At the height of the opioid epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released prescription guidelines with the goal of reducing addiction and overdoses. They recommended lessening the dose and number of pills prescribed, yet some doctors decided to cut off patients immediately, without factoring in withdrawal and other side effects.
Results of a recent study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health found that, when a pharmaceutical company offers gifts and other perks to a doctor, he or she has a higher incidence of prescribing opioids.
Hours before the first trial concerning the role of drug companies in the opioid epidemic, Teva Pharmaceuticals and three distributors settled for $260 million. Cuyahoga and Summit, two communities in Ohio, accused Teva – the world’s largest manufacturer of generic drugs – and distributors McKesson, Cardinal Health Inc. and AmerisourceBergen of making false, misleading claims that resulted in addiction and at least 400,000 fatalities.
Johnson & Johnson introduced Invokana in 2013 as a drug to treat Type 2 Diabetes. Part of the drug class known as SGLT2 inhibitors (sodium glucose co-transporter 2), Invokana decreases blood sugar through the kidneys, causing them to release more urine. The drug may discard as much as 100 grams of excess glucose per day. Canagliflozin is Invokana’s active ingredient.
Cities with high numbers of opioid overdoses are suing drug manufacturers for downplaying the serious side effects of this drug class. On this subject, the Justice Department’s Inspector General released a critical assessment at the beginning of October 2019. The lengthy document indicates the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) did not step in as overdoses increased and painkillers flooded the black market. The Inspector General claims their practices, many with loopholes and insufficient monitoring, are partially to blame.