KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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McCaskill Calls For Treatment Centers, Monitoring Program To Fight Opioid Abuse

Sen. Claire McCaskill, at a field hearing in Jefferson City on Tuesday, called on lawmakers to rectify the lack of a drug monitoring program in Missouri. Elsewhere, Ohio announces new guidelines for prescribing painkillers, and New York extends its rebate for naloxone, an antidote for heroin and other opioid overdoses.

The Associated Press: McCaskill Says Missouri Needs Tighter Drug Monitoring
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill said Tuesday that Missouri needs more tools to fight opiate abuse, including a prescription drug monitoring program, more specialized treatment centers and better research about average drug use. The Senate's committee on aging, on which McCaskill sits as the ranking Democrat, heard testimony on opioid abuse Tuesday during a field hearing in Jefferson City. Opioids include prescription painkillers as well as illegal drugs such as heroin and opium. McCaskill was the only U.S. senator in attendance, though at least nine state lawmakers sat in on the hearing. (Aton, 1/19)

The Associated Press: Ohio Sets New Guidelines For Short-Term Pain Prescribing
People with short-term pain from injuries or surgery should be given alternatives to prescription painkillers whenever possible and be provided only the minimum amounts if absolutely needed, according to guidelines announced Tuesday by Gov. John Kasich's office. Alternatives to the class of painkillers known as opioids could include ice, heat, wraps, stretching, massage therapy, acupuncture, seeing a chiropractor or physical therapy, along with medicines that don't have addictive qualities, such as ibuprofen, said Dr. Mary DiOrio, medical director for the state Department of Health. (Welsh-Huggins, 1/19)

The Associated Press: NY Rebate Extended For Heroin Overdose Antidote
New York's attorney general has announced an agreement with Amphastar Pharmaceuticals to extend a nearly 20 percent price cut for naloxone, an antidote for heroin and other opioid overdoses. The attorney general's office says Tuesday that Amphastar for another year will cover a $6 rebate per dose, which will also automatically increase, dollar-for-dollar, to match future growth in the wholesale price. (1/19)

Meanwhile, NPR takes a look at opioid addiction and the workplace —

NPR: Opioid Abuse Takes A Toll On Workers And Their Employers
According to one study, prescription opioid abuse alone cost employers more than $25 billion in 2007. Other studies show people with addictions are far more likely to be sick, absent or to use workers' compensation benefits. When it comes to workers' comp, opioids are frequently prescribed when pain relievers are called for. How often doctors choose opioids varies by state, with an analysis finding the highest rates in Arkansas and Louisiana. (Noguchi, 1/20)

And The New York Times examines the spread of the opioid epidemic across the country —

New York Times: How The Epidemic Of Drug Overdose Deaths Ripples Across America
Deaths from drug overdoses have jumped in nearly every county across the United States, driven largely by an explosion in addiction to prescription painkillers and heroin. Some of the largest concentrations of overdose deaths were in Appalachia and the Southwest, according to new county-level estimates released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Park and Bloch, 1/19)

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