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Oxycodone pain pills. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

Federal regulators and fentanyl manufacturers didn't take action when it became clear that highly potent fentanyl products were being inappropriately prescribed to as many as half of the patients taking them, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

How it works: The type of fentanyl in question is approved by the Food and Drug Administration only for adult cancer patents who have already built up a tolerance to less potent opioids.

  • An FDA monitoring program requires that all doctors, pharmacists and patients involved in prescribing, dispensing and using these drugs certify that they understand their proper use.
  • The FDA also requires manufacturers to demonstrate that they are in compliance with the rules.
  • In surveys by drugmakers, most doctors, pharmacists and patients indicated that they understood how these fentanyl drugs were supposed to be used, but some providers were prescribing them for off-label use anyways.

The bottom line: In 2016, drugmakers found that between 34.6% and 55.4% of patients receiving this kind of fentanyl did not have opioid tolerance, meaning the drug was being misused.

  • Despite this information, neither the FDA nor drugmakers took action to end the inappropriate prescribing.

Go deeper: Opioids app aims to lower response times for overdose victims

Go deeper

Media giants back Bannon's bid to release Jan. 6 documents

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon at the FBI Washington Field Office in Washington, DC., in November. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

A coalition of news outlets including the Washington Post is supporting Stephen Bannon's campaign for the release of documents related to his contempt of Congress charges, WashPost confirmed Wednesday.

Why it matters: WashPost, the New York Times, CNN, NBC, the Wall Street Journal's parent company and others filed a motion arguing that a proposed protective order seeking to prevent the documents from being released violates the First Amendment, per the Daily Mail, which first reported on the news.

Symone Sanders leaving VP's office

Vice President Kamala Harris and her press secretary Symone Sanders. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Symone Sanders, senior advisor and chief spokesperson to Vice President Kamala Harris, is leaving the VP’s office by the end of this year, three White House officials told Axios on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The VP has faced an onslaught of criticism in her first year centered on her leadership and staff, adding to the suggestion, she’s not the Democratic Party’s preferred nominee for 2024.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Updated 3 hours ago - Health

Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The travel bans and border closures prompted by the Omicron variant likely won't fully prevent its spread, but that won't stop countries from leaning on the measures.

Why it matters: The rapid speed at which countries turned to travel bans with the emergence of Omicron indicates border controls will increasingly become a weapon against infectious disease — whether or not public health experts agree they are effective.

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