KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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10 Years Ago This Lawyer Went Up Against Pharma Over Opioids And Won. Now He’s Ready For Round Two.

Back in 2007, Purdue settled with individual patients who alleged that it had underplayed the addiction risk of its medications. It was a huge case for lawyer Paul Hanly and a rare win against makers of painkillers. Now, in an entirely different landscape -- one where these companies are becoming the targets of states who want to try to curb the national crisis -- Hanly is gearing up to go again. Meanwhile, PBS looks at how the brain gets addicted to opioids in the first place.

Stat: A Veteran NY Litigator Is Taking On Opioid Makers. They Have A History
It is one of the few instances — maybe the only one, experts say — in which a drug maker agreed to pay individual patients who alleged that it had underplayed the addiction risk of its medications. A decade later, the smooth, stylish [Paul] Hanly has again set his sights on opioid manufacturers, this time on behalf of cities and counties in five states. The drug companies, those plaintiffs allege, sought to create a false perception around opioids, seeding a public health and safety crisis that has cost Hanly’s clients hundreds of millions of dollars. (Joseph, 10/10)

PBS NewsHour: How A Brain Gets Hooked On Opioids
Pain and pleasure rank among nature’s strongest motivators, but when mixed, the two can become irresistible. This is how opioids brew a potent and deadly addiction in the brain. (Akpan and Griffin, 10/9)

PBS NewsHour: How One Group Of Doctors Drastically Decreased Opioid Prescriptions
With addictions and overdoses surging over the past two decades, recent CDC guidelines urge doctors to avoid or dramatically limit the use of legal painkillers. In Southern California, a group of Kaiser Permanente doctors has been helping chronic pain patients "step down" from high-dose opioids with the help of alternative therapies that work well for many. (Wise, 10/9)

And in other news on the epidemic —

Los Angeles Times: Gov. Jerry Brown Vetoes Measure To Create New State Task Force On Opioid Prescriptions
Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a measure on Monday that sought to curb escalating opioid addiction rates by creating a new state working group tasked with determining best practices in prescribing addictive drugs. The measure, Assembly Bill 715 by Assemblyman Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg), would have directed the state Department of Public Health to convene doctors, opioid addiction specialists and other experts to examine how painkillers are being prescribed to treat acute, short-term pain. (Mason, 10/9)

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