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Nearly 60 Doctors, Other Medical Workers Charged In Federal Opioid Sting

April 17, 2019 | NPR News

Federal prosecutors are charging 60 doctors, pharmacists, medical professionals and others in connection with alleged opioid pushing and health care fraud, the Justice Department said Wednesday. The charges came less than four months after the Justice Department dispatched experienced fraud prosecutors across hard-hit regions in Appalachia. The cases involve more than 350,000 prescriptions for controlled substances and more than 32 million pills — the equivalent of a dose of opioids for "every man, woman and child," across Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and West Virginia, said Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski. America's Opioid Epidemic THROUGHLINE America's Opioid Epidemic "You can rest assured, when medical professionals behave like drug dealers, the Department of Justice is going to treat them like drug dealers," added Benczkowski, who runs the DOJ's criminal division. Those charged include 31 doctors, seven pharmacists, eight nurse practitioners and seven other licensed medical professionals, the Justice Department said.

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US warns docs not to abruptly halt opioid pain treatment

April 9, 2019 | ABC News

U.S. health officials Tuesday warned doctors not to abruptly stop prescribing opioid painkillers to patients who are taking them for chronic pain ailments, such as backaches. The Food and Drug Administration said it will add advice to labels on how to taper opioid painkillers, such as OxyContin, Vicodin and dozens of generic pills. Federal and state officials have been fighting a nationwide opioid epidemic, which includes not only legal painkillers, but also illicit drugs like heroin and fentanyl. Fatal overdoses tied to opioids have dragged down U.S. life expectancy and killed more than 400,000 people since 1999, according to government figures. The new label will warn doctors that rapidly discontinuing opioids in patients who are dependent on them can cause withdrawal symptoms including uncontrolled pain, nausea, chills and anxiety. In the worst cases, these problems have been tied to suicide.

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Davis company raises $5 million to start human trials for pain drugs

March 18, 2019 | Sacramento Business Journal

A Davis-based pharmaceutical developer has received $5 million to start human clinical trials for its new pain drugs. EicOsis Human Health has been developing treatments for neuropathic and inflammatory pain, such as that from diabetes or arthritis, since 2011. The company is currently developing pain drugs for human uses, as well as relief for cats, dogs and horses. The recent funding round saw $5 million come in from Open Philanthropy Project, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that focuses on research grants and policy. The philanthropy chose EicOsis for its opportunity to reduce suffering from chronic pain conditions, according to a news release.

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IU School of Medicine makes breakthrough toward developing blood test for pain

February 12, 2019 | IU School of Medicine

A breakthrough test developed by Indiana University School of Medicine researchers to measure pain in patients could help stem the tide of the opioid crisis in Indiana, and throughout the rest of the nation. A study led by psychiatry professor Alexander Niculescu, MD, PhD and published this week in the high impact Nature journal Molecular Psychiatry tracked hundreds of participants at the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis to identify biomarkers in the blood that can help objectively determine how severe a patient’s pain is. The blood test, the first of its kind, would allow physicians far more accuracy in treating pain—as well as a better long-term look at the patient’s medical future. “We have developed a prototype for a blood test that can objectively tell doctors if the patient is in pain, and how severe that pain is. It’s very important to have an objective measure of pain, as pain is a subjective sensation. Until now we have had to rely on patients self-reporting or the clinical impression the doctor has,” said Niculescu, who worked with other Department of Psychiatry researchers on the study. “When we started this work it was a farfetched idea. But the idea was to find a way to treat and prescribe things more appropriately to people who are in pain.”

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