Profit-Mining The Opioid Crisis: Treatment Facilities Target Union Workers For Their Generous Benefits
A Stat and Boston Globe investigation found that these workers are bused into these facilities and can be cut off from their family and friends. “I felt like a prisoner,” said Michael Barone, a special education aide in a New Jersey public school. In other news: scientists try to find ways to combat chronic pain without opioids; experts are trying to figure out how people with chronic pain can be treated with opioids but avoid addiction; and more.
Targeted By An Addiction Treatment Center, Union Workers Feel Trapped As Their Benefits Are Drained
STAT and The Boston Globe interviewed 10 people treated at the institute over the last five years — teachers, mostly from New Jersey, as well as school custodians and social workers or their relatives. Most said they were allowed only limited contact with family. They complained about inadequate and cookie-cutter treatment, consisting mostly of group counseling and 12-step meetings, massages at a local chiropractor’s office, and plenty of free time. Several said the staff warned that their jobs would be at risk when they tried to leave before the treatment center deemed it appropriate. Although the patients were there voluntarily, many needed letters indicating they were fit to return to work. (Armstrong and Allen, 11/10)
Brain Scientists Look Beyond Opioids To Conquer Pain
The goal is simple: a drug that can relieve chronic pain without causing addiction. But achieving that goal has proved difficult, says Edward Bilsky, a pharmacologist who serves as the provost and chief academic officer at Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in Yakima, Wash. "We know a lot more about pain and addiction than we used to," says Bilsky, "But it's been hard to get a practical drug." (Hamilton, 11/13)
Is There A Way To Keep Using Opiod Painkillers And Reduce Risk?
Jon McHann, 56, got started on prescription opioids the way a lot of adults in the U.S. did: he was in pain following an accident. In his case, it was a fall. "I hit my tailbone just right, and created a severe bulging disc" that required surgery, McHann says. McHann, who lives in Smithville, Tenn., expected to make a full recovery and go back to work as a heavy haul truck driver. But 10 years after his accident, he's still at home. (Aubrey, 11/13)
The Associated Press:
NY State Lawmakers To Discuss Heroin, Opioid Epidemic
The New York state Senate is planning another meeting to hear from local law enforcement, mental health experts and the loved ones of those lost to heroin and opioids. Tuesday's meeting in Newburgh in the Hudson Valley will be hosted by Republican Sens. George Amedore, Fred Akshar and William Larkin. 11/11)
Almost By Default, FDA Takes The Lead Role In Opioid Crisis
During his confirmation hearings to lead the Food and Drug Administration, Scott Gottlieb promised to make the opioid crisis his top priority, calling it “a public health emergency on the order of Ebola and Zika.” His comparison of the opioid crisis to those attention-grabbing international outbreaks was a reflection of its growing magnitude. Abuse of prescription painkillers, heroin and other opioids in the United States caused 33,000 deaths in 2015, a number likely to exceed 53,000 when 2016 data is finalized. It was also a course correction for Gottlieb. When he was an FDA official in 2005, he warned against FDA actions that could limit patients from getting pain pills, calling chronic pain an “undertreated medical problem.” (Siddons, 11/13)
Rushing An Overdosing Woman To The Hospital, This Paramedic Overdosed, Too, Police Say
Across the country, rates of opioid addiction and abuse have been skyrocketing in recent years — killing more than 30,000 Americans each year, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data analyzed by Blue Cross Blue Shield, one of the largest health insurers in the country. Blue Cross Blue Shield reports that, among those it insures, diagnoses of opioid use disorder have spiked nearly 500 percent in just the last seven years. (Gilmour, 11/10)