Federal Government Tightens Restrictions on Hydrocodone Combination Products

News that the Federal government is tightening restrictions on hydrocodone combination painkillers in an effort to curb widespread abuse received wide coverage, with several major newspapers and news agencies reporting. Some news outlets noted that the rule change was welcomed by many, including lawmakers from states that have been plagued by opioid abuse. Others quoted sources who were skeptical whether the rule change would help curb abuse of the painkillers.

        USA Today reports the change, for instance, will “sharply reduce how many pills a doctor can prescribe for them at one time.” Also, manufacturers and pharmacies will now have to keep hydrocodone combination products such as Vicodin (acetaminophen and hydrocodone) under tighter security, along with “more extensive records.” The new rule, which takes effect from mid-October, elevates the painkillers to Schedule II from Schedule III under the Controlled Substances Act.

        Highlighting the importance of the rule change, the New York Times notes that it is “one of the most far-reaching efforts to stop the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse.” The paper points to a grim statistic, noting that “more than 20,000 Americans die every year because of prescription drug abuse,” citing Federal data. Still, the Times notes, the change is expected to “draw strong criticism from some pain management experts,” who argue that the new restrictions impose “unfair obstacles for patients in chronic pain, making it harder, for example, on those who cannot easily make a trip to the doctor.”

        The Wall Street Journal examines both sides of the debate, citing sources who are against tighter restrictions and those who seek tougher rules. The paper notes that Linden Barber, a former DEA attorney, who now works with the law firm Quarles & Brady LLP in Indianapolis, pointed out the rule change may not have a major impact because painkillers such as OxyContin (oxycodone), which already have tough safeguards in place, continue to be abused.

        The AP provides background information, noting that the move, disclosed in a Federal notice, “comes more than a decade after” the DEA “first recommended reclassifying hydrocodone due to its risks for abuse and addiction.” The AP notes that for years, physician groups and the FDA “opposed the move, saying it would burden health care providers and patients while driving up costs.” However, FDA changed its stance last year, “citing the national epidemic of overdoses and deaths tied to prescription painkillers known as opioids.”

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

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No Way to Run a Disability Program

Tom Margenau

Tom Margenau

The long-time Social Security Administration employee Tom Margenau has written another thought-provoking article about the Social Security disability system.

I encourage you to read the entire article, but these two paragraphs will give you a taste of his opinion:

When you file a claim for Social Security or Supplemental Security Income disability benefits, whether it is at your local Social Security Administration office, or via one of their call centers, or even using their online system at www.socialsecurity.gov, that claim is immediately shuffled off to a state government agency for processing. These agencies are usually called Disability Determination Service offices, although some states use slightly different names. The DDS office is usually part of a larger agency within the state. Sometimes it is part of a state’s social services bureaucracy or it might be connected to a state’s department of vocational rehabilitation.

So why aren’t all these state DDS agencies federalized, with one national bureaucracy and one national computer system? Well, that gets to the political reason. There simply is little support in Congress, and there certainly is no support in governor’s offices, to expand a federal agency (the Social Security Administration) at the expense of so many state bureaucracies — even though it might make perfect sense to do so. So we are stuck with a 60-year-old hodgepodge structure of disability decision making that we are now trying to patch together with an expensive new computer system. Like military service members and air traffic controllers, I think those people who make decisions for a national disability program should be federal employees. This would be one important step in speeding up the disability claims process.

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Many Wikipedia Entries On Prescription Meds May Not Be Accurate Or Up-To-Date

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HealthDay reports that according to a perspective piece published June 26 in the New England Journal of Medicine, “many Wikipedia entries about prescription medications aren’t up-to-date and accurate.” Researchers arrived at this conclusion after exploring “to what degree Wikipedia entries reflected US Food and Drug Administration drug-safety communications in an accurate and timely manner.” In particular, investigators focused on “22 drug safety warnings regarding prescription medications that the FDA issued over a two-year period between 2011 and 2012.”

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

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Pediatricians Support Bill to Require Childproof Nicotine Refills

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The Hill reports that “a group of pediatricians and other health officials are calling for childproof packaging on liquid nicotine containers used to refill electronic cigarettes,” and have written to Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (D) in support of legislation he introduced last month “which would allow the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) to issue new childproof requirements for liquid nicotine containers.” The letter stated that “with the recent spike in calls to poison control centers related to e-cigarette exposure, pediatricians recognize an urgent need to protect young people from these dangerous, highly-concentrated products.”

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

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FDA Warns Against Use of Laminated Surfaces During Medicine Preparation

Regulatory Focus reports the FDA’s recent warning to a Texas-based compounding pharmacy to “stop using laminated particleboard” in “aseptic processing areas” should serve as a warning to all pharmaceutical compounders. The warning letter to Home Intensive Care Pharmacy was unveiled to the public recently. In the letter, the agency warned the use of particleboard topped with a “laminated surface” in the cleanroom was unhygienic because it “is porous and difficult to clean, and can harbor contamination.”

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

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Report: Cigarettes “More Addictive” Than Before

ABC News reports on its website that a recent Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids report asserts that cigarettes have become “more addictive, more attractive to kids and even more deadly,” over the past few decades. The report recommends that the FDA enact more strict regulation of cigarette ingredients and design.

Vox notes the “higher levels of tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs),” along with “ventilation holes in cigarette filters so that cigarettes would look healthier on paper,” are mentioned in the report.

Think Progress asks, “Why haven’t we moved past this yet? Largely because cigarette manufacturers have worked hard to keep their products relevant even in the midst of aggressive public health campaigns to crack down on smoking, according to” the report.

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

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Changes in Generic Medication’s Color, Shape May Lead to Some Patients Failing to Continue Taking the Medications

The Washington Post reports that research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that changes in a generic medication’s color and shape may “be causing confusion among patients, leading some to stop taking much-needed medications.” The researchers “said the FDA perhaps should require the appearance of new generic drugs to match that of the original brand-name products. The effects, they wrote, are not just aesthetic but also ‘clinically relevant.’”

The Boston Globe reports that over “a two-refill period, the pill shape or color changed for 29 percent of patients.” The appearance “of statins changed most often among users while beta-blockers had the fewest changes.”

The Los Angeles Times “Booster Shots” blog reports that “compared with those who continued to take their heart medications, those who lapsed were 30% more likely to have experienced a change in their medication’s shape or color.” The study indicated that “more than color changes, a reconfiguration of a pill’s shape raised the likelihood of a patient failing to adhere to his or her medication regimen.” MedPage Today and HealthDay, also cover the story.

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

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Pfizer Faces Mounting Lawsuits Over Lipitor Side Effects

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The Wall Street Journal reported in its “Pharmalot” blog on the growing number of lawsuits filed against Pfizer by women who claim the company failed to warn the public about the side effects of type 2 diabetes or memory loss from the use of its cholesterol medication Lipitor (atorvastatin calcium). Over the past five months, lawsuits by women in the US who allege Lipitor caused them to develop type-2 diabetes soared to almost 1,000 from 56.

CNBC reported that Pfizer’s first day in court from the current sweep of litigation will likely be next July. CNBC predicted “litigation will focus on two questions: how big a diabetes risk do women using Lipitor face, and whether that risk is mitigated by the drug’s cardiovascular benefits.” Pfizer denies all allegations. Fortune reported that, when the FDA approved Lipitor and other statins in 2012, the regulatory agency stated that the cardiovascular benefits outweighed what it called “this small increased risk” for diabetes. Fierce Pharma reported that “Pfizer appears to be a victim of its own success with Lipitor, which has been prescribed to more than 29 million people in the U.S., meaning there is a huge reservoir of potential plaintiffs for lawyers to draw from. It has also earned more than $130 billion since its approval, giving lawyers a large target to aim at.” A judge ruled that the different lawsuits can be combined into a class-action suit, a move that Pfizer strongly opposed.

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

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Have You Been Wrongfully Hurt at Work? How an Injury Lawyer Can Help You Get Justice

Have you Been Wrongfully Hurt at Work How an Injury Lawyer can Help you Get Justice

If you work in the United States and are injured on the job, whether from broken bones or an occupational disease, you are entitled to receive compensation for your medical bills and lost wages. Each state has a workers’ compensation act that lists the types of injuries that are covered in the workplace. The U.S. Department of Labor has an Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs that covers medical treatments, wage replacement, and occupational rehabilitation. Other specific groups are also covered, such as the Black Lung Program, which compensates disabled coal miners, and the Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation, which takes care of maritime workers.
Types of Coverage

U.S. workers are generally covered on the job for any injury or illness that is the result of poisoning from arsenic, lead, mercury, radium , or anthrax after working with live or dead animals. Exposure to asbestos, tuberculosis, or hepatitis is also covered, as are skin infections that result from working with oils, gases, dust, or certain liquids. You will be covered if you suffer heart or lung disease acquired after fire-fighting exposure over long periods.

Several U.S. states have so-called “no-fault” coverage. That means you are entitled to compensation if you are injured on the job regardless of who was at fault, whether it was your employer or you. You must, however, be able to prove that the injury or disease was the result of your workplace.

Steps for Compensation

If you are injured on the job or you acquire a disease that results from your workplace, your first step for compensation is to file a claim with your employer. You will be examined by the company doctor, if there is one, or your own doctor. The report then goes to the Labor Commission and the insurance carrier. If all goes without a problem, you will receive your due compensation in the designated time.

However, it should come as no surprise that problems do occur in such cases. According to Kitchen Simeson Belliveau LLP., the best way to get the desired outcome in a workers’ comp case is to contact an injury lawyer who is experienced in the laws that govern compensation for workplace injuries. This is a good idea in any case, but especially if you have even the slightest suspicion that that your claim may be challenged.

If your injury is the result of your workplace, you deserve compensation. Contact an experienced injury attorney who can help to make sure that you get it.

This article is from Lizzie Weakley, a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. She enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her three-year-old husky Snowball.

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The Five Biggest Myths About Social Security Debunked

The 5 Biggest Myths About Social Security DebunkedSocial Security was created to help working members of society have income during retirement. Created in 1939, today Social Security sends out approximately $59 billion in checks every month, equating to $700 billion per year. While few would debate the importance of this resource, many misunderstand how it works and the impact that it has.

Below are five of the most common myths about Social Security and the truth behind them.

Myth: Social Security is only for retired persons.

While Social Security is the primary source of income for half of the population aged 65 and older, it is an invaluable program for many others. Social Security payments are available to widows/widowers and surviving children after a spouse’s or parent’s death, as well as disabled persons who are unable to work.

Myth: Illegal immigrants are draining the Social Security System.

Illegal immigrants actually benefit Social Security because while they remain ineligible for benefits, their legal wages are still taxed. Approximately 4% of the U.S. population, this group contributes approximately $100-$200 billion dollars into the economy annually while costing the government less than $5 billion.

Myth: Congress is unconcerned with Social Security’s future because they do not participate in the program.

In 1984 all federal employees were added to the system with the same taxable scale as other U.S. residents. Federal employees are eligible to receive a maximum of 80% of their last year of pay in benefits. The average benefit paid is actually only $2,200 annually.

Myth: I can earn better return on my investments than Social Security can provide.

Social Security is not an investment, but insurance designed to make sure that everyone who pays into the system has benefits coverage. Recent research has shown that most people are not able to manage their own investments. Mistakes that wage earners make with their 401(k) savings include starting their retirement savings too late then saving too little, borrowing too much and cashing out their 401(k) when changing jobs.

Myth – Social Security will be gone before I retire.

While the system needs fixing, the money won’t simply disappear. However, without changes only 75% of the current benefits will be available after 2037

Myths about the Social Security system lead to lack of support and panic. By debunking several of the most common myths, The Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith hope to increase understanding and relieve concerns regarding what Social Security does, who it benefits and the future of the program.

This article is from Karleia Steiner, who works as a freelance blogger and consultant. You can follow her on Google+.

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