BOSTON GLOBE: Settlement will make Narcan more affordable, Mass. AG says
Attorney General Maura Healey announced Monday that a manufacturer of a drug that can help reverse opioid overdoses will pay the state $325,000, resolving her concerns about a sharp price increase last year.
As the opioid overdose crisis continues to rip through Massachusetts, Healey said that the settlement with Amphastar Pharmaceuticals Inc. will help make the drug, naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, more widely available to cities and towns across the state.
Emergency workers in Massachusetts used about 11,000 doses of Narcan last year, Healey said. The payment, small in the sweep of the $38.1 billion state budget, is the equivalent cost of nearly 10,000 units of naloxone, according to her office.
“We know this drug is important. We know it saves lives by reversing overdoses in an instant and bringing those people back from the brink of death,” Healey said at a news conference surrounded by top public health, law enforcement, and fire officials, and Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg.
Marylou Sudders, secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, lauded the attorney general’s effort and the power of the drug at the event.
“Narcan is a lifesaver. There’s just nothing more basic than that,” Sudders said. “It allows our first responders to completely reverse a death, an opioid death, a heroin death and to get someone to treatment.”
A Healey deputy sent a letter to Amphastar earlier this year saying increases in the cost of the drug “have strained access to this life-saving medication at exactly the moment when it is most needed.”
The $325,000 will go into the Municipal Naloxone Bulk Purchase Trust Fund, created in this year’s state budget. That fund is aimed at helping communities gain cheaper access to the drug.
Jason Shandell, president of Amphastar, responded to the announcement in an email.
“We are happy that we could assist the state of MA in its efforts to combat opioid overdoses. We are committed to providing safe and effective pharmaceutical products ...” he wrote.
High levels of opioids in a person’s system can reduce their respiration and level of consciousness, according to Dr. Daniel P. Alford, who directs the Clinical Addiction Research and Education Unit at Boston Medical Center. Naloxone works by displacing opioids from the receptors they are on, mostly in the brain, which precipitates withdrawal and can help restore consciousness and breathing in overdose victims, he said.
The drug is “very safe and incredibly effective in terms of saving lives,” he said. “Reversing an overdose and allowing people to then get more definitive help makes a lot of sense.”
Efforts at addressing the scourge of opioid overdoses in the state have been bipartisan. Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican; Healey and the top two leaders in the Legislature, Rosenberg and House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, all Democrats, have worked together to address tackle the public health emergency.
The state has seen an uptick in unintentional opioid overdose deaths in recent years. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health said recently that an estimated 1,256 Massachusetts residents died from opioid overdoses in 2014, a sharp increase from 2013 and 2012.
Joshua Miller can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jm_bos.
Read the story here: http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/08/31/settlement-will-make-anti-opioid-drug-more-affordable/ABTF6HAUpFgrrygmtFyEUL/story.html
Effort afoot to ban flame retardants in furniture
By Christian M. Wade CNHI State Reporter | Posted: Thursday, August 6, 2015 3:00 am
BOSTON — Flame retardants show up in a range of products from children’s clothes and toys to furniture and electronics, and over the years they’ve gotten credit for saving lives and property.
But fire-slowing chemicals are also linked to health problems — including cancer, birth defects and nervous system damage — and are banned in at least 13 states.
A coalition of firefighters and environmentalists in Massachusetts is lobbying for a similar ban on flame- retardant children’s products and household furniture. They point to studies that suggest flame-retardant chemicals are a health threat that actually does little good.
“Flame retardants cause cancer, and they don’t stop fires,” said Elizabeth Saunders, Massachusetts director for Clean Water Action, a coalition member. “It’s time for these toxic chemicals to go.”
The group — which includes the American Academy of Pediatrics and Massachusetts Nurses Association — wants a prohibition on the manufacture or sale of children’s products and upholstered furniture that contain any of nearly a dozen toxic chemicals identified as harmful.
With furniture makers and retailers moving away from using flame retardants anyway, the chemical industry is fighting back to protect a multibillion-dollar market that reaches into nearly every American home.
A spokesman for the American Chemistry Council defended the use of flame retardants in clothing and other products, adding that a “one-size fits-all” ban isn’t the solution.
“Fires have dropped significantly over the past 40 years, and a major contributor to the decline in fires and fire deaths since the 1970s was the development of a comprehensive set of fire-safety measures that includes flame retardants,” said council spokesman Bryan Goodman.
He pointed out that flame retardants are subject to review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other federal regulators. A recent study by the European Union concluded that one of the more common chemicals used in flame retardants doesn’t pose a health risk, he said.
Edward Kelly, president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts, said flame retardants do little to prevent fires but “pose a real threat” to firefighters working inside burning buildings.
Firefighters have cancer rates three times higher than the public, he said.
“When we enter a home fire, we breathe in toxins from flame retardants that put us at risk,” Kelly said.
Jennifer Lowry, a Missouri physician and chairwoman of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Environmental Health, noted mounting evidence that flame-retardant products cause fertility problems in adults, as well as long-term health effects for children, but their pervasiveness makes them difficult to avoid.
“We live in a sludge of chemicals that are linked to some serious health problems,” Lowry said. “They get out into the dirt and dust in our homes, the air that we breathe, and ultimately into our bodies.”
At least 13 states — including California, Maine, New York and Vermont — ban flame-retardant products, while a dozen other states are considering similar restrictions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
But the industry is resisting and suing to block laws that seek to keep flame retardants off the market or require labeling of new products.
Advocates are pressing the Consumer Product Safety Commission to aggressively ban some products with flame retardant chemicals. The industry is fighting that effort, as well.
Meanwhile, furniture-makers have reacted to consumer concerns by shifting away from retardants.
Ashley Furniture — the country’s largest furniture retailer — stopped using flame-retardant chemicals in its upholstered furniture as of this year. A spokesman said the company changed its national policy when it was forced to comply with California’s ban on the use of flame retardants.
Lay-Z-Boy, Crate & Barrel and the Futon Shop also recently began selling flame retardant-free furniture.
Under a new federal “flammability” standard, upholstery fabric must resist a smoldering cigarette, which statistics indicate is the primary cause of residential fires involving furniture.
Advocates for banning flame retardants say the chemical industry is finding a way around restrictions imposed by states by merely adjusting the compounds it uses.
“It’s been a classic example of what we call the ‘whack-a-mole’ phenomenon,” said Saunders, of Clean Water Action. “One toxic flame retardant chemical gets phased out, and it’s just replaced with another, equally toxic chemical.”
Christian Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for CNHI’s newspapers and websites. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
President Edward Kelly announces Mobile Integrated Health legislation passed!
The Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts are proud to announce that Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker officially signed into law groundbreaking legislation, titled Mobile Integrated Health Care, which will propel community health to new heights. Through foreword thinking, President Edward Kelly, and the PFFM executive board in conjunction with the PFFM EMS committee, successfully lobbied the legislature about the needed change in the infrastructure and care delivery systems within the pre-hospital realm.
This legislation provides an integrated, multidisciplinary, and multi-sector approach to community health that seeks to maximize patient outcomes, while fostering community, health and wellness. In conjunction with Massachusetts Nurses Association, Brewster Ambulance Service, and the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts, together we aim to provide a holistic and comprehensive approach to health and wellness along the continuum.
Recognizing the pivotal role the fire service will play in mobile integrated health, President Kelly has advanced a multidisciplinary strategic vision paving the way for Mobile Integrated Health Care, the first legislation of its kind in the nation to incorporate fire-based EMS in mobile community health. President Kelly has been instrumental in establishing collaborative and productive relationships between public and private sector entities; relationships that are the foundation of a successful strategic plan. The passage of this Bill signifies evolutionary progress in pre-hospital health care that will inevitably transform not only the manner in which care is delivered, but also, progress that will sustain healthy communities.
The PFFM would like to recognize and thank Stephen Walsh of the Massachusetts Council of Community Hospitals for his collaboration with fire-based EMS in drafting and promoting the Mobile Integrated Health Care bill.
Here is a link to the legislation http://www.mass.gov/bb/gaa/fy2016/os_16/h93.htm
The Theme of the 2015, 41st Biennial Convention of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts was"We Fight..We Win".This video was part of the opening ceremonies.