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January 6, 2023

Around the nation: Accidental consumption of marijuana edibles surges among young children

Daily Briefing

    A study published Tuesday in Pediatrics found a "consistent increase in pediatric edible cannabis exposures" in recent years, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from the District of Columbia and New York.

    • District of Columbia: In a study published Tuesday in Pediatrics, researchers found that the accidental ingestion of marijuana edibles has increased significantly among young children in recent years. For the study, researchers analyzed cases of pediatric cannabis exposure included in the National Poison Data System from 2017 to 2021. During that time, there were over 7,000 cases of accidental consumption among children 5 years old and under, with cases increasing by 1,375%. Notably, almost all cases occurred in a residential setting, and roughly 90% of the cases originated within the child's home. According to the authors, there was a "consistent increase in pediatric edible cannabis exposures over the past five years, with the potential for significant toxicity." In 2020, pediatric cases of edible marijuana ingestion made up over 40% of all human poison exposures. "These exposures can cause significant toxicity and are responsible for an increasing number of hospitalizations," the study authors wrote. Almost 23% of the patients included in the study were hospitalized, with a "significant increase in both I.C.U. and non-I.C.U. admissions." (Chung, New York Times, 1/4)
    • District of Columbia: The Justice Department last week filed a lawsuit against AmerisourceBergen, claiming the pharmaceutical company knowingly distributed opioids that were illegally resold later. The lawsuit, which was filed by the Justice Department's civil division—along with federal prosecutors in New Jersey, Colorado, Pennsylvania and New York—follows an initiative by federal agencies to hold drug companies accountable for their part in the opioid crisis. According to the lawsuit, AmerisourceBergen and two of its subsidiaries committed "at least hundreds of thousands" of violations of the Controlled Substances Act. Vanita Gupta, the associate attorney general overseeing the civil division, noted that if the company is found liable, it could be met with billions of dollars in fines. (Thrush/Albeck-Ripka, New York Times, 12/29/22)
    • New York: New York recently passed a law that aims to expand access to naloxone for individuals who take prescription opioids. Under the law, which went into effect this summer, doctors are required to co-prescribe naloxone to patients who face a risk of overdose when writing their opioid prescriptions. Risk factors covered under the law include taking a high daily dose of an opioid, taking other drugs—such as sedative hypnotics—or having a history of substance-use disorder. "Sometimes patients, especially if they've been taking opioids for a long time, don't understand the risks," said Laila Khalid, co-director of the chronic pain clinic at Montefiore Medical Center, a clinic that provides free naloxone to patients through New York's opioid overdose prevention program. According to research by the Network for Public Health Law, at least 10 other states have enacted similar laws. (Andrews, Kaiser Health News, 1/5)

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