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Court Case Reveals Further Evidence of Drug Industry's Complicity in Opioid Epidemic. Pill Mills: 3,271 Pill Bottles Per Month Sent to Pharmacy in Florida Town of 2,831

Court Case Reveals Further Evidence of Drug Industry's Complicity in Opioid Epidemic. Pill Mills: 3,271 Pill Bottles Per Month Sent to Pharmacy in Florida Town of 2,831 | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

The Walgreens employee was bewildered by the quantity of opioids the company was shipping to just one store. Its pharmacy in Port Richey, Fla. (population 2,831) was ordering 3,271 bottles of oxycodone a month.

 

“I don’t know how they can even house this many bottles to be honest,” Barbara Martin, whose job was to review suspicious drug orders, wrote to a colleague in a January 2011 email. The next month, the company shipped another outsized order to the same store.

 

The email was among thousands of documents from corporations across the pharmaceutical and retail industries — internal memos, depositions, sales and shipping reports, experts’ analyses, and other confidential information — filed Friday in federal court in Cleveland by lawyers for cities, towns and counties devastated by addiction. They lay out a detailed case of how diverse corporate interests — far beyond the familiar players like Purdue Pharma — fed a deadly opioid epidemic that persisted for nearly two decades.

 

Little-known manufacturers of generic pills, superstores like Walmart and chain retailers like Rite Aid also flooded the country with billions of pills, according to the filings (read “KVK Tech - Located in Newtown Township - is #7 Among the TOP TEN Biggest Rx Opioid Manufacturers! According to DEA Database”). The devastation was so extreme that one Ohio county resorted to a mobile morgue to handle all the corpses of people who died from overdoses.

 

As the epidemic crested, the suppliers with the greatest sales were not the branded manufacturers but those who made generic prescription drugs. Between 2003 and 2011, lawyers for the plaintiffs said in one filing, Mallinckrodt, the Ireland-based manufacturer of generic and branded drugs, sold 53 million orders of opioids. Yet the company stopped and then reported to federal authorities at most 33 orders as suspicious, a ratio the lawyers described as defying credibility.

 

The filings represent a signature moment in the run-up to the first trial of nearly 2,000 cases brought by cities and counties nationwide, consolidated in an Ohio federal court. They are seeking billions of dollars in compensation from the corporations implicated in the opioid epidemic.

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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, environmental issues, emergency services, traffic, crime, etc. Please click on the "From" link to access the full original article. 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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Public is "Doubly Harmed" When Purdue Pharma and Other Guilty Opioid Manufacturers Deduct Opioid Settlements From Taxes. 

Public is "Doubly Harmed" When Purdue Pharma and Other Guilty Opioid Manufacturers Deduct Opioid Settlements From Taxes.  | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

When Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter announced in March that Purdue Pharma would pay the state $270 million to settle a lawsuit linked to the opioid epidemic, he declared the agreement "begins a new chapter for those struggling with addiction."

 

The deal also appears to be part of the latest chapter in a saga where U.S. corporations trim their tax bills by writing lawsuit settlements off on their taxes.

 

Congress blocked many of those tactics in a major tax-cut law passed in 2017. However, a few initial settlements among the thousands of opioid lawsuits show the regulatory cat-and-mouse game continues.

 

In a settlement with Purdue Pharma, the payments will go to a new foundation and a center researching pain and addiction. An agreement with Teva Pharmaceuticals USA specified the firm's payment would be restitution, not a penalty. And a settlement with McKesson declared the transaction wasn't a fine, penalty, punitive damages, or forfeiture – all terms that might carry weight when companies file their taxes.

 

Corporate write-offs of government settlements exact a financial toll on millions of average Americans, according to reports by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund, a government watchdog organization.

 

"When corporations deduct settlements for wrongdoing, the public is doubly harmed," the organization warned in a 2015 report.

 

Settlements aren’t seen as a deterrent if companies can write them off on their tax returns, it said. And other taxpayers "must shoulder the burden of the lost revenue in the form of higher taxes for other ordinary taxpayers, cuts to public programs, or more national debt," the report said.

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Related Stories:

  •  “To Avoid Bankruptcy, Purdue Pharma Said to Plead Guilty to Illegally Marketing Opioids”; http://sco.lt/9CyCmW 
  • Newtown Township Supervisors Vote to File Civil Lawsuit Against Drug Manufacturers Over Opioid Crisis”; http://sco.lt/7Wibjd 
  • “OxyContin Opioid Maker Purdue Pharma Reportedly Exploring Chapter 11 Bankruptcy”; http://sco.lt/8OuLIG 
  • “Purdue #Pharma Doesn't Want Court to Unseal Oxycontin Marketing Documents. What's It Hiding?”; http://sco.lt/6wb24f 
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Dupont & 3M Face Members of Congress, Deny That Science Says PFAS Are Dangerous

Dupont & 3M Face Members of Congress, Deny That Science Says PFAS Are Dangerous | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

As negotiations continue in Congress over a defense spending bill that could provide for some federal cleanup and regulation of PFAS, executives from the companies that manufactured and used the chemicals faced tough questions from a congressional committee Tuesday.

 

At the core of the hearing was the question of how and whether Congress should act to hold polluters accountable and ensure faster cleanup of sites across the country, including in Bucks and Montgomery Counties, where PFAS have seeped into drinking-water supplies from military bases or former manufacturing sites. That question is also part of negotiations over the defense spending bill.

 

Court documents and other records have indicated that 3M and DuPont were aware of the potential health risks of the substances they used for decades. Scientific research has linked PFAS to health problems, though researchers have said they are still studying causation.

 

“These companies here with us today have screwed up, and we need to hold them accountable for doing so,” Rep. Harley Rouda (D., Calif.) said as the hearing began before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

 

Politicians and activists have demanded that the federal government regulate the substances and that the military and manufacturers clean up contamination.

 

‘Plenty of science’

 

“You want to get credit for the decision to no longer produce these dangerous chemicals voluntarily, but in the same breath want us to believe that there’s no science that says that these chemicals are dangerous at all,” said Rep. Dan Kildee (D., Mich.), addressing 3M. “There’s plenty of science out there that demonstrates that these are harmful chemicals and dangerous for human consumption. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have taken them off the market in the first place.”

 

[The Union of Concerned Scientists agree. Read "What Congress Should Ask When Industry Tries to Spread PFAS Disinformation"]

 

The White House threatened in July to veto the House version of the defense spending bill and listed PFAS-related items among dozens of concerns. The House and Senate versions passed during the summer each contained provisions that, among other things, would phase out military use of PFAS in firefighting foam and food packaging; require water quality monitoring for PFAS; designate the chemicals as hazardous substances under federal law; and provide funding for more studies and cleanup.

 

One provision would require the EPA to set a safe drinking-water standard, which the EPA says is in progress, but will take years longer than activists say is acceptable.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Related Stories:

  • “PFAS From Tainted Water on Military Bases My Be Spreading to Other Towns in Bucks, Montco”; http://sco.lt/7Lill
  • “Perfluorinated Compounds Detected in Newtown Township's Water Supply”; http://sco.lt/70ujU9
  • “Why Isn't the Military Cleaning up Firefighting Chemicals That Continue to Contaminate Local Drinking Water Sources?”; http://sco.lt/8JEvvk
  • “Senators From BOTH Parties Press EPA to Develop Enforceable Standards Limiting PFOA and PFOS in Drinking Water”; http://sco.lt/8NQUwz
  • “U.S. House Launches Bipartisan PFAS Task Force That Promises to Set Formal Drinking Water Standard for PFAS”; http://sco.lt/6JjI4P
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NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP POLICE REPORT: Sofa Cushion on Bypass, Gunshots on Durham Road, More...

NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP POLICE REPORT: Sofa Cushion on Bypass, Gunshots on Durham Road, More... | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

CUSHION ON THE BYPASS >> A passing motorist contacted police on August 30 at 9:30 a.m. to report a sofa cushion in the southbound lane on the Newtown Bypass. Patrol checked the Bypass in both directions and did not locate a cushion.

 

TRAFFIC DETAIL >> Police conducted a Commercial Motor Vehicle Traffic Detail on August 30 between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. on the Newtown Bypass at Campus Drive. As a result of the detail, four trucks were stopped and inspected; five violations were found, and one citation was issued.

 

GUNSHOTS REPORTED >> Around 8:15 p.m. on August 31 police responded to the 800 block area of Durham Road for the report of gunshots being heard. Upon arrival, officers did not hear any gunshots and searched the surrounding area with negative results.

 

ACTIVE WARRANT >> Police initiated a traffic stop on Washington Crossing Road shortly before 9:45 p.m. on August 31 on the operator of a red Dodge Journey SUV for committing a traffic violation. Upon contact with the driver, 25 year old Matthew Yoak of Philadelphia, the officer obtained his information and determined that Yoak was a wanted person due to an active warrant out of Philadelphia Police Department. Yoak was taken into custody and transported to the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Warrant Unit without incident.

 

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Owners of Purdue Pharma - the Sacklers - Want to Continue to Sell Oxycontin Abroad: Settlement Talks Stumble as Some States Resist

Owners of Purdue Pharma - the Sacklers - Want to Continue to Sell Oxycontin Abroad: Settlement Talks Stumble as Some States Resist | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

The Sackler family is willing to give up Purdue Pharma to settle all claims related to the opioid crisis, but is resisting a quick sale of its overseas drug company.

 

Purdue Pharma’s negotiations to settle thousands of lawsuits over the company’s role in the opioids crisis have turned into a standoff between members of the Sackler family, who own the company, and a group of state attorneys general over how much the family should pay and whether it can continue selling drugs abroad.

 

The Sacklers are deep in negotiations that, if finalized, would force them to give up ownership of Purdue, the company widely blamed for the onset of the opioid epidemic with its aggressive marketing of the prescription painkiller OxyContin. But they want to keep selling OxyContin and other drugs abroad for as many as seven more years, through another company they own, Mundipharma, based in Cambridge, England.

 

Some attorneys general, particularly in wealthier states like New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut, are resisting that and other issues related to the foreign business.

 

“Connecticut demands that the Sacklers and Purdue management be forced completely out of the opioid business, domestically and internationally, and that they never be allowed to return,” said Attorney General William Tong of Connecticut.

 

The Sackler family’s net worth has been estimated by Bloomberg at $13 billion, so paying $3 billion to settle their claims would still leave them with a substantial fortune. And even so, some investigators believe they are worth much more.

 

Related Stories:

  • “OxyContin/Opioid Maker Purdue Pharma Offers a $10-$12 Billion Deal to Fend Off Law Suits, Prevent Further Damage to Its Image, and Open Up a Market for Its New Drug to Treat Overdoses!”; http://sco.lt/8jHyQS
  • “Purdue #Pharma Doesn't Want Court to Unseal Oxycontin Marketing Documents. What's It Hiding?”: http://sco.lt/6wb24f
  • “Purdue Pharma Lawsuit Apparently Shows the Drug Company Wanted to Capitalize on Opioid Addiction Treatment, Report Says”; http://sco.lt/8xl9bF
  • “KVK Tech - Located in Newtown Township - is #7 Among the TOP TEN Biggest Rx Opioid Manufacturers! According to DEA Database”; http://sco.lt/5n2yoq
johnmacknewtown's insight:

When I was known as “Pharmaguy” in the pharmaceutical world, I noted that as prescriptions for OxyContin have fallen nearly 40% since 2010, Purdue Pharma is losing billions in lost revenue. So the company’s owners, the Sackler family, are pursuing a new strategy: Put the painkiller that set off the U.S. opioid crisis into medicine cabinets around the world.

 

A network of international companies owned by the family is moving rapidly into Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and other regions, and pushing for broad use of painkillers in places ill-prepared to deal with the ravages of opioid abuse and addiction.

 

In this global drive, the companies, known as Mundipharma, are using some of the same controversial marketing practices that made OxyContin a pharmaceutical blockbuster in the U.S.Purdue

 

Read “The Pain in Spain: OxyContin Sales Shrink in U.S., So Purdue #Pharma Goes Global!”; http://sco.lt/6FrO2i

 

*******

[In Brazil, China and elsewhere, the companies are running training seminars where doctors are urged to overcome “opiophobia” and prescribe painkillers. They are sponsoring public awareness campaigns that encourage people to seek medical treatment for chronic pain. They are even offering patient discounts to make prescription opioids more affordable. Source]

 

 *******

Any efforts by drugmakers like the Mundipharma companies to promote emerging-market demand for opioids have the potential to be dangerous, warns Jason White, chair of the World Health Organization’s expert committee on drug dependence.

 

Medical professionals in middle- and low- income countries may not be aware “that a number of Western countries, particularly in North America, went through this years ago and that people have now realized the problems,” White said. [Source]

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OxyContin/Opioid Maker Purdue Pharma Offers a $10-$12 Billion Deal to Fend Off Law Suits, Prevent Further Damage to Its Image, and Open Up a Market for Its New Drug to Treat Overdoses!

OxyContin/Opioid Maker Purdue Pharma Offers a $10-$12 Billion Deal to Fend Off Law Suits, Prevent Further Damage to Its Image, and Open Up a Market for Its New Drug to Treat Overdoses! | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma is reportedly offering a sweeping settlement worth $10 billion to $12 billion to resolve claims that it bears responsibility for the nation's opioid crisis.

 

The company made the confidential offer in talks involving more than 2,000 lawsuits, including cases brought by state and local governments, NBC News reported Tuesday.

 

The deal would settle allegations that Purdue engaged in deceptive marketing about deadly and addictive opioids to enrich itself.

 

It would reportedly involve Purdue Pharma and the family behind the company, the Sacklers, as well as a planned Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing that would wipe out the family's stake in and control of the company.

 

The settlement would include $7 billion to $8 billion from Purdue, more than $4 billion in drugs, including some used to save people who have overdosed, and at least $3 billion from the Sackler family, according to NBC.

 

News of the potential deal comes a day after Johnson & Johnson was hit with a $572 million judgment in Oklahoma over allegations that it deceptively marketed opioids [read “Johnson & Johnson Ordered to Pay $572 Million in Landmark Opioid Trial”; http://sco.lt/7ldAVU]. Purdue agreed to a $270 million settlement in that case, rather than taking it to trial like J&J.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

What's interesting to note is that the "deal" offers $4 billion worth of drugs, "some used to save people who have overdosed."

 

It just so happens that Purdue is seeking approval of a new drug to treat overdoses.

 

In March 2019, Purdue announced (read "After pushing addictive OxyContin, Purdue now pursuing overdose antidote") that the US Food and Drug Administration "has granted fast-track status to its investigational drug nalmefene hydrochloride (HCl), an injectable, emergency treatment intended to rescue people suspected of having an opioid overdose. Purdue suggests that nalmefene HCl’s effects last longer than the similar emergency opioid antagonist naloxone. As such, the company hopes nalmefene HCl will out-compete naloxone at reversing overdoses from the most highly potent opioid, namely fentanyl..."

 

So, consider this Purdue's opportunity to again profit from the Opioid Epidemic by getting in the market for drugs to treat the problem it helped cause!

 

BTW, Purdue still plans to expand its Oxycontin market in Europe, where, until until now, opioids are not much prescribed compared to the U.S. Read “The Pain in Spain: OxyContin Sales Shrink in U.S., So Purdue #Pharma Goes Global!”; http://sco.lt/6FrO2i

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Johnson & Johnson Ordered to Pay $572 Million in Landmark Opioid Trial

Johnson & Johnson Ordered to Pay $572 Million in Landmark Opioid Trial | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

A judge in Oklahoma on Monday ruled that Johnson & Johnson had intentionally played down the dangers and oversold the benefits of opioids, and ordered it to pay the state $572 million in the first trial of a drug manufacturer for the destruction wrought by prescription painkillers.

 

The amount fell far short of the $17 billion judgment that Oklahoma had sought to pay for addiction treatment, drug courts and other services it said it would need over the next 20 years to repair the damage done by the opioid epidemic.

 

Still, the decision, by Judge Thad Balkman of Cleveland County District Court, heartened lawyers representing states and cities — plaintiffs in many of the more than 2,000 opioid lawsuits pending across the country — who are pursuing a legal strategy similar to Oklahoma’s. His finding that Johnson & Johnson had breached the state’s “public nuisance” law was a significant aspect of his order.

 

Judge Balkman was harsh in his assessment of a company that has built its reputation as a responsible and family-friendly maker of soap, baby powder and Band-Aids.

 

In his ruling, he wrote that Johnson & Johnson had promulgated “false, misleading, and dangerous marketing campaigns” that had “caused exponentially increasing rates of addiction, overdose deaths” and babies born exposed to opioids.

 

Sabrina Strong, a lawyer for Johnson & Johnson, one the world’s biggest health care companies, said, “We have many strong grounds for appeal and we intend to pursue those vigorously.”

 

Johnson & Johnson, which contracted with poppy growers in Tasmania, supplied 60 percent of the opiate ingredients that drug companies used for opioids like oxycodone, the state argued, and aggressively marketed opioids to doctors and patients as safe and effective. A Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, made its own opioids — a pill whose rights it sold in 2015, and a fentanyl patch that it still produces.

 

Judge Balkman said the $572 million judgment could pay for a year’s worth of services needed to combat the epidemic in Oklahoma. [Read “Big Question in Opioid Suits: How to Divide Any Settlement”; http://sco.lt/63SYIi ]

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Related Stories:

  • “Nation’s First Massive Trial Against Opioid Manufacturers In Oklahoma Will Test How Much Pharma Will Be Held Responsible For #OpioidCrisis”; http://sco.lt/6uKkiW
  • “Kentucky Sues Johnson & Johnson, Subsidiaries Over Opioid Epidemic”; http://sco.lt/66cMFc
  • “Newtown Township Supervisors Vote to File Civil Lawsuit Against Drug Manufacturers Over Opioid Crisis”; http://sco.lt/7Wibjd
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PA Incinerator & Landfills Won't Accept PFAS Waste from Filters That the State is Helping to Fund!

PA Incinerator & Landfills Won't Accept PFAS Waste from Filters That the State is Helping to Fund! | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Municipal officials say they are being told incinerators and landfills across the state will not accept waste containing firefighting foam chemicals until regulatory agencies clarify whether it’s acceptable.

 

“We got booted out of landfills and incinerators,” said Tim Hagey, manager for the Warminster Municipal Authority. “They won’t take it until (the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection) gives them a blessing.”

 

The issue is the latest headache for municipalities and others as they attempt to tackle per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. Warminster and other municipalities hit with contamination have worked for several years to remove the toxic chemicals from drinking water, which has left them with PFAS-laden filters and materials in need of disposal.

 

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Waste Industries Association also suggested the issue is being discussed, but did not provide specifics as to whether the waste industry as a whole has put a hold on accepting PFAS until the DEP clarifies requirements.

 

“Currently, management of residual waste streams — like PFAS impacted wastes — is subject to state agency review and approval before being authorized for disposal at Pennsylvania landfills or incinerators,” the statement read. “Both the (Environmental Protection Agency) and DEP are in the process of analyzing this issue to determine whether and what, if any, changes might be appropriate to these procedures relative to PFAS impacted wastes.”

johnmacknewtown's insight:

“Municipal officials didn’t express significant concerns about what to do with the carbon in the meantime, noting that they can store it.” No problem!

 

Related story: “Gov. Wolf Says PA is NOT Going Too Slow to Set Safe Limits for PFAS in Drinking Water as He Announces $3.8M to Help PFAS-contaminated Communities”;; http://sco.lt/7JCbGy 

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July 2019 Newtown Township Police Report: 3d Wave of Aggressive Driver Campaign, Missing Persons, Terroristic Threats

July 2019 Newtown Township Police Report: 3d Wave of Aggressive Driver Campaign, Missing Persons, Terroristic Threats | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Newtown Township Police Lieutenant Jason Harris presented the Calls Report for July 2019 at the August 14, 2019, Board of Supervisors meeting. The following is a summary. Note: Not all calls are listed. See the full (redacted) report here.

In July, the Newtown Police Department responded to 1,694 total calls, 292 (17%) of which were in Wrightstown Township (Newtown Police provides services to both Newtown Township and Wrightstown).

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Bucks County Courier Times Gives Navy a “Thumbs Down” for Ducking PFAS Contamination Culpability

Bucks County Courier Times Gives Navy a “Thumbs Down” for Ducking PFAS Contamination Culpability | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

For years, we’ve been closely following the U.S. Department of Defense’s response to the discovery of toxic PFAS chemicals in water wells used by more than 70,000 local residents near current and former military bases where firefighting foams containing the chemicals were used since the 1970s. So we weren’t surprised to learn government officials knew about — but did little to address — the ways residents could be exposed to the chemicals beyond drinking water from their wells.

Still, the U.S. Navy gets a Thumbs Down for showing, once again, that ducking culpability while minimizing and delaying its response took priority over protecting residents from the contamination it caused.

Thousands of pages of recently obtained internal documents, which reporters Kyle Bagenstose and Jenny Wagner reviewed, yielded a number of instances in recent years in which environmental experts counseled Navy officials to evaluate exposure pathways other than drinking water. Examples include consumption of crops fertilized with waste from treatment plants and fish caught in nearby ponds and streams.

But it seems the advice was either ignored or considered but then dismissed. In one case, a remedial project manager for the Navy sent word to the East Coast director of the Navy’s Base Realignment and Closure program that he could evaluate potential fish exposure pathways in Warminster. The director responded telling him to “hold off on that course of action” until higher-ranking officials could weigh in.

We’re not sure what happened after that, but the communications office of the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry told us last month that fish near the bases still had not been tested. We wish that came as a surprise.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Related Stories:

 

  • “U.S. Military Refuses to Test for PFAS in Fish in Horsham, PA & Other Areas”; http://sco.lt/98J6Qr
  • “PFAS From Tainted Water on Military Bases My Be Spreading to Other Towns in Bucks, Montco”; http://sco.lt/7Lill
  • “Perfluorinated Compounds Detected in Newtown Township's Water Supply”; http://sco.lt/70ujU9
  • “Senators From BOTH Parties Press EPA to Develop Enforceable Standards Limiting PFOA and PFOS in Drinking Water”; http://sco.lt/8NQUwz
  • “U.S. House Launches Bipartisan PFAS Task Force That Promises to Set Formal Drinking Water Standard for PFAS”; http://sco.lt/6JjI4P
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@GovernorTomWolf to Fund Narcan Opioid Overdose Antidote for PA First Responders

@GovernorTomWolf to Fund Narcan Opioid Overdose Antidote for PA First Responders | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it
Gov. Wolf said Thursday that Pennsylvania would supply 120,000 doses of the opioid overdose reversal medication naloxone to first responders. 

The budget includes $5 million for bulk purchases of Narcan Nasal Spray, a consumer-brand version of the emergency antidote, administration officials said. 

Narcan is made by Adapt Pharma Inc., an Irish company with U.S. headquarters in Radnor. Unlike the generic, which emergency room physicians and paramedics administer by injection, the nasal spray is intended for use by people with minimal medical training, including police, ambulance crews, and friends and families of people at risk of an overdose.
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What's in Your Water? "Deeply Troubling" Report Finds PFAS in Local Waterways, But U.S. Military Declines to Investigate

What's in Your Water? "Deeply Troubling" Report Finds PFAS in Local Waterways, But U.S. Military Declines to Investigate | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

State and federal lawmakers offered a range of reactions to a recent investigative report highlighting potential chemical hazards near Bucks and Montgomery County military bases, with state Sen. Maria Collett calling the contents “deeply troubling” and U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey saying it raised “real concerns” about the impacts of chemical contamination here.

 

The report was the latest in this news organization’s ongoing series on per- and polyfluoroalkyl subtances (PFAS), which are toxic chemicals that were found in dangerous amounts in the drinking water of at least 70,000 area residents over the past half decade. Although the chemicals have been used in a wide variety of products since their creation in the mid-20th century, it was their presence in military firefighting foams used at the former Naval Air Station-Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove in Horsham, the Naval Air Warfare Center Warminster, and the active Horsham Air Guard Station that led to the local contamination.

 

Over the past five years, the Navy and Air National Guard have spent upward of $60 million to filter and provide safe drinking water to local residents, and also conduct environmental investigations at the bases.

 

But actual cleanup of the chemicals from the environment has been limited and they continue to run off the local bases, leading some residents and environmental groups to warn they could potentially reach residents through other exposure routes, such as the consumption of fish from contaminated waterways, agriculture, or waste disposal.

 

Sunday’s report reviewed a wealth of internal Department of Defense and Navy documents that appeared to show officials are also aware of or notified of the hazards, but in some instances held off on asking regulators to take action or cited Navy policy to “fend off” public pressure. Of particular local interest were emails that showed a federal health agency had urged the Navy to study potential human hazards from contaminated fish consumption in area waterways, but that the Navy declined to ask the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to do so out of concern it could set a “precedent.”

 

The district of Collett, D-12, of Lower Gwynedd, encompasses all three bases. In an email, Collett said the investigation and documents “offer a deeply troubling peek behind the curtain at the magnitude of the negligence in the military’s handling this crisis.”

 

In particular, Collett said she was “disappointed” to read that an employee of the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry wrote in an email that she had pushed for potential fish exposures to be studied but was met with “low interest” by the Department of Defense and Environmental Protection Agency.

 

“But I am not surprised,” Collett said. “Having sat in many meetings with representatives of the military, it’s become obvious their focus is more on mitigating liability than protecting against further risks to our community from ongoing exposure.”

 De

Collett further said she believes the documents showed “front line” employees warned military higher-ups of potential dangers, but that the concerns were dismissed. She added she would continue pushing at the state level for legislation that would establish a formal drinking water limit for PFAS and declare them hazardous substances.

 

Fellow state Sen. Steve Santarsiero, D-10, of Lower Makefield, noted he and Collett have co-sponsored a bill that would expand the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s jurisdiction in “matters involving environmental crimes.”

 

“We need to do all we can to hold parties accountable for cleaning up the contamination they leave behind,” Santarsiero said.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Related Stories:

  • “U.S. Military Refuses to Test for PFAS in Fish in Horsham, PA & Other Areas”; http://sco.lt/98J6Qr
  • “Perfluorinated Compounds Detected in Newtown Township's Water Supply”; http://sco.lt/70ujU9
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Newtown Police Log Highlights: Apples, Non-drug Deal in Acme Parking Lot, Segway Solicitor. No Action Required.

Newtown Police Log Highlights: Apples, Non-drug Deal in Acme Parking Lot, Segway Solicitor. No Action Required. | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

July 20, 2019: Police responded to a Society Place residence at 1:30 p.m. for the report of a suspicious circumstance. According to the complainant, there was a loud bang outside of her house near her neighbor's front door. Police discovered that an apple had been thrown against the side of one of the houses. The siding was not damaged.

 

July 22, 2019: Just after 1:30 p.m., police responded to the Acme Market parking lot for the report of a suspicious occurrence. A man reported seeing an older man sitting in a car that was approached by a younger man. He then saw them exchange money and thought that it might be a drug deal. Police arrived and made contact with the older man sitting in the car. Police verified his well-being since he was sitting in the car during an excessive heat wave and also verified that he was there food shopping with his son.

 

July 23, 2019: Around 1:00 p.m., police responded to the area of Davis Lane and North Ascot Court for the report of a suspicious male with a Segway. Police made contact with the male and verified that he is a solicitor for Aptive Environmental with an active solicitor permit from the township.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

For the week of July 19th - 25th, 2019, the Newtown Twp Police Department responded to 338 Calls for Service. Here I highlight a few of the less serious calls. See the full log here.

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The Bucks County Drug and Alcohol Commission Awarded $650K Grant for Warm Hand-Off Program for Opioid Overdose Survivors

The Bucks County Drug and Alcohol Commission Awarded $650K Grant for Warm Hand-Off Program for Opioid Overdose Survivors | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

The Bucks County Drug and Alcohol Commission has been awarded a $650,000 grant from the state Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs for the county’s warm hand-off program for opioid overdose survivors.

Secretary Jennifer Smith announced the funding for BCARES, which stands for Bucks County-Connect. Assess. Refer. Engage. Support., at a press conference Monday in Doylestown, alongside county officials and the Independence Blue Cross Foundation. The funding is part of a $55.9 million grant from the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Association awarded to Pennsylvania to bolster its response to the opioid crisis.

“Over the past year thousands of lives have been saved through warm hand-off programs,” Smith said, noting that counties across the state now are required to have similar programs in place. “We know this is a key component in strengthening the drug and alcohol landscape throughout Pennsylvania and the administration is committed to helping counties with its implementation.”

The BCARES program launched in April 2017 and brings together the county’s six hospitals with nearby treatment providers. Certified recovery specialists, or CRSes, who work for the treatment providers are stationed at the hospitals or respond on an on-call basis to the emergency departments when people arrive after surviving an overdose.

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  • “House Bill 424, the ‘Warm Handoff Bill,’ Aims to Improve Access to Addiction Treatment”; http://sco.lt/8peUsq
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The EPA is No Longer in the Business of Safeguarding Our Resources and Protecting Us From Pollution

The EPA is No Longer in the Business of Safeguarding Our Resources and Protecting Us From Pollution | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

The Trump administration on Thursday announced repeal of an Obama-era regulation that had expanded pollution protections for waterways such as wetlands and shallow streams, but that farmers, miners and manufacturers decried as overreach.

 

The widely anticipated move to repeal the 2015 Waters of the United States rule, known as WOTUS, is part of a broader effort by President Donald Trump to roll back environmental regulations to boost industry. Environmental groups called the move “shameful and dangerous.”

 

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler said that the EPA and the U.S. Army would reinstate water rules that were issued in the 1980s, and would begin re-defining which waterways can be regulated, a task to be completed by this winter.

 

President Barack Obama’s Waters of the United States rule had defined which streams and wetlands are protected by the 1972 Clean Water Act from pollutants including pesticides, fertilizers and mine waste. Farmers and industry groups had said the rule went too far, impeding their operations by extending restrictions to small, un-navigable waters.

 

Environmental groups have said the Obama rule was necessary to protect drinking water sources at risk from agri-business and industry.

 

Earthjustice and other environmental groups on Thursday warned that the Trump administration repeal will threaten drinking water and weaken safeguards that help reduce flooding and filter out pollution from streams and wetlands.

 

“President Trump’s administration wants to turn back the clock to the days of poisoned flammable water. This is shameful and dangerous,” said Abigail Dillen, Earthjustice president.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Trump’s plan for the economy: Make Drinking Water Dirty Again

From the Washington Post:

 

"This latest case involved the bodies of water the federal government can protect under the Clean Water Act, which makes it illegal to pollute a “water of the United States” without a permit. An Obama administration rule clarified that “waters of the United States” include streams and wetlands that feed larger waterways, including those used for drinking water.

 

"The government cost-benefit analysis it produced at the time found that this rule produced net economic benefits.

The Trump administration’s cost-benefit analysis, however, came to the opposite conclusion — chiefly because it abruptly decided that the largest category of benefits previously attributed to the rule could no longer be quantified at all. (The Trump administration said the research that had been used to quantify the benefits of protecting wetlands was too old, even though it cited even older research elsewhere in the same report.)

 

"Therefore, these benefits were effectively assigned a value of zero. Voila, the rule must go."

 

I guess this means Newtown Township will not have to implement its Watershed Pollution Reduction Plan to reduce pollution of three “impaired watersheds” that were previously identified by the EPA for pollution reduction:

 

  1. Neshaminy Creek – Nutrients and Sediments
  2. Lake Luxembourg – Nutrients and Sediments
  3. Core Creek - Sediments
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Oxycontin Maker Purdue Backs Out of Deal to Settle Lawsuits and Will Seek Bankruptcy to Avoid Going to Trial

Oxycontin Maker Purdue Backs Out of Deal to Settle Lawsuits and Will Seek Bankruptcy to Avoid Going to Trial | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Purdue Pharma, the maker of the painkiller OxyContin, is expected to file for bankruptcy after attempts to reach a settlement over its role in the opioid crisis came to a standstill, state attorneys general involved in the talks said Saturday.

 

The Sackler family, which owns Purdue, rejected two offers and declined to make counteroffers, according to an email from Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery and North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein that was obtained by the Associated Press.

 

"As a result, the negotiations are at an impasse, and we expect Purdue to file for bankruptcy protection imminently," Slatery and Stein wrote.

 

Chapter 11 protection would greatly reduce Purdue’s legal liability in the nationwide lawsuit to approximately $1 billion from up to $12 billion, according to a proposal that recently became public. The company had threatened to file for bankruptcy earlier this year and was holding off while negotiations continued.

 

At least 30 states and 2,000 state, local and tribal governments have filed lawsuits claiming the pharmaceutical company is responsible for the nationwide opioid crisis. The lawsuits — which have also been filed by unions, hospitals, and lawyers representing babies who were born in opioid withdrawal — have been consolidated under a single federal judge in Cleveland.

 

The impasse in the talks comes about six weeks before the scheduled start of the first federal trial under the Cleveland litigation, overseen by U.S. District Judge Dan Polster. That trial will hear claims about the toll the opioid epidemic has taken on two Ohio counties, Cuyahoga and Summit.

 

A bankruptcy filing by Purdue would most certainly remove the company from that trial.

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Related Stories:

  • “To Avoid Bankruptcy, Purdue Pharma Said to Plead Guilty to Illegally Marketing Opioids”; http://sco.lt/9CyCmW
  • Newtown Township Supervisors Vote to File Civil Lawsuit Against Drug Manufacturers Over Opioid Crisis”; http://sco.lt/7Wibjd
  • “OxyContin Opioid Maker Purdue Pharma Reportedly Exploring Chapter 11 Bankruptcy”; http://sco.lt/8OuLIG
  • “Purdue #Pharma Doesn't Want Court to Unseal Oxycontin Marketing Documents. What's It Hiding?”; http://sco.lt/6wb24f
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Why Isn't the Military Cleaning up Firefighting Chemicals That Continue to Contaminate Local Drinking Water Sources?

Why Isn't the Military Cleaning up Firefighting Chemicals That Continue to Contaminate Local Drinking Water Sources? | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

It’s been five years since the military first discovered widespread PFAS contamination at bases in Bucks and Montgomery counties, but the chemicals continue to pollute the aquifer and waterways like Park Creek and the Little Neshaminy. We asked more than half a dozen experts a simple question: Why?

 

In February 2017, after listening to military officials talk for more than an hour about ongoing environmental pollution in his hometown of Horsham, state Rep. Todd Stephens’ frustrations boiled over.

 

Representatives of the Navy and Air National Guard had just freely admitted that toxic firefighting chemicals continued to pour off the former Naval Air Station Joint-Reserve Base Willow Grove and into surrounding waterways. It had been three years since major contamination was first discovered, and Stephens, R-151, wanted to know why the military still hadn’t contained it.

 

“It is beyond my comprehension that these unbelievably talented and bright individuals can’t figure out how to stop polluting our water ... and still don’t even have a timeline,” Stephens said of the military’s array of contractors and engineers.

 

Years later, little has changed around the Willow Grove base, nor at the hundreds of other military bases across the country where per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination has been found. With the exception of some limited cleanup efforts at Willow Grove, as well as at other high-profile facilities, the military is still where it was before: studying the contamination, but largely leaving it in place.

 

This news organization spent a year reviewing military documents and talking to legal and environmental experts to determine why the military isn’t cleaning up. The effort led through a dizzying maze of regulations and policies, but ultimately ended at a simple answer: Nobody is forcing the military’s hand, and perhaps nobody can.

 

The Department of Defense estimates its cleanup costs could reach $2 billion, and it’s spending tens of millions of dollars studying cost-effective treatment systems and other technologies that could help. Nathan Frey, a policy advisor with the environmental law firm Marten Law, says the DOD appears to be wary that taking a cleanup action at one base before it’s ready could set a precedent for others.

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According to Recently Unsealed Documents, Purdue Pharma and Johnson & Johnson Had a Cozy Opioid Drug Marketing Arrangement

According to Recently Unsealed Documents, Purdue Pharma and Johnson & Johnson Had a Cozy Opioid Drug Marketing Arrangement | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

For years, Purdue Pharma has maintained that it can’t be blamed for the overdose crisis that unfolded after its introduction of OxyContin—but a trove of new evidence suggests that the company was instrumental in laying the groundwork for the opioid epidemic.

 

As early as 2000, Purdue collaborated with pain patient advocacy groups and professional pain management organizations to create what former president Richard Sackler called a “pain movement.” The company also allegedly worked with competitor and opioid maker Johnson & Johnson, which was recently found liable for contributing to the opioid crisis in Oklahoma, in an effort to create a “pain management franchise.” In addition, company executives appear to have met with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to discuss possible collaborations.

 

These revelations come from new exhibits in the federal litigation bundling roughly 2,000 cases against opioid makers and distributors that is set to go to trial in October. The plaintiffs allege that the pharmaceutical companies worked together in a conspiracy to sell more opioids, an allegation that the defendants vigorously deny. Under the terms of a recently-leaked settlement proposal, Purdue and its owners, the Sackler family, may soon settle all the claims brought against the company by thousands of state and federal lawsuits.

 

Collaborating with Johnson & Johnson to create a “Pain Management Franchise”

 

According to the court documents, as early as 2000, Purdue began working with Johnson & Johnson, whose pharmaceutical subsidiaries sold opioids Duragesic and Ultram, on a “co-promotion agreement” in which sales representatives would promote both companies’ opioid products. The ultimate goal, according to a J&J presentation, was to “Build a partnership between Purdue Pharma LP and J&J that leverages each partner’s assets and capabilities to create a Pain Management Franchise that is significantly larger and more profitable than that which the partners could build on their own.”

 

The co-promotion agreement never came to fruition, but evidence suggests that the companies instructed their sales representatives not to attack the others’ brands. In 2001, after an executive from J&J subsidiary Janssen complained that Purdue’s sales representatives were telling doctors about the abuse of Janssen’s opioid, Duragesic, a Purdue executive instructed Purdue’s sales force not to discuss abuse and diversion of OxyContin or Duragesic. If they did, the letter stated, there would be consequences: “Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Purdue have agreed that should either company have representatives who promote product out of label or out of policy, the name of the representative will be provided to the other company for investigation and disciplinary action if needed.”

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Related Stories:

  • “Purdue #Pharma Doesn't Want Court to Unseal Oxycontin Marketing Documents. What's It Hiding?”: http://sco.lt/6wb24f
  • “Purdue Pharma Lawsuit Apparently Shows the Drug Company Wanted to Capitalize on Opioid Addiction Treatment, Report Says”; http://sco.lt/8xl9bF
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What Lies Ahead After OK Opioid Judgement That J&J Intentionally Played Down the Dangers of Opioids?

What Lies Ahead After OK Opioid Judgement That J&J Intentionally Played Down the Dangers of Opioids? | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Oklahoma’s $572-million judgment against Johnson & Johnson will likely be followed by more trials and legal settlements seeking to hold a drug company accountable for a U.S. opioid crisis that has ripped apart lives and communities. [Read “Johnson & Johnson Ordered to Pay $572 Million in Landmark Opioid Trial”; http://sco.lt/7ldAVU]

 

Monday’s ruling could help shape negotiations over roughly 1,500 similar lawsuits filed by state, local and tribal governments consolidated before a federal judge in Ohio. And as the legal cases against the opioid industry accelerate, so do concerns about how the money from verdicts or settlements will be spent. [“Big Question in Opioid Suits: How to Divide Any Settlement”; http://sco.lt/63SYIi ]

 

Q: What happened leading up to the Oklahoma judgment?

 

Oklahoma’s public nuisance lawsuit against several drugmakers and their subsidiaries was the first in the wave of opioid litigation to make it to trial. Before the start of the six-week trial in May, Oklahoma reached a $270 million deal with Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, and an $85 million settlement with Teva, both of which faced criticism from state lawmakers, who argued they have control over dispersing funds. The Purdue settlement calls for about $200 million to go into a trust to fund an addiction studies center at Oklahoma State University in Tulsa.

 

The remaining defendants, Johnson & Johnson and some of its subsidiaries, proceeded to trial.

 

Q: What makes the cases legally complicated?

 

A: There are dozens of defendants and thousands of plaintiffs with different interests. State and local governments are battling over control of any settlement money before any national deals have been reached.

 

In Oklahoma, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has told the state that the federal government is entitled to a portion of Oklahoma’s proceeds from its settlement with Purdue. Several local governments refused to participate in the lawsuit against Purdue so they could pursue their own, while others have criticized how most of the settlement money from that case is being spent.

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Dogs Help Sniff Out Invasive Plants

Dogs Help Sniff Out Invasive Plants | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Dia, a Labrador retriever, uses her sense of smell to find Scotch broom, an invasive species, in Harriman State Park in Tuxedo, N.Y., Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019. The nonprofit New York-New Jersey Trail Conference has trained Dia to find Scotch broom plants in two state parks 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of New York City. The invasive shrub is widespread in the Pacific Northwest but new to New York, and land managers hope to eradicate it before it gets established.

 

The shrub, which displaces native plants with thickets impenetrable to wildlife, is a widespread noxious weed in the Pacific Northwest but is fairly new to New York. Land managers hope to eradicate it before it becomes widespread.

 

“If we had to find all these plants ourselves, combing the grass for every tiny plant, it would take so much longer — and we’d still miss a lot,” Beese said on a recent morning after Dia showed him hundreds of Scotch broom shoots hidden in a field of tall grass and sweetfern.

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Gov. Wolf Says PA is NOT Going Too Slow to Set Safe Limits for PFAS in Drinking Water as He Announces $3.8M to Help PFAS-contaminated Communities

Gov. Wolf Says PA is NOT Going Too Slow to Set Safe Limits for PFAS in Drinking Water as He Announces $3.8M to Help PFAS-contaminated Communities | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Wolf also gave an update on the state’s PFAS Action Team, saying the first results from a statewide water testing program were anticipated to be released this fall. He added the Pennsylvania Department of Health had hired a toxicologist to help study PFAS and that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection was finalizing a contract for an outside toxicologist to help develop state drinking water standards for the chemicals.

Asked about criticisms the state was moving too slowly to regulate PFAS, Wolf acknowledged that states such as New Jersey are further ahead on regulations but then pushed back.

“It’s not going slowly,” Wolf said. ”(New Jersey) started before we did. I think we’re catching up to them. We want to do this right, we want to have this science-based.”

State Sen. Maria Collett, D-12, of Lower Gwynedd, has introduced legislation that would force the creation of state standards for drinking water and hazardous substances (read “PA Senator Maria Collett Introduces Two PFAS Bills - Classifying PFAS as Hazardous Substances & Lowering 'Safe' Limits in Drinking Water to 10 ppt vs EPA's 70 ppt’"). Collett was in Greece on Thursday but released a statement welcoming the money and calling for additional action.

“While this is positive news for the pocketbooks of residents in my district, it is a band-aid on a bullethole,” Collett said. “Meaningful progress will not occur in Pennsylvania until we classify these dangerous chemicals as hazardous substances... and set a maximum contaminant level.”

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Related Stories:

 

  • “U.S. Military Refuses to Test for PFAS in Fish in Horsham, PA & Other Areas”; http://sco.lt/98J6Qr
  • “PFAS From Tainted Water on Military Bases My Be Spreading to Other Towns in Bucks, Montco”; http://sco.lt/7Lill
  • “Perfluorinated Compounds Detected in Newtown Township's Water Supply”; http://sco.lt/70ujU9
  • “Senators From BOTH Parties Press EPA to Develop Enforceable Standards Limiting PFOA and PFOS in Drinking Water”; http://sco.lt/8NQUwz
  • “U.S. House Launches Bipartisan PFAS Task Force That Promises to Set Formal Drinking Water Standard for PFAS”; http://sco.lt/6JjI4P
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Purdue Pharma Considered Diverting Online Readers Away From L.A. Times Investigative Reports About Its Role In Creating Addiction to Opioids

Purdue Pharma Considered Diverting Online Readers Away From L.A. Times Investigative Reports About Its Role In Creating Addiction to Opioids | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

It’s unclear if the strategy was carried out or, if it was, whether it was effective. 

 

As the nation’s opioid crisis deepened over the last decade, drug makers and distributors worked to deflect attention from their own roles in creating widespread addiction, according to lawyers for hundreds of cities, counties, tribes and other entities suing key pharmaceutical industry players.

One drug distributor highlighted the roles of “pill mills,” unethical doctors and pharmacies that dished up narcotic painkillers by the millions, court records state. Another focused on prescriptions acquired illegally from friends and relatives.

But Purdue Pharma, the maker of the widely abused painkiller OxyContin, considered a different tack.

Internal documents from 2016 show company officials discussed diverting online traffic away from a series of stories published by the Los Angeles Times that detailed the company’s marketing of OxyContin and its links to the deadly opioid crisis.

“If Purdue doesn’t fill this vacuum, someone else will — and it won’t be Purdue’s narrative,” a member of the company’s digital support team wrote in a memo to Purdue officials, laying out a strategy to drive traffic to a friendly website, PurduePharmaFacts.com.

“By purchasing highly targeted strings of keywords that people are likely to use to find out more information about the articles, we can ensure that PurduePharmaFacts.com is at the top of a user’s search results,” a related PowerPoint presentation stated.

“We’ve tailored the recommendation to capture only people searching for information related to the Times articles and to not interfere with Purdue’s marketing efforts surrounding OxyContin or spark curiosity where there was none before,” it said.

The company issued a statement late Wednesday saying it created “a dedicated website with the relevant facts for the public to view.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Purdue has a history of obfuscation.

 

Related Stories:

  • “PA Sues Purdue Pharma: If They Won’t Negotiate, Then We Must Litigate!”; http://sco.lt/6JagyW
  • “Purdue Pharma Lawsuit Apparently Shows the Drug Company Wanted to Capitalize on Opioid Addiction Treatment, Report Says”; http://sco.lt/8xl9bF
  • “Purdue #Pharma Doesn't Want Court to Unseal Oxycontin Marketing Documents. What's It Hiding?”: http://sco.lt/6wb24f
  • “OxyContin's 12-hour Problem: Misrepresentation of Efficacy Leads to Addiction & Purdue Knew It”: http://sco.lt/8RfD5F
  • “The History of Purdue's Marketing of Oxycontin & Its Connection to the Opiate Epidemic”: http://sco.lt/6RajLd
  • “Doctor with Ties to Purdue #Pharma Helped Develop Canadian Opioid-Prescribing Guidelines”: http://sco.lt/7f1iin
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Opioid Overdose Drug Reaches Too Few Opioid Patients with High Risk of Overdose, Says Centers for Disease Control

Opioid Overdose Drug Reaches Too Few Opioid Patients with High Risk of Overdose, Says Centers for Disease Control | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

[Chart: Regionally, the highest rate of naloxone prescribing was in the South and the lowest rate was in the Midwest.]

 

Use of the opioid overdose rescue drug naloxone has skyrocketed in recent years. But only 1 in 70 chronic pain patients at high risk of overdose are receiving it, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“Vital Signs: Pharmacy-Based Naloxone Dispensing — United States, 2012–2018”).

 

In 2017, 47,600 Americans died from an overdose involving opioids. And the number of deaths would be much higher were it not for the increasing availability of naloxone.

 

“Thousands of Americans are alive today thanks to the use of naloxone,” said U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar in an Aug. 6 press announcement of the CDC findings.

 

But many more lives could be saved if more health care providers offered naloxone to all patients at risk for overdose, according to the CDC report.

 

The CDC’s 2016 guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain recommended doctors prescribe naloxone for all patients taking more than the equivalent of 50 mg of morphine a day. Since then, a handful of states have required doctors to co-prescribe naloxone and warn patients about the risk of high doses of opioids.

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  • “Amid efforts to expand naloxone access, a new study questions its value”; http://sco.lt/9BWfI0
  • “Governor Tom Wolf Renews Opioid Disaster Declaration for Pennsylvania - But Is It Enough?”; http://sco.lt/7QWhLE
  • “@GovernorTomWolf to Fund Narcan Opioid Overdose Antidote for PA First Responders”; http://sco.lt/7LQLdw
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Delaware River Basin Commission Releases Report on the State of the Delaware River Basin

Delaware River Basin Commission Releases Report on the State of the Delaware River Basin | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

DRBC released its 2019 State of the Basin report, which provides an overview of the health of the water resources and key species of the Delaware River Basin, along with the factors that impact the Basin, primarily: pollution, climate change, and development.

The 2019 State of the Basin report provides a technical focused snapshot of 31 indicators for watersheds and landscapes, water quantity, water quality, and living resources, and includes a rating and a directional trend for each. Some parameters, for example, groundwater availability and nutrients, received high ratings and are trending positively, thanks to proactive management strategies. Lower ratings or declining trends for some indicators, for example, impervious cover, salinity, and invasive species, show us where additional focus is needed.

The 2019 State of the Basin Report can be found on the DRBC’s website at https://www.nj.gov/drbc/about/public/SOTB2019.html. Information about the Our Shared Waters campaign will be available in the coming weeks.

The DRBC is a federal/interstate government agency responsible for managing the water resources within the Delaware River Basin without regard to political boundaries. The five commission members are the governors of the basin states (Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania) and the commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ North Atlantic Division, who represents the federal government.

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Elcon Continues Push for Incinerator in Falls: Submits Revised Application, Parts of Which are Written in Hebrew!

Elcon Continues Push for Incinerator in Falls: Submits Revised Application, Parts of Which are Written in Hebrew! | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Elcon Recycling Services is continuing its push to build a controversial waste treatment facility in Falls, submitting revised application materials to state regulators on July 15.

 

But the effort also comes amidst another potential sign of trouble for Elcon, as the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection sent a new “technical deficiency” letter to the company on July 23 regarding a secondary application for an air quality permit.

 

Elcon is seeking to build a plant that would treat between 150,000 and 210,000 tons of chemical and pharmaceutical waste a year, on a 23-acre plot of land in the Keystone Industrial Port Complex, formerly the footprint of U.S. Steel. The proposal has been a hot topic in the region since first floated in 2015, with residents and environmental groups expressing a wide range of pollution and human health concerns, and the company saying the facility would use advanced technology to ensure it is operated safely.

 

Related stories:

  • “PADEP Hands a Fresh Setback to Elcon's Toxic-Waste Incinerator Proposal”; http://sco.lt/5QONnc
  • “Courier Times Has A Simple Message for Elcon: ‘Go Away.’”; http://sco.lt/6DLA4O
  • “Victory! Falls Supervisors Reject Elcon Plan”; http://sco.lt/8JeZ4y
  • “Despite Falls Vote Against It, the Elcon Proposal Isn’t Dead Yet. Activists Plan to Double Their Efforts to Kill It”; http://sco.lt/89CAoy
  • “John Mack Lists the Air Pollutants the ELCON Hazardous Waste Treatment Plant Would Be Allowed to Emit”; http://sco.lt/5y8LUu

 

After years of back-and-froth with the Pennsylvania DEP, the plan seemed to hit a significant setback when the DEP issued a draft “intent to deny” notice for the company’s primary application on May 15. The decision also came just a few weeks after the Falls Township Board of Supervisors voted to deny the company’s land development application.

 

“After a rigorous review of the application, supplemental materials submitted by the company, and input from the public, DEP will not approve this application in its current form,” DEP secretary Patrick McDonnell said of his agency’s review at the time.

 

But a mandatory public comment process left the door open for Elcon to try again, and the company submitted more than 200 pages of changes to its application on July 15, the last day for public comment. The response is detailed and technical, but it appears to try to correct some of the issues DEP highlighted in its draft denial.

 

The deficiency letter pointed out 15 issues with the application, including questions about how estimated emissions were calculated, how the facility will verify combustion of gases such as carbon monoxide, and a diagram of “fugitive emissions,” which are gases that escape uncontrolled through the treatment process.

 

The DEP also said that some parts of the application were submitted in Hebrew and asked they be translated to English; Elcon is based in Israel. Other parts were “difficult to read,” making it “difficult to understand the treatment process,” the DEP wrote.

 

The DEP also said it had trouble replicating the company’s calculated emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), a primary air pollutant regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. The company had calculated 23.40 tons per year, while the DEP came up with 30.77 tons per year, which would move the facility into a “major” emissions category, the DEP stated.

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It’s all Greek to me!

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Increasing Police Costs: Intelligencer Reports Data for New Britain Borough, Chalfont, and Doylestown Borough

Increasing Police Costs: Intelligencer Reports Data for New Britain Borough, Chalfont, and Doylestown Borough | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Police calls in New Britain Borough [population: 3,152] have dropped about 30% since 2012, while costs have nearly doubled over the same period, state and county data shows.

 

Borough officials are eyeing a possible change to their police service as funding for their portion of the Central Bucks Regional Police Department takes an ever-growing chunk of revenues each year.

 

Police dispatch data from the Bucks County 911 Center shows calls in New Britain dropped from 2,500 to 1,800 between 2012 and 2017.

 

New Britain and Doylestown Borough created the regional police by merging their departments in 2014, with Chalfont joining in 2016.

 

Financial data from the state’s Department of Community and Economic Development shows average police spending in the 1.2-square-mile borough is up nearly 50% in the years prior to the merger.

 

Average five-year police spending as of 2010 in New Britain was just over $617,000, or about 42% of its average total revenues, the DCED data shows.

 

As of 2017, New Britain’s average spending rose to $904,000, or 48% of its total revenues.

 

The borough’s portion of the regional police budget was over $1 million in 2019, and Borough Manager Sam Bryant said in October the projected future costs would likely deplete the town’s reserves by 2022.

 

New Britain's police spending made up about 48% of its average total revenue in 2017, a jump of about 14 percentage points from 2010. Chalfont has been spending about a third of its total revenue on police over the same period, while Doylestown's police spending has risen by just about 2% over seven years. [See chart above]

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Expenditures for Newtown Township Police, which also covers Wrightstown Township, accounts for 44% of a projected 2019 revenue of $11.8 million.

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