Quick Hits: Arthritis Drugs and Dementia, Opioids and Patient Advocacy Groups & More

Rheumatoid arthritis drugs may help prevent dementia. Analysts from NIHR (National Institute for Health Research) Southampton Biomedical Research Centre identified 3,876 patients who took disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), and compared them with 1,938 patients who did not. After thoroughly examining the data, researchers discovered that those who took DMARDs had around a 1.5% decreased risk (half the risk) of developing different forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s, compared to those who didn’t take the drugs. Posted February 12, 2018. Via Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Translational Research & Clinical Interventions.

A report has found ties between opioid drug makers and patient advocacy groups. The report, titled, “Fueling an Epidemic: Exposing the Financial Ties Between Opioid Manufacturers and Third Party Advocacy Groups,” and released by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), details how the pharmaceutical industry has downplayed the risks of opioid addiction in order to broaden their customer base, which in turn has resulted in “the most deadly drug epidemic in American history.” The document goes on to describe how opioid distributors and manufacturers have showered third party organizations, such as advocacy groups, with large sums of money over a lengthy period of time in order to fuel the spread of opioid prescriptions. With the financial backing, patient advocacy groups have endorsed long-term opioid use for the treatment of pain, which is not a procedure supported by medical findings. Additionally, the report notes how there is an alarming lack of transparency surrounding the advocacy organizations. Since the groups aren’t obligated to disclose their donors publicly, then the groups have the ability to conceal their financial associations with the pharmaceutical industry. Posted February 12, 2018. Via Sen. Claire McCaskill.

The makers of OxyContin (oxycodone), Purdue Pharma, will stop promoting the addictive pain medication to doctors. The company stated that they have “restructured and significantly reduced” their marketing operation. The sales team will no longer visit doctors to promote their opioid products. From now on, the company has instructed the public to direct all inquiries regarding their opioid medication healthcare professionals in their medical affairs department. Posted February 9, 2018. Via Purdue Pharma.

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