Briefs of interests to pharmacists

According to Charleston Gazette-Mail statehouse reporter Eric Eyre, a record number of West Virginians — 909 — fatally overdosed in 2017, up from 887 in 2016, the previous all-time high.  The data was released by the WV Health Statistics Center.

Top executives from five of the nation’s largest prescription drug distributors have agreed to appear next month before a congressional subcommittee that’s investigating the opioid crisis in West Virginia.

The West Virginia Attorney General’s Office reached a settlement with a Boone County pharmacy accused of distributing around 10 million doses of prescription painkillers over a 11-year period.  The settlement is for $550,000.  As part of the settlement, the pharmacist denies any allegation of wrongdoing.

A physician admitted to writing fraudulent prescriptions for the purpose of selling the items on the streets, according to a April 16, Metro News article.  The MD operated Weirton Suboxone Clinic in Weirton.  He admitted to prescribing oxycodone to individuals without a medical purpose.   The scripts were written in a manner that the individual could be paid by West Virginia Medicaid.   The physician faces up to 50 years in prison and fines totaling $1,000,000.

Kaiser Family Foundation’s new study shows that opioid addiction and overdose treatments cost large U. S. employers $2.6 billion in 2016.    Total opioid treatment costs break down to $1.3 billion for outpatient treatment, $911 million for inpatient care, and $435 million for prescription drugs.

In order to prevent an pharmaceutical drug shortage that negatively impacts patients, DEA is working closely with the U. S. Food and Drug Administration, drug manufacturers, wholesale distributors and hospital associations to ensure that patients have access to necessary hospital-administered pain medications.  These include certain injectable products that contain morphine, hydromorphone, meperidine and fentanyl.