CDC Updates Overdose Reporting Data, Now Demonstrates a 10.0% Increase Through March 2020

Since our reporting last week, the CDC’s National Vital Statistics System has been updated again to now include data related to March 2020 overdose mortality. Based upon the available metrics, the data is more alarming pointing to a 10.0% increase in mortality over the twelve months through March 2020. That number jumped 1.6% as compared to the February 2020 data and is significantly up from upon the 6.6% increase as of January 2020 and 4.8% in December 2019. As projected, these numbers estimate nearly 75,600 overdose deaths during that time period. Led primarily by fentanyl, synthetic opioids, cocaine, and heroin were largely responsible for the staggering uptick.

Articles & Resources

CDC National Vital Statistics System – Provisional Drug Overdose Death Counts

DOJ Announces $341 Million Directed to Opioid-Related Programs

In remarks during a Philadelphia roundtable earlier this week, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Katharine T. Sullivan noted, “We believe that people who break the law should be held accountable, but we also believe very strongly that people who are dealing with addiction and mental illness need support. Otherwise, they will continue to be a danger to themselves, to their families and to their communities. It’s in all our interests that they succeed, which is why we will continue working hard to make sure that treatment and safety are part of a unified response.

Articles & Resources

DOJ Newsroom – Department of Justice Announces More Than $341 Million in Grants to Combat America’s Addiction Crisis

DOJ Newsroom – Remarks by Katharine T. Sullivan, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Justice Programs, at the Pennsylvania Roundtable on Mental Health and Addiction

Top Energy & Commerce Republicans Push FDA on OxyContin Label

On Wednesday, three Republican members of the House Energy & Commerce committee sent a letter to FDA Commission Stephen Hahn requesting additional information around the agency’s 2001 label change to OxyContin. Joined by E&C  Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Brett Guthrie (KY) and Representative Morgan Griffith (WV), Energy & Commerce Committee Ranking Member Greg Walden (OR) sought to understand if the relabeling of the product could have ultimately led to the promotion and increased prescribing of high-dose opioids, particularly for OxyContin.

This outreach follows several other initiatives led by the Committee in engaging both the FDA and OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma. In receiving further information, the Committee hopes to understand how FDA came to this decision and the downstream impacts it may have had on the nation’s burgeoning drug addiction crisis. By November 12th, the Committee hopes to receive feedback from the agency around the type of analysis use to come to the relabeling decision and any lessons learned from this process.

Articles & Resources

Energy & Commerce Newsroom – E&C Republican Leaders Press FDA on OxyContin Labeling Change

LINK to Letter from Reps. Walden, Guthrie and Griffith

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

Associated Press – Leader of Dark-Web Opioid Drug Ring Gets Life Sentence

USA Today – America Is Still in the Middle of an Opioid Epidemic. Why Did We Stop Talking About It?

U.S. News & World Report – Opioid Deaths: America’s Other Fatal health Crisis Hasn’t Gone Away

STAT News – Attorneys General Urge the Justice Department to Revise a Settlement Deal with Purdue

Washington Post – The Opioid Crisis Didn’t Disappear Amid the Pandemic. It Still Calls for Urgent Action.

Law360 – Opioid MDL Bellwether Trial Delayed Amid COVID-19 Fears

Law360 – Allergan, Teva Sanctioned For Flouting Opioid MDL Discovery

Law360 – J&J Strikes $5B Deal Pushing 3,000 Opioid Suits Toward End

Law360 – Negotiation Class Wants 6th Circ. Full Review of Opioid MDL

PennLive – Former Geisinger Nurse Charged with Diverting Narcotics for Personal Use

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York – Local Pain Doctor Going To Prison For 70 Months For Conspiring To Distribute Controlled Substances And Health Care Fraud

This Week’s Calendar

The House and Senate have no opioid-related hearings or events scheduled at this time as they continue to address several pressing topics including a Supreme Court nomination, coronavirus pandemic relief and the forthcoming presidential election. In the instance that there are any changes to the schedule for this week, we will make additional information available.

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