$540 billion with a B

The White House’s Council of Economic Advisers has calculated the cost of the nation’s opioid epidemic at $504 billion — and that was in 2015. (That’s 2.8 percent of the country’s entire gross domestic product.)

That number takes into account treatment, lost wages, first responders … you get the picture. In other words, it’s money that could be spent on something else.

GPhAers in the news

While you were enjoying your weekend, we were enjoying seeing a couple of* our folks making headlines.

President Liza Chapman was featured on ABC’s WSB Atlanta affiliate, talking about “how pharmacists are stepping up to help with the opioid crisis” (and viewed, we’re told, by about 96,425 people).

Meanwhile, GPhA’s VP of public policy, Greg “Fireball” Reybold, was quoted in the Valdosta Daily Times about the availability of naloxone in Georgia — specifically, that not every pharmacy has it in stock.

“There’s not a huge number of people coming in and looking for this,” he said, but “there’s a huge number of people who could benefit from it.”

* Some people say “a couple of,” some people say “a couple.” Ever noticed?

Purdue to states: Can we talk?

The company would like to settle those opioid lawsuits in one fell swoop. In fact, it’s talking to states that haven’t sued it yet, too, and it’s hired the “Queen of Torts” to help it reach a settlement.

Nothing to see here, folks

Except DEATH — death by the impending bird flu pandemic. Which researchers really don’t want to be alarmist about, so consider it a very quiet scream — like the kind you’d hear from a bird-flu researcher from inside his well-stocked bunker in Iceland.

Pfizer, Nevada are off to court

Nevada prison officials really want to execute some people, and they’re planning to mix some drugs they have on hand — including diazepam and fentanyl — to try to do just that. But Pfizer, which makes those drugs, says, “No way.” It sold the drugs to help prisoners, not for lethal injections.

Nevada, though, is refusing to return the medication: “We are under no obligation, once we’ve made a purchase, to return it.”

Pfizer and most other pharmaceutical companies refuse to sell their products for executions. The United States is the only modern Western nation to still have the death penalty on the books.

The EMA picks a forever home

Amsterdam will be the new, post-Brexit home of the European Medicines Agency.

There might finally be a good use for squirrels

Other than as a side dish, that is. It seems that squirrel brains (such as they are) experience the same lack of blood flow during hibernation that humans experience during a stroke.

Now, a team of NIH-funded scientists has identified a potential drug that could grant the same resilience to the brains of ischemic stroke patients by mimicking the cellular changes that protect the brains of those animals.