US opioid epidemic: it’s harder to get the painkillers I legitimately need

BMJ 2017; 356: j784
Author: Kelly Young
“The crackdown on misuse of prescription drugs has had unfortunate consequences for people with legitimate needs in the US. Stricter laws have made access to controlled medications more difficult. Patients wonder whether restricting their access is necessary to reduce illicit drug use when the misconduct of physicians running for-profit ‘pill mills’ has been responsible for most misuse.”
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Exclusive: Canada seeks warnings on prescription painkillers amid rising deaths

Reuters, 23 January 2017
Author: Anna Mehler Paperny
“As deaths from powerful painkillers continue to rise, Canada is pursuing unprecedented measures to curb their use, including requiring cigarette-style warning stickers on every prescription, Health Minister Jane Philpott told Reuters.”
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Letting Seriously Ill Patients Try Drugs Whose Safety, Efficacy Hasn’t Been Proven Could Be Deadly

Forbes, 20 January 2017
Author: Rita Rubin
“The new FDA report, released practically on the eve of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, challenges critics who want to make drugs available to patients as soon as possible. It includes several examples of drugs and vaccines that had a favorable effect on biomarkers–measurable indicators of health, such as blood cholesterol levels–but did not improve symptoms or reduce the risk of a disease.”
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Drugmakers await FDA guidance on ‘off-label’ uses of medicines

The Hill, 19 December 2016
Author: Sarah Chacko
“Doctors commonly prescribe drugs to treat conditions the medications weren’t designed for, but for drugmakers, discussing such “off-label” uses can lead to trouble. As a result, drugmakers have been pushing both the Food and Drug Administration and lawmakers to draw clearer lines around communicating about unapproved uses of their products, particularly since it affects what companies can tell insurers. Such information is used to negotiate prices for covered medical products and their place in certain payment models.”
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Health Care Complaints Commission v Tan [2016] NSWCATOD 147

Decision date: 6 December 2016
“In this case the Tribunal heard an application from the Health Care Complaints Commission to make disciplinary findings in relation to eight complaints against a doctor specialising in cosmetic medicine. The doctor had a history of drug use, and in July 2014, had been hospitalized after being found unconscious in his clinic as a result of the use of Propofol, Pethidine and Midazolam.”
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Morality and non-medical drug use

BMJ 2016; 355:i5850
Author: A C Grayling
“Conservative moral attitudes are fruitful in causing social problems. The question of the use of drugs such as cannabis and heroin is a prime illustration of this fact. Arguably, neither the use nor the misuse of mind altering substances is a moral problem, though both, and especially misuse, can cause practical problems. But if in addition their use is criminalised, those problems are exacerbated and the cost to society balloons.”
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Health Care Complaints Commission v Chen [2016] NSWCATOD 144

Decision date: 28 November 2016
“The Health Care Complaints Commission prosecuted Dr Mengyi Chen, a medical practitioner, before the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (‘Tribunal’). The complaint alleged unsatisfactory professional conduct and professional misconduct in relation to Dr Chen’s inappropriate prescribing of Schedule 8 and Schedule 4D drugs, including prescribing drugs of addiction to drug dependent patients, and Dr Chen’s failure to maintain adequate medical records.”
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Company brings unapproved lifesaving drugs to Australia. But is it medicine for the rich?

SMH, 5 December 2016
Author: Liam Mannix
“The Social Medwork, a Netherlands-based organisation that has just started importing to Australia, offers patients drugs that have been approved by US and European regulators but not by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration.”
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