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opioid crisis

Johnson & Johnson to contribute a further $1 billion to US opioid settlement

Johnson & Johnson will pay another $1 billion to settle lawsuits alleging it fuelled the opioid crisis in the US.

J&J already agreed a $4 billion settlement with a group of state attorney generals, which called for distributors McKesson Corp, AmerisouceBergen and Cardinal health to pay a combined $18 billion.

J&J said in a statement that the additional funds reflected the continued negotiations it had been carrying out with local governments.

New York files $2 billion lawsuit against J&J for downplaying risks of opioids in its marketing

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New York State is suing Johnson & Johnson in a lawsuit seeking $2 billion in damages for the company’s role in the opioid crisis.

The lawsuit targets the opioid medication Duragesic, which is a patch that contains fentanyl which the FDA first approved in 1990. It claimed to relieve pain over the course of 72 hours without the need to keep taking maintenance doses. The label did warn about the high concentration of fentanyl and said Schedule 2 opioids have the highest potential for abuse and fatal overdoses.

Canada to roll out automated drug dispensers to help fight opioid crisis

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Canada is set to roll out automated drug dispensers that can provide clean, doctor-prescribed medicine to opioid addicts by scanning their palm.

These machines are called MySafe Verified Identity Dispensers and weigh about 360kg. They are said to be “tamper proof”.

The dispensers have been designed so addicts can get opioids like hydromorphone that are clean instead of potentially dangerous knock offs from the street.

US states seek $26.4 billion from major pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors to settle opioid litigation

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Multiple Attorney Generals from across the US are seeking billions of dollars in damages to settle opioid cases against major pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors. 

This amounts to the states seeking a collective $21.14 billion from opioid distributors including Cardinal Health, McKesson Corp and AmerisourceBergen. They are also seeking $5.28 billion from Johnson and Johnson. 

UK Government officially announces National Institute for Health Protection to replace Public Health England

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The UK Government has officially announced that Public Health England will be replaced by the National Institute for Health Protection.

The government says the move has come due to the coronavirus pandemic, as they want the country to be better prepared for future pandemics. Matt Hancock, the British Health Secretary, told the press: “To give ourselves the best chance of beating this virus once and for all... we are creating a brand new organisation to provide a new approach to public health protection and resilience.

FDA approves opioid Olinvyk for patients with acute pain

The FDA has approved Olinvyk for the management of moderate to severe pain in adult patients when their pain is severe enough to require an intravenous opioid or if alternative treatments do not work.

Jonathan Sackler, co-owner of Purdue Pharma, dies from cancer

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Jonathan Sackler, son of Purdue Pharma founder Raymond Sackler, died on 30 June from cancer, according to the company. He was 65.

Jonathan served as an executive board member for Purdue but had recently stepped down, while retaining his ownership of the company. He had also been Vice President in the past, but was not as involved as his brother Richard who was Chief Executive.

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The coronavirus is again in the news, with the Indian government considering banning exports of medicine as the epidemic threatens vital pharmaceutical supplies from China. This is not just a regional issue, as Europe and the US are also having their drug production pipeline disrupted by the epidemic. 

In UK news, NICE gives initial ‘no’ to NHS England for kidney cancer drug, while experts have called on the organisation to ban the sale of over the counter codeine. 

Experts call on NICE to recommended a ban on OTC codeine sales

Experts have called for a ban on the sale of over the counter codeine as NICE is set to publish its draft guidance for the management of chronic pain next week.

Read the January/February 2020 edition of Pharmafocus online now!

Pharmafocus returns for the New Year with its January/February issue, and things have certainly changed since we left. Brexit got done – or at least, the first step in a long process – and the UK will leave the European Union at 11pm on 31 January.

It’s a path paved with uncertainty, but it does provide clarity for business and industry which have been previously unable to plan ahead in such a divided climate.

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