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What We're Reading: W.Va. Sues Drug Distributors for Fueling the Opioid Epidemic


What we're reading, December 28, 2016: a county in West Virginia is suing 3 national drug distributors for allegedly fueling the opioid epidemic; CDC awards new funding as another Zika case is reported in Texas; and first drug to treat spinal muscular atrophy approved.

A county in West Virginia, which has been hard hit by the opioid epidemic, is suing 3 of the nation’s largest prescription drug distributors. According to the Charleston Gazette-Mail, the lawsuit alleges that Cardinal Health, McKesson Corp, and AmerisourceBergen shipped an excessive number of opioids to the county and fueled the painkiller epidemic there. Meanwhile, Cardinal has settled with the state of New York over a similar case. The lawsuit claims the company failed to alert the Drug Enforcement Administration about suspiciously large orders of addictive painkillers in New York.

With new cases of the Zika virus reported in Texas, the CDC is sending $184 million to states and territories to continue the fight against the virus. Florida, Hawaii, and Texas are the states that will receive the largest amounts, and Puerto Rico is receiving $5 million, reported The Washington Post. The new funding announcement comes on the heels of a sixth locally-borne case of Zika in Cameron County, Texas.

The first drug to treat spinal muscular atrophy was approved on Friday. Biogen’s drug will treat a disease that affects 1 in 10,000 live births and is the leading genetic cause of death among infants, according to Reuters. The drug is approved across the full range and severity of the disease and is projected to have annual sales reaching $2 billion. Clinical trials of nusinersen dramatically improved motor milestones and extended survival.

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