AARP reported on CNN’s investigation into Nuedexta. “A “little red pill” being aggressively marketed to long-term care residents is bringing in more than $100 million a year in Medicare money for its manufacturer, even though it “may be unnecessary or even unsafe,” CNN is reporting.”

“The drug, Nuedexta, is approved to treat pseudobulbar affect (PBA), a relatively rare condition marked by uncontrollable laughing or crying. However, the pill “is being propelled by a sales force focused on expanding the drug’s use among elderly patients suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and high-volume prescribing and advocacy efforts by doctors receiving payments” from manufacturer Avanir Pharmaceuticals, CNN reported.”

The full report, which also contains details about possible health risks of Nuedexta, can be found at CNN.com.

The Washington Post reported how Big Pharma bullied and bought the Federal Drug Administration and Drug Enforcement Administration.  In April 2016, Congress stripped the DEA of its most potent weapon against large drug companies suspected of spilling prescription narcotics onto the nation’s streets.  For years, some drug distributors were fined for repeatedly ignoring warnings from the DEA to shut down suspicious sales of hundreds of millions of pills, while they racked up billions of dollars in sales. One internal DEA memo obtained by The Post and “60 Minutes” noted that the bill essentially eliminates the agency’s power to file immediate suspension orders of drug shipments. The new law “is fixing a problem that doesn’t need fixing,” a DEA official wrote.

The new law made it virtually impossible for the DEA to freeze suspicious narcotic shipments from the companies. That powerful tool had allowed the agency to immediately prevent drugs from reaching the street.  The chief advocate of the law that hobbled the DEA was Rep. Tom Marino, a Pennsylvania Republican who is now President Trump’s nominee to become the nation’s next drug czar.

Political action committees representing the industry contributed at least $1.5 million to the lawmakers who sponsored or co-sponsored four versions of the bill, including nearly $100,000 to Marino and $177,000 to Hatch. Overall, the drug industry spent $106 million lobbying Congress on the bill and other legislation between 2014 and 2016, according to lobbying reports.

“The law was the crowning achievement of a multifaceted campaign by the drug industry to weaken aggressive DEA enforcement efforts against drug distribution companies that were supplying corrupt doctors and pharmacists who peddled narcotics to the black market. The industry worked behind the scenes with lobbyists and key members of Congress, pouring more than a million dollars into their election campaigns.”

By then, the opioid war had claimed 200,000 lives. Overdose deaths continue to rise. There is no end in sight.  Drug industry officials and experts blame the origins of the opioid crisis on the overprescribing of pain pills by doctors.

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