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What We're Reading: Opioid Scheme Convictions; FDA Approves Dengue Vaccine; Klobuchar Proposes Addiction, Mental Health Plan


Insys Therapeutics’ founder and 4 executives have been found guilty for participating in a scheme that bribed doctors to prescribe its addictive painkiller and misled insurers to pay for the drug; the FDA has approved the first vaccine against dengue fever with some restrictions; Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, has released a $100 billion to combat addiction and improve mental health care.

Drug Company Execs Found Guilty in Opioid Scheme

The founder of Insys Therapeutics, as well as 4 executives, have been convicted for participating in a scheme that bribed doctors to prescribe its fentanyl spray Subsys and misled insurers to pay for the drug. According to Reuters, John Kapoor is now the highest-ranking pharmaceutical executive to be convicted in a case related to the opioid epidemic. Subsys was approved by the FDA in 2012 for the treatment of severe cancer pain. However, according to prosecutors, the doctors who took bribes often prescribed the drug to patients without cancer to help boost sales for the pharmaceutical company.

FDA Approves First Vaccine for Dengue

The FDA has approved Dengvaxia, the first vaccine against dengue fever, with some restrictions. The vaccine can only be administered to individuals aged 9 to 16 years in parts of the United States where the virus is endemic, and the vaccine can only be given to those who have had 1 previous laboratory-confirmed case of dengue. However, identifying these cases are challenging because many dengue infections are mild and go undiagnosed, according to STAT News. The vaccine has also come with some controversy as a result of evidence indicating that it can increase the risk of severe infection in some people.

Klobuchar Unveils $100 Billion Plan for Addiction and Mental Health

Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, has unveiled a $100 billion plan to address drug and alcohol addiction and improve mental health care. The New York Times reported that the plan also includes funding for suicide prevention programs targeted at veterans, farmers, Native Americans, and LGBTQ people, as well as for an awareness campaign to combat stigma. Klobuchar said she would fund the plan by taxing opioid manufacturers and importers a 2-cent fee per milligram, closing the carried-interest tax loophole, prohibiting pharmaceutical companies from paying competitors to keep generics off the market, and reaching a settlement with opioid companies.

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