What We're Reading: Panel Clears Cannabis-Based Drug; Opioid Prescriptions Fall; GOP Backs Away From ACA Attacks

April 20, 2018

An FDA panel recommended approval of a marijuana-derived medicine for the treatment of severe seizures in children with epilepsy; prescriptions for opioid painkillers continued to fall while the number of new monthly prescriptions for medications that treat opioid use disorder nearly doubled over the past 2 years; GOP candidates in midterm races this fall are retreating from calls to further dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

FDA Panel Recommends Agency Approve Cannabis-Based Drug for Childhood Seizures

An FDA panel recommended approval of a marijuana-derived medicine for the treatment of severe seizures in children with epilepsy, the Associated Press reported. If the FDA follows the panel’s recommendation, GW Pharmaceuticals’ syrup, called Epidiolex, would become the first drug made from cannabis to win federal approval. A decision is expected in June. The panel’s decision was based on 3 studies showing the drug significantly reduced seizures in children with 2 rare forms of childhood epilepsy.

Prescriptions for Opioids Fell in 2017

Prescriptions for opioid painkillers continued to fall while the number of new monthly prescriptions for medications that treat opioid use disorder nearly doubled over the past 2 years, The New York Times reported. Prescriptions for opioid painkillers have been dropping since 2011, but the trend sped up last year with a decline of 10%, according to the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science. The changes reflect new efforts among policy makers, lawmakers, and the medical community; although, there are concerns about whether some pain patients are now being undertreated, and whether tightened prescribing has contributed to the surge in overdose deaths from heroin and especially fentanyl.

Republican Candidates in Midterm Elections Back Off ACA Attacks

With Democrats surging ahead on the healthcare issue, GOP candidates in midterm races this fall are retreating from calls to further dismantle the Affordable Care Act, The Hill reported. Democrats are going on the offense, attacking Republicans for their past votes as they hope to retake the House majority less than a year after the GOP gave up on its legislative effort to repeal the law.