Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Imports Factor In to Opioid Crisis

As Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer tries to fight the opioid crisis by suing Big Pharma, keep in mind the effect that Sen. Bernie Sanders's efforts to increase pharmaceutical importation could have on the crisis. Plainly, Sanders's approach would make a bad situation much worse.

Barry Denton  discusses it in the News-Enterprise:

Drug overdoses are skyrocketing in Kentucky.

Staff at the St. Elizabeth hospital system in the northern part of the state revive six opioid overdose victims every day. Twice as many Kentuckians are dying of overdoses as car accidents.

Incredibly, politicians in Washington are pushing a bill that would make the crisis even worse.
The proposed law, introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders, would legalize the importation of medicines from Canada.

Proponents argue the bill would save patients money by allowing them to buy cheaper prescription drugs from abroad.

In reality, those “cheaper” medicines could come at the price of hundreds of Kentuckians’ lives. Many unscrupulous pharmacies will jump at the chance to make a few bucks by sending painkillers to Americans without requiring prescriptions. The bill also would seriously strain law-enforcement’s ability to intercept illegal drugs.

Kentuckians’ drug addictions often begin with prescription pain pills.

In the last three months of 2016, Kentucky residents filled prescriptions for more than 17 million doses of oxycodone and 36 million doses of hydrocodone. In just one year, Clay County residents filled enough prescriptions to provide every resident – including children – with 150 doses of hydrocodone and oxycodone.

Many of these pills wind up on the black market, fueling people’s addictions. And when addicts can’t find or afford prescription painkillers, they often turn to heroin.

Heroin is dangerous enough on its own — but now, drug dealers are lacing heroin with fentanyl, a deadly synthetic opioid that’s 100 times more potent than morphine. Some strains of fentanyl are so potent that Narcan, a lifesaving shot used to resuscitate overdose victims, doesn’t work.
One-third of Kentucky overdose deaths involve fentanyl.

Legalizing prescription drug importation would make it easier for dealers to obtain massive quantities of illicit pain pills, heroin and fentanyl.

Even though it’s illegal, some Americans already import prescription drugs.
Many order from online Canadian pharmacies, some of which don’t even require prescriptions. Authorities sometimes are able to intercept these shipments, which often contain spoiled, counterfeit or illegal substances.

If the bill passes, many Americans would start ordering medicines from foreign pharmacies without realizing those drugs lack the gold standard of approval from the Food and Drug Administration.
There’d be little stopping a drug dealer from buying opioids in bulk to resell to vulnerable addicts.
The sheer volume of shipments makes it unlikely law enforcement would be able to stop this trafficking.

Legalized importation wouldn’t result only in pain pills flooding into Kentucky. It also could allow drug dealers to bring in pure fentanyl.

Canadian authorities have warned that they don’t inspect drugs imported from abroad, routed through Canada and reshipped to America.

The FDA also has no way to inspect or vet these imports.

In other words, fentanyl- producing labs in China could ship large quantities of the drug to America via Canada. It’d be difficult for health authorities and law enforcement to distinguish between packages containing legitimate prescriptions and those containing deadly opioids.

Kentucky’s police and first responders already are stretched thin dealing with overdoses. The last thing they need is for federal lawmakers to make it even easier to obtain dangerous drugs.
Sen. Sanders sincerely may believe importation would help lower drug costs. But the price paid in human lives would be far too steep.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

No, Trey is Not Running

Rumors have been circulating that former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson plans to primary Rep. Thomas Massie for Kentucky's 4th Congressional District.

Trey is unequivocal:  it's not happening.

He's looking at several interesting opportunities, but that Congressional seat is not one of them.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Andy Barr Might Have a Real Race

Check out the campaign ad from Democrat Amy McGrath, who is running for Kentucky's 6th Congressional District against Andy Barr. McGrath is a retired Marine -- and the first woman to fly an F-18 in combat. Her personal story is compelling.

She's a much better candidate than those the Dems typically put up here, like Jack Conway and Allison Lundergan Grimes.

Although Barr won comfortably his last two elections, his first one was tight (five points). So I would not count McGrath out.

McGrath's ad suggests that saving Obamacare will be her primary issue.  In that sense, Republicans' failure to pass a repeal and replace may actually work to Barr's advantage. That, of course, is contrary to the notion that Republicans will get shellacked for not having kept the promise to repeal and replace Obamacare. Unless it actually happens, McGrath is running on a hypothetical.