CEPOP, MAPDA Announce 4-Part Webinar Series Highlighting Confluence of COVID-19 and Opioid Epidemic

Following on a series of discussions among the Steering Committee and participants, CEPOP and Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse (MAPDA) are pleased to announce a series of four policy-focused webinars around the confluence of the COVID-19 pandemic and national opioid epidemic. It has been well documented the difficulties in accessing healthcare during the pandemic notwithstanding treatment for opioid use or substance use disorders. In response to these challenges and associated changes, CEPOP and MAPDA will explore the following topics:

  • Digital Health Interventions and Telemedicine
  • Prescription Opioid and MAT Policy Changes
  • Opioid Overdose Reversal Medications – Access and Utilization
  • Addressing Excess Medications in the Home

Given the topics provided above, we encourage Weekly Opioid Policy Report recipients to provide Matt Rubin with any suggested speakers spanning clinical care, academia, agency or congressional contacts. A formal email with logistics around series registration is forthcoming as well as the webinar agendas and related materials. Additional information is also available in the overview document.

FDA, Commerce Announce Pilot to Combat Illegal Online Opioid Sales

On June 8th, the FDA and Department of Commerce announced the formation of a pilot program aimed at combatting the illegal advertisement and sale of prescription opioids and illicit narcotics online. The 120-day pilot was first announced during the Second Online Opioid Summit held in April 2019, led by former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb.

The parties involved in the pilot include FDA, Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and three U.S.-based domain name registrars – Neustar, Verisign and Public Interest Registry – the organizations responsible for dispensing web domains ending in .us, .com, .net and .org. Based upon the reports provided by FDA as a “trusted notifier” and non-compliance to agency warning letters by website operators, registries will be able to take action through locking, deleting or placing a hold on the website.

Following the four-month pilot, FDA and NTIA will assess the findings of the pilot and potential effectiveness of lock-and-suspend protocol to combat illegal online drug sellers.

Articles & Resources

FDA Newsroom – Federal Government Announces New Pilot Program to Help Stop Illegal Availability of Unapproved Opioids Online

NTIA Newsroom – Commerce Department Announces NTIA Pilot Program with HHS, FDA to Fight Illegal Online Opioid Sales

What We Read Last Week

Several articles were published last week pertaining to the opioid epidemic, covering a variety of different components of the issue. Links to relevant articles are provided below.

Articles & Resources

Wall Street Journal – Opioid-Addiction Treatment Is Limited by Shortage of Authorized Doctors

Health Affairs Blog – COVID-19: Substance Use Disorder, Privacy, And The CARES Act

Health Affairs Blog – Expanding Access To Treatment For Opioid Use Disorder: The Pandemic Presents A Learning Opportunity

Journal of the American Medical Association – Association Between Opioid Prescriptions and Non-US-Born Status in the United States

Bloomberg – Walgreens, Rite Aid Sued by West Virginia Over Opioid Sales

Washington Post – Overdose Deaths in Maryland Climb Amid Pandemic, Prompting New Approach

St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Opioid-Related Deaths Jump 47% for Black Men in St. Louis County

National Safety Council – Employers Must Brace for Increased Employee Substance Misuse Due to Pandemic’s Impact on Mental Health

Philadelphia Business Journal – Can a Free Lyft Ride Help Combat Opioid Addiction? Philly Startup Gets $252,000 to Find Out

Democrat & Chronicle – Opioid Overdoses Spike 25% in Monroe County; Bill Would Require Pharmacies to Offer Narcan

Reuters – Special Report: COVID Deepens the Other Opioid Crisis – A Shortage of Hospital Painkillers

Law360 – Opioid MDL Judge Orders More Briefing on $3B Attorney Fees

Law360 – Drug Co. Wants ‘Free Pass’ For Shady Opioid Sales, DOJ Says

CBC – Pandemic Worsens Canada’s Deadly Opioid Overdose Epidemic

Office of the West Virginia Attorney General – Office of the Attorney General of West Virginia’s Investigation Into The DEA

Office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo – Governor Cuomo Announces Insurance Fraud Action Against Global Opioid Manufacturer

Federal Register (Submission Reminder: June 16th) – CDC: Management of Acute and Chronic Pain: Request for Comment

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri – Pharmacist Indicted for Presenting Forged Prescriptions for Opioid and Anti-Malaria Prescription

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia – Meds2Go Express Pharmacy, Inc. Sentenced for Role in Drug Diversion Scheme

U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio – Charles City Nurse Anesthetist Sentenced to Nearly Three Years in Federal Prison for Drug Tampering and Diversion Scheme

U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania – Savage Family Pharmacy To Pay $180,480 In Civil Penalties For Violations Of The Controlled Substances Act

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama – Spanish Fort Woman Sentenced to Five Years’ Probation for Forging Prescriptions for Hydrocodone

U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut – Wallingford Doctor Arrested for Selling Opioid Prescriptions for Cash, Health Care Fraud

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan – West Bloomfield Doctor Charged with Illegal Distribution of Prescription Drugs Resulting in Death of Patient

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan – Nineteen Individuals Indicted In $41 Million Illegal Opioid Distribution Conspiracy

This Week’s Calendar

We hope that everyone is remaining safe and healthy. There are no relevant hearings or markups scheduled at this time. In the instance that there are any changes to the schedule for this week, we will make additional information available.

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