KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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‘This Pain Has Gone Too Far’: Family’s Search For A Drug Treatment Bed Is Hauntingly Common Story In U.S.

Stat profiles the 41-day struggle of a West Virginia mother and father to get professional help for their 21-year-old daughter before it was too late. In other news on the nation's drug crisis, Food and Drug Administration panels reconsider Opana, a pain doctor in Massachusetts faces fraud charges and a former drug policy director weighs in on the potential impact of Republicans' replacement health plan.

Stat: A 41-Day Fight To Get Treatment Ends In A Daughter's Overdose
Leigh Ann and John Wilson play back those 42 days in a constant loop. They remember the clinics with lengthy waiting lists; the treatment centers that wouldn’t take Medicaid; the doctors who discouraged Taylor from inpatient treatment, saying she could do without it. They wonder, more than anything, why it’s so hard to get addiction treatment in the state with the nation’s highest drug death rate — 818 deaths last year, most of them from opioids. (Blau, 3/16)

Stat: FDA Panel Rebukes Powerful Opioid Reformulated To Curb Abuse
As the national opioid crisis rages, painkiller manufacturers have raked in profits and earned plaudits by reformulating their opioids in an attempt to deter abuse. But on Tuesday, a federal advisory panel delivered an extraordinary rebuke to one such product on the market, suggesting that Endo Pharmaceuticals’ efforts to make Opana ER harder to crush ended up making things worse by enabling addicts to inject it. ... Opana has been blamed by some for spurring a high-profile HIV outbreak in rural Indiana in 2015, and it was also tied to reports of a rare but serious blood disease characterized by clots that can lead to organ damage. (Robbins, 3/14)

Boston Globe: Pain Doctor Who Prescribed Large Amounts Of Oxycodone Pleads Guilty To Fraud 
A former doctor who at one point prescribed more oxycodone than most Massachusetts hospitals pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to fraud charges and is facing more than a decade in prison. Patients allegedly waited in line for hours to see Fathalla Mashali, 62, who saw patients for only minutes at a time in an office at his pain clinics, rather than in an exam room. (Valencia, 3/16)

WBUR: Former Drug Czar Says GOP Health Bill Would Cut Access To Addiction Treatment 
Michael Botticelli served as President Obama's director of National Drug Control Policy, and pushed Congress to pass a funding measure last year making more money available for the treatment of opioid addiction. Now he's concerned that the proposed Republican health plan will reduce access to health services for people with addiction. (Hersher, 3/15)

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