Opioids

The percentage of outpatient medical visits that led to a benzodiazepine prescription doubled from 2003 to 2015, according to a study published Friday. And about half those prescriptions came from primary care physicians.

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Palm Beach County has been the epicenter of the opioid crisis in Florida. But data from the county’s state attorney office shows opioid deaths decreased 41 percent from 2017 to 2018.

County By County, Researchers Link Opioid Deaths To Drugmakers’ Marketing

Jan 21, 2019
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Researchers sketched a vivid line Friday linking the dollars spent by drugmakers to woo doctors around the country to a vast opioid epidemic that has led to tens of thousands of deaths.

The study, published in JAMA Network Open, looked at county-specific federal data and found that the more opioid-related marketing dollars were spent in a county, the higher the rates of doctors who prescribed those drugs and, ultimately, the more overdose deaths occurred in that county.

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A law that went into effect last July requires medical providers to check a statewide database before prescribing opioids for patients. Now, lawmakers are being asked to consider an exemption for doctors whose patients are terminally ill.

For the first time in U.S. history, a leading cause of deaths — vehicle crashes — has been surpassed in likelihood by opioid overdoses, according to a new report on preventable deaths from the National Safety Council.

Americans now have a 1 in 96 chance of dying from an opioid overdose, according to the council's analysis of 2017 data on accidental death. The probability of dying in a motor vehicle crash is 1 in 103.

Opioid-Makers Face Wave of Lawsuits in 2019

Dec 31, 2018

The next 12 months might just redefine the way America thinks about and responds to the opioid epidemic that now claims more than 40,000 lives each year. The nation's biggest drugmakers and distributors face a wave of civil lawsuits that could total tens of billions of dollars in damages.

In Pennsylvania, People Lined Up For Free Naloxone

Dec 14, 2018

David Braithwaite was standing next to his pickup truck Thursday in a parking lot outside the Cumberland County health center in Carlisle, Pa.

He's a chaplain for Carlisle Truck Stop Ministry. His hat even says it.

Braithwaite said he and another chaplain minister to truck drivers, homeless people and anyone else who needs help at the truck stop seven days a week.

Larrecsa Cox is a paramedic, but instead of an ambulance with flashing lights and sirens, she drives around in an old, white sedan.

Her first call on a recent day in Huntington, W.Va, was to a quiet, middle-class neighborhood.

"He overdosed yesterday," Cox says. "And I think we've been here before. I'm almost 100 percent sure we've been to this house before."

Cox is the only full-time member of Huntington's new quick-response team — a collaborative project involving law enforcement, the county's medical first responders and several drug treatment providers.

Senator Bill Nelson called renewed efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act quote “irresponsible.” Nelson was speaking at an addiction treatment center in Orlando today.

Six months after hiring former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani’s consulting firm, Purdue Pharma settled a Florida state investigation that had threatened to expose early illegal marketing of its blockbuster drug OxyContin, company and state records show.

Learning disabilities and other special education needs are common in children born with opioid-related symptoms from their mother's drug use while pregnant, according to the first big U.S. study to examine potential long-term problems in these infants.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams made a plea in April for more Americans to be prepared to administer naloxone, an opioid antidote, in case they or people close to them suffer an overdose.

"The call to action is to recognize if you're at risk," Adams told NPR's Rachel Martin. "And if you or a loved one are at risk, keep within reach, know how to use naloxone."

The law that took effect July 1 limits prescriptions of opioids for acute pain to three days, although a seven day supply can be prescribed under certain conditions. 

Peter Haden / WLRN News

Ten years ago, before the financial crisis hit the state, there were 579 publicly funded beds for substance abuse treatment in Palm Beach County. Today there are around 179, and in the coming days that number will go down even further, according to Alton Taylor, the executive director of the Drug Abuse Foundation in Delray Beach, the county's largest provider of publicly funded substance abuse treatment beds.

Riane Roldan / WLRN News

The South Florida United States Attorney’s Office announced 124 charges against South Florida doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals on Thursday as part of what authorities are calling the largest nationwide takedown on health care fraud and those fueling the opioid crisis.

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