Reynolds Weekly: November 26, 2018

by November 26, 2018

Insys Therapeutics, Walgreens and CVS were added to a Florida lawsuit over their alleged contribution to the national opioid crisis. Here’s how to localize this and other stories in this week’s Reynolds Weekly. (Photo via Pexels)

Opioid Companies Suit

Insys Therapeutics, Walgreens and CVS were added to a Florida lawsuit over their alleged contribution to the national opioid crisis on November 16.

Insys Therapeutics was accused of providing kickbacks to doctors who prescribe Subsys, a strong narcotic, according to the press release from Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. According to legal documents, Florida alleges that Walgreens and CVS used oversold opioids to generate “mutibillion-dollar profits” and to be “held accountable” for their actions. Walgreens and CVS are “two of the largest opioid distributors” in the state, as stated by the attorney general’s press release.

Walgreens has not commented, according to NBC News.

The original lawsuit was filed in May. Over 9 major opioid manufacturers and distributors were filed as defendants.  

How to localize:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that around 66 percent “of the more than 63,600 drug overdose deaths in 2016 involved an opioid.” The overall opioid overdose-related deaths have increased five times as much since 1999.  

How many have been affected in your state? The CDC provides state-by-state data of death increases from 2014 to 2016. The National Institute of Drug Abuse outlines the different drugs that fall under the categories of opioids, as well as age ranges that have been affected, from 12 year olds to older adults.

What are the largest opioid distributors and manufacturers in your area? Also look into how certain insurance companies and medical professionals may profit.

We covered Aetna and CVS’s merger in a previous newsletter. We also wrote about The Rise of Retail Health Care.

Potential Peanut Allergy Help

A new treatment may help put a stop to peanut-related allergies.

The New England Journal of Medicine published the report on Sunday. 67.2 percent of those who received the treatment were able to consume peanut products. The study included 554 participants, who ranged from the ages of 4 to 55, in 10 countries in North America and Europe. All had a peanut allergy.

This treatment, AR101, is meant to be exposed gradually over a period of six months in order to build up resistance via oral capsules.

However, the study’s lead author, Dr. Brain Vickery, warned that this was not a cure-all to fully eradicate the allergy, only to help children consume peanut-related products safely. Dr. Vickery also stated that although the trials involved mostly participants from 4 to 17 years old, the effects should be beneficial to adults.

Peanut allergies often trigger fatal anaphylaxis, which restricts the lungs and makes it difficult for the person to breathe. Those with peanut allergies are at higher risk, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Peanut allergies often last a lifetime.

AR101 is in its “final stages of clinical testing,” according to the Aimmune Therapeutics, Inc. page. The company will submit AR101 to the FDA for approval this  December.

How to localize

More than 3 million people are affected in the U.S. since 2002. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports food allergies in general affect 4 to 6 percent of children. How many people in your area have peanut allergies?

1 in 7 have experienced a reaction in restaurants. Are local restaurants or other food establishments taking steps to prevent this? If so, how? Are there any peanut-free or other allergy-free restaurants in your area?

How many people take medicine for peanut allergies? What are the common treatments? What is the cost of the medicine? How does insurance factor into it?

Lastly, how may this treatment help people in your area? What are some of the drawbacks?

Pacific Gas & Electric Company Face Liability for California Wildfires

The Camp Fire continues to burn since November 8. President Trump blamed “poor fire mismanagement,” but California-based Pacific Gas & Electric Company may be partially to blame.

The company did not shut down power during Paradise’s Red Flag warning, saying in a Tweet that “weather conditions did not warrant this safety measure.” In addition, it reported having trouble with a electrical transmission line prior to the fire. This has caused controversy on the company’s reaction and whether was responsible for exacerbating the most “deadliest and destructive” of California wildfires.

Utility-related issues are not typically found responsible for wildfires, but if PG&E is, it will “exceed its insurance coverage” and may suffer, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Northern California wildfire originated in Butte County’s Camp Road Creek. NPR reports that the Northern California fires have killed 79 people, while 699 people remain missing. Property damage includes “more than 11,700 single-family homes and nearly 3,000 other buildings.”

In Southern California, the Woolsey Fire is 96 percent contained, albeit with over 1,500 properties destroyed or damaged, with over 96,000 acres burned.

How to localize:

What is your local power companies’ strategies when natural disasters strike?  How much accountability are they held for?

How do cell phone companies react in emergency situations? There were problems with communications for civilians and emergency services, including evacuation notifications and cell service.

How about prisoners who fight the fires? What are they paid? (California relies on the inmates to fight wildfires more than any other state at low extremely wages.) Is there such protocol in your area?