What We're Reading: Opioid Bill Shortcomings; Drug Firms Avoid Storm Damage; Seniors Opt for Cannabis

The Senate passed a massive opioid bill 99-1, but public health experts and first responders are concerned it won’t do enough to stop the crisis; pharmaceutical companies with manufacturing plants in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia put emergency plans in place last week as Hurricane Florence bore down to avoid shortages of drugs and vaccines; the cannabis industry is booming, and one of the fastest growing group of users are people over age 50.

Advocates Fear Senate Opioid Bill Does Not Go Far Enough

The Senate passed a massive opioid bill 99-1, but public health experts and first responders are concerned it won’t do enough to stop the crisis, Politico reported. It does little to address the severe nationwide shortage of treatment beds for rehab or to encourage more doctors to prescribe medication to treat substance use disorder, which requires special training and licensing. The bills create new grants and demonstrations to test new treatment programs, but there is no permanent funding solution attached.

Drug Companies Scaled Back or Shuttered Plants as Hurricane Florence Roared Ashore

Pharmaceutical companies with manufacturing plants in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia put emergency plans in place last week as Hurricane Florence bore down to avoid shortages of drugs and vaccines, STAT reported. GlaxoSmithKline closed a plant that makes asthma inhalers; Novartis shut down a facility that manufactures oral-dosage generic drugs; and Pfizer and Merck scaled back or closed operations at multiple North Carolina facilities. Besides the safety of employees, companies also sought to avoid the loss of drugs that would have hurt corporations’ bottom lines.

Senior Citizens in Pain Flocking to Medical Marijuana

As more states legalize marijuana for medical or recreational use—30 states plus the District of Columbia to date—the cannabis industry is booming, and one of the fastest growing group of users are people over age 50, especially those 65 and older, Kaiser Health News reported. Kaiser profiled a retirement community in California where a medical marijuana dispensary sends a free shuttle bus to pick up senior citizens seeking relief from pain and other conditions.