opioids

Blake Farmer WPLN

State Senator Shane Reeves of Murfreesboro says he wasn’t surprised to see his pharmacy as the top recipient of opioids in Tennessee — more than double the next highest pharmacy in the state according to a Washington Post database.

Over a six year period, more than 45 million pain pills passed through what is now named Twelve Stone Health Partners. But Reeves also rejects that his business contributed to the opioid epidemic.

Asked to explain how the company became such an outlier on opioids, Reeves insists on giving a tour of the company's new facility.


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.

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.


Government officials are bickering over hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements paid by Big Pharma, stemming from the nation's deadly opioid epidemic.

The pharmaceutical industry paid out more than half a billion dollars over the last year alone. All sides expect the scale of settlements to grow fast as more cases go to trial.

Mary Meehan

Charles “Country” Bowers takes long, quick strides down a worn dirt path and is soon in front of a thicket of bushes made deep and tall by spring rains.

He’s leading me on a tour of camps made by homeless people in wooded corners of Fayette County, Kentucky. He stops and lifts a hand to signal that he’s spied something.

Framed by leaves, slightly up the hill, there’s a patch of blue. A tent. He keeps his voice low to avoid startling those inside.


A Growing Recovery: Food Service And Farming Jobs Provide A Path Out Of Addiction

May 20, 2019
Brittany Patterson

It’s lunch hour, and Cafe Appalachia is bustling.

Located in South Charleston, West Virginia, the former church turned restaurant has a funky, yet calming vibe. Twinkle lights and mismatched dining room sets dot the space. For $8 to $10 a plate, diners can enjoy a locally-sourced meal. The menu today is apple sage pork tips, spiralized zucchini (or “zoodles”), roasted broccoli, and a salad of spinach grown just a few miles away.

Autumn McCraw helped prepare today’s meal. The 35-year-old Charleston resident sports a maroon apron and greets every customer with a smile. Her days here typically start around 8 a.m.


Political Feud Complicating Kentucky's Fight Against Opioids

Mar 6, 2019
J. Tyler Franklin

For every 100,000 people in Kentucky, 23 are killed by opioid overdoses — nearly double the national rate. But a political feud is complicating the state's effort to hold drug companies accountable for their part in the epidemic.

Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear and Republican Gov. Matt Bevin are fighting over Beshear's attempt to hire private attorneys to battle the drug companies. Beshear is running for governor, and Bevin is the man he could face in the general election.

David Brinkley

Andy Beshear is looking back on the past year as Kentucky’s chief law enforcement officer.  Much of it was spent in the courtroom with the most high-profile legal action taken against Governor Matt Bevin’s controversial pension reform law. 

The Attorney General also took on the pharmaceutical industry and some public universities, including WKU.  Beshear sat down with WKU Public Radio for an interview on those legal challenges and what he wants to accomplish in his last year in the AG’s office.

Mary Meehan

New federal data show the Ohio Valley again led the nation in rates of fatal drug overdoses last year.

The data confirm what local officials have reported: Synthetic opioids are fueling the increase.

West Virginia had the nation’s highest rate of fatal drug overdoses in 2017 with 57.8 deaths per 100,000 people.

Ohio had the second-highest rate with 46.3 deaths per 100,000 people. And Kentucky was fifth in the nation with a rate of at 37.2 deaths per 100,000 people.

For the second time in three years, life expectancy in the U.S. has ticked downward. In three reports issued Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laid out a series of statistics that revealed some troubling trend lines — including rapidly increasing rates of death from drug overdoses and suicide.

CDC Director Robert Redfield described the data as "troubling."

Ryland Barton

Attorney General Andy Beshear has filed a lawsuit against another painkiller manufacturer, saying that the company fueled Kentucky’s drug epidemic through aggressive marketing and fraud.

The suit claims that Arizona-based Insys Therapeutics gave kickbacks to doctors who prescribed its products and used fraudulent tactics to get more people prescribed, including falsifying medical histories.

Beshear said the company’s fentanyl-based mouth spray Subsys was only approved for cancer patients but the company aggressively marketed the pain medication to get more patients prescribed.

Ryland Barton

Kentucky’s attorney general is suing another pharmaceutical manufacturer for contributing to the state’s opioid crisis. 

Andy Beshear filed a lawsuit on Thursday in Fayette Circuit Court against Pennsylvania-based Teva Pharmaceuticals. 

In a news conference, Beshear accused Teva of promoting highly addictive Fentanyl-based cancer drugs for off-label use.

White House video

A year after President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency, he signed a bipartisan bill Wednesday to bolster law enforcement efforts and expand addiction treatment and resources.

Proponents hope the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act helps the Ohio Valley, which suffers some of the nation’s highest rates of addiction and overdose deaths.

And Ohio Valley lawmakers had a strong influence on the package.


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.


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