West Virginia’s Slight Decrease In Overdoses Last Year Has Officials Cautiously Optimistic
West Virginia is taking more steps to curb the crisis with new laws to limit initial painkiller prescriptions, require that both deadly and non-fatal overdoses be reported by emergency responders and hospitals, and equip all emergency responders with opioid antidotes.
The Associated Press:
West Virginia Records 872 Overdoses Last Year
West Virginia's death toll from drug overdoses has improved slightly, with 872 deaths last year. The state hit a grim record in 2016 of 887 fatal overdoses, or 52 per 100,000 residents, the highest drug-related death toll in the nation. Public Health Commissioner Dr. Rahul Gupta said he's cautiously optimistic about progress, including their study that identified risk factors for fatalities to help frame their response. That has drawn interest from other states, he said. (3/9)
In other news on the epidemic —
Opioid Questions Answered
Millions of Americans use opioids to relieve pain. But many also struggle with addiction. This week, a report in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association, found that nonopioid painkillers — like acetaminophen and ibuprofen — were as effective as opioids at treating chronic back, hip and knee pain, and with fewer side effects. (Shapiro and Wilhelm, 3/9)
Ivy League Doctor Gets 4 Years In Prison For Insys Opioid Kickbacks
A Rhode Island doctor who took kickbacks from Insys Therapeutics Inc. officials for prescribing the company’s highly addictive liquid version of the opioid painkiller Fentanyl was sentenced to more than four years in prison. Jerrold Rosenberg, who lost his medical license and was ousted from his post as a Brown University professor, pleaded guilty to taking more than $188,000 in kickbacks disguised as speaker fees and creating false patient records to dupe insurers into covering Insys’s Subsys pain medication. (Lawrence and Feeley, 3/9)
Wyoming Public Radio:
Campaign Hopes To Debunk Myths Kids Have About Opioid Abuse
In Wyoming, recreational use of opioid medications is most common among young adults, according to research at the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center. That’s why an addiction advocacy group is rolling out a new campaign to educate Wyoming’s youth about misinformation they might be getting about these drugs. (Edwards, 3/9)
Police Found Fraud, Sex Crimes In A Colorado Sober-Living Home Empire. The State Doesn’t Regulate The Industry.
[Chris] Bathum’s business, which operated at least 19 sober-living facilities in Colorado and California, and others like it represent yet another troubling development in the nation’s deadly opioid epidemic. All the addiction is fueling a surge in treatment facilities, with as many as 14,000 currently operating in the nation, generating $35 billion in profits annually, according to federal estimates. Critics contend the money is drawing in the unscrupulous like Bathum, who had been convicted in federal court in 2002 of felony wire fraud allegations. (Osher, 3/11)