CEPOP and MAPDA Wrap Webinar Series TODAY with Focus on Excess Medications in the Home, Safe Disposal

At 3:00pm ET this afternoon, CEPOP and MAPDA will host the final webinar in the policy series focused on the confluence of the opioid epidemic and COVID-19 pandemic. We’ll hear from a panel of nationally-recognized leaders around the importance of addressing excess medications in the home in an effort to reduce misuse, abuse and diversion of opioids and other controlled substances. Panelists will discuss the implications around shifting the primary point of care to the home and how recent policy changes and related authorities help advance this particular component of the epidemic response.

Joining us this afternoon will be:

  • General Arthur T. Dean, Chairman and CEO, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA)
  • Cece Spitznas, Ph.D., Senior Science Policy Advisor, Office of National Drug Control Policy, Executive Office of the President
  • Admiral James Winnefeld, USN Ret., Founder, SAFE Project
    J. Douglas Thornton, Ph.D., PharmD, BCPS, Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Health Outcomes and Policy, University of Houston College of Pharmacy
  • Bernice Burkarth, M.D., HMDC, FAAHPM, Chief Medical Officer, Home Health Foundation
  • Judi Lund-Person (Moderator), National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

Thank you to all CEPOP participants and allies who have helped make the first three sessions so successful and ensured a robust turnout from these important discussions. Over the last five weeks, we’ve been encouraged to see such interest and engagement through the policy series and look forward to continued dialogue and action aimed at reducing opioid misuse, abuse, diversion and overdose deaths.

Recordings of the first three sessions, along with additional information, is available on the CEPOP website. For additional information or to view on-demand recordings of the previous webinars, please visit the event page.

Please reach out to Matt Rubin with any questions.

CDC Data Paints Grim Outlook on Opioid-Related Deaths During Pandemic

The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control’s National Vital Statistics System released updated provisional drug overdose data last week that included preliminary data from January 2020. The rolling 12-month statistics – from January 2019 through January 2020 – demonstrate a 6.6% increase over the previous year. Alarmingly the agency’s data on R12 overdose deaths running through December 2019 had only indicated a 4.8% rise.

The provision data released was accompanied by a new publication in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report which aimed to look at changes in mental health, substance use and suicidal ideation during the pandemic. Findings from a survey of more than 5,400 Americans indicate that more than 40% of U.S. adults are struggling with mental health and substance use-related issues to be further exacerbated by morbidity and mortality due to the coronavirus and related impacts of physical distancing and social isolation. In particular the survey found that 13.3% of respondents had either initiated or increased substance use during the pandemic. Nearly one-quarter of respondents aged 18-24 indicated the pandemic impacted their substance use and greater impacts also felt by those without formal education or are employed/deemed essential.

Articles & Resources

CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report – Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, June 24–30, 2020

LINK – CDC National Vital Statistics System Provisional Drug Overdose Death Counts

House Energy & Commerce Leaders Seek Update on COVID-19 Impacts on Epidemic Response

Bipartisan leaders in the House Energy & Commerce Committee sent a letter last week to HHS Secretary Alex Azar seeking answers around the Administration’s response to the opioid epidemic amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The members requested that Secretary Azar brief the committee on data available around opioid use and illicit narcotic abuse, overdoses, and impacts on those statistics due to the pandemic. Looking ahead, the Committee seeks to identify additional areas where the Administration may assist in combatting rising deaths.

The letter underscores the importance of this type of intervention as, “The world’s public health experts, governments, and industries are focused on the COVID-19 pandemic – and that work continues, but we must not become complacent about other threats that our country faces, nor allow the progress we have made to become undone.”

Signatories on the letter included: Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (NJ), Ranking Member Greg Walden (OR), Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Anna G. Eshoo (CA), Ranking Member Michael Burgess, M.D. (TX), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Diana DeGette (CO), and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Brett Guthrie (KY).

Articles & Resources

Bipartisan Committee Leaders Request Information on COVID-19’s Impact on Addiction and Overdose Crisis – Bipartisan Committee Leaders Request Information on COVID-19’s Impact on Addiction and Overdose Crisis

APhA, Walmart Partner on Online Opioid Training for Pharmacists

On Wednesday, the American Pharmacists Association and Walmart announced the extension of an online training program around opioid stewardship to all U.S. pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, expanding what was once a program for Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacists. To date, more than 18,000 individuals have completed the program, which runs for approximately 6.5 hours across six modules and covers areas such as pain management, drug diversion, opioid alternatives and naloxone utilization.

Articles & Resources

APhA Newsroom – APhA Collaborates with Walmart to Provide Free Comprehensive Opioids Training Program for All U.S. Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians Nationwide

Drug Topics – APhA, Walmart Provide Free Opioid Training to Pharmacists, Technicians

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

Dallas Morning News – ‘I Am Alone’: Opioid Relapses on the Rise as COVID-19 Interrupts Drug Addiction Recovery in Dallas

PennToday – Enhanced Recovery Program Significantly Reduces Post-Op Opioid Use

PBS Newshour – Opioid Deaths are Surging in the Pandemic. Here’s How Treatment is Adapting

U.S. News – The Opposite of Addiction is Connection: Preventing Opioid Overdoses During COVID-19

Georgetown Law O’Neill Institute for National & Global Health Law – Medication-Based Treatment for Substance use Disorder in Correctional Facilities: 2020 State Legislation & The Long Road to Providing Treatment to Incarcerated Populations

WTOP – Pandemic is Making Opioid Crisis Worse, Experts Say

Capital Gazette – Battling Another Epidemic: Opioid Treatment Programs Move to Telehealth During Coronavirus Emergency

NY Governor’s Office – Governor Cuomo Announces Nearly $1 Million to Expand Mobile Addiction Treatment Services

The Toronto Star – In the Shadow of COVID-19, Canada’s Opioid Epidemic Has Suddenly Become Deadlier

Senator Shaheen (NH) Newsroom – Shaheen Introduces Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Increase Global Cooperation in Fight Against Synthetic Drug Trafficking

NIH Director’s Blog – Addressing the Twin Challenges of Substance Use Disorders and COVID-19

Journal of the American Medical Association – Association of Opioid Prescription Initiation During Adolescence and Young Adulthood With Subsequent Substance-Related Morbidity

Department of Justice – West Virginia Doctor Found Guilty of Unlawfully Distributing Opioids

U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts – Lexington Doctor and Office Manager Indicted in International Money Laundering Scheme Involving Non-Approved Drugs

U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma – Tulsa Doctor Enters Pleas of Guilty in Opioid Drug Conspiracy and Maintaining a Drug Involved Premises

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky – Eastern Kentucky Doctor and Assistant Plead Guilty to Unlawfully Distributing Opioids

This Week’s Calendar

The House and Senate have returned to their districts as part of the August recess although both chambers are subject to a 24-hour recall for any potential vote surrounding a comprehensive pandemic response. At this time, no opioid-related hearings or events are 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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