As Washington dawdles, the States step in on the opioid crisis, with initiatives and lawyers

“It has to be both law enforcement and health, we have to do more of everything because of the crisis that we’re in,” said Baum, acting director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy…
“We need to draw a distinction between people who are basically engaged in drug use, drug possession, and people who are traffickers and significant dealers and violent criminals,” Baum said.
“They’re different people,” he said. “People that are drug traffickers deserve a significant penalty for their crime, they’re threatening the health and safety of our citizens. People that are drug users have an addiction problem, a substance abuse disorder, and I really want to get them into treatment.”” (A)

“More than 140 Americans die from a drug overdose every day – that’s more than from gun homicides and car crashes combined. Most of these deaths are due to prescription painkillers, heroin and other opioids. The opioid crisis in our country is severe enough that yesterday President Donald Trump signaled his intention to declare it a national emergency.
Hospitals and health systems serve on the front lines in this crisis every day. We’re using many strategies to help: implementing standard protocols for prescribing opioids; promoting state prescription drug monitoring programs; and encouraging alternative pain-management strategies, for instance. And because we can’t solve this problem alone, we’re also partnering with schools, state and local health departments, law enforcement, pharmacies, treatment and prevention programs, and other community stakeholders in this fight.” (B)

“Deaths associated with opioid overdoses in hospital intensive care units nearly doubled over a seven-year period from 2009 and 2015, and the costs of treating overdose victims in the ICU has skyrocketed, researchers report.
The average cost of caring for an opioid overdose patient in the ICU increased by 58% from $58,500 to $92,400, according to a retrospective analysis of hospital billing records from 162 hospitals in 44 states.
Admissions to ICUs linked to opioid overdoses increased by 34% at the hospitals from January of 2009 to September 2015, according to the analysis appearing online in Annals of the American Thoracic Society.” (C)

“Allegheny Health Network (AHN), a Highmark Health company, announced today the establishment of a new, comprehensive program designed to help patients with opioid-related substance use disorders receive the health and community-based care and support they need to recover from their illness and maintain long-term wellness….
Patients identified as having an opioid use disorder and requesting treatment are referred to a half-day clinic at the primary care office where they are introduced to treatment options including Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) and outpatient therapy. MAT combines medication to reduce urges and withdrawal symptoms with on-site behavioral health therapy. Further, patients can be connected with various community-based resources to address social issues such as employment and housing. For patients who are in need of higher levels of treatment, referrals are made to inpatient, residential or intensive outpatient programs.
“Many of the patients we see with addiction to opioids often have underlying issues related to their behavioral and/or physical health,” ….. “It’s about surrounding the person with a range of services and resources, which address all of their challenges, to give them the very best chance at overcoming their addiction.” “(D)

 

Maryland, Massachusetts, Arizona, Florida, Minnesota, NYC, Pennsylvania, West Virginia
http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/08/11/542836709/from-alaska-to-florida-states-respond-to-opioid-crisis-with-emergency-declaratio
http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Minnesota-to-work-on-online-tool-to-help-in-11815825.php
http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/americas-heroin-epidemic/fentanyl-nyc-how-officials-are-battling-opioid-crisis-trump-s-n791786
http://local21news.com/news/local/pennsylvanian-prescription-drug-monitoring-program-helps-combat-opioid-crisis
http://www.businessinsider.com/west-virginias-solution-to-the-opioid-crisis-2016-4

“Maine Attorney General Janet Mills says she’s taking part in a multistate investigation into the role of the nation’s drug companies may have played in creating the opioid crisis.
Mills says more Mainers have died from prescription opioids since 2010 than from illicitly obtained opioids. She says there is no doubt that these highly addictive pain medications have been overprescribed in Maine — and she says several states are cooperating in the probe.
“Certain manufacturers have misled the public, and misled health care providers for 20-something years now, and caused a surge in pharmaceutical prescriptions of opioids that have devastated people’s lives,” she says.” (E)

“That is straight out of the opioid manufacturers’ playbook. Facing a raft of lawsuits and a threat to their profits, pharmaceutical companies are pushing the line that the epidemic stems not from the wholesale prescribing of powerful painkillers – essentially heroin in pill form – but their misuse by some of those who then become addicted.
In court filings, drug companies are smearing the estimated two million people hooked on their products as criminals to blame for their own addiction. Some of those in its grip break the law by buying drugs on the black market or switch to heroin. But too often that addiction began by following the advice of a doctor who, in turn, was following the drug manufacturer’s instructions….
But as the president’s own commission noted, this is not an epidemic caused by those caught in its grasp. “We have an enormous problem that is often not beginning on street corners; it is starting in doctor’s offices and hospitals in every state in our nation,” it said.” (F)

“Cardinal Health filed the notice in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, naming more than 1,900 businesses as “wholly or partially” at fault for diverting opioid analgesics for illegal use, including dozens of pharmacies, hundreds of physicians, and several mail-in pharmacies.” (G)

 

(A) Opioid crisis: Trump’s drug czar vows to take on doctors and dealers, help addicts, by Elizabeth Llorente, http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/08/11/opioid-crisis-trumps-drug-czar-vows-to-take-on-doctors-and-dealers-help-addicts.html
(B) Hospitals Innovate New Strategies to Fight Opioid Crisis, by Rick Pollack, http://blog.aha.org/post/170811-hospitals-innovate-new-strategies-to-fight-opioid-crisis-
(C) Opioid Overdose ICU Admissions Increasing, by Salynn Boyles, https://www.medpagetoday.com/psychiatry/addictions/67240
(D) Allegheny Health Network Establishes Center of Excellence to Address Opioid Crisis, https://www.ahn.org/news/8-15-2017/allegheny-health-network-establishes-center-excellence-to-address-opioid-crisis
(E) Maine Joins Probe of Drug Companies’ Role in Opioid Crisis, by By MAL LEARY, http://mainepublic.org/post/maine-joins-probe-drug-companies-role-opioid-crisis#stream/0
(F) Don’t blame addicts for America’s opioid crisis. Here are the real culprits, by Chris McGreal, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/13/dont-blame-addicts-for-americas-opioid-crisis-real-culprits
(G) Drug wholesaler cites rehab clinics, pharmacies for possible fault for opioid crisis, http://www.pharmacist.com/article/drug-wholesaler-cites-rehab-clinics-pharmacies-possible-fault-opioid-crisis

 

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