacira boosts non-opioid pain portfolio via $450M Flexion buy, with more CVR payments to come

October 11, 2021 | Fierce Pharma

Pacira is buying Flexion Therapeutics for an equity value of about $450 million, or $630 million including debt, the two companies said Monday. The deal gives Pacira Zilretta, an extended-release treatment for osteoarthritis knee pain. The addition of Zilretta plus two clinical-stage pain med candidates “aligns with the Pacira mission to provide an opioid alternative to as many patients as possible,” the company said in the statement. Pacira will buy Flexion’s shares at $8.50 apiece, a 47% premium to their previous closing price. Flexion opened trading today at $9.85 per share. The deal is heavily backloaded, with a cash payment of up to $8-per-share saved as a nontradeable contingent value right (CVR).

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