Daily on Healthcare: Purdue files for bankruptcy, but the fight isn’t over

By | September 16, 2019

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PURDUE FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY, BUT THE FIGHT ISN’T OVER: Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy late Sunday night after facing about 2,600 lawsuits for its role in the opioid crisis.

The manufacturer of OxyContin will pay $ 10 billion to settle lawsuits with 24 state attorneys general and officials from five territories. The money will go toward treatment for people who have become addicted to opioids, and to help pay for overdose-reversal drugs.

But the company is poised to provide its own overdose antidote to patients. One of the drugs it mentioned was nalmefene hydrochloride, which is moving through fast-track approval at the Food and Drug Administration. The company will also support the development of a naloxone nasal spray that can be sold over the counter, and will provide those medicines to patients as well.

Twenty-six states who sued are not accepting the terms of the deal and want to go ahead with holding the Sacklers — who own the company — responsible for the crisis, as the settlement would not have the Sacklers or Purdue admit to any wrongdoing. Under the bankruptcy agreement reached with other states, the company would continue to operate but profits would go toward paying the settlement.

OxyContin has netted $ 35 billion in sales since its launch in 1996, and the opioid crisis is estimated to cost the U.S. $ 115 billion. OxyContin, a long-lasting painkiller, is blamed for being overprescribed and causing addictions among millions of people who later turned to more available, illicit street drugs, such as heroin and fentanyl.

As part of the settlement, the owners of Purdue will have to transfer its assets to a trust and a new company will form. The Sackler family will contribute a minimum of $ 3 billion.

“This settlement framework avoids wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and years on protracted litigation, and instead will provide billions of dollars and critical resources to communities across the country trying to cope with the opioid crisis,” Steve Miller, chairman of Purdue’s board of directors, said in a statement. “We will continue to work with state attorneys general and other plaintiff representatives to finalize and implement this agreement as quickly as possible.”

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Good morning and welcome to the Washington Examiner’s Daily on Healthcare! This newsletter is written by senior healthcare reporter Kimberly Leonard (@LeonardKL) and healthcare reporter Cassidy Morrison (@CassMorrison94). You can reach us with tips, calendar items, or suggestions at dailyonhealthcare@washingtonexaminer.com. If someone forwarded you this email and you’d like to receive it regularly, you can subscribe here.

NEW YORK FOLLOWS MICHIGAN ON E-CIGARETTE BAN: Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced his administration will use an emergency order to ban flavored e-cigarettes. The announcement comes after Michigan made a similar move and after the Trump administration said it would move to ban flavored e-cigarettes given the rise in teen vaping and the outbreak of a mysterious illness that appears linked to vaping. States are able to move faster than the federal government or to impose other restrictions, such as adding taxes or prohibiting marketing.

Anti-tobacco group warns New York will fall short: The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Matthew Myers, said the order should also ban mint and menthol-flavored e-cigarettes.

CMS BLAMES OBAMACARE FOR RISE IN UNINSURED: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma said Friday in a blog post that critics of President Trump were mistaken in blaming him for the increase in the share of the population that had become uninsured from 2017 to 2018. The data, released last week by the Census Bureau, found 1.9 million more people joined the ranks of the uninsured.

Verma said Obamacare was to blame because the data showed 1.1 million people making above 400% of the federal poverty level had become uninsured. This outcome would help explain why the number of uninsured went up even during a strong economy. Even people who had been on Medicaid before could lose coverage because they no longer qualified, but wouldn’t necessarily get insurance through work or turn to the Obamacare exchanges. The cost of health insurance is out of reach for middle-income people who don’t qualify for subsidies and have dropped out of the Obamacare marketplaces.

The data tell a few different stories. For instance, the results could also signal the impact of the Trump administration’s immigration policies, which discourage immigrants from seeking public services, such as Medicaid, when they’re seeking legal status. The data show that the decreases in the insured were most pronounced among Hispanics, who saw a decrease in coverage of 1.6 percentage points.

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BIDEN PROMISES TO RELEASE HEALTH RECORDS AHEAD OF THE IOWA CAUCUSES: Presidential candidate Joe Biden told reporters Friday that he will release his medical records ahead of February’s Iowa caucuses, saying that there was “no reason for me not to.” Reporters have speculated about Biden’s health since he announced his campaign.

At 76 years old, Biden would be the oldest president to take the Oval Office. Most recently at a town hall on climate change, a blood vessel in his eye broke, taking the focus away from the topic of discussion. Benign or not, it brought attention to what could be other health issues, including several verbal gaffes over the past few months.

The last time he released his records was in 2008, when doctors found he had an irregular heartbeat. Biden has dealt with various health issues in the past, from two aneurysms in 1988 to a benign polyp discovered during a colonoscopy in 1996. Nevertheless, Biden was jovial Friday when he told reporters he would release his medical records. “What are the concerns?” he asked. “Man, want to wrestle?”

PRESERVED REMAINS OF THOUSANDS OF ABORTED FETUSES IN ILLINOIS HOME OF EX-ABORTION DOCTOR: After Indiana abortion doctor Ulrich Klopfer died, his family found medically preserved remains of 2,246 aborted fetuses in his home. The family searched Klopfer’s home in Illinois after he died Sept. 3, and found the remains among his possessions and immediately called the authorities.

Klopfer was a practicing abortion provider at Women’s Pavilion in South Bend, Indiana, during presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s term before his medical license was suspended in 2015 for reportedly performing an abortion on a 13-year-old girl.

Klopfer’s case drew comparisons to notorious abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell: A Phildelphia abortion doctor, Kermit Gosnell, infamously faced trial and was convicted in Philadephia in 2013 of first-degree murder of three infants born alive after botched abortions, of involuntary manslaughter of a mother, and felony counts for violating Pennsylvania’s ban on abortions after 24 weeks. He ran the Women’s Medical Society in West Philadelphia for decades even though he was not a certified ob/gyn. Grand jury reports from the trial describe a gruesome facility and even more gruesome crimes that sometimes included “snipping” infants’ spinal cords.

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FORMER PLANNED PARENTHOOD CEO SAYS HEALTH ORGANIZATION IS TRYING TO ‘BUY MY SILENCE’: Dr. Leana Wen, who was the CEO of Planned Parenthood for less than a year before being ousted, said the organization is withholding her health insurance and severance pay as “ransom” to make her sign a confidentiality agreement. In a letter to the Board of Directors obtained by the New York Times, Wen wrote: “No amount of money can ever buy my integrity and my commitment to the patients I serve.” Planned Parenthood senior vice president for communications Melanie Newman said Wen’s allegations that the organization is trying to silence her are “unfortunate, saddening, and simply untrue.”

The Rundown

The New York Times Vaping bad: Were 2 Wisconsin brothers the Walter Whites of THC oils?

Salon Kaiser healthcare workers plan for nation’s largest strike since 1997

Politico Health groups backed dark money campaign to sink ‘surprise’ billing fix

The Washington Post The children of Donor H898

Cleveland Plain Dealer Attorneys for drug companies want federal judge in Cleveland booted from massive opioid litigation

The Boston Globe 8th human case of EEE confirmed in Mass.


MONDAY | Sept. 16

12:30 p.m. 1789 Massachusetts Ave NW. American Enterprise Institute event on “If we cannot live with the individual mandate, can we cover enough lives without it?” Details.

WEDNESDAY | Sept. 18

10 a.m. 2358-C Rayburn. House Appropriations Committee’s Oversight Subcommittee hearing on “Mental Health Needs of Children in HHS Custody.” Details.

THURSDAY | Sept. 19

10:30 a.m. Rayburn 2322. Energy and Commerce Committee’s Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee hearing on “Protecting Consumers from Pharmaceutical Market Gaming Tactics.” Details.

10 a.m. 2123 Rayburn. House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing on “Protecting Unaccompanied Children: The Ongoing Impact of the Trump Administration’s Cruel Policies.” Details.

SUNDAY | Sept. 22

Sept. 22-26. AHIP National Conference on Medicare, Medicaid, and Dual Eligibles. Agenda.