Opioids

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The director of West Virginia’s new Office of Drug Control Policy starts his job on Tuesday, and he wants to get out into communities to see what they’re doing and to offer the state’s help in fighting the opioid epidemic.

Jim Johnson tells Charleston Gazette-Mail that one of his first priorities is to halt West Virginia’s rising death toll from prescription drugs.

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Millennials may be less likely to use opioids to manage chronic pain than older generations, a new nationwide survey has found.

One in five millennials who used opioids to manage pain say they regretted it.

Instead, millennials report preferring lifestyle changes to improve pain management such as exercising, eating right, quitting smoking and losing weight.

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The West Virginia Department of Health and Human resources announced it will use $22 million in settlement monies received from drug distributors to combat the drug epidemic in West Virginia. 

The money came from a suit that found defendant drug companies failed to detect, report and stop the flood of suspicious prescription drug orders into the state. The defendants denied any liability, but the parties agreed to the settlement to avoid litigation.

Opioid Emergency: What the Ohio Valley Needs to Combat Crisis

Aug 21, 2017
Rebecca Kiger

The opioid crisis gripping the Ohio Valley is now, according to President Donald Trump, a national emergency. But more than a week after the president made that announcement, state and local health officials in the region told the Ohio Valley ReSource that they have little information about what that emergency declaration actually means, or what additional tools it might provide.

Opioids, opioid, painkillers, perscription, narcotics, doctors
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Over $1 million in federal funding has been awarded to a project aimed at addressing the opioid crisis in West Virginia.

The project is based in southern West Virginia, and it’s spearheaded by West Virginia University. The goal is to develop comprehensive ways to prevent and treat the consequences of opioid abuse, such as overdose, HIV, hepatitis, and sexually transmitted diseases.

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President Donald Trump's Commission on the Opioid Crisis recently recommended that the president declare the opioid crisis a national public health emergency. The commission said that such a declaration could free up money to fight the epidemic.

Back in April, we aired a special report about the opioid epidemic here in Appalachia. So this week, we’re going to revisit that story to remember how some Appalachians became addicted, and what a battle for sobriety can be like.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the small town of Harpers Ferry in the Eastern Panhandle is often referred to as a gateway into West Virginia. It was a prominent place during the American Civil War-- the site of John Brown’s Raid. Today, it’s home to the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park as well as nearly 300 residents.

The park, along with the commercial area of the town, sees thousands of visitors each year from around the country and all over the world. In June, Harpers Ferry elected a new mayor –Wayne Bishop. Liz McCormick sat down with Bishop to hear how he plans to lead the iconic West Virginia town.

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A West Virginia city's lawsuit against a drug company has led to a dispute over which is at fault in the opioid epidemic.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported on Wednesday that one of the nation's largest drug wholesalers is attempting to dilute responsibility for the opioid crisis after Huntington filed a lawsuit against it.

Trump Ignores Call For Opioid Emergency: What It Means For The Ohio Valley

Aug 8, 2017
Rebecca Kiger

The Trump administration’s top health official backed away from a presidential commission’s proposal to declare a national public health emergency to address the opioid crisis. An emergency declaration could have big implications for the Ohio Valley, a region with some of the country’s highest addiction and overdose rates.

Data Fix: Cities Seek Better Information on Opioid Epidemic

Aug 5, 2017
J. Tyler Franklin

Paramedics and police are already in the hotel room when Kyle Simpson walks in.

“What happened?” he asks.

A 37-year-old man in the room is barely conscious--just revived by the overdose reversal medication NARCAN.

Perry Bennett West Virginia Legislative Photography

U.S. Congressman Evan Jenkins visited Thomas Memorial Hospital in South Charleston today to hold a roundtable with local experts about how best to address addiction and neonatal abstinence syndrome.

The roundtable was attended by about 20 health workers and community members, most of whom deal with addiction, including neonatal abstinence syndrome on an almost daily basis.

“The disease, yes disease of addiction is our most challenging public health and safety issue of our time,” Jenkins said during an opening statement.

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A new report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this month found a 264 percent increase in overdose deaths related to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, tramadol, and Demerol between 2012 and 2015.

Experts think the spike is likely related to illicitly manufactured drugs, particularly fentanyl, which is often cut with heroin or cocaine, rather than pharmaceutically manufactured synthetic opioids. Illegally manufactured fentanyl is often mixed with or sold as heroin. Fentanyl is 50-100 times more potent than morphine.


The Associated Press

Reddit is a modern day canary in the coal mine for the people of Appalachia — a region of the United States being disproportionately affected by the opioid epidemic.

Since the presidential election, Reddit’s r/opiates has transformed into a lifesaving map for people with addiction navigating a minefield frequently filled with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid nearly 100 times more potent than morphine.

Associated Press

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and fifteen other U.S. Senators sent a letter to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency yesterday urging them to further lower the amount of opioids manufacturers are allowed to produce in 2018.

The letter calls specifically for reducing opioid quotas, which are the legal amount of opioids drug companies are allowed to manufacture in the U.S.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, nationwide, West Virginia is known for its struggles with opioid abuse and growing rates of overdose deaths. In fact, the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2015, West Virginia had the highest overdose rate in the country per capita, or in proportion with the population.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, a week ago today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled President Donald Trump’s travel ban could take effect, temporarily limiting travel of some people from six countries in the middle east to the United States.  While the Trump Administration argues the travel ban is in the interest of national security, opponents argue its purpose is to discriminate against Muslim nations.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, as the opioid epidemic continues devastating lives throughout our region, health officials are reporting a spike in “second wave” epidemics, like hepatitis C. Kara Lofton reports that one way to combat the epidemic may be more needle exchange programs.

We also hear from independent producer Jean Snedegar, who brings us the next installment of our series on the timber industry. This time she focuses on timber procurement.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, established in November 2014, the Mayor’s Office of Drug Control Policy in Huntington has been paddling upstream, trying to make a dent in the on-going fight against drug addiction in the city. City officials hope a new, two-year strategic plan can continue to help them make a dent in the problem.

We also hear one more chapter in Mark Combs and Cameron Elias Williams’ Struggle to Stay story, for the time being.

The first hearing has been held in a lawsuit involving drug wholesale distributors accused of fueling West Virginia's heroin epidemic.

Tuesday in Charleston a legal team for several West Virginia counties argued damages are necessary for opioids' harmful impact on communities, alleging the firms breached their duty under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 to oversee suspicious orders of prescriptions entering the state over the past several years.

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A pharmaceuticals distributor has asked a federal judge to dismiss lawsuits filed by six West Virginia counties over the opioid crisis, arguing that they were filed too late and the matter was already addressed in a state suit.

Cardinal Health says the counties were on notice in 2012, when then-Attorney General Darrell McGraw sued the company, alleging it flooded the state with painkillers.

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