KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Massachusetts, Feds Launch Task Force To Address Opioid Crisis

The announcement came after the state's health department released overdose numbers, which showed a 65 percent increase in deaths from 2012 to 2014. Meanwhile, in Tennessee, physicians paint a dire picture of prescription drug abuse to legislators who are concerned about "over-correction."

The Associated Press: Attorney General Announces Task Force In Opioid Abuse Fight
State and federal law enforcement agencies pledged Wednesday to band together to crack down on doctors and other health care providers who illegally prescribe or dispense opioid painkillers. Attorney General Maura Healey said the overprescribing of opioids is contributing to the spike in overdoses and deaths in Massachusetts. On Wednesday, Healey announced her office has formed a task force with the FBI, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other state agencies to share information and collaborate on investigations. She said the number of opioid prescriptions in Massachusetts has increased by 140 percent since the mid-1990s, with 4.6 million prescriptions given out last year. (LeBlanc, 1/20)

The Boston Globe: Data Show Opioids’ Deadly Toll
People 25 to 44 years old are hardest hit by the opioid overdose epidemic that has left thousands dead in Massachusetts, according to new data from the state Department of Public Health. On Wednesday, the state released for the first time a demographic portrait of the still-growing health crisis, and that report found certain groups bear a disproportionate burden. The numbers show that overdose deaths in the first nine months of 2015 remained high — higher than the same period the year before, despite policy-makers’ focus on combating heroin and prescription painkiller abuse. (Freyer, 1/21)

The Tennessean: Doctors Advise Lawmakers On Tennessee's 'Tremendous' Drug Problem
There isn't enough time to wait and see if already-enacted laws targeted at combating Tennessee's prescription drug abuse problem have had a positive effect, a doctor told lawmakers Wednesday. The comment came from Dr. Robert Pack, associate dean for academic affairs at Eastern Tennessee University's College of Public Health, who was asked about concerns from some in the medical community that passing several pieces of legislation aimed at the state's prescription drug problem could result in an "over-correction." (Ebert, 1/20)

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