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All Posts in Category: Healthcare in Politics

Abrupt Discontinuation of Opioids Dangerous, FDA Warns

Reports of “serious harm” in patients dependent on opioid painkillers who suddenly stop taking the medication, or rapidly decrease the dose, have prompted a drug safety communication issued today by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Harms from abruptly stopping opioids or rapidly decreasing the dose include “serious withdrawal symptoms, uncontrolled pain, psychological distress, and suicide,” the FDA said.

While the FDA continues to track this “safety concern,” the agency is requiring changes to the prescribing label for these medicines that are intended for use in the outpatient setting. These changes are designed to promote safe tapering or discontinuing of opioids in patients who are physically dependent on the medication.

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Megan Brooks

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Another Lawmaker Overlooks Pain Management in Bill to Fight Opioid Crisis

“Dependence isn’t addiction, and that is continually left out of the discussion and the policies being made,” said disability advocate Maelee Johnson.

Hardly a day goes by when the discussion of opioids and their misuse is not on the front page of local or national newspapers. However, the flipside of the issue, pain management, is barely, if ever, centered in the conversation.

This came up most recently with Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, who seeks to advance a bill he previously introduced called the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act 2.0, which would, among other things, establish a three-day limit for opioid prescriptions.

This lack of focus on disabled and chronically ill patients has inadvertently pitted doctors against their own patients, who are framed as going down the rabbit hole of dependency following a sprained ankle or routine dental surgery. But this overly simplistic framing erases people with long-term disabilities and chronic health conditions who are struggling to live their lives while being punished for using the best tools we have available to enable their full participation in society.

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 Rebecca Cokley

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Legitimate opioid use for pain management

People across the country who are dealing with serious acute and chronic pain issues are becoming increasingly alarmed and confused about whether their opioid prescriptions will remain available.

If you are someone who’s looking at a major surgery, such as spinal fusion or a total knee replacement and resulting acute pain; are dealing with chronic pain, from conditions such as Crohn’s disease or rheumatoid arthritis; or are in palliative care after battling cancer, you should know there’s a lot of misinformation out there.

Unfortunately, doctors, pharmacists and patients can fall victim to faulty reporting and make decisions based on what they believe are facts but are half-truths instead. That’s why we’re going to set out the current information, so you know — or can find out — where you really stand.

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Unintended consequences of opioid crackdown

The overdose problem – and a rise in suicides, another byproduct of the drug epidemic — is so pervasive it’s being blamed for a drop in U.S. life expectancy.

The crisis has led to a rush of public health and law enforcement initiatives at all levels of government. The federal government has vowed to cut prescription opioids by a third. More than 30 states have passed some type of legislation aimed at attacking the opioid epidemic.

“Defeating this epidemic will require the commitment of every state, local, and federal agency,” President Donald Trump said in a March speech in New Hampshire. “Failure is not an option. Addiction is not our future. We will liberate our country from this crisis.”

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House votes to expand veterans’ access to private care

House lawmakers on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed legislation expanding veterans’ access to private care at taxpayer expense, a campaign promise of President Donald Trump, and adding more money to the “Choice program” weeks before VA officials said it could run out of money.

The $51 billion plan that passed 347-70 Wednesday includes $5.2 billion for the VA Choice program that funds private care. VA officials have warned that the program could run out of money as early as the end of the month, disrupting care for patients.

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