FDA Resumes Inspections of Certain Foods during Government Shut Down

FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb announced this week that he was requesting furloughed federal employees to return to work and resume inspections of certain high-risk foods. Typically, the FDA conducts about 160 food inspections per week. Inspections have been halted since the federal government shut down and 40% of the FDA’s workforce was put on furlough. Dr. Gottlieb stated that he hoped that several hundred workers would return without pay to resume inspections of foods such as soft cheeses, seafood, some fruits and vegetables, baby formula, and unpasteurized juices. About one-third of all of the FDA’s food inspections are for high risk products, and the FDA typically inspects about 8,000 food plants in one year. Dr. Gottlieb sought and received permission from the White House and Congress to call the ...
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Crisis in Construction: Increased Risk of Opioid Abuse in the Construction Industry

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that, on average, 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. The construction industry, in particular, has been disproportionately impacted by the opioid epidemic. According to North America’s Building Trades Union, the overdose rate for workers in the construction industry is seven times that of the general population. But why? The work is physically intensive and the risk of suffering a work-related injury is higher than the national average in other occupations. Laborers tend to have limited job security and minimal benefits, such as sick leave, which often prevents them from seeking help for their pain or for their addiction. Workplace culture also plays a role. On many construction sites, prescriptions are readily passed amongst and between co-workers. The “tough-guy” ...
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Crossing (State) Lines

Since 2014, New York has made medical cannabis available to individuals suffering from a variety of conditions under the Compassionate Care Act.  However, in order to obtain medical cannabis, a patient must be certified by a medical professional licensed in New York.  Now, two states have decided that open lines of communication (and sales) should be allowed.  On January 2, 2019, the Arkansas Department of Health announced it planned on issuing registry identification cards by February, following a meeting by the Medical Marijuana Commission where commissioners plan to award the state’s 32 dispensary licenses.  This follows Oklahoma’s Marijuana Authority issuance of more than 33,000 patient licenses since June 2018.  Following the approval of medical cannabis in Oklahoma the state reported that residents of Arkansas (and other states with state-issued medical ...
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A New York State of Mind (on Cannabis)

Since 2014, New York has made medical cannabis available to individuals suffering from a variety of conditions under the Compassionate Care Act.  If recent news articles are to be believed, New York State is looking to legalize adult use cannabis early in 2019.  New York would then join the ranks of other states legalizing adult use such as Colorado, Massachusetts and California in allowing adults over the age of 21 to purchase and use cannabis. It will be interesting to see what the final adult use program will look like when presented to New York.  There are numerous issues that require very careful thought.  These include the number of licenses to be issued for growers, processors and dispensaries.  Will New York continue to require that all grow facilities be contained ...
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Gingerbread House of Horrors: FDA Issues Warning Regarding Raw Cookie Dough

This week, the FDA and CDC issued a warning reminding holiday bakers to lay off the raw cookie dough. While most are aware that raw eggs used to make cookie dough or cake batter can contain salmonella, the FDA also noted that flour is a raw food product that has not been treated to kill germs such as E.Coli. Earlier this year, boxes of Duncan Hines cake mix were recalled after salmonella was detected in a box of Classic White Cake Mix in Oregon. It may have been linked to five case of salmonella infection across three states. In 2016, 63 people were sickened due to a rash of E. coli infections linked to raw flour. If the products had been fully cooked as directed, these infections could potentially have ...
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Federal Court Finds Issue of Fact on “Artificial Flavor” Label — Partially Grants Class Certification

Recently, the United States District Court for the Southern District of California granted partial certification to a class-action suit filed over alleged false advertising based primarily upon the labeling of “artificial flavors” in beverages manufactured by defendant Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc. The plaintiff claimed that the labels on certain juice-based beverages falsely stated “No . . . artificial flavors” when in fact the beverages contained artificial flavoring chemicals (malic acid and fumaric acid) that simulate the advertised fruit flavors.   The plaintiff was seeking to certify a class consisting of all California citizens who purchased one of twelve different Ocean Spray products, for personal use and house use and not for resale, in California from January 1, 2011 until the date class notice is disseminated. A central issue in dispute over ...
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Employer/Employee Relationships Under Medical Marijuana Laws

I’ve recently been on a kick writing about Missouri’s recent passage of State Constitutional Amendment Two legalizing the use of medical marijuana within the state. Past posts discussed some of the specifics of the law and some of the problems that may develop when Missouri, like other states, has problems with conflicting federal laws (Second Amendment and gun ownership). Continuing on my Missouri kick as they are one of the more recent states to legalize medical marijuana, I thought we’d next address another thorny topic – employment issues. As some of you will recall from earlier posts, different states have VASTLY different approaches to employers’ rights when it comes to their employees’ valid use of medical marijuana. In Noffsinger v. SSC Niantic Operating Company LLC, 2017 WL 3401260, the Connecticut ...
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“Medicine Chest of the World” Joins Fight Against Opioid Epidemic

New Jersey has joined the long – and growing – company of states and local municipalities in the fight against the opioid epidemic.  The New Jersey attorney general filed suit against Janssen Pharmaceuticals, alleging that the company misled consumers on how addictive the long term use of their opioid products were. The lawsuit by New Jersey represents a new frontier in the opioid epidemic as the state brings legal action against one of its biggest employers.  New Jersey has a deep relationship with the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry as the state was once home to several pharmaceutical manufacturers. According to the New Jersey attorney general, Janssen pushed Nucynta and Nucynta ER as safer alternatives, despite this being inaccurate. The complaint argues that Janssen should repay New Jersey for money residents ...
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Medical Marijuana and Guns (Still) Don’t Mix…For Now

A few weeks back, we discussed the issues Maryland faced now that it legalized medical marijuana – specifically, gun ownership.  As most of you know by now, federal law bars federal firearm licensee’s from selling firearms to persons who utilize medical marijuana.  Under the Federal Gun Control Act, 18 U.S.C. 922(d)(3), it is unlawful for any person to sell or otherwise dispose of any firearm or ammunition to any person knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that such person is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802).  Since cannabis is still a Schedule I substance under federal law, a federal firearm licensee is barred from selling a firearm to a medical marijuana user.  ...
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Federal District Court Judge Orders Disclosure of Opioid Market Share Data

An Ohio Federal District Court judge just recently granted an Order in the multi-district national prescription opiate litigation for release of the market share data, from a federal database, of opioid sales to counties and other entities. Specifically, the Order requires production of reports derived from the U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration’s Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System (ARCOS). This court-ordered release of information shall include: (1) manufacturer reports reflecting the names of all labelers who manufactured and/or labeled more than five percent of the market share of opioids distributed in the relevant county or county-equivalents; (2) distributor reports reflecting the name of each distributor who distributed more than five percent of the market share of opioids distributed in the relevant county or county-equivalents; and (3) pharmacy ...
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