Essential Updates: Comp Medical News for May


Welcome to this month’s edition of Comp Medical News. Obesity, the Chinese fentanyl trade, and welding fumes are your headlines for May 2019.

Obesity May Dull Spinal Cord Stimulation Effects

Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic have found that reported pain relief from spinal cord stimulation is 20 percent better in underweight and normal weight patients versus morbidly obese patients. Investigators used self-reported data from 181 patients treated with spinal cord stimulation implants to determine the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and pain relief. Categorized into four groups, the researchers found a 2 percent reduction in efficacy for every BMI unit.

Read more here.

Naloxone Still Unavailable for Most at Risk for Opioid Overdose

A study published in the JAMA Open Network found that only 1.5 percent of high risk opioid users also have prescriptions for naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal drug. Researchers from the University of Chicago Medical Center assessed 33.5 million private insurance claims from October 1st, 2015 and December 31st, 2016, 138,108 of which had indications for opioid use disorder. Among those claims, only 2,135 had naloxone prescribed after a hospitalization, emergency room visit, or office visit. A prior overdose along with a diagnosis of opioid use disorder increased the likelihood that a patient was prescribed naloxone. However, many patients who had overdosed never received that diagnosis and were then even less likely to have a naloxone prescription – just 0.8 percent.

Read more here.

Trade War with China Could Jeopardize Fentanyl Action

A Reuters report with information from ten sources within the U.S. government found that if the trade war between America and China continues to escalate, Chinese cooperation in the fight against cheap imported illicit fentanyl could evaporate. China pledged that from May 1st it would expand the list of narcotics subject to state control to the more than 1,400 known fentanyl analogues, however, trade negotiations (centering around tariffs paid by U.S. importers for Chinese goods) have become derailed since then. The Reuters sources said that they would expect China to make less of an effort to regulate fentanyl products in a type of soft retaliation. Synthetic opioids like fentanyl were involved in 28,000 U.S. overdose deaths in 2017.

Read more here.

African-Americans Less Likely to Receive Buprenorphine for Opioid Addiction

Research published in JAMA Psychiatry found that over a decade-long period in nationwide survey data on clinic visits for opioid addiction through 2015, African-Americans were 77 percent less likely than their white counterparts to receive buprenorphine, one of three drugs that are used in Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder. Lead study author Dr. Pooja Lagisetty of the University of Michigan School of Medicine in Ann Arbor surmised that the disparity could be partially due to the fact that buprenorphine (as opposed to other MAT drugs like methadone) is more commonly prescribed in primary care clinics in more affluent communities with more white and insured residents.

Read more here.

Insys Founder Convicted in Opioid Marketing Scheme

John Kapoor, Insys Pharmaceuticals’ former chairman, was found guilty of racketeering for his company’s marketing practices related to Subsys, a fentanyl product. Prosecutors said Kapoor also directed efforts to defraud insurers who were reluctant to pay for Subsys. His and his co-defendants (former Insys executives and managers Michael Gurry, Richard Simon, Sunrise Lee and Joseph Rowan) face up to 20 years in prison. An attorney for Kapoor indicated that he would appeal the decision from the Boston-based court.

Read more here.

Welding Fumes Found to Increase Cancer Risk

Researchers from the University of Utah and Intermountain Medical Center found that workers exposed to welding fumes developed cancer at higher rates, even after controlling for factors like asbestos exposure and smoking. Welding fumes had previously classified as “possibly carcinogenic” to humans. For the current analysis, researchers examined data from 45 previously published studies with a total of roughly 17 million participants. Overall, people who worked as welders or had exposure to welding fumes were 43 percent more likely to develop lung cancer.

Read more here.

Courtesy of Louisiana Comp Blog


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