Claims That ACA’s Medicaid Expansion Fueled Opioid Crisis Puzzle Experts

A new report shows that the overdose death rate rose nearly twice as much in states that expanded Medicaid compared with states that didn’t, but experts say the analysis misses some crucial facts and skips standard steps that researchers use to rule out coincidences. In other news on the epidemic: Advocates urge the Food and Drug Administration to pull high-dose opioids from the market, the administration still hasn’t officially declared a national emergency, Arizona files a lawsuit against a drugmaker for its marketing tactics and more.


The Associated Press:
Medicaid Fueling Opioid Epidemic? New Theory Is Challenged


An intriguing new theory is gaining traction among conservative foes of the Obama-era health law: Its Medicaid expansion to low-income adults may be fueling the opioid epidemic. If true, that would represent a shocking outcome for the Affordable Care Act. But there’s no evidence to suggest that’s happening, say university researchers who study the drug problem and are puzzled by such claims. Some even say Medicaid may be helping mitigate the consequences of the epidemic. (Johnson and Alonso-Zaldivar, 8/31)


Stat:
FDA Is Urged To Withdraw ‘Ultra’ High-Dose Opioids Over Risks


In the latest bid to combat the opioid crisis, several groups representing public health officials, physicians, and safety advocates are urging the Food and Drug Administration to remove “ultra” high-dose opioids from the market, arguing that the risks outweigh the benefits. In making their case, the groups point to research showing that a person who takes high dosages has a risk of developing an opioid use disorder that is 122 times greater than someone who has not been prescribed opioids, while a person taking a relatively low dose is 15 times as likely to develop a disorder. (Silverman, 8/31)


The Hill:
No Action On Opioid Emergency Three Weeks After Trump Declaration 


President Trump on Aug. 10 said the nation’s opioid epidemic was officially a national emergency. More than three weeks later, Trump is dealing with a natural disaster. Hurricane Harvey has displaced tens of thousands, leading Trump to declare federal emergencies in Texas and Louisiana. The decisions have freed up funding to help people who have lost their homes to rising waters. In contrast, nothing has happened yet since Trump’s declaration on opioids. (Weixel and Roubein, 8/31)


The Wall Street Journal:
Arizona Accuses Insys Of Fraudulently Marketing Fentanyl Painkiller


Insys Therapeutics Inc.’s legal woes worsened Thursday when the state of Arizona filed a lawsuit claiming the company improperly marketed a powerful opioid painkiller. Arizona’s attorney general, Mark Brnovich, alleged in the suit that Insys engaged in a fraudulent marketing scheme to boost sales of Subsys, a prescription mouth-spray formulation of fentanyl. (Randazzo, 8/31)


The CT Mirror:
Opioid Crisis Deepens As Malloy Again Signs Legislation To Curb It


For the third year in a row, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has put forward and signed legislation aimed at curbing the growing opioid epidemic in Connecticut. … The bill Malloy signed is not as wide-reaching as changes enacted last year, but it increases oversight of prescriptions for painkillers and requires certain individual and group health insurers to cover medically necessary, inpatient detoxification treatment. (Constable, 8/31)


WBUR:
Reports Of Rehab Scams Raise Concerns About Addiction Treatment Quality


South Florida is known as one of the addiction recovery capitals of the country, with thousands of treatment centers and sober houses. … Florida officials have set up task forces to try to clean up the industry and in the past 10 months they’ve arrested dozens of program operators on charges related to improper treatment. (Becker, 9/1)


Stat:
Proove, Which Sold Iffy DNA Tests, Is Selling Assets Amid Criminal Probe


Proove Biosciences, a formerly high-flying genetic testing firm whose science and business practices have been challenged by experts and former employees, has been placed into court-ordered receivership for “restructuring and asset sale,” according to the company’s founder and former CEO. Proove’s founder, Brian Meshkin, said in an interview on Thursday that he no longer works at Proove, which rang up $28 million in revenue last year. Meshkin blamed the company’s fall on investigative articles published by STAT last December and February. Those articles quoted experts who expressed deep doubts about the company’s scientific claims that it could predict a patient’s likelihood of becoming addicted to opioids. (Piller, 8/31)


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