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Top Ten most popular articles on this week

Corruption and bribery feature heavily in the news this week. A recently exposed 1997 email chain shows Dr Richard Sackler, member of the billionaire founding family of Purdue Pharma, knew about the potential abuse of opioids by its clients. In India, a recent report by the Support for Advocacy and Training to Health Initiatives (Sathi) revealed the widespread use of bribes by pharmaceutical companies in India, and how they take advantage of the lax government penalties against such actions.

Seizures of black market diazepam tablets double in the UK in a year

The number of illegal diazepam tablets seized by the UK Border Force has doubled in a year, going from 545,000 in 2017 to 1.3 million in 2018.

Diazepam, also known as Valium, it a class-C drug that is used to treat anxiety, muscle spasms and seizures. The medicine is available on the NHS through prescription. The drug is recommended to be taken for no longer than four weeks. A person caught with the drug without a prescription could face a jail sentence of up to two years.

Sacklers could give up Purdue Pharma and settle 2,000 lawsuits for $10-12 billion, proposal says

The Sackler family are offering to settle more than 2,000 opioid crisis lawsuits for between $10-12 billion, according to NBC.

Sackler family lawyers said in a confidential meeting in Cleveland on 20 August that the family would settle lawsuits brought about by states, cities and counties for a sum of between $10 billion and $12 billion.

J&J must pay $572 million for fuelling opioid crisis in Oklahoma, judge says

A judge in Oklahoma has said that Johnson & Johnson must pay $572 million for the part it played in fuelling the opioid crisis which kills more than 130 a day in the United States.

Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman has said Johnson & Johnson must pay the state of Oklahoma $572,102,028, after Oklahoma prosecutors demanded more than $17 billion in payment over the role the firm played in worsening the opioid crisis through aggressively marketing opioid drugs.

Camurus' weekly/monthly opioid dependence injection accepted in Scotland for NHS use

Image Credit: US Air Force Valerie Monroy

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has announced its acceptance of Buvidal (buprenorphine prolonged-release solution for subcutaneous injection) from Swedish pharma and biotech firm Camurus, approving its use for patients on NHS Scotland for the treatment of opioid dependence.

The decision covers patients over the age of 16, administered weekly or monthly “within a framework of medical, social and psychological treatment”.

Researchers design automatic opioid overdose antidote device

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Researchers at Purdue University are developing a device that would automatically detect an overdose in opioid users and release a burst of naloxone, an antidote to opioids deadly effects.

Hyowon "Hugh" Lee, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Purdue, explained: “The antidote is always going to be with you. The device wouldn't require you to recognize that you're having an overdose or to inject yourself with naloxone, keeping you stable long enough for emergency services to arrive.”

Ohio prosecutors file charges against opioid distributor Miami-Luken

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Federal prosecutors in Cincinnati have filed criminal charges against opioid distributor Miami-Luken, and four others, over the role they played in the opioid crisis in the United States.

Two former Miami-Luken executives and two pharmacists have been charged with fuelling the opioid crisis and flooding small towns in Appalachia with huge quantities of opioid drugs.

Oklahoma lawyers say J&J is kingpin of pharmaceutical cartel

Lawyers representing the State of Oklahoma described Johnson & Johnson as the ‘kingpin’ in a ‘pharmaceutical cartel’ as they accused the healthcare conglomerate of playing a central role in the opioid epidemic in the United States.

Oklahoma lawyers including Attorney General Mike Hunter told a judge that J&J’s ‘greed’ had led the company to sow ‘utter confusion’ about the risks of opioid painkillers with their years-long marketing campaign.

Fewer opioids prescribed in states with medical marijuana, research shows

Fewer opioids are prescribed in states with legal medical marijuana, according to research from University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

All in all, the number of opioid prescriptions has tripled in the past 25 years. This increase in the number of prescriptions has in turn seen the number of opioid related deaths rise as the US saw 29,406 synthetic opioid overdose deaths in 2017 alone.

Top Ten most popular articles on this week!

The pharmaceutical industry is a big polluter than the automotive industry. This was our top story this week. The findings should force us to consider the damage the sector is doing to the environment as we ask ourselves what might be done to make pharma more green.

Meanwhile the UK government refused to sign up to a WHO resolution calling for greater transparency in drug pricing. Alongside Germany and Japan, Britain sought to protect its own interests as drug prices continue to rise.

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