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EPA Meeting in Horsham is All About Perfluorinated Chemical Contamination of Local Water Supplies

EPA Meeting in Horsham is All About Perfluorinated Chemical Contamination of Local Water Supplies | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

High-ranking officials will be among the contingent sent by the Environmental Protection Agency to its Community Engagement session in Horsham on Wednesday. The all-day meeting, originally announced in early summer, will focus on perfluorinated chemicals that have contaminated the aquifer beneath Horsham, Warminster, Warrington and parts of surrounding communities.

 

According to a full agenda released last week, those attending will include Peter Grevatt, the agency’s top official for ground and drinking water issues, as well as Andy Gillespie, an associate director of the agency’s Office of Research and Development.

 

Also attending will be the Department of Defense’s Maureen Sullivan, who serves as deputy assistant secretary for environment, safety and occupational health, in addition to officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

 

Perfluorinated chemicals are currently unregulated, and have been popping up in water supplies across the country. Local contamination was discovered in 2014, and eventually was found to affect the drinking water of at least 70,000 current residents along the Bucks and Montgomery County border, as well as uncounted former residents and military veterans. The chemicals are suspected to have come from firefighting foams used at area military bases.

 

The day will begin at 10 a.m. with introductory remarks, followed by Grevatt giving an update on the agency’s actions on the chemicals. Gillespie will then present EPA research on the chemicals, followed by the DOD and CDC officials sharing “their experiences and challenges with PFAS.”

 

Following a lunch break, representatives of the Pennsylvania agencies will be joined by their counterparts from neighboring states to discuss issues each state faces. There also will be local panels, with a 1 p.m. session bringing together 10 municipal and water authority executives to discuss their experiences. At 2 p.m., local residents Hope Grosse and Joanne Stanton, along with Philadelphia environmental attorney Mark Cuker, will deliver a “community presentation.”

 

After an afternoon break, an open public comment period will run from 3:45 to 9 p.m.

 

Further Reading:

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johnmacknewtown's curator insight, July 24, 6:42 AM

I will attend and report what I learned at an upcoming Board of Supervisors meeting (hopefully, the Aug 8, 2018, session).  A representative of the Newtown Artesian Water Company hopefully will also be there to present a report on the quality of Newtown water and to answer questions from residents.

Public Health & Safety
These curated news items about public health issues such as opioid addiction, water and air quality, emergency services, traffic, crime, etc., were selected by John Mack. Any opinions and "insights" appended to these article summaries are solely those of John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.
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Founder of Insys Indicted for Bribing Docs to Illegally Prescribe Fentanyl. Lock Him Up!

Founder of Insys Indicted for Bribing Docs to Illegally Prescribe Fentanyl. Lock Him Up! | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

The founder of Insys Therapeutics Inc. was arrested Thursday and charged with allegedly bribing doctors to improperly prescribe Insys drugs containing the powerful opiate Fentanyl — the biggest arrest in a nationwide crackdown that’s already netted two convictions in Mobile.

 

John N. Kapoor, 74, was arrested in his home state of Arizona Thursday and charged with RICO conspiracy as well as other felonies including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Law. To date, Kapoor is the most prominent pharmaceutical executive to be charged in any drug conspiracy.

 

John Kapoor, billionaire founder of pharmaceutical company Insys Therapeutics, was arrested and charged with leading a drug conspiracy on Oct. 26, 2017. (insysrx.com)

Kapoor, the former Executive Chairman of the Board and CEO of Insys, founded the company in the late 1990s.

He resigned after six former Insys executive board members were indicted in December 2016, though he has remained an active boardmember and majority owner of the company.

 

The month after those indictments, the Department of Justice turned its attention to Mobile, where Dr. John Patrick Couch and Dr. Xiulu Ruan — owners and operators of Physicians Pain Specialists of Alabama — were being tried on many of the same charges Kapoor himself now faces.

 

After a seven-week trial, Ruan and Couch became the first medical professionals in U.S. history to be convicted on federal RICO charges that were originally intended to combat organized crime. They were each sentenced to at least 20 years in federal prison, and the federal government has since seized millions of dollars in cash, cars and property from both.

 

What ties the two local pain docs to Kapoor are the drugs that his company produced and marketed, most notably the fentanyl-based product Subsys. Intended and FDA approved to treat “breakthrough pain in Cancer patients,” Ruan and Couch were accused of prescribing the drug to non-cancer patients without a legitimate medical purpose.

 

Further Reading:


Via Pharma Guy
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The Public Now Can Request That More Illnesses Be Added to the List to Qualify For Medical Marijuana In PA

The Public Now Can Request That More Illnesses Be Added to the List to Qualify For Medical Marijuana In PA | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

[Under Act 16 of 2016 (the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act or the Act), the term “medical marijuana” refers to marijuana obtained for a certified medical use by a Pennsylvania resident with a serious medical condition.]

 

A process that would enable additional medical conditions to be added to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana in Pennsylvania has been approved by the state's Medical Marijuana Advisory Board.

 

The advisory board recently approved the process, the state health department announced Friday.

 

"As medical literature surrounding the uses of medical marijuana expands, we want to ensure our list of qualifying conditions meets the needs of Pennsylvanians," Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said in a statement.

 

According to information from the state, an individual can submit a request to add a condition to the list by contacting Ra-dhmedicalcond@pa.gov. The request must be submitted at least 15 days prior to a scheduled meeting of the board. If the board approves the request, the application will then go on to the secretary of health for consideration.

 

If rejected, the requestor will have the ability to request reconsideration by the chairperson of the board. If a request is denied a second time, either by the chairperson or the board, the individual request will be denied for one year, or until new scientific evidence is available, according to the new policy.

 

Requesters can be members of the public or physicians.

 

"This process will allow those with serious medical conditions to apply to have their condition be part of the list of qualifying conditions, with the support of medical professionals and documentation that supports their application. This process further enhances our efforts to provide a medically and clinically-based program that assists Pennsylvanians in need," Levine said.

 

The application can be found under the Medical Marijuana Advisory Board section of the state health department's website.

 

Further Reading

johnmacknewtown's insight:

IMO, it’s time to amend PA Act 16 to allow patients with common chronic pain to have access to MMJ in order to avoid opioids!

 

I interviewed Dr. Frank D’Ambrosio, one of the leading voices for medicinal cannabis policy reform in the U.S. Doctor Frank – as he likes to be called – published a survey of medical marijuana patients in California to find out more about what conditions patients use cannabis for and if they have used cannabis to replace or reduce their intake of any other prescription medications such as opioids. Listen to the podcast here.

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Newtown Supervisors to Consider Filing Suit Against Opioid Manufacturers, Promoters, and Distributors at December 12, 2018, Meeting

Newtown Supervisors to Consider Filing Suit Against Opioid Manufacturers, Promoters, and Distributors at December 12, 2018, Meeting | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

On the Agenda:

 

New Business

Consideration to authorize Marc J. Bern Partners, LLP, & Cordisco & Saile, LLC to file suit against the manufacturers, promoters, and distributors of synthetic prescription Opioid medications on behalf of Newtown Township

johnmacknewtown's insight:

While campaigning for Newtown Township Supervisor, I said: “Aside from ensuring the safe and legal use of these products, opioid-producing drug companies should, in my opinion, fund local and national efforts to combat addiction to these drugs.” (Read “Attacking the Root of the Opioid Crisis - Pharmaceutical Companies”). One idea I had was for a local generic opioid producer to fund a 24/7 drug drop-off box. Since then Newtown police have taken the initiative to make our drug drop-off box available to residents even after closing hours and on the weekend. For more about that, read “Police Chief Speaks About His 24/7 Drug Drop-Off Program.”

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Make America Medical Cannabis Strong! U.S. Companies Face Canadian Rivals to Profit from Weed

Make America Medical Cannabis Strong! U.S. Companies Face Canadian Rivals to Profit from Weed | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

A key question has emerged as investors pour billions of dollars into the marijuana industry: Will it be U.S. or Canadian companies that win the race for cannabis supremacy?

 

Businesses in Canada licensed to grow and sell weed have a head start, thanks to their government’s legalization of pot for adult use in October. They’re well funded and are touting their ability to export medical marijuana to countries around the globe that are relaxing restrictions.

 

Still, Canada’s population is smaller than California’s, and the U.S. market for legal marijuana is already larger than its northern neighbor, with estimates saying it could eventually be more than 10 times the size. As the thinking goes, America is where brands and fortunes are made, and there’s no reason to think that cannabis will be any different, despite the current federal prohibition.

 

“We’re going to have a great cannabis industry here, but the people who, for whatever foolish reason, thought that Canada was going to dominate the world of cannabis, they need to disabuse themselves of that notion because it was never founded on any reality,” said Afzal Hasan, president of Ottawa-based Origin House.

 

As it stands, the four biggest weed companies in the world, including two with valuations north of $10 billion, operate in Canada. But among the top 10, half are now operating in the U.S. after a surge in American companies that are listed publicly in Canada.

 

Here’s a look at the investment thesis for Canada vs. the U.S.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

American companies should be enabled to win this battle, not only for jobs and tax income benefits for American communities, but also to help fight the opioid epidemic. [Read, for example, “Is There a Role for Medical Cannabis in Combating the Opioid Epidemic?” and “Pennsylvania and Temple U. Researchers Gearing Up to Study Possible Role of Cannabis in Reducing Pain and Dependency on Opioids”] Newtown Township recently voted to allow the medical marijuana grower industry to flourish here (Read “Newtown Supervisors Approve an Ordinance That Allows Medical Marijuana Growers & Processors”).

 

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Report: Funding, support needed to fix ‘public safety crisis’ as volunteer firefighter, EMS numbers dwindle

Report: Funding, support needed to fix ‘public safety crisis’ as volunteer firefighter, EMS numbers dwindle | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

HARRISBURG — A report released Wednesday warns that Pennsylvania’s fire and rescue services face a crisis, saying the number of volunteers continues to fall amid funding needs and training challenges.

 

The 95-page legislative study said there were about 300,000 volunteer firefighters in the state in the 1970s, a number that’s fallen to about 38,000 currently. Emergency medical services also have seen recent declines in personnel.

 

“I’ve never been one to cry wolf, never in my life, and I’m telling you, we’re in a crisis right now,” said state Sen. Randy Vulakovich, R-38, Allegheny, who helped lead the study effort. “We’ve got to get a handle on this thing.”

 

The report’s 27 recommendations include simplifying regionalization, boosting state aid, setting standards for firefighter training and requiring sprinklers in new home construction.

 

“Resources, funds and legislative change must be committed to improve the infrastructure for public safety performance,” according to the report that was commissioned last year by the Legislature. “Moreover, we must try to find a flexible system that will work within this dynamic and challenging environment called Pennsylvania.”

 

More than 90 percent of the state’s nearly 2,500 fire companies are volunteer organizations.

 

“As with the fire services, a mix of long-term stagnant and declining reimbursements, limited other financial support and changes to our societal view of volunteerism have negatively impacted EMS throughout the state, leading to EMS agency failures and closures,” the report said. The changes have forced cuts to services and “put the ability of EMS to respond to disaster situations in serious question,” it concluded.

 

Members of the 39-person commission that issued the report said the next step is to push lawmakers to adopt its recommendations.

 

The nearly 100 recommendations for local agencies and the state include:

  • Create a single statewide recruiting tool and website.
  • Partner with the Department of Education to offer high school and college credit to volunteers and work with community colleges and state universities to offer free tuition to firefighters and emergency medical professionals.
  • Remove regulatory and other barriers to encourage emergency service agencies to combine into regional companies.
  • Provide free background checks through the Pennsylvania State Police or local police.
  • Partner with colleges to provide housing for students who volunteer and explore offering college loan forgiveness.
  • Set — for the first time — minimum firefighter training standards, which fire companies can adjust for urban, suburban, and rural environments.
  • Fund basic fire and emergency medical technician training.
  • Consider tax or other financial incentives for employers that allow employees to leave work for scheduled emergency services training.

 

 

Related Content:

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Now is the Season for Deer-Related Crashes

Now is the Season for Deer-Related Crashes | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

If you live in Bucks County, striking a deer with your vehicle should always be considered a real possibility — especially this time of the year, which is rutting season for the animals.

 

According to PennDOT, Bucks County’s 244 deer-related crashes ranked second in the state, behind only Allegheny County (262) in western Pennsylvania, in 2017, which is the most current data available.

 

Montgomery County was not far behind, with 217 such crashes.

 

The collisions in Bucks and Montgomery counties represent 32 percent and 28 percent of the deer-related crashes in the five-county Philadelphia region, respectively.

 

Broken down by municipality, the top five in Bucks County are led by West Rockhill (22), followed by Doylestown Township (17), Middletown (14), Buckingham and Plumstead (both with 13).

 

November remains the month most likely for a Pennsylvania driver will hit a deer.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

In 2017, a total of 154 police calls in Newtown Township and Wrightstown were related to "Struck Deer" (about 80% of those were in Newtown). So far October saw the most calls for struck deer in 2018.

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Doylestown Borough Proposes to Raise Taxes in 2019 to Cover Increased Police Expenses

Doylestown Borough Proposes to Raise Taxes in 2019 to Cover Increased Police Expenses | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

The average resident would pay about $80 more a year in local taxes and annual water rates if council approves the borough’s 2019 draft budget on Dec. 17.

Decreased revenues and ongoing operational deficits have Doylestown Borough officials eyeing a 2-mill tax hike and quarterly water rate increases for 2019.

Borough Council on Monday night unanimously approved advertising ordinances setting the tax and water rates following approval of the $9.8 million draft spending budget for 2019, with Councilman Joe Flood absent.

Council members are expected to vote on the final budget, including ordinances setting the tax and water rates, at its Dec. 17 meeting.

The last time the borough raised its taxes was in 2013, but borough officials have lowered taxes twice in the past four years — by 0.81 mills and 0.5 mills in 2016 and 2014, respectively.

At Monday’s meeting, Borough Manager John Davis counted a 35-percent spike in police pension costs and an administrative operational revenue shortfall of $388,192 among the reasons for this year’s proposed tax rate increase.

Doylestown, New Britain and Chalfont boroughs make up the municipalities covered by the Central Bucks Regional Police Department, and each contribute to the department’s annual budget.

Doylestown Borough is expected to pay $3 million for police services, about 60 percent of the department’s operational budget, and more than $200,000 in pension contributions in 2019.

Altogether, the borough is budgeted to pay more than $155,500 more in 2019 for police services and pensions than it did in 2018.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

In comparison, Newtown Township’s 2019 budget call for $5.8 million for police services – about 43% of the township’s budget - and more than $518,000 in pension contributions. Offsetting that expense is $731,000 in 2019 revenue the township expects for providing police services to Wrightstown Township.

 

Note that Wrightstown (WT) pays $731,000 for NT Police to make about 3,000 calls, which works out to be about $244 per call. Meanwhile, NT Police make about 12,000 calls in NT at a cost of $5.83 million in salary and pension benefits per year, which works out to $486 per call - nearly twice what we charge WT per call! What a deal!

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Northampton Makes Tri-Hampton Rescue Sole EMS Squad

[This article was published on August 26, 2018.] Citing costs and a potential tax increase for emergency services, Northampton supervisors unanimously approved a resolution Wednesday making Tri-Hampton Rescue Squad its primary emergency medical service provider.

 

Newtown Ambulance Squad had covered approximately one quarter of the town, but supervisor Chairperson Barry Moore said Friday the change could mean more revenue for Tri-Hampton. The increase could help the township avoid a tax hike for emergency services, he said.

 

Moore added the township had no complaints about Newtown Ambulance’s quality of service, and that officials spoke with local police and emergency managers to be sure response times would not suffer as a result of the change.

 

With Tri-Hampton responding to a larger number of calls than the Newtown station, Moore said Tri-Hampton felt they could absorb the area with little impact in response or costs.

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Newtown Ambulance Squad Awarded $112,000 State Grant for New "State-of-the-Art" Ambulance

Newtown Ambulance Squad Awarded $112,000 State Grant for New "State-of-the-Art" Ambulance | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

The Pennsylvania Department of Health grant will help pay for a “state-of-the-art” ambulance for the squad.

 

The Newtown Ambulance Squad was awarded a $112,000 state Health Department Grant Wednesday toward the purchase of a new ambulance.

 

Along with service fees and Newtown Township funding, the emergency squad will buy a “state-of-the-art” emergency vehicle “to respond with advanced lifesaving services,” a news release from State Rep. Perry Warren’s office states.

 

“The Newtown Board of Supervisors increased the squad’s funding in 2018 [read “Supervisors Weigh in on Tax Increase”]. That funding, coupled with this grant, will enable the squad to provide increased emergency medical services to our residents,” Warren said.

 

“We are really appreciative of the commonwealth and Representative Warren for assisting us with this grant,” , Newtown Ambulance Squad Chief of Operations Evan Resnikoff said.

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September 2018 Newtown Police Calls Report

September 2018 Newtown Police Calls Report | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Interim Police Chief Jason Harris presented the Calls Report for September 2018 at the October 10, 2018, Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting. In September, the Newtown Police Department responded to 1,423 total calls, 238 (17%) of which were in Wrightstown Township (Newtown Police provides services to both Newtown Township and Wrightstown).

 

More details, including info on traffic citations, here.

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It May Take Lawsuits to Stop the Elcon Toxic Waste Incinerator

It May Take Lawsuits to Stop the Elcon Toxic Waste Incinerator | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

A standing room only crowd of about 50 people packed Bordentown City’s Carslake Community Center on Wednesday night to hear from officials and nonprofits opposed to Elcon, a hazardous waste treatment center proposed to be built in Falls, Bucks County, across the Delaware River.

 

Environmental groups and representatives from Bordentown City and Township spent about 90 minutes relaying information and concerns about the facility, which would treat up to 193,000 tons of hazardous and pharmaceutical waste annually.

 

But in a question and answer session that followed, former New Jersey assemblyman and city Mayor Joseph Malone urged the groups to focus on a specific strategy. And by the end of the night, many were talking of potential legal action.

 

“I would seriously urge that the leadership of the city and township sit down and strategize as to exactly how you’re going to move forward ... It’s going to take a serious effort,” Malone said. “If you don’t have your strategy ahead of them, you’re going to lose.”

 

The Elcon proposal is now in its fourth year, and appears to be within sight of the finish line. After several false starts in which its application materials were rejected by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the agency stated in July that Elcon had provided all the needed documents and that it would engage in a 10-month technical review. That means the company could clear its highest hurdle, DEP review, by May. [Read “Department of Environmental Protection Gives Green Light to Elcon Hazardous Waste Treatment Facility Near the Delaware River in Falls”.]

 

The groups, along with Bordentown City Deputy Mayor John Brodowski and Bordentown Township Mayor Steve Benowitz, floated various ideas during the meeting. Mentioned on several occasions were renewed efforts to reach out to surrounding townships on both sides of the river and build a coalition. Also discussed was an effort to contact state lawmakers to revive previous efforts to pass resolutions.

 

“The technical opposition ... should be very helpful in developing a further legal argument,” Brodowski said. “The public pressure is important, resolutions are important, but as mentioned several times it will most likely come down to a legal fight.”

 

Further Reading:Elcon Toxic Waste Incinerator: Déjà vu All Over Again

johnmacknewtown's insight:

In 2016, Newtown Township - among others - passed a resolution opposing this plant due to "danger" to drinking water. See here for more information about that. Perhaps this resolution should be amended to include new evidence for harmful claims and updated with new information to make it stronger. This, IMHO, would help get the issue before the public again and reaffirm Newtown’s opposition to this incinerator.

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Council Rock Gets $20K Grant To Prevent, Reduce School Violence

Council Rock Gets $20K Grant To Prevent, Reduce School Violence | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Council Rock School District has received $20,000 in funding from the state to help reduce and prevent violence in schools, officials announced on Thursday.

The money will be used for a number of programs, including improved anti-violence efforts involving schools, local law enforcement, parents, and community organizations, the state said.

Details on exactly what these programs will look like have not yet been made available.

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johnmacknewtown's curator insight, October 5, 7:55 AM

IMHO, this money should be used to support student lobbying lawmakers for better gun control measures such as thus proposed by a Newtown Twp Resolution passed not too long ago:“Newtown Township Passes Gun Safety Resolution After Emotional Student Testimony”.

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Court Rules Navy Can be Sued by Local Residents for PFAS Water Contamination Claims

Court Rules Navy Can be Sued by Local Residents for PFAS Water Contamination Claims | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

After two years of court losses, a federal appeals court ruling poked holes in a federal immunity defense as local residents seek to sue over local water contamination.

 

A federal appeals court in Philadelphia ruled Tuesday that Bucks and Montgomery County residents can proceed with claims over water contamination near area military bases, reversing two years’ worth of legal setbacks and what had looked like a watertight immunity defense for the U.S. Navy.

 

“I think it’s a very important principle for holding the government accountable for its pollution,” said Mark Cuker, attorney with the Cuker Law Firm and counsel for the Giovanni family of Warrington.

 

A trio of justices on the court of appeals for the Third Circuit were tasked with deciding the fate of two similar cases, each of which requested the Navy provide for medical monitoring for the plaintiffs, who allegedly had been exposed to toxic perfluorinated chemicals, or PFAS, in their drinking water. The chemicals are ingredients of firefighting foams that were used for decades at a trio of current and former military bases in the area, and eventually contaminated the water of approximately 70,000 residents in Warminster, Warrington and Horsham. The towns have since worked to purify their water of the chemicals.

 

BACKGROUND

Local Officials on PFAS/PFOA Contamination of Water (video) https://youtu.be/2f7Zs8Y1XPU

 

Horsham and Warminster township officials tell the EPA and the US military that their residents should not have pay for the remediation that was necessary to supply to their residents water uncontaminated with PFAS and PFOA when the cause of the original contamination by these chemicals was known to be the US government. They made their comments at an EPA PFAS Community Stakeholder Meeting in Horsham PA, ob July 25, 2018.

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FDA Commissioner Gottlieb Dead Wrong on Newly-Approved Lethal, Highly Addictive Opioid Medication, Says Public Citizen

FDA Commissioner Gottlieb Dead Wrong on Newly-Approved Lethal, Highly Addictive Opioid Medication, Says Public Citizen | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Scott Gottlieb, the head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is misleading the public regarding potential “unique” benefits of a controversial, highly potent opioid pain relief medication, Public Citizen and the head of a key FDA advisory committee said today in a letter (PDF) to Gottlieb.

 

The FDA approved the medication, called sufentanil sublingual tablet (brand name Dsuvia), on Nov. 2 to be used to treat moderate-to-severe acute pain in a medically supervised setting. It is five to 10 times more potent than fentanyl and 1,000 times more potent than morphine.

 

Public Citizen and Dr. Raeford Brown, chair of the FDA’s Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Products Advisory Committee, warned the agency in October (PDF) not to approve the medication. Brown’s public stance was highly unusual because he bucked his committee’s recommendation and publicly warned against allowing Dsuvia on the market.

 

In a statement issued on the day the agency approved the medication, Gottlieb cited nonexistent benefits for Dsuvia and omitted known risks.

 

Gottlieb said that Dsuvia could help treat soldiers “on the battlefield”; however, the use of Dsuvia in any setting of severe trauma-induced pain and shock, as encountered in the battlefield, has never been studied. Clinical trials of the medication have been conducted only on patients who had undergone minor surgical procedures.

 

In a Dec. 11 interview with StatNews investigative reporter Ed Silverman, Gottlieb said, “I don’t want to say (Dsuvia) was only approved because we thought it had application in battlefield settings… but this was a product priority for the military.”

 

But Dsuvia can take up to an hour to achieve clinically meaningful pain relief, unlike intravenous pain relief provided by other medications, suggesting the pill would not meet either the needs of seriously injured soldiers or even post-operative patients in hospitals.

 

Dr. Sidney Wolfe, founder and senior adviser for Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, said that “Dr. Gottlieb has previously given eloquent speeches, acknowledging the life-taking seriousness of the opioid epidemic and the FDA’s future plans for dealing with it. And on the day of Dsuvia’s approval, Gottlieb stated, ‘We won’t sidestep … the question of whether or not America needs another powerful opioid while in the throes of a massive crisis of addiction.’”

 

“But in the same statement,” said Wolfe, “Gottlieb dodged the obvious, public health-oriented answer to this question – NO – citing nonexistent unique benefits for Dsuvia, but entirely omitting mention of the known risks of doctor diversion and life-threatening abuse of the previous intravenous version of sufentanil. All of this represents a pitifully unconvincing effort by Gottlieb to justify its dangerous, unacceptable approval.”

 

johnmacknewtown's insight:

The drug, developed by AcelRx Pharmaceuticals, does not offer any unique advantages over the numerous available FDA-approved opioid products for treating acute pain, and thus does not fill any unmet medical need. However, it does pose unique risks of serious harm if it’s misused or abused or if accidental exposure occurs. http://sco.lt/86cqI5

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PA Rejects All Eight Medical Marijuana Research Supplier Permits

PA Rejects All Eight Medical Marijuana Research Supplier Permits | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana research program is delayed again, after Gov. Tom Wolf announced the rejection of all eight marijuana supplier applicants last week.

 

A news release from Wolf’s office said none of the eight applicants, including one in Bucks County, met the “rigorous requirements of the application review process.” Another permit application period will be held in early 2019.

 

The news release from Wolf’s offices did not say what led to all eight applicants being rejected.

 

MLH Explorations LLC, of Wynnewood, Montgomery County, had planned to develop its property at 150 Solar Drive in Falls into a marijuana growing facility for the research program at the start 2018.

 

The state approved eight medical schools to research the effectiveness of medical marijuana earlier this year, but state law requires a dedicated supplier approved by the state to grow and dispense the medical marijuana.

 

Five of the approved schools are in Philadelphia, including Temple, Drexel and Thomas Jefferson universities.

 

MLH applied to grow medical marijuana at the 32-acre former U.S. Steel property, and would operate a dispensary in Philadelphia — becoming the primary supplier for the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, documents available online through the health department show.

 

While the company received final approval for its proposed medical cannabis growing facility from Falls officials in February, there is no word yet on how last week’s permit news will affect those plans, if at all.

 

“Research is an essential part of our efforts to ensure that patients can find relief from their serious medical conditions with medical marijuana,” Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Our goal is to ensure that our research program operates at the highest standards. We are disappointed that awards were not made, but must uphold the standards set out in the regulations.”

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The Web-based Drug and Alcohol Referral Tool (DART) Helps Pennsylvanians Find Local Addiction Resources

The Web-based Drug and Alcohol Referral Tool (DART) Helps Pennsylvanians Find Local Addiction Resources | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Finding help in addiction, whether it’s treatment or support, has long been a struggle for people in crisis and for families battling to save loved ones.

 

This week, Gov. Tom Wolf announced a web-based tool to connect people looking for resources but not sure where to begin. The Drug and Alcohol Referral Tool (DART) is designed to help Pennsylvanians seeking substance use disorder help find treatment in their communities.

 

The DART tool, which can be accessed at www.ddap.pa.gov/GetHelp, provides resources based on a person’s age, county and veteran status. It also offers a list of resources if a person is experiencing homelessness, has issues with transportation to treatment, or has legal concerns.

 

Treatment advocate Pam Garozzo, of Falls, said Friday the new tool could be a critical source of quick help for individuals with substance abuse disorder and their families. “With a disease like this, time is of the essence,” she said.

 

The tool does not evaluate eligibility for resources provided, but refers users to how they can obtain more information or assess their eligibility, according to the governor’s statement.

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Boil Water Advisory Issued in Lower Makefield, Yardley, Falls; Pennsbury Schools Closed!

Boil Water Advisory Issued in Lower Makefield, Yardley, Falls; Pennsbury Schools Closed! | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Pennsylvania American Water customers in Lower Makefield, Yardley and parts of Falls are advised to boil water, after tests found high turbidity levels in the water supply. The company also was providing water to affected customers Thursday.

The water emergency also has closed all schools in the Pennsbury School District on Friday, officials announced Thursday night. The advisory impacts eight of the district’s 15 schools.

The water company said samples taken Thursday showed levels of turbidity, or cloudiness, above regulatory standards. Because of these high levels of turbidity, there is an increased chance the water could contain disease-causing organisms, the company said.

Customers in the affected area should bring all water to a boil, let it boil for one minute and then let it cool before using, or use bottled water. Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes and food preparation until further notice.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

PA American Water also supplies water to the Newtown Artesian Water Company (Video: August 2018 Newtown Artesian Water Report). Residents of Newtown are concerned and if we had an effective emergency notification system (e.g., Nixle), Newtown residents could be better informed about the situation viz-a-viz their water supply instead of relying on Facebook and other non-official sources!

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@Newtown_Police asks Public for Help to Identify a "Wig Wearing" Woman Thief! 

@Newtown_Police asks Public for Help to Identify a "Wig Wearing" Woman Thief!  | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Newtown Township, PA - On September 13, 2018 the Newtown Township Police Department  investigated a forgery and attempted theft at the Univest Bank, 15 Swamp Road.  The female suspect pulled up to the drive thru in a black colored Mazda SUV with an unknown New Jersey registration and presented a stolen/forged check with stolen identification to withdrawal funds from the victim's bank account. The female utilized a blonde colored wig in an effort to disguise her appearance and match the victim's photo on the stolen identification. After bank staff determined that the documents had been stolen and were previously used at bank branches earlier that day, the female fled in her vehicle and left the stolen documents behind. This same suspect has been responsible for many other theft/forgery incidents throughout Pennsylvania. The suspect is described as a white or hispanic female, 30-40 years of age, with an unidentified tattoo on the inside of her left wrist. Additional photos of the suspect show that she is known to have long dark colored hair.

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U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances Documents Call EPA’s PFAS Safety Numbers Into Question

U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances Documents Call EPA’s PFAS Safety Numbers Into Question | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

New documents and statements released by a federal health agency further call into question safety limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency to address a class of toxic chemicals increasingly being found in drinking water across the United States.

 

The chemicals in question are called PFAS, which have been used for decades in a variety of consumer products such as Teflon pans, as well as in firefighting foams used by the military. There are scores of varieties of PFAS, but the EPA has developed an advisory drinking water limit for the two most well-known compounds, PFOS and PFOA, at 70 parts per trillion (ppt).

 

However, that 70 ppt number has come under fire since its release in May 2016. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and other states have put forth draft or established regulations at a fraction of that amount, while some scientists have called for standards as low as 1 ppt.

 

But perhaps of most consequence is analysis by the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a sub-agency of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has been performing its own evaluations of the toxicity of the chemicals.

 

As widely reported earlier this year, government emails obtained by the nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists showed an apparent effort by White House, EPA, and Department of Defense staff to stall the release of a draft ATSDR study that presented lower numbers, fearing a “public relations nightmare” over the discrepancy.

 

Some scientists and nonprofit groups plugged the ATSDR’s numbers into a formula the EPA used to develop its drinking water advisories and determined the ATSDR’s numbers would result in a limit of about 7 ppt for PFOS and 11 ppt for PFOA. Those numbers, however, were not officially put forth by the ATSDR, which did not provide recommended safety limits for drinking water.

 

Until now.

 

The agency … published an “evaluation guide” on its website, but it does not appear the material has been widely distributed. Both the calculator and the guide suggest a PFOA drinking water limit of 78 ppt for an adult and 21 ppt for a child, and a PFOS limit of 52 ppt for an adult and 14 ppt for a child. Those numbers are for “intermediate” exposure, meaning less than a year of time. Longer, or chronic values, would likely be even lower or potentially the same.

 

How the discrepancy plays out remains to be seen. Officials with the ATSDR have stated their numbers could be taken into consideration as the EPA mulls setting formal drinking water standards for PFOS and PFOA, at which point they could reassess what the safe limit is. The EPA has used similar language, stating earlier this year that it “looks forward to continuing to collaborate with ATSDR and all of our federal partners as we work together to protect public health.”

 

Maureen Sullivan, a deputy assistant secretary of defense and the Department of Defense’s lead on regulatory compliance, said in Newtown last month that she was still confused by the discrepancy.

 

“I’m a little bit concerned about this too,” she said. “I don’t understand how the numbers from the EPA relate to the numbers that came from ATSDR.”

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Dan Angove, Assistant General Manager, Newtown Artesian Water Company, gave an update on Newtown's drinking water at the August 8, 2018, Board of Supervisors meeting. He answered questions from Supervisor John Mack about Maximum Contamination Levels (MCLs) of PFAS - perfluorinated compounds - in the town's drinking water. View the video here.

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October 2018 Newtown Police Calls Report

October 2018 Newtown Police Calls Report | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Interim Police Chief Jason Harris presented the Calls Report for October 2018 at the November 14, 2018, Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting. In October, the Newtown Police Department responded to 1,549 total calls, 328 (21%) of which were in Wrightstown Township (Newtown Police provides services to both Newtown Township and Wrightstown). See a summary of the report below. Note: Not all calls are listed.

 

See video here.

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FDA Manipulates Review Process and Approves Dsuvia: A Powerful Opioid Pill That's 10 Times Stronger Than Fentanyl!!!!!

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is recklessly and needlessly endangering people by approving a super-strong opioid, Public Citizen and the head of a key FDA advisory committee said today.

The FDA gave the green light for the medication, which is called sufentanil sublingual tablet (brand name Dsuvia) and is to be used to treat moderate-to-severe acute pain in a medically supervised setting. It is five to 10 times more potent than fentanyl and 1,000 times more potent than morphine.

“It is certain that Dsuvia will worsen the opioid epidemic and kill people needlessly,” said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, founder and senior adviser of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group. “It will be taken by medical personnel and others for whom it has not been prescribed. And many of those will overdose and die. It is likely, if not certain, that that Dsuvia will be banned after ‘enough’ such deaths occur and the inevitable House oversight hearings are held investigating why the FDA approved this opioid with no unique benefit but unique harms.”

Public Citizen and Dr. Raeford Brown, chair of the FDA’s Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Products Advisory Committee, last month warned the agency not to approve the medication. Brown’s public stance was highly unusual because he bucked his committee’s recommendation and publicly warned against approval.

Brown has described Dsuvia as so potent that abusers of the intravenous formulation of it – which has been available since 1984 for use by clinicians only in hospital settings for general anesthesia – often die when they inject the first dose. He said he has “witnessed this in resuscitating physicians, medical students, technicians and other health care providers, some successfully.”

“I am very disappointed with the decision of the agency to approve Dsuvia,” Brown said. “This action is inconsistent with the charter of the agency. As I discussed with representatives of the agency today, the lack of efficacy data and the sponsor’s inadequate response to safety concerns have not been addressed since the FDA’s complete response letter was sent in 2017. Clearly the issue of the safety of the public is not important to the commissioner, despite his attempts to obfuscate and misdirect. I will continue to hold the agency accountable for their response to the worst public health problem since the 1918 influenza epidemic.”

Despite FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s misleading statement today that “we routinely seek advisory committee input on new opioid product approvals,” the “committee review process was rigged,” Wolfe said.

The FDA’s Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Products Advisory Committee last month recommended approving Dsuvia by a 10-3 vote (Brown was absent). But the meeting at which the committee considered the medication should have included the full Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory (DSaRM) committee, of which Wolfe was a member from 2008 to 2012, Wolfe said.

In fact, the committee had been invited to a meeting last May to consider Dsuvia. However, in the late summer, the FDA disinvited all but three members, who participated in the October meeting, Wolfe said.

“By disinviting all but three members of the DSaRM, the FDA knew that would help get a positive vote for the medication,” he said.

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FDA Considers Approval of New Opioid 5-10X More Potent Than Fentanyl - A Serious Risk Says Public Citizen

FDA Considers Approval of New Opioid 5-10X More Potent Than Fentanyl - A Serious Risk Says Public Citizen | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

FDA Should Reject Dangerous, Highly Potent Opioid Treatment

Public Citizen’s Dr. Meena Aladdin to Testify Against Sublingual Sufentanil Before FDA Panel

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering approving a new opioid medication that is five to 10 times more potent than fentanyl for the treatment of moderate-to-severe acute pain in a medically supervised setting. Dr. Meena Aladdin, a health researcher with Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, will testify today in front of the FDA’s Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Advisory Committee and will urge the panel to recommend that the agency not approve the medication, known as sufentanil sublingual tablet.

The drug, developed by AcelRx Pharmaceuticals, does not offer any unique advantages over the numerous available FDA-approved opioid products for treating acute pain, and thus does not fill any unmet medical need. However, it does pose unique risks of serious harm if it’s misused or abused or if accidental exposure occurs.

Aladdin will tell the committee that consistent with the critical public health concept of the precautionary principle, the lack of any unique benefit and the unmitigated concern for unique risks mandate that the FDA reject this dangerous opioid.

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Medical Marijuana Zoning Ordinance Moves Forward In Newtown Twp

Rules that designate where medical marijuana dispensaries and grower/processors can exist in the zoning jointure that includes Newtown Township, Upper Makefield and Wrightstown are moving forward.

 

The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors on Wednesday authorized the jointure to advertise an ordinance that sets guidelines for where the two types of uses would be permitted to set up shop in the jointure.

 

Under the proposed ordinance that will be advertised, provided the Wrightstown and Upper Makefield boards agree, dispensaries could only be located in the "Village Commercial" zone in Upper Makefield.

 

Grower processors would have to be located in Newtown Township's "Light Industrial" district. Under the ordinance, grower/processors must be located 1,000 feet or more away from a school.

 

[Newtown Township Solicitor David] Sander assured the board that tight laws are in place at the state level to regulate both processors and dispensaries. "If you thought the state liquor program was strict...this makes that look like a tot lot. The state legislation on medical marijuana is extremely strict. It's very expensive to apply for a license let alone get one," he said.

 

Further Reading:

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Council Rock Uses Sate Grant to Train 50 Staffers in Active Shooter Response

Council Rock Uses Sate Grant to Train 50 Staffers in Active Shooter Response | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Council Rock School District has released some additional information about a $20,000 state grant it has received to increase school safety (read “Council Rock Gets $20K Grant To Prevent, Reduce School Violence”).

 

According to information from the district, the money will be used to pay for 50 staff members to receive comprehensive ALICE training this month. ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) prepares school districts to handle the threat of an active shooter, the district explained (read “Council Rock School District Approves Improved Lockdown Communication Protocol & Training for Teachers and Staff”).

 

According to the district, the 50 ALICE trainees will undergo a two-day, hands-on training that will make them ALICE certified. They will then train the rest of the district staff in the ALICE technique on Nov. 6, which is Council Rock's next professional development day.

 

"Council Rock will also utilize grant funds for full district access to ALICE's E-Learning component, ensuring that all individuals trained have a baseline understanding of the ALICE safety strategy," the district explained in an email to the school community.

 

Last week, State Rep. Helen Tai, who represents a portion of the district, announced Council Rock had received the money.

 

"Thank you Council Rock School District for making the effort to successfully apply for this competitive grant to provide a safer learning environment for our students," Tai said in a statement. "School districts and governments at all levels need to continue to work together to promote programs like these to address and prevent violence in schools across the district and commonwealth.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

IMHO, prevention of active shooter incidents is also important and some of the state grant monies should be used to support student lobbying lawmakers for better gun control measures such as thus proposed by a Newtown Twp Resolution passed not too long ago:“Newtown Township Passes Gun Safety Resolution After Emotional Student Testimony”. 

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PFAS Contamination at Military Sites Reveals a Need for Urgent Science-based Protections

PFAS Contamination at Military Sites Reveals a Need for Urgent Science-based Protections | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

A new UCS factsheet released today looks at PFAS contamination at military bases, revealing that many of the sites have levels of these chemicals in their drinking or groundwater at potentially unsafe levels.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Also read:  “Court Rules Navy Can be Sued by Local Residents for PFAS Water Contamination Claims”; http://sco.lt/7ZmvNR 

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