NIH Study Highlights Disparities in Opioid Overdose Deaths

A new study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests that, from 2018 to 2019, non-Hispanic Black individuals in four states – Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, and Ohio – experienced an overall 38% increase in opioid overdose deaths while overdose death rates for other groups remained unchanged or declined. The study analyzed death certificates from 67 communities that participate in the NIH’s HEALing Communities Study and found that the highest death rate increases among non-Hispanic Black individuals were in Kentucky and Ohio. The study also suggests that non-Hispanic Black individuals and non-Hispanic white individuals may not benefit from opioid use prevention and treatment interventions equally, citing data from New York that showed an 18% decline in opioid overdose death rates among non-Hispanic white individuals. NIH researchers attributed the disparities to evidence-based interventions not being widely implemented in community settings, but noted that preliminary versions of these data helped support NIH’s intervention planning and public health response, which included establishing more partnerships with Black community groups to distribute naloxone. In a press release, NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow said, “We must explicitly examine and address how structural racism affects health and leads to drug use and overdose deaths. Systemic racism fuels the opioid crisis, just as it contributes mightily to other areas of health disparities and inequity, especially for Black people. We must ensure that evidence-based interventions, tailored to communities, are able to cut through the economic and social factors that drive disparities in substance use and addiction, to reach all people in need of services.”

Articles & Resources

NIH – Disparities in opioid overdose deaths continue to worsen for Black people, study suggests

LINK to Study

Counties to Require Co-Dispensing of Medication Disposal System

In an effort to prevent opioid misuse and overdoses, two counties in New York – Rensselaer County and Albany County – are now requiring pharmacists to include safe disposal kits with every opioid prescription. The kits can be used in opioid recipients’ homes and disposed of in the trash, and include a bag with materials that deactivate the opioids when mixed with water. Rensselaer County is the first county in New York to pass legislation requiring the inclusion of the safe disposal product and Albany County leaders have signed an executive order adopting the same policy.

Articles & Resources

Times Union – Local counties mandate at-home disposal option for opioid prescriptions

FDA Announces Public Workshop on Opioid REMS

In a Federal Register Notice published last Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a virtual two-day public workshop and comment docket focused on “Reconsidering Mandatory Opioid Prescriber Education Through a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) in an Evolving Opioid Crisis.” During the workshop, which will be held on October 13-14, 2021, FDA will solicit feedback from the public about the need for mandatory prescriber education requirements under the REMS drug safety program, the value of one source for continuing education on opioid use, and the ways to reduce prescriber burden. In preparation of the workshop, the agency has published supplementary information on the Federal Register website that provides an overview of the REMS program and the proposed topics for discussion. FDA is holding the workshop in collaboration with the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy and encourages stakeholders from a variety of sectors, including healthcare, professional associations, Federal and State Agencies, patient organizations, insurance, and continuing education, to attend the workshop.

The public docket (FDA-2021-N-0951) will accept comments through December 3, 2021. Those interested in attending the workshop can register here.

Articles & Resources

Federal Register – Reconsidering Mandatory Opioid Prescriber Education Through a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy in an Evolving Opioid Crisis; Public Workshop; Request for Comments

LINK to FDA Public Workshop Page

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

Bloomberg Government – Warren Calls to Publicly Manufacture Drugs Like Insulin, EpiPens

Congressman French Hill – Release: Rep. Hill Announces Plans to Introduce Legislation to Combat Opioid Crisis

Congresswoman Susan Wild – Reps. Wild, Bacon, Trone, Fitzpatrick Reintroduce Bipartisan Legislation to Expand Free School Meals for Children Affected by the Opioid Crisis

DEA – Medical Doctor Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances

Drug Discovery and Development – University of Minnesota launches clinical trial for opioid vaccine

EurekAlert! – Experimental opioid vaccine is being tested at Columbia

Forbes – Overdose Awareness: Why It Matters

Law360 – Endo Strikes $50M Opioid Deal In NY Amid Trial Tumult

Physician’s Weekly – Outpatient Pain Management Via Telementoring Proves Effective

Senator Dick Durban – Durbin Meets With Biden’s Nominee To Lead The Office Of National Drug Control Policy

Senator Michael Bennet – Bennet Announces $400,000 Award to Strengthen Emergency Medical Services Training in Rural Colorado Communities

Senator Michael Bennet – Bennet, Cornyn Call on Congress to Drastically Reimagine America’s Mental and Behavioral Health Care System

Senator Shelley Moore Capito – ICYMI – Capito, Cook: “To Improve Health Outcomes For West Virginians, We Must Empower Patients”

The New York Times – America Desperately Needs a Much Better F.D.A.

The Washington Post – Use the Opioid Settlements to Fight the Opioid Crisis

USC News – Risk of opioid overdose appears higher in older Americans, USC study indicates

This Week’s Calendar

In the week ahead, there are no relevant events or hearings noticed at this time. In the event that there are any changes to the schedule for this week, we will make additional information available.

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