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Local Officials Focus on EPA at Horsham Meeting on PFAS/PFOA Contamination Meeting

Local Officials Focus on EPA at Horsham Meeting on PFAS/PFOA Contamination Meeting | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

[View the video of the local panel discussion here.]

 

Nearly two dozen local, state and federal officials met Wednesday in Horsham to discuss area PFAS contamination. Many had a similar ask: that the EPA must formally act on the unregulated chemicals.

 

Andrew Wheeler…That’s the name of the acting administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the one that matters most following a marathon meeting held by the agency at Hatboro-Horsham High School on Wednesday.

 

The meeting brought together about two dozen regulators and officials from the federal, state and local levels to discuss area contamination with perfluorinated compounds, unregulated chemicals that contaminated the drinking water of at least 70,000 people before being discovered and filtered out in the past few years.

 

But Wheeler wields the power to take the action that most of those officials seek, a power the EPA hasn’t used for any chemical since 2000: to add PFOS and PFOA to a formal list of regulated chemicals. Doing so, many speakers said, would enable them to take the actions needed to clean up the chemicals or force polluters to do so.

 

“Failure to address PFAS at a national level will really put public health at risk,” said Lisa Daniels, director of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Safe Drinking Water. “EPA must take a leadership role.”

 

Daniels was joined on a panel by her counterparts in the neighboring states of Delaware, Maryland and West Virginia. Other panels included federal officials from the EPA, Department of Defense, and U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, as well as a local panel consisting of leaders from affected towns and water authorities.

 

What leaders from local communities said they wanted was action. Officials from Horsham, Warminster, Warrington and Warwick, all impacted in varying degrees by contaminated groundwater, echoed each other in saying they needed relief.

 

“What happens at the local level is immediate action,” said Warminster manager Gregg Schuster, noting the town’s water authority has spent millions to filter the chemicals entirely out of its water supply. “I wish we had the same response and attitude from our federal partners. But today we don’t.”

 

Schuster and his counterparts were united in sharing several concerns at the meeting. They said the EPA’s 70 parts per trillion (ppt) limit for the chemicals is too high, that the military hasn’t paid to put filters on every well, and that contaminated water from the area military bases continues to flow into off-base waterways.

 

“The federal government caused this problem, the federal government must solve this problem,” Schuster added.

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Public Health & Safety
These Scoops are excerpts from articles published in local newspapers and other sources. They focus on public health issues such as opioid addiction, water and air quality, emergency services, traffic, crime, etc. 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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December 2018 Police Report: Progress Against Opioid Epidemic

December 2018 Police Report: Progress Against Opioid Epidemic | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Interim Police Chief Jason Harris presented the Calls for Service Report for December 2018 at the January 9, 2019, Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting. In December, the Newtown Police Department responded to 1,285 total calls, 227 (18%) of which were in Wrightstown Township (Newtown Police provides services to both Newtown Township and Wrightstown).

 

I note that in December there were no calls for drug overdose and no calls involving the use of Narcan by Newtown Police, which is good news. In fact, according to the Chief’s report, for 2018, Police Calls in Newtown and Wrightstown townships for drug overdoses is down by about 40% (13 in 2018 vs. 22 in 2017). Calls involving Narcan use, however, increased by 50% (3 in 2018 vs. 2 in 2017).

 

See more crime statistics for December 2018 and year-end totals versus 2017 along with charts here.

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Opioid Disaster Declaration Working, Officials Say

Opioid Disaster Declaration Working, Officials Say | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

The work is far from over, state leaders said Monday, but Pennsylvania’s death toll from the opioid crisis appears to be on the decline.

 

Nearly one year ago, Gov. Tom Wolf announced a statewide “disaster declaration” to battle the unprecedented rise in opioid deaths, a move aimed at making it easier for people to get help.

 

On Monday, state leaders gathered at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Susquehanna to announce progress made since that declaration and to unveil a campaign beginning in March to advertise the state’s 24-hour help hotline: 1-800-662-HELP.

 

The declaration launched numerous initiatives, including a data collecting and sharing effort, and relaxed regulations to make treatment and funding for treatment more accessible.

 

But work is far from over, officials said Monday.

 

Since November 2016, more than 36,700 phone calls have come into the 24-hour helpline, with 45 percent of calls “resulting in a direct connection to treatment.”

 

Though 2018 state coroner reports aren’t complete, preliminary data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show an 11 percent decline in Pennsylvania drug deaths between the 12-month period ending in May 2017 and the 12-month period ending in May 2018.

 

According to the December analysis, Pennsylvania overdose deaths dropped from 5,386 to 4,783

 

Reflecting on last year’s progress, Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said that rules and guidelines put into place by the administration helped reduce opioid prescriptions by more than 24 percent, and she said the state’s prescription monitor program “virtually eliminated doctor shopping in Pennsylvania.”

 

The disaster declaration also allowed EMS personnel who respond to an overdose to leave behind the opioid overdose reversal drug Narcan, also known as naloxone, for family or friends of the victim. Police alone saved more than 9,000 people from dying of overdoses, and in the last year EMS agencies were responsible for 12,000 rescues. Levine signed a naloxone prescription in 2015 for the general public, ordering all pharmacies in Pennsylvania to have the drug readily available for anyone who asks.

 

The big push now is to expand the state’s “warm hand-off” program, which is often dependent on a hospital’s willingness to take part in it. The purpose of the program is to link patients — who come into emergency rooms for help or after an overdose — to treatment or some kind of help. However, it is voluntary and not all hospitals take part in the program.

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Newtown Township Releases the 2018 Fire and Emergency Services Study

Newtown Township Releases the 2018 Fire and Emergency Services Study | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

In November, 2017, Newtown Township issued an RFP seeking a fire service consultant experienced in the management and operations of volunteer/combination fire departments to undertake “an organizational, effectiveness and overall efficiency study on staffing levels, facilities, apparatus needs, equipment, administration, financials pertaining to the fire service and the services of the department serving our community.”

 

In February, 2018, Harry R. Carter. Ph.D., L.L.C., a municipal fire protection firm headquartered in New Jersey, was approved by the Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) to perform the analysis. Dr. Harry Carter has more than 35 years’ experience as a municipal fire protection consultant. He has been a member of the fire and emergency services world since 1964.

 

The final Fire and Emergency Services Study was completed in December, 2018.

 

Read the major recommendations of the report here.

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Lower Makefield, Not Satisfied with PA American Water's Paid Ad, Seeks More Answers, Assurances in Wake of Water Emergency

Lower Makefield, Not Satisfied with PA American Water's Paid Ad, Seeks More Answers, Assurances in Wake of Water Emergency | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

In the wake of the recent water emergency, the Board of Supervisors on Dec. 5 said it wants answers and assurances that whatever went wrong won’t happen again.

In a resolution, passed by a 4-1 vote, the supervisors are requesting that the Pennsylvania-American Water Company provide a root cause analysis of what occurred and a prompt corrective action plan to the township. And they are asking that the company do so at a public meeting to be held in the next 75 days.

If not, the supervisors said they will have no choice but to file a formal complaint with the Public Utility Commission.

In addition, they will publicly oppose any future acquisition or merger request by American Water until every household and business in Lower Makefield has clean water and fully functional water service 99.9 percent of the time during the prior 24 calendar months; will work with the county commissioners and the Bucks County Association of Township Officials to pursue additional solutions to resolve poor water quality issues; and will work with state lawmakers to lobby for comprehensive water service level agreements with penalties for non-performance.

For four and a half days, from 5 p.m. on Nov. 29 to 7 a.m. on Dec. 4, customers in Lower Makefield, Yardley Borough and parts of Falls Township were under a boil water advisory after the company reported increased turbidity levels. The increased turbidity levels were later linked to mechanical control issues at the water treatment plant.

The boil water advisory, said Lewis, put township residents in a difficult circumstance.

“They were inconvenienced. There were some costs associated with it,” said Lewis. “And this isn’t the first time we’ve had some challenges with Pennsylvania-American Water and quite frankly their communications in this process was substandard and not handled well and there’s a certain degree of frustration associated with that.”

johnmacknewtown's insight:

For background, read "Boil Water Advisory Issued in Lower Makefield, Yardley, Falls; Pennsbury Schools Closed!"

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Newtown Township Supervisors Vote to File Civil Lawsuit Against Drug Manufacturers Over Opioid Crisis

Newtown Township Supervisors Vote to File Civil Lawsuit Against Drug Manufacturers Over Opioid Crisis | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Taking the lead of Bucks County and other state, county and local governments, the board of supervisors voted 4-1 to approve filing a lawsuit against the pharmaceutical industry for manufacturing, distributing and promoting opioids.

 

At the Dec. 12 meeting, Chairman Phil Calabro, joined by fellow Democrats John Mack, Linda Bobrin and Dennis Fisher voted to approve hiring the New York City-based law firm of Marc J. Bern & Partners, LLP to file the civil action in Bucks County Common Pleas Court.

 

Republican Supervisors Kyle Davis cast the dissenting vote.

 

The law firm, which specializes in national personal injury and mass tort cases, will be assisted by attorneys from Cordisco & Saile, LLC, which is based in Doylestown.

 

“Basically Newtown is making a stand in principle against these manufacturers,” exclaimed Chairman Calabro. “We’re making a statement.”

 

Newtown Township will not be charged any attorney fees for filing the action, and the law firms will work on a contingency basis which will has yet to be negotiated.

 

According to township solicitor David Sander, that fee could be as high as 50-percent of any eventual damages awarded, but is usually around 30-35 percent.

 

He explained that the suit is seeking unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.

 

“The action is based on the current opioid crises that not only Newtown Township but the rest of the county finds itself in the grasp of,” Sander noted.

 

“Newtown should stand up and take its place among the many, many other large cities, including Pittsburgh,” he added.

 

In this area, Philadelphia, as well as Bucks and Delaware counties, have already filed separate lawsuits against the pharmaceutical companies that make and promote prescription opioid drugs.

 

Meanwhile, Bensalem Township became the first local government in the region to file a similar civil action relating to the crises. More on that here.

 

These suits allege that manufacturers misled the public about the dangers of prescription opioids and that the drug companies have disregarded their obligation to monitor distribution in the communities and halt any suspicious sales.

 

“The pharmaceutical industry lied when they said [these drugs] were not habit forming,” claimed Supervisor Mack before Newtown Township’s vote.

 

Although several supervisors acknowledged that any damages which could eventually come to Newtown Township might be minuscule, the money could be used for treatment.

 

“Whatever we get, we’ll put it to good use,” Calabro pointed out, “I don’t see a downside to this [lawsuit].”

 

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AMA Analysis Shows Mixed Results in PA’s Effort to Combat Opioid Epidemic

AMA Analysis Shows Mixed Results in PA’s Effort to Combat Opioid Epidemic | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

An analysis released Thursday by the Pennsylvania Medical Society, the American Medical Association and Manatt Health found the state is succeeding in supporting medication-assisted treatment and several other efforts to reverse the opioid crisis.

 

According to the analysis, the Pennsylvania Insurance Department is reviewing benefit packages, prior authorization policies and cost-sharing obligations. Harris said there still is a lot of work to be done regarding parity, but she and Joel Ario, former Pennsylvania insurance commissioner and now managing director of Manatt Health, said the insurance department has been identifying violations.

 

Pennsylvania also is succeeding in increasing access to the opioid overdose antidote naloxone, said [Dr. Patrice Harris, president-elect of the AMA], pointing to a statewide naloxone distribution effort on Thursday as further evidence. Three sites in Bucks County and three in Montgomery County participated, making hundreds of doses available at no cost to the public.

 

According to the governor’s office, the Montgomery County sites handed out all available doses.

 

“If it weren’t for naloxone, thousands more would have died from a drug overdose, from an opioid overdose,” Harris said.

 

The analysis also highlighted where the state can do more work, including expanding efforts in emergency departments and by law enforcement to connect patients with treatment such as through strengthening warm-handoff programs (see insights below), and by ensuring insurers have adequate networks. Warm-handoff programs work to get survivors of overdoses immediately transitioned from emergency care to treatment.

 

That is important for timely access to treatment, Ario explained.

 

“The ideal time for a patient to get treatment is when the patient says they want treatment. Patients that disappear without getting treatment may show up later in the morgue,” he said.

 

*******************************

Meanwhile, Opioid Prescriptions Decrease While Overdose Deaths Increase!

 

There has been a 28 percent reduction in opioid prescriptions since 2013, but the loss of life and emotional toll of the epidemic continue to climb. Indeed, Pennsylvania’s death rate took a sharp increase from 2015 to 2017 despite the state’s actions (see chart above). This is consistent with national trends that demonstrate it will take much more than cutting opioid prescriptions to solve an epidemic that requires a concerted federal and state partnership to bring the epidemic under control. Pennsylvania has long had a disproportionate share of opioid deaths and is not alone in finding that the epidemic continues to evolve. Even as the rate at which physicians are prescribing opioids is declining, heroin and illicit fentanyl—a synthetic opioid 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin—have rushed in and driven up death rates.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Recent data from the state that found addiction now affects one in three Pennsylvania families, and 13 people a day die from the disease. http://www.burlingtoncountytimes.com/40bdb449-c8c1-503a-bde2-8bd22a5e6f88.html

 

Bucks County “Warm Hand-Off” Program Gets Overdose Patients to Recovery and Is Saving Lives

 

A program aimed at connecting people who survive an opioid overdose with treatment is still being rolled out in Bucks County, but leaders say it already is saving lives.

 

The warm hand-off program known as BCARES, which stands for Bucks County Connect Assess Refer Engage Support, brings together the county’s six hospitals and nearby treatment providers that have certified recovery specialists, or CRSes, who can respond to the emergency departments when patients arrive after surviving an overdose.

 

The specialists have experience with substance use disorders and are trained to talk with patients and help facilitate the “warm hand-off” from the emergency departments to the treatment providers.

 

BCARES launched in April with Gaudenzia and Lower Bucks Hospital, and since then has expanded to include The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania, which is partnering with Aria-Jefferson Health, Doylestown Hospital and St. Mary Medical Center, and the Penn Foundation, which is partnering with Grand View Hospital, as well as St. Luke’s Hospital-Quakertown Campus by the end of the month.

 

Preliminary data from the initial partners during the first few months show the program is saving lives, said Eric Stark, executive director of Bucks County Health Improvement Partnership, also known as BCHIP.

 

As of the end of February, BCARES has received 273 referrals, leading 72 people into treatment, according to officials. Rivera said the program is successful but officials are still working to improve it and remove other barriers as well, like stigma in the hospitals.

 

Source: Burlington County Times 

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Over 100,000 Petitions Demanding Full Fracking Ban Delivered to the Delaware River Basin Commission

Over 100,000 Petitions Demanding Full Fracking Ban Delivered to the Delaware River Basin Commission | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Washington Crossing, PA – Representatives of organizations and members of the public submitted 104,805 signed petitions to the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) at their public business meeting today.  The petitions, collected by 15 organizations representing members in all four states that are part of the Delaware River Watershed, asks the Governors of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware to vote for a complete and permanent ban on fracking and its activities.  The petitions call for a ban on fracking throughout the Delaware River Basin, a ban on frack wastewater storage, processing and discharges in the Basin, and a ban on water exports from the Delaware River Watershed to fuel fracking elsewhere.

The DRBC, made up of the governors of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Delaware, and the Army Corps of Engineers representing the federal government, are expected to decide in the coming months on draft natural gas regulations that include the proposed fracking ban but would also allow frack wastewater to be discharged in the basin and water to be withdrawn for fracking elsewhere.  Recent developments such as the EPA’s report on the high toxicity of waste produced by fracking, the Trump Administration’s movement to relax frack waste disposal regulations along with other federal environmental protections such as rolling back the nation’s landmark “Clean Water Rule”, and recent scientific reports with dire warnings about climate change – which is worsened by methane released by fracking – provide the backdrop for the new petitions being submitted.

The Anniversary of the 8-year moratorium on fracking in the Delaware River Basin is being celebrated as the moment when the COMPLETE ban on fracking and its wastewater and water withdrawals should be made permanent throughout the Delaware River Watershed.

“People are petitioning the Governors as their representatives on the DRBC to provide equitable and COMPLETE protection to all who rely on the Delaware for drinking water – between 15 and 17 million people – through these 104,000+ petitions.  As the Trump Administration’s federal government is slashing environmental protections, we are fortunate to have an interstate agency – the DRBC – that can comprehensively regulate to ensure the Delaware River Watershed is fully protected by a complete ban that prohibits fracking, frack wastewater discharges and the export of water from the Delaware for fracking and nothing less. We are submitting these petitions to the Governors so they know the public supports their vote for a COMPLETE fracking ban in the Delaware River Watershed,” said Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network.
 
“The clean water act is under threat, it is time for us here in the Delaware River basin to ensure that our communities and river system are safe from the persistent toxins that fracking and waste treatment release into our air and water. We know fracking can contaminate drinking water, we know that banning fracking and its related activities is the only way to guarantee that the basin is safe,” said Wes Gillingham Associate Director of Catskill Mountainkeeper.  He continued: “New York has banned fracking because of health impacts. We need to protect the entire basin, no one should be a test animal for gas industry toxins. Commissioners, 104,805 people across this region agree we need a full and complete fracking ban to protect this important watershed – it’s time to step up and do it.”

Organizations that collected signatures on the ban petition include:

Berks Gas Truth
Bucks Environmental Action
Catskill Mountainkeeper
Clean Water Action NJ
CREDO
Damascus Citizens for Sustainability
Delaware Riverkeeper Network
Delaware Sierra Club
Environment New Jersey
Food and Water Watch
Natural Resources Defense Council
NJ Sierra Club
Pennsylvania Chapter Sierra Club
Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter
Think Ocean Delaware

Access the Petition here...

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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.

 

 

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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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Newtown Township Board of Supervisors Hires Philadelphia Captain as Newtown's Next Police Chief

Newtown Township Board of Supervisors Hires Philadelphia Captain as Newtown's Next Police Chief | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

The township will soon have a new police chief.

 

At the Jan. 9 meeting, the board of supervisors hired Philadelphia police captain John Hearn to head the township's 31-officer police department.

 

In a quick vote without discussion or debate, the board unanimously approved an employment agreement with Hearn.

 

Voting for the police chief’s contract were: Chairman Phil Calabro, Vice Chairman Linda Bobrin, along with Supervisors John Mack, Kyle Davis and Dennis Fisher.

 

Although Hearn’s name was not publicly disclosed at the supervisor’s meeting, BucksLocalNews.comhas confirmed that he will take over the position sometime this spring after he wraps up his job with the Philadelphia Police Department, where he has worked for nearly 30 years.

 

Once on board in Newtown, the 52-year-old Hearn, who lives in Northampton Township, will oversee 31 officers, commanders and civilian staff members along with a $5.27-million budget this year.

He’ll replace former Chief Rick Pasqualini, who retired in July. In the interim, Lt. Jason Harris has been serving as acting police chief.

 

Capt. Hearn’s resume is both extensive and impressive.

Since 2017, he has been the commanding officer of the 14th District in Northwest Philadelphia, which covers the Chestnut Hill and Germantown sections, as well as East and West Mt. Airy.

Prior to that, he was a lieutenant for 12 years with the Highway Patrol, a specialized unit in the Philadelphia Police Department.

 

While there, he had extensive experience with logistics, security and training.

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PA State Sen. Maria Collett to Introduce Bills to Lower Safe Levels of PFAS in Drinking Water

PA State Sen. Maria Collett to Introduce Bills to Lower Safe Levels of PFAS in Drinking Water | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Even before she was sworn in Tuesday, Sen. Maria Collett, D-12, of Lower Gwynedd announced that she would be introducing two pieces of legislation related to PFAS chemicals, which have contaminated public and private water wells in Horsham, Warminster, Warrington and some neighboring communities.

 

“After decades of unregulated PFAS use by the United States military in firefighting training on thee former bases ... in Bucks and Montgomery counties, PFAS have turned up in elevated levels,” Collett said in a prepared statement. “This is unfair and punitive. Our residents are innocent victims whose health and safety have been compromised through no fault of their own.”

 

PFAS are synthetic chemicals based on a carbon-fluorine bond, one of the most indestructible combinations in chemistry. They last for decades, and potentially much longer, in the environment, and accumulate in the bodies of animals and humans exposed to them. Studies have linked them to a variety of potential health issues, including high cholesterol levels, immunodeficiencies, reproductive effects, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disorders and some cancers.

 

Collett’s bills intend to address a growing area of concern among the public and lawmakers: Although the water systems in the three primarily affected towns have filtered out the chemicals, ratepayers continue to shoulder a large portion of the economic burden through surcharges and rate increases. Because the chemicals are largely unregulated at the state or federal levels, the towns are unable to recoup much of their costs from the military, and regulators are limited in their ability to stop pollution from continuing to leach off area bases.

 

Collett’s bills, which somewhat pick up where the efforts of her predecessor, state Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, left off, would seek to give local towns and state agencies more heft by formally regulating the chemicals. The first bill would establish a 10 parts per trillion (ppt) drinking water limit for four of the chemicals: PFOS, PFOA, PFHxS and PFNA.

 

That’s significantly lower than a 70-ppt advisory limit for just PFOS and PFOA currently put forth by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which the military is using as the basis of its response here. PFHxS is not even listed on many environmental reports issued by the military, although the chemical was found in high amounts in the blood of about 230 area residents who recently took part in a state sampling program.

 

“There are legitimate and reasonable concerns regarding this contamination as well as what the acceptable levels of PFAS should be,” Collett said in a memo to her colleagues asking for support for the bill. “It is time to lower the acceptable standard of PFAS levels in drinking water in Pennsylvania.”

 

Pennsylvania appears to be moving in direction of states such as California and New Jersey, which set their own standards, announcing last year it is seeking to hire toxicologists who can develop drinking water standards. However, the state has been unable to make a hire to date. [For more on that, read “For Lack of a Toxicologist, State Effort to Develop PFOA Standard is Stalled!”; http://sco.lt/7vSafJ ]

 

A second bill Collett is proposing may face fewer hurdles than a drinking water standard. It would add the four PFAS chemicals to the state’s designated list of hazardous substances, along with any chemicals “designated by executive order that poses a threat to public health and safety or the environment.”

 

Collett’s memo on the proposed legislation echoed arguments made by other advocates in the past: that designating PFAS as hazardous substances would open up legal avenues to “fully recoup remediation costs” from the military or another polluter.

 

Collett says the bill would also permit the governor to declare an emergency, similar to a natural disaster such as a flood, for water sources impacted by PFAS above 10 ppt. The governor could then establish drinking water or cleanup standards for the affected area, which could allow a more narrow approach than a statewide regulation such as a drinking water standard.

 

The bill also would make communities impacted by an emergency declaration eligible for state grants to pay for treatment, infrastructure, and other measures to address contamination.

 

Collett’s staff said Monday they didn’t have a firm date on when the legislation would be formally introduced and instead were focused on building additional bipartisan support in the coming weeks. Chief of Staff Correne Kristiansen called the efforts a “top priority.”

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Further Reading:

  • “PFAS From Tainted Water on Military Bases My Be Spreading to Other Towns in Bucks, Montco”; http://sco.lt/7Lillp
  • “EWG Report: Perfluorinated Pollutant (PFAS) Contamination of Water Spreading”; http://sco.lt/4xLDiD
  • “Newtown Artesian Water Report on PFAS to Newtown Board of Supervisors”; http://sco.lt/9AMQHR
  • “EPA, Department of Defense, White House Conspired to Put Clamps on Release of PFAS Safety Limits for Drinking Water, Says Union of Concerned Scientists”; http://sco.lt/87oNHN
  • “U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances Documents Call EPA’s PFAS Safety Numbers Into Question”; http://sco.lt/7umDCb
  • “Lower Makefield, Not Satisfied with PA American Water's Paid Ad, Seeks More Answers, Assurances in Wake of Water Emergency”; http://sco.lt/5Ojmbp
  • “U.S. Military Refuses to Test for PFAS in Fish in Horsham, PA & Other Areas”; http://sco.lt/6v9H6n
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PFAS From Tainted Water on Military Bases My Be Spreading to Other Towns in Bucks, Montco

PFAS From Tainted Water on Military Bases My Be Spreading to Other Towns in Bucks, Montco | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

"Once [the chemicals] are in the groundwater it’s really hard to stop the spread..."

 

Contaminated groundwater and storm water are still seeping off two former military bases in Bucks and Montgomery Counties, and the toxic chemicals that leaked from the bases and contaminated drinking water in adjacent neighborhoods for some 50 years have since been detected in drinking wells farther from the bases.

 

At least 22 other towns have joined the list of places with some level of contaminated water since residents in Horsham, Warrington, and Warminster learned in 2014 that their water was tainted by chemicals used in firefighting foams at the bases, according to interviews and a review of information shared by area municipalities and water companies.

 

At meetings this month, residents learned new details about community health testing that revealed above-average levels of chemicals in their blood and were told that the Navy has not finalized its plan to treat the contaminated soil and water that could still threaten drinking water.

 

Meanwhile, the community of affected people has grown beyond the original 70,000 in towns bordering the Naval Air Station and Horsham Air Guard Station in Willow Grove and former Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster.

 

“Everybody’s just thinking it’s our problem, but maybe it’s other people’s problem also,” one unidentified Warminster resident told the crowd at Wednesday’s state Health Department meeting in Fort Washington.

 

“Once [the chemicals] are in the groundwater it’s really hard to stop the spread, and treating them is even more difficult,” said Christopher Higgins, a leading researcher on PFAS and a professor at the Colorado School of Mines. He predicted that PFAS will keep showing up in water supplies over time as groundwater and surface water move.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Further Reading:

  • “EWG Report: Perfluorinated Pollutant (PFAS) Contamination of Water Spreading”; http://sco.lt/4xLDiD
  • “Newtown Artesian Water Report on PFAS to Newtown Board of Supervisors”; http://sco.lt/9AMQHR
  • “EPA, Department of Defense, White House Conspired to Put Clamps on Release of PFAS Safety Limits for Drinking Water, Says Union of Concerned Scientists”; http://sco.lt/87oNHN
  • “U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances Documents Call EPA’s PFAS Safety Numbers Into Question”; http://sco.lt/7umDCb
  • “Lower Makefield, Not Satisfied with PA American Water's Paid Ad, Seeks More Answers, Assurances in Wake of Water Emergency”; http://sco.lt/5Ojmbp
  • “U.S. Military Refuses to Test for PFAS in Fish in Horsham, PA & Other Areas”; http://sco.lt/6v9H6n
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JAMA Study Offers More Evidence Against the Use of Opioids to Treat Chronic Noncancer Pain

JAMA Study Offers More Evidence Against the Use of Opioids to Treat Chronic Noncancer Pain | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

[JAMA Editorial, 12/18/2018] In 2017, an estimated 11 to 12 million people in the United States (4.2% of the total population) misused opioids (including heroin). What most physicians do not recognize is that 92% of people who misuse opioids do so by taking prescription opioids, and that 75% of individuals who use heroin report that they started misusing opioids through the misuse of prescription opioids.

 

In this issue of JAMA [JAMA. 2018;320(23):2448-2460. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.18472], Busse and colleagues provide important information on patient outcomes when opioids are used to treat chronic noncancer pain. In this systematic review and meta-analysis, the authors included 96 randomized clinical trials involving more than 26000 patients who received opioids or a nonopioid control and for whom outcomes were documented for at least 1 month. Compared with patients who received placebo, patients who received opioids reported very modest improvements in pain and physical functioning, and these modest improvements decreased over time.

 

The findings illustrate that most patients who are prescribed opioids for the treatment of chronic noncancer pain will not benefit from those drugs. However, when opioids fail to provide pain relief, a common response by clinicians may be dose escalation rather than reconsidering use of the drug. Given the clear risk of serious harm, opioids should not be continued without clear evidence of a clinically important benefit.

 

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Kentucky Sues Johnson & Johnson, Subsidiaries Over Opioid Epidemic

The state of Kentucky sued Johnson & Johnson and two subsidiaries in April, 2018, accusing the companies of using a "deceptive marketing scheme" to flood the state with opioid-based prescription painkillers.

Along with Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson deliberately targeted elderly patients to boost the profits for the drugs Duragesic, Nucynta and Nucynta ER, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear charged in a lawsuit filed in McCracken Circuit Court.

Janssen representatives, in particular, told doctors and patients these opioids were safe and "rarely addictive" when used for chronic pain,Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear said.

"Janssen has profited from their illegal conduct, and my office is taking action to make sure they pay for ravaging our communities and destroying our families just to make a profit,” Beshear said in a statement. Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is now known as Janssen Pharmaceuticals, according to the suit.

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November 2018 Newtown Police Report

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

Interim Police Chief Jason Harris presented the Calls Report for November 2018 at the December 12, 2018, Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting. In November, the Newtown Police Department responded to 1,363 total calls, 263 (19%) of which were in Wrightstown Township (Newtown Police provides services to both Newtown Township and Wrightstown).

 

There were 99 total traffic citations in Newtown in November 2018. Sixty (60) of those involved speeding, which is a perennial problem of concern to residents. Residents along Swamp Road, for example, have been especially vocal concerning speeding and truck traffic on Swamp Road. In response, Newtown administrators and police asked PennDOT representatives to attend a public BOS meeting on September 12, 2018, to respond to questions and concerns of residents. You can view a video snippet of that session here

 

Looking at the citation data to date for 2018, it is obvious that Newtown Police have responded by issuing significant numbers of speeding citations along Swamp Road in September, October, and November. In fact, 38 of the 60 (63%) speeding citations in November were issued to drivers on Swamp Road.

 

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Frustrations Grow at the Pace and Effectiveness of PFAS Cleanup at Local Military Bases

Frustrations Grow at the Pace and Effectiveness of PFAS Cleanup at Local Military Bases | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Residents and officials expressed frustration with the speed of chemical clean-up at the former NAS-JRB Willow Grove at a meeting Wednesday.

 

In theory, the quarterly meetings held by the military to update the public on cleanup operations at the former NAS-JRB Willow Grove are supposed to foster good relations with the community.

 

Maybe next time.

 

The latest meeting held Wednesday at the Horsham Township Library followed a similar trend from others in the recent past as residents, municipal leaders and elected officials peppered military representatives with questions and criticisms regarding ongoing PFAS chemical contamination at the former base, as well as the still active Horsham Air Guard Station.

 

Members of the public … grew frustrated after it took their inquiries to obtain significant information. In one instance, military personnel detailed how they had updated a treatment system at a stormwater outfall on the north side of the guard station, which they said is now removing PFAS chemicals down to about 7 parts per trillion (ppt), or just one-tenth of a 70 ppt health limit advised by the Environmental Protection Agency.

 

But Chris Crockett, chief environmental officer with private water utility Aqua Pennsylvania, chimed in to point out that his company has sampled water beyond the filter and found it still contains much higher amounts of PFAS before entering into the nearby Park Creek.

 

“Every time my people go there to sample at the fence line ... it’s not 7 ppt in the water, it is over 1,000 parts per trillion,” Crockett said. “It’s 5,000 parts per trillion when the system isn’t on.”

 

Keith Freihofer, environmental restoration program manager with the Air National Guard, didn’t dispute the numbers and said the military believes there is contaminated groundwater infiltrating back into the waterway after the filter.

 

At the heart of concerns about contaminated water continuing to leave the base was whether anything is being done to control or remove the “plume” of contaminated groundwater underneath the base. Detailed mapping of the plume has not been released to date, but military officials have identified several hotspots in groundwater that include up to 329,500 ppt of the chemicals.

 

William Lin, environmental coordinator with the Navy, said his department is in the process of removing large quantities of contaminated soil, one near an airplane hangar and another near an old fire station, that it believes may be contributing to the contaminated groundwater. To date, about 3,000 cubic yards have been excavated, with more planned into January.

 

However, Navy officials said the effort is largely guesswork, as no official cleanup regulations or standards exist. Instead, they’re removing soil that was found to be in the worst 5 percent of 300 soil samples taken at the base.

 

That still left residents like Hope Grosse, who grew up across from the former Naval Air Warfare Center Warminster, dismayed that the plume is currently largely uncontrolled, with levels as high as 1,000 ppt still being documented leaving the base.

 

“It’s fearful for a community member,” Grosse said. “I urge you guys to get on this as quick as possible.”

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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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