opioid crisis

Before Philadelphia shut down to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Ed had a routine: most mornings he would head to a nearby McDonald's to brush his teeth, wash his face and — when he had the money — buy a cup of coffee. He would bounce between homeless shelters and try to get a shower. But since businesses closed and many shelters stopped taking new admissions, Ed has been mostly shut off from that routine.

As the country went into quarantine in March, many of Joseph DeSanto's opioid-addicted patients in Orange County, Calif., told him their supply was drying up because drug dealers in the area were worried about a border shutdown and were retreating to their hometowns in Mexico.

"So we lost a lot of our larger dealers that supplied the smaller dealers," says DeSanto, an addiction specialist.

Opioid addiction isn't taking a break during the coronavirus pandemic.

But the U.S. response to the viral crisis is making addiction treatment easier to get.

Courtesy of Andrea Lieberman

Asher Lieberman has been obsessed with diseases since he was little.

Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

Former billionaire and pharmaceutical executive John Kapoor has been sentenced to five years and six months in prison. His sentencing is the culmination of a months-long criminal trial in Boston's Moakley U.S. Courthouse that resulted in the first successful prosecution of pharmaceutical executives tied to the opioid epidemic.

Daylina Miller / WUSF Public Media

Florida schools could soon come equipped with the drug that reverses heroin overdoses.

In a high profile opioid case, a federal judge has overturned, in part, convictions against executives at Insys Therapeutics, the maker of a liquid fentanyl painkiller called Subsys. U.S. District Court Judge Allison Burroughs in Boston ruled that prosecutors failed to prove that Insys violated the Controlled Substances Act.

The convictions for wire and mail fraud handed down in May against Insys Therapeutics founder John Kapoor and former executives Michael Gurry, Richard Simon, Sunrise Lee and Joseph Rowan, still stand.

Joey Flechas / Miami Herald

Miami-Dade County Public Schools is opening a new front in the war against opioids, with a board member actively recruiting other urban school systems to join the district's pending lawsuit over the effects of addictive pain medications on students and staff.

From medical professionals to law enforcement to recovering addicts, the opioid crisis has affected people from all walks of life.

At a University of South Florida symposium Wednesday, experts said it will take them all working together to end the opioid crisis.

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.

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.

A Virginia doctor received a 40-year prison sentence on Wednesday for illegally prescribing more than half a million doses of oxycodone, hydromorphone, fentanyl and other opioids to patients for years.

Authorities say Dr. Joel Smithers operated a "pill mill" out of Martinsville, Va., located about 15 miles north of the Virginia-North Carolina border and about 175 miles southwest of Richmond.

C.M. Guerrero / Miami Herald

The Miami-Dade County School Board has filed a federal lawsuit against more than a dozen corporations that manufacture or distribute opioids, claiming that the nation’s fourth largest school district should be compensated for the money it has spent battling the “worst man-made epidemic in modern medical history.”

Purdue Pharma, facing a mountain of litigation linked to the opioid epidemic, filed for bankruptcy in New York this week. The OxyContin manufacturer and its owners, the Sackler family, have offered to pay billions of dollars to cities and counties hit hard by the addiction crisis.

But that's not good enough for critics such as U.S. Rep. Max Rose.

Meghan McCarthy / Palm Beach Post

The Sackler family, owner of OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma, is behind the recent $6.8 million purchase of a rehabbed downtown West Palm Beach office building, the Palm Beach Post has learned.

The July 31 purchase of the Glidden Spina + Partners building for a Sackler family office took place less than two months before Purdue Pharma filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, in a bid to resolve 2,600 opioid lawsuits pending against the company.

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