Study Shows Ohio Valley’s Premature Deaths Driving Down National Longevity Rates

Nov 27, 2019
Vancouver Coastal Health

A new medical study shows that after decades of increasing life expectancy across the country, people are living shorter lives. And that trend is in part driven by premature deaths among people in the Ohio Valley due to the opioid epidemic, suicide and alcohol abuse.

The article published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association focuses specifically on people 25 to 64-years-old whose premature deaths impact what is called the midlife mortality rate.

Lisa Autry

The Democrat hoping to win another stint as attorney general in next week’s election says he will continue to hold the pharmaceutical industry accountable in court for contributing to Kentucky’s opioid crisis. 

Greg Stumbo told the Bowling Green Noon Rotary Club on Wednesday that he wants to finish what he started.  As Kentucky’s former attorney general from 2004-2008, he brought a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma which his successor Jack Conway settled for $24 million. 

Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers announced last month that he would file a resolution in the 2020 session seeking an investigation into the settlement.  Stivers thinks Kentucky didn't get as much money as it could have from the drug maker, but Stumbo says the settlement was a record at the time.

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.



Rebecca Kiger

At a town hall event in Logan, Ohio, Kelly Taulbee walks through the steps of an encounter with someone experiencing an opioid overdose. She's training a group to use NARCAN, the opioid reversal medication. She pulled out the small applicator and demonstrated how easy it is to spray the medication in someone’s nose.

As the director of nursing for the Hocking County health department, she understands the importance of this life-saving medicine.

Updated at 11:50 a.m. ET

Three of the biggest U.S. drug distributors and a drug manufacturer have reached a last-minute deal with two Ohio counties to avoid what would have been the first trial in a landmark federal case on the opioid crisis.

Summit and Cuyahoga counties announced Monday morning that the tentative deal amounts to roughly $260 million.

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.

Mary Meehan | Ohio Valley ReSource

Eight Kentucky-based organizations will share a $1.05 million grant to fight hepatitis C infections spread by the opioid crisis.

Kentucky’s grant is part of a $5.3 million regional grant from Gilead Sciences, a for-profit biopharmaceutical company based in California. Organizations can use the money to provide new services or educate communities on ways to fight infection. Of more than 120 applicants, Gilead picked 44 projects to receive a grant.


LRC Public Information

The Kentucky Senate's top leader says he'll introduce a measure calling for an investigation into the state's $24 million settlement with the makers of the prescription painkiller OxyContin.

Senate President Robert Stivers said Tuesday he'll introduce the joint resolution — which carries the force of law — on the first day of the 2020 legislative session in January.

Stivers says Kentucky was "shortchanged" in the Purdue Pharma settlement. Former Attorney General Jack Conway settled the case in late 2015, a few days before he left office.

White House

Students line up single file behind teachers at West Elementary in Athens, Ohio, for. the walk downhill from the brick building to board buses or meet up with the person taking them home.

Some talk about their day, others run off to the playground and some discuss the latest Pokémon movie. A chant for the yellow, electric mouse Pikachu breaks out.

It’s a scene familiar to Tom Gibbs, the superintendent of the Athens City School District, who’s making sure these and the nearly 3,000 other students he watches over make it home safely.

TN photo services

States have been divided over whether Purdue Pharma should be allowed to use Chapter 11 protection as part of a $10 billion settlement. But Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery says the state needs that money now to address effects of the opioid crisis, like funding addiction treatment and buying overdose reversal drugs.

"It’s not just the traditional dollar settlement on a claim that could sit out there forever and ever," he tells WPLN. "This has some real, public health urgency to it."

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.

Public Domain

The Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled that Gov. Matt Bevin is allowed to reject contracts Attorney General Andy Beshear made with private law firms to sue drugmakers over their role in the state’s opioid epidemic.

Beshear’s office has sought assistance from several law firms as it sues drug manufacturers and distributors in nine different cases.

In a statement, Bevin celebrated the legal victory, accusing Beshear of trying to direct contracts to “his friends and campaign donors.”

Blake Farmer WPLN

Tennessee’s largest recipient of opioids from 2006 to 2012 wants a recount. A federal database found a pharmacy in Murfreesboro owned by state Sen. Shane Reeves sold 46 million pills over six years. But the company now believes that figure is way off.

TwelveStone Health Partners, which was known during the period as Reeves-Sain Extended Care, has done its own audit for the period covered by the database. The count came up with 2.5 million opioid pills — which is a fraction of the reported total.

Hugh Hill Photography

Kentucky has the third highest rate in the country for Medicaid prescriptions of buprenorphine, a drug that helps treat people with an addiction to opioids. 

study released last week by the Urban Institute shows that in 2018, Kentucky Medicaid enrollees filled 659,629 prescriptions for buprenorphine. That averages out to about 662 prescriptions per 1,000 enrollees ages 12 and older.

“Kentucky expanded Medicaid early on, which is likely a key reason that treatment using buprenorphine prescriptions is fairly high in Kentucky,” said Lisa Clemans-Cope, the study’s lead author.