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With New Drug To Help Addicts, Pharma Companies Chase Profits From Opioid Epidemic

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at October 17, 2016

The pharmaceutical industry has taken to treating secondary symptoms of opioid abuse with more pills. Meanwhile, even as the U.S. tries to regulate the trade of chemicals used to make fentanyl, a new, extremely potent drug is hitting the streets.

The Washington Post: The Drug Industry’s Answer To Opioid Addiction: More Pills
Cancer patients taking high doses of opioid painkillers are often afflicted by a new discomfort: constipation. Researcher Jonathan Moss thought he could help, but no drug company was interested in his ideas for relieving suffering among the dying. So Moss and his colleagues pieced together small grants and, in 1997, received permission to test their treatment. But not on cancer patients. Federal regulators urged them to use a less frail — and by then, rapidly expanding — group: addicts caught in the throes of a nationwide opioid epidemic. Suddenly, Moss said, investors were knocking at his door. (Cha, 10/16)

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Seeks Curb On Chemicals Used To Make Fentanyl, A Powerful Opioid
The U.S. has asked the United Nations to help curb the trade of chemicals used to make illicit batches of fentanyl, a powerful opioid painkiller causing thousands of overdose deaths nationwide. In a letter to the U.N. Secretary-General last week, Secretary of State John Kerry asked that two fentanyl ingredients be added to a list of controlled substances in a U.N. convention that regulates narcotics internationally, according to a copy of the letter provided by the State Department. (Whalen, 10/14)

Boston Globe: Carfentanil, The Newest Killer In Opioid Epidemic, Is 10,000 Times Stronger Than Morphine 
An extremely powerful drug used as an elephant tranquilizer has quickly become a new killer in the nation’s opioid epidemic, and New England authorities and health workers are bracing for its arrival. The drug, carfentanil, is a synthetic opioid that is 10,000 times stronger than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl, another deadly synthetic opioid. The emergence of a new, even more powerful drug would present a fresh challenge to local officials already battling a raging crisis. (MacQuarrie, 10/16)

And Donald Trump releases more details on his plan to battle the crisis —

Stat: Donald Trump Pledges To Increase Treatment Options For Opioid Addiction
Donald Trump delved into new details of his plan to deal with nation’s worsening opioid epidemic on Saturday, going beyond his earlier promise to “build a wall” by pledging to crack down on prescription drug abuse while offering help to those struggling with addiction. In a statement released before a rally in New Hampshire, Trump praised Congress’s passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act as “an important step.” He promised to increase first responders’ access to life-saving Narcan, encourage in-patient treatment for people struggling with addiction, and incentivize state and local governments to mandate treatment. (Garden 10/15)

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