Opioids

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, Gov. Jim Justice called legislators back into session this week to fix laws passed during the regular legislative session. But addressing flaws in the state’s medical cannabis program wasn’t on the special session call. As Dave Mistich reports, Democrats are working outside the regular lawmaking process to fix the law anyway.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, researchers at Murray State University in Kentucky released a pair of studies that found illicit substances in some water sources in the region. One study profiled contamination in wastewater and river waters. The other estimated consumption rates during special events. Cory Sharber of  WKMS reports.

Officials from various drugmakers answer questions on Capitol Hill Tuesday, May 8, 2018.
Alex Brandon / Associated Press

Lawmakers of both parties accused wholesale pharmaceutical distributors on Tuesday of missing signs of suspicious activity that resulted in hundreds of millions of prescription opioid pills being shipped to West Virginia, a state disproportionately ravaged by deaths caused by the addictive drugs.

A few months ago, Kourtnaye Sturgeon helped save someone's life. She was driving in downtown Indianapolis when she saw people gathered around a car on the side of the road. Sturgeon pulled over and a man told her there was nothing she could do: Two men had overdosed on opioids and appeared to be dead.

"I kind of recall saying, 'No man, I've got Narcan,' " she says, referring to the brand- name version of the opioid overdose antidote, naloxone. "Which sounds so silly, but I'm pretty sure that's what came out."

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Senator Joe Manchin’s office released a report today that found in 2016, the economic cost of the opioid epidemic in West Virginia was more than 8.7 billion dollars.

Nationwide, the economic cost of the opioid crisis is more than 500 billion, according to a 2017 report from the Council for Economic Advisors.  The brief from Manchin’s office relied heavily on the CEA report to draw conclusions about the financial impact on West Virginia.

Prescriptions, Pills, Drugs, Prescription
U.S. Air Force

Drugmakers would be required to identify the legitimate need for controlled substances to justify their production under a proposed rule intended to rein in the diversion of drugs for illicit purposes.

The Drug Enforcement Administration announced the proposed rule change Tuesday.

Drugs, Drug abuse, Drug overdose, overdose
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Cabell County is leading West Virginia in the number of fatal overdoses for the second year in a row.

Citing state data, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reports 909 people died of drug overdoses in West Virginia in 2017, an increase from the previous record of 887, set in 2016. Overdose deaths seemed to slow during late 2017, though the state Health Statistics Center says that could be due to reporting delays.

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More than 40 people were arrested in Huntington this week on drug and gun charges in a sweeping joint investigation targeting accused interstate drug traffickers in what officials called a "turning point" for the city -- and "in the war against the opiate nightmare." 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, Kentucky ranks in the top five highest number of drug overdoses in the country. It also has one of the highest of Hepatitis C, and while HIV/AIDS cases are declining the U.S., Kentucky holds steady with new cases. Much of this can be traced back to people who use IV drugs, using needles or syringes to inject opioids.

Leah Hill, a behavioral health fellow with the Baltimore City Health Department, displays a sample of Narcan nasal spray in Baltimore.
Patrick Semansky / Associated Press file photo

On a Baltimore street corner, public health workers hand out a life-saving overdose antidote to residents painfully familiar with the ravages of America’s opioid epidemic. But the training wraps up quickly; all the naloxone inhalers are claimed within 20 minutes.

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Health officials said the rate of babies born dependent on drugs has increased dramatically in West Virginia during the past five years.

In releasing county-level data for about half the state Wednesday, the Department of Health and Human Resources said in a news release that the statewide rate for neonatal abstinence syndrome, or NAS, was 50.6 per 1,000 live births last year.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, a vacant hotel in Williamson, Mingo County, is set to open as a sober-living facility, run by the county’s housing authority. As Molly Born reports, the complex is likely to be a controversial addition to the southern West Virginia town hit hard by the opioid epidemic.

Our Take A Number series is looking at problems around the world — and people trying to solve them — through the lens of a single number.

In Huntington, W.Va., the number is 10. As in, the rate of babies born with a drug dependency there is 10 times the national average.

It's a number that shows the magnitude of the opioid crisis in this blue collar city. It's also one of the numbers that has prompted two very different people in this community to say, "Enough."

Hydrocodone pills
Toby Talbot / AP

West Virginia’s governor has signed legislation to limit opioid prescriptions that doctors can prescribe to treat acute pain.

Gov. Jim Justice on Tuesday signed the bill that would limit such prescriptions to supplies lasting three, four or seven days, depending on who writes them.

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Dr. Michael Brumage resigned today as director of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ Office of Drug Control Policy after less than two months on the job.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, President Donald Trump’s call to implement the death penalty for drug traffickers grabbed headlines Monday. But public health officials are stressing other elements of the administration’s plan to address the opioid crisis. Aaron Payne spoke with the acting director of the Centers for Disease Control about plans for the Ohio Valley.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

“We have a problem that’s bringing us to our knees,” said West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Cabinet Secretary Bill Crouch at a press event in Charleston. A representative from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration visited West Virginia Monday to announce an additional $330,000 of funding for opioid abuse prevention and treatment.

“The opioid problem and substance abuse problem affects virtually every family in West Virginia,” he continued.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we explore attempts to finding solutions to the region’s opioid epidemic, and we hear a story from the Ohio Valley ReSource on the potential impacts of tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, West Virginia Public Broadcasting is partnering with the Concord University’s Social Work and Sociology Department for the second annual Opioid Symposium and Job Fair.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk from Marine One towards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Monday, March 19, 2018.
Susan Walsh / Associated Press

President Donald Trump’s plan to combat opioid drug addiction calls for stiffer penalties for drug traffickers, including the death penalty where appropriate under current law, a top administration official said. It’s a fate for drug dealers that Trump has been highlighting publicly in recent weeks.

Opioids, opioid, painkillers, perscription, narcotics, doctors, narcotics
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Two West Virginia counties have joined numerous others in suing pharmaceutical companies, drugstores and the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy over the state's opioid crisis.

West Virginia Recorded 872 Overdoses in 2017

Mar 9, 2018
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West Virginia’s death toll from drug overdoses has improved slightly, with 872 deaths last year.

The state hit a grim record in 2016 of 887 fatal overdoses, or 52 per 100,000 residents, the highest drug-related death toll in the nation.

The opioid epidemic has hit Huntington, W.Va., very hard, with an overdose rate 10 times the national average.

Documentary filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon chose Huntington as the setting for her short doc about America's opioid crisis, Heroin(e). It's now nominated for an Oscar.

On The Legislature Today, thousands of teachers and state workers again showed-up at the Capitol to protest low salaries and rising health care costs, as their work stoppage entered a third school day – tomorrow will be the fourth. We bring you the latest on the work stoppage. Also, in this episode, we look at a variety of health-related legislation and chat with Sen. Tom Takubo, R-Kanawha and Sen. Ron Stollings, D-Boone.

Pills, Drugs, Prescriptions, prescription drugs
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The West Virginia Attorney General's office is sponsoring a contest among schoolchildren to promote awareness of prescription painkiller abuse.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says in a news release that the "Kids Kick Opioids" contest is open to elementary and middle school students. It can include poems, drawings, letters or anything that promotes awareness of painkiller abuse.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, The Legislature Today Executive Producer Suzanne Higgins speaks with the director of the Oscar-nominated film Heroin(e) and two women featured in it. We bring you an excerpt with one of those women: Patricia Keller, family court and former longtime drug court judge, who discusses the work she’s doing in Huntington to fight the opioid epidemic.

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West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, The Legislature Today host Andrea Lannom speaks with Delegate Mick Bates, of Raleigh County. He's minority vice chairman of the House Finance Committee. Bates talks about a potential teachers’ strike and the debate at the statehouse over teacher pay and PEIA issues.

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West Virginia’s drug epidemic may be leading to increases in what’s called “familial sex trafficking.” Family members trading sex with a child in their family for drugs or money. But spotting the problem and prosecuting the offenders is very difficult.  

That’s because all forms of human trafficking, whether for labor or sex, are severely underreported in West Virginia, according to homeland security agent Brian Morris. Morris co-chairs a state task force that’s trying to figure out how common human trafficking is.