addiction

Rebecca Kiger

Researchers at Harvard University and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that rural Americans identified drug addiction and economic concerns as the most serious problems facing their communities.

The An open-ended survey of 2700 rural adults aimed to identify the major concerns of rural voters, and found that 25 percent of rural Americans said drug addiction was their biggest concern for their community, and 21 percent said the same about economic concerns. The striking illustrate the dramatic toll of addiction on rural communities, which have generally struggled to recover from the 2009 recession.


Legal experts expected this to be the year we answered big questions about the liability that drug companies face for the deadly opioid epidemic and for their role in marketing high-risk prescription pain medications.

Instead, the legal fight over who will pay to clean up the addiction crisis dissolved into confusion and infighting.

"I don't know if there's a clear road map," said Adam Zimmerman, a professor at Loyola Law School and an expert in opioid litigation.

The Ohio River Valley has seen some of the largest jumps in mortality rates among people in midlife — those between ages 25 and 64 — in recent years.

Updated at 1:22 p.m. ET

The family that owns Purdue Pharma pulled billions of dollars from the company after introducing its signature opioid medication, OxyContin, growing personally wealthy as the heavily marketed drug took on a significant role in a nationwide addiction crisis.

People have been playing music together in the small Appalachian town of Hindman, Ky., since it was founded in the late 1800s. Today, one of the few businesses still open in the town is the Appalachian School of Luthiery, which teaches people how to build wooden stringed instruments. Now that school is playing a role in helping the local community overcome drug addiction.

While thousands of cities and counties have banded together to sue opioid makers and distributors in a federal court, another group of plaintiffs has started to sue on their own: hospitals.

Sharyn Morrow/Flickr

Tennessee's top lawyer and his counterparts in three other states announced Monday that they've negotiated a deal with the opioid industry worth nearly $50 billion, a pact that they hope will change the behavior of opioid makers and distributors.

The proposed legal settlement includes about $22 billion in cash and nearly $29 billion in opioid addiction treatment, including suboxone provided free of charge. And the deal would set new rules for drug companies, says Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery, such as having to set up compliance departments that look for red flags, like suspiciously large purchases.

 

  

Updated at 3:30 p.m. ET on Oct. 24

Make no mistake: The legal fight over liability for the U.S. opioid crisis is only heating up.

Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts

Kentucky Chief Justice John Minton says that the state needs more money for drug courts and special courts that work with veterans and people with mental health conditions amid the state’s drug addiction epidemic.

Minton, a native of Bowling Green, made the remarks during his annual State of the Judiciary Address on Friday.

Minton said that the special courts currently serve fewer than 2,500 people and that number should be expanded amid Kentucky’s opioid crisis.

 


Updated at 8 p.m. ET

The family that owns Purdue Pharma, maker of Oxycontin, has agreed to give up "the entire value" of the privately owned firm to settle claims that Purdue played a central role in the nation's deadly opioid epidemic.

That's according to a spokesperson for the firm, who detailed the Sackler family's offer in an email sent to NPR on Monday.

"Additionally, the Sacklers have offered $3 billion in cash as part of the global resolution," wrote Josephine Martin, Purdue Pharma's head of corporate affairs and communications.

Wikimedia Commons

The secret testimony from former Purdue Pharma President Richard Sackler and other records in a Kentucky opioids lawsuit must be made public after the state Supreme Court declined to review an earlier ruling.

The court record was sealed in 2015 as part of a $24 million settlement between Purdue and the state of Kentucky.

Health news website STAT sued to open the records. In ruling for the publication, the Court of Appeals reasoned there was a strong public interest in disclosing records that involved a settlement with a government agency.

Aaron Payne

The Appalachian Regional Commission has awarded a major grant to what it calls an innovative pilot program for a region hit hard by the addiction crisis. The goal is to help people struggling with addiction get on the road to treatment, recovery, and – ultimately – employment.

People with substance use disorders can have trouble getting to addiction treatment, long-term recovery programs, and job opportunities if they don’t have access to reliable transportation, especially in rural areas.


Big Question in Opioid Suits: How to Divide Possible Settlement

Jul 29, 2019
Mary Meehan | Ohio Valley ReSource

The roughly 2,000 state and local governments suing the drug industry over the deadly opioid crisis have yet to see any verdicts or reach any big national settlements but are already tussling with each other over how to divide any money they collect.

The reason: Some of them want to avoid what happened 20 years ago, when states agreed to a giant settlement with the tobacco industry and used most of the cash on projects that had little to do with smoking's toll.

"If we don't use dollars recovered from these opioid lawsuits to end the opioid epidemic, shame on us," Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear said.

Kentucky Reports Drop In Drug Overdose Deaths In 2018

Jul 18, 2019
Mary Meehan | Ohio Valley ReSource

Kentucky officials are reporting the first statewide drop in drug overdose deaths since 2013.

A report issued Thursday says 1,333 people died from drug overdoses in 2018, down from a record 1,566 deaths the prior year. The decline follows years of steady increases in the death toll, driven mostly by surges in opioid abuse, heroin and fentanyl.

The report says the largest drop in fatal overdoses occurred in Jefferson County — Kentucky’s most populous county.

51fifty at the English language Wikipedia

Two newly released sets of government data show that the death toll from the nation’s opioid crisis may finally be dropping and also reveal the scale of the pain pill sales that help set the crisis in motion. The data for the Ohio Valley show how hard the region was hit and how hard people in these communities have been fighting to save lives.

Preliminary health data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that fatalities from opioid overdose fell last year for the first time after decades of grim increase. Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia – which have consistently suffered some of the highest fatality rates in the country – saw some of the most significant improvement.


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