opioids

Months in prison didn't rid Daryl of his addiction to opioids. "Before I left the parking lot of the prison, I was shooting up, getting high," he says.

Daryl has used heroin and prescription painkillers for more than a decade. Almost four years ago he became one of more than 200 people who tested positive for HIV in a historic outbreak in Scott County, Ind. After that diagnosis, he says, he went on a bender.

Bill Ambrose, Your Voice Ohio

An Ohio-based collaborative thinks journalists can play a bigger role in solving the region’s opioid crisis. The effort starts with listening to people in some of the hardest-hit communities.

A group of about 50 people gathered in a small building at the fairgrounds in Marietta, Ohio, to share their thoughts on the region’s opioid crisis with local journalists.

Some have studied addiction for years. Others have only experienced it through a loved one. And some, like Washington County resident Jackson Patterson, have seen both sides of the epidemic.


WFPL

A new poll shows a significant drop in the number of Kentucky adults who say they’ve been prescribed pain pills.

The Kentucky Health Issues Poll says 34 percent of adults in the state say they got prescriptions for pain medicine over a five-year period leading up to, and including, 2017.

That’s a drop of 21 percentage points from a similar poll taken in 2011.

Public Domain

Attorney General Andy Beshear has filed another lawsuit against a drug manufacturer, accusing a company that makes morphine and codeine of using deceptive marketing to promote painkillers that fueled the drug addiction epidemic in Kentucky.

In a news conference on Thursday, Beshear said that St. Louis pharmaceutical company Mallinckrodt underplayed the risk of addiction in order to promote its opioid products.

“Mallinckrodt sold and promoted their opioids by falsely claiming that their drugs could be taken in higher doses without disclosing the additional risk of addiction,” Beshear said.

Unsealed Lawsuit in Tennessee: Opioid Firm Placed Profits Over People

Jul 6, 2018
Creative Commons

A newly unsealed lawsuit by Tennessee's attorney general says the maker of the world's top-selling painkiller directed its salesforce to target the highest prescribers, many with limited or no pain management background or training.

Citing the public's right to know, Attorney General Herbert Slatery said Thursday that OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma has dropped its previous efforts to shield details of the 274-page lawsuit in state court. The Tennessee Coalition for Open Government and the Knoxville News Sentinel had also requested that the lawsuit's records become public.

Alexandria Santa Barbara is a 39-year-old mother of three from a working-class suburb of Philadelphia.

The addiction story for Santa Barbara, who goes by the name Alexis, follows a familiar course: She had been prescribed Percocet years ago to treat back pain. When the drug became unavailable, she turned to heroin. And she became hooked — not long after getting laid off from her job at a local deli.

Across the street from her, her neighbor, identified just as "J.M." in court papers, was also in the grip of an opioid addiction.

The past two years have been a time of reckoning for pharmaceutical manufacturers over their role in promoting opioid drugs that have fed a national epidemic.

WFPL

A website launched earlier this year is helping Kentucky get a better understanding of the kinds of addiction treatment facilities and programs needed by its residents.

FindHelpNowKY.org is a search engine that can be used by those with substance abuse disorders, their family members, and medical professionals.

It’s been used by an estimated 6,000 Kentuckians since it launched January 1, and tracks 181 providers and 446 facilities across the state that serve those with addiction issues.

Principal Mary Ann Hale dreads weekends.

By the time Fridays roll around, 74-year-old Hale, a principal at West Elementary School in McArthur, Ohio, is overcome with worry, wondering whether her students will survive the couple of days away from school.

Too many children in this part of Ohio's Appalachian country live in unstable homes with a parent facing addiction. For years, the community has struggled with opioids. Ohio had the second-highest number of drug overdose deaths per capita in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Creative Commons

Kentucky’s attorney general wants the state to stop investing taxpayer dollars and retirement contributions in companies that have profited from the opioid crisis. 

It’s Andy Beshear’s latest attempt to punish the makers and distributors of highly addictive painkillers.

Beshear sent letters this week to the Kentucky Retirement Systems and the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System, urging the agencies to stop investing funds in the six opioid manufacturers and distributors that his office is currently suing for helping fuel the state’s prescription drug abuse.

For most of her childhood, growing up in southeastern Pennsylvania, Kelly Zimmerman felt alone and anxious.

She despaired when her mother was depressed or working late shifts; when her parents fought nonstop; when her friends wanted to come over, and she felt too ashamed to let them see her home's buckling floor, the lack of running water.

Kelly tried to shut out those feelings, and when she was 18, a boyfriend offered her an opioid painkiller — Percocet.

Her anxiety dissolved, at least for a little while.

Ryland Barton

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear is suing Walgreens, saying the company helped fuel the opioid epidemic by failing to monitor large shipments of pain pills throughout the state.

Beshear said Walgreens failed to report “suspiciously large orders” it received for prescription pain pills.

“Walgreens is in a position to not only know how many pills are coming into Kentucky overall, but also how many pills are coming out of that one retail store in a county with a population that should never support that amount,” Beshear said during a news conference on Thursday.

51fifty at the English language Wikipedia

Legislators grilled representatives from five major opioid distributors Tuesday on how painkillers flooded West Virginia under their watch.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing came as part of an investigation into why Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, McKesson, Miami-Luken and H.D. Smith failed to report suspiciously large orders of opioid painkillers at the beginning of the addiction crisis.

A few months ago, Kourtnaye Sturgeon helped save someone's life. She was driving in downtown Indianapolis when she saw people gathered around a car on the side of the road. Sturgeon pulled over and a man told her there was nothing she could do: Two men had overdosed on opioids and appeared to be dead.

"I kind of recall saying, 'No man, I've got Narcan,' " she says, referring to the brand- name version of the opioid overdose antidote, naloxone. "Which sounds so silly, but I'm pretty sure that's what came out."

Kentucky Seeks Relief As Autopsy Requests Surge

Apr 30, 2018
Wikimedia Commons

As the opioid epidemic rages across Appalachia, one grim consequence has played out in Kentucky’s medical examiner’s office: A staggering increase in autopsy requests.

Autopsy requests for overdose deaths have jumped more than 26 percent since 2013, part of an overall 18 percent increase of autopsy requests statewide. The increase has coincided with a 39 percent increase in drug overdose deaths during that same time.

The increase has overwhelmed the State Medical Examiner’s Office, which consists of nine doctors for the entire state. And it comes amid a national shortage of forensic pathologists that makes it difficult to hire and retain qualified people.

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