Monday, February 1, 2016

The Flu, My Inbox, and Opioids

I found myself felled by the flu last week.  I'm glad to be back on my feet and figured it would make my life easier if I caught up on my inbox and blogged about what I found there at the same time... Here's what popped in there while I couldn't stand to stare at a screen:

Vicodin scripts plummeted due to the rescheduling of hydrocodone from SIII to SII.  There were over 26 million fewer scripts (a 22% drop) and over 1 billion fewer tablets (a 16% drop) as a result of the change.  That's a dramatic shift.  But did those scripts disappear?  Or were they replaced by other opioids?  Yeah, that's what I think, too.

US Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) is holding up confirmation of a new FDA Commissioner over some of the practices that appear to have caused the last FDA Commissioner to resign.  Markey wants a reformed approach to opioid approvals and for FDA to rescind its approval of oxycodone for pediatric populations.  These are tough tactics.  Whether or not you agree with him, here's a Senator using the power of his office to shine a light on a major issue and trying to create change in an agency that desperately needs it.

Any high school in the US that wants Narcan on hand in case of a drug overdose can now have it free of charge (thanks to the the drug's manufacturer and the Clinton Foundation).  I'm not supportive of a Narcan script along with every opioid script, but having this drug on hand in high schools as standard operating procedure is good public policy.  Why would a high school turn this down?  Any principal that does so risks being hoist by his own petard... and on the front page of his local paper trying to explain why the poor kid died when he might have been saved.

The US Preventative Services Task Force has recommended that all adults >18 be screened for depression.  Some of you are thinking, "whoa... that's gonna be expensive!"  And you're right, it will be.  But you know what the only thing more expensive than diagnosed depression is?  Undiagnosed, untreated depression.  So let's start getting used to this being a good idea.  Quote to take away on this one is from Dr. Keith Humphreys, a professor of psychiatry at Stanford: "The reality of American healthcare is that mental health has to be done in primary care."

So I guess I didn't miss much.

On Twitter @PRIUM1

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