Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.
The opioid epidemic has been an ongoing concern with the synthetic opioid, fentanyl, Prince’s cause of death being the latest. However, Ohio officials have declared carfentanil, a powerful drug used to tranquilize elephants, a public health emergency because of its contribution to the record spike of drug overdoses in the Midwest, reported NPR. Fentanyl can be up to 50 times more deadly than heroin, while carfentanil is 100 times more potent than fentanyl. Carfentanil first made its appearance in Cincinnati in July and, at times, the sheer amount of overdoses has overwhelmed first responders, according to NPR. Currently, emergency room workers and first responders are advised to wear protective gloves and masks because carfentanil’s potency is so extreme it can be dangerous for someone to touch or inhale it.
The Alzheimer’s drug aducanumab, which demonstrated a dramatic reduction in toxic plaques in the brain, was granted fast-track designation by the FDA. Aducanumab is a therapy for the early stage of the Alzheimer’s disease, designed to clear the beta amyloid plaques, which researchers believe play a role in the development of the disease, reported The Wall Street Journal.
A lawsuit filed by former death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal against a prison policy that denies treatment with an expensive hepatitis C drug, until the individual has advanced liver damage, has been denied. Although US District Judge Robert Mariani blasted the prison policy, stating that it amounts to “conscious disregard” for inmate health, he rejected the lawsuit, concluding that Abu-Jamal sued the wrong prison officials. According to The New York Times, Abu-Jamal’s lawyers plan to refile the claim to add members of the hepatitis treatment committee who created the policy. The 62-year-old prisoner is currently serving a life sentence for the 1981 killing of a Philadelphia police officer.