Is Fentanyl As Dangerous As A Loaded Gun? For Police Responding To 911 Calls, It’s Being Treated That Way
With reports on the rise of fentanyl's lethality, even through accidental exposure, people are being prosecuted for endangering the lives of police officers who respond to emergency calls. Experts, however, say that the science behind accidental exposure doesn't support the extreme measures. Other news from the national drug epidemic includes: secret OxyContin documents, recovery in a small town, naloxone, a massive drug operation and more.
The New York Times:
What Can Make A 911 Call A Felony? Fentanyl At The Scene.
Eric Weil, a gregarious 50-year-old painter who lives in a wooded neighborhood hugging the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee, never suspected he would face felony charges when he called 911 last August. He had agreed to take in a friend’s son who was struggling with addiction, on the condition that no drugs be brought into his house. When Mr. Weil discovered a packet of white powder in the guest bedroom, he called 911. “Somebody’s messed up in my house,” he recalled saying. “He’s on drugs. I don’t know what he’s on. Can we get somebody here?” (Smith, 12/17)
Appeals Court Rules That Secret OxyContin Documents Must Be Released
A Kentucky appeals court on Friday upheld a judge’s ruling ordering the release of secret records about Purdue Pharma’s marketing of the powerful prescription opioid OxyContin, which has been blamed for helping to seed today’s opioid addiction epidemic. The records under seal include a deposition of Richard Sackler, a former president of Purdue and a member of the family that founded and controls the privately held Connecticut company. Other records include marketing strategies and internal emails about them; documents concerning internal analyses of clinical trials; settlement communications from an earlier criminal case regarding the marketing of OxyContin; and information regarding how sales representatives marketed the drug. (Armstrong and Joseph, 12/14)
After A Wake-Up Call, A Small Town Struggles To Recover From Addiction
In September 2016, the town of East Liverpool, Ohio, captured national attention when a photo of a local couple's overdose went viral. It showed a woman and her boyfriend sprawled comatose in the front seats of a car, while the woman's 4-year-old grandson sat in the back. The image was originally posted by the local police department. Overnight, East Liverpool, a town of just over 11,000 people, became the face of the opioid crisis enveloping parts of the country. (Brown, 12/15)
Pennsylvania Holds Naloxone Giveaway
David Braithwaite was standing next to his pickup truck Thursday in a parking lot outside the Cumberland County health center in Carlisle, Pa. He's a chaplain for Carlisle Truck Stop Ministry. His hat even says it. Braithwaite said he and another chaplain minister to truck drivers, homeless people and anyone else who needs help at the truck stop seven days a week. (Sholtis, 12/14)
The New York Times:
Authorities Uncover $8 Million-A-Week Drug Operation In Pennsylvania
It was a typical, single-family house with a landscaped yard and Christmas decorations in a quiet neighborhood in eastern Pennsylvania. But this week investigators, acting on a tip, uncovered a secret in the basement — a drug operation worth an estimated $8 million a week. On Wednesday, prosecutors announced that 11 people were charged with felony drug offenses in the bust, which was believed to be one of the largest in the county. (Hauser, 12/14)
The New York Times:
Tracking The Opioid Epidemic Through The Books That Warned Us
Medical knowledge is evolving at warp speed, spinning out reams of new information into sound bites, articles and more and more new health books to overload your sagging shelves. But if you’re tempted to toss out all the old stuff, better think twice — despite the changes in medical science, some constants endure. The human body still sickens and recovers much the way it always has; our dogged, heartfelt efforts to prevent and relieve pain and suffering are no different than they ever were. Even books published decades or in some cases centuries in the past may still speak clearly to today’s medical issues. (Zuger, 12/17)
Opioid Deaths Are Down, But Addiction Continues To Plague Virginia
Even as Virginia expects a slight dip in fatal opioid-related drug overdoses in 2018, deaths caused by cocaine and methamphetamine as well as babies born addicted to drugs are on the rise, indicating a “disease of despair,” according to a report by the state health commissioner. (Balch, 12/14)
The Philadelphia Inquirer:
After Confronting Mental Illness And Addiction, He Wants To Help Others. But One Thing’s Stopping Him.
Last year, 1,481 certified peer specialists were employed in Pennsylvania, according to data the counties report to the Department of Human Services. Across the United States, there are an estimated 25,000 certified mental-health peer support specialists. Though the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't track the position, it estimates job growth for community health workers in general will increase 16 percent in the coming decade — nearly double the average job growth. (Pattani, 12/17)