What we’re reading, November 30, 2016: the FDA agrees to clinical trials of Ecstasy to treat posttraumatic stress disorder; University of Pittsburgh Medical Center workers strike to protest wages and union rights; a New York pharmacy owner will spend 4 years in jail for distributing 500,000 oxycodone pills without prescriptions.
The FDA has given permission for large-scale, Phase 3 clinical trials of ecstasy in treating posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which would be the final step before its potential approval as a prescription drug. The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, which will continue to fund the trials, has asked the FDA to designate ecstasy as a breakthrough therapy in order to speed up the approval process and possibly bring it to market by 2021. However, some experts worry that its approval as a PTSD treatment could encourage more illegal recreational use.
The owner of 2 pharmacies in New York City has been convicted of illegal drug diversion and sentenced to 4 years in prison by a judge who cited the national opioid epidemic as a factor in determining the jail time. From 2010 to 2015, pharmacist Lilian Jakacki illegally distributed over 500,000 oxycodone pills with a total estimated value of $10 million to $15 million. Her husband, Marcin Jakacki, also pled guilty to the charges and is scheduled to be sentenced later today.
Over 100 hourly workers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) have gone on strike to protest wages, as they have not received the incremental wage increases promised to them by the health system. They also claim that UPMC has illegally prevented them from joining the Service Employees International Union-Healthcare Pennsylvania, a healthcare labor union. Since 2013, the National Labor Relations Board has filed several complaints against UPMC for its efforts to restrict employees from unionizing.