opioid epidemic | WOSU Radio

opioid epidemic

Drug Companies Ask Judge To Dismiss Ohio's Opioid Lawsuit

Sep 12, 2017
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is expected to start his campaign for Ohio Governor soon after announcing his bid earlier this year.
KAREN KASLER / Ohio Public Radio

Five drugmakers are asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Ohio attorney general that alleges they helped perpetrate the state's addictions epidemic.

Jonathan Guffey has chiseled youthful looks and, at 32, does not have the haggard bearing of someone who has spent more than half his life hooked on opioids. That stint with the drug started at 15 and ended — he says for good — 22 months ago. He has a job working with his family in construction, but his work history is pockmarked by addiction.

"I've worked in a couple of factories for a short amount of time, probably just long enough to get the first check to get high off of," Guffey says.

Amanda Rabinowitz / WKSU

Tugg Massa is one of the Ohioans who headed to Houston this week to help clean up after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. But this Akronite’s reason for the trip is tied as much to another crisis – the nation’s addiction crisis. 

Driving down the main commercial artery in Muncie, Ind., it seems the job market is doing well. The local unemployment rate stands at 3.8 percent, and there are hiring signs posted outside the McDonald's, a pizza joint and at stop lights.

Around 2007 — the last time the market was so tight — job applicants came streaming through the offices of Express Employment Professionals, a staffing agency that screens and places about 120 workers a month, mostly at the local manufacturing firms.

New limits on prescription painkillers took effect yesterday. And the state says prescription opioid deaths are down from a peak in 2011, and the number of heroin deaths last year was the same as in 2015. But now, deaths from illicit drugs such as cocaine and meth have spiked. 

Ohio’s overdose deaths increased by a third last year to 4,050, meaning that on average, 11 Ohioans are dying each day from overdoses. According to the numbers released today by the Ohio Department of Health, more than half of those deaths involved synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

Gov. John Kasich rolls out official prescription drug rules for acute pain at the Ohio Statehouse.
Andy Chow / Ohio Public Radio

Ohio health officials said on Wednesday that more than 4,000 people died from drug overdoses in Ohio in 2016. That death toll was up by 33 percent over the previous year.

As Gov. John Kasich rolls out more ways to crack down on painkiller prescriptions, critics believe there’s an obvious resource that’s not being utilized in the opioid crisis.

Each year, more than 300 patients with chronic pain take part in a three-week program at the Pain Rehabilitation Center at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Their complaints range widely, from specific problems such as intractable lower-back pain to systemic issues such as fibromyalgia. By the time patients enroll, many have tried just about everything to get their chronic pain under control. Half are taking opioids.

The maker of Narcan is making a research grant to Hamilton County that will provide nearly $2 million worth of the overdose antidote to combat the local heroin crisis.

prescription medicine bottles
David Kessler / Flickr Creative Commons

Medical professionals who help people dealing with chronic pain are gathering in Cincinnati this weekend. It will be the first meeting of the Ohio Society of Interventional Pain Physicians.

father and son holding hands
Olichel / Pixabay

The number of children in Ohio who are placed in foster care continues to increase as the opioid crisis worsens. State officials say that's led to a shortage of foster parents.

A bipartisan coalition of mayors from 30 Ohio cities are asking Gov. John Kasich to take a major step in fighting opioids. They want an emergency-level statewide clearinghouse to monitor the opioid crisis.

tpsdave/Pixabay

An organization representing Ohio big-city mayors wants Republican Gov. John Kasich to establish an emergency operations center to coordinate the state's response to the opioid crisis.

On a cold morning last winter, Christopher Hinds says he woke up early, sick from withdrawal. He called a friend and they trekked across a highway, walking for more than two miles through the snow on a street without sidewalks to buy heroin. 

“You don’t think about nothing but getting it when you’re sick like that,” he says. 

ideastream

Franklin County has a new Opioid Czar: Amy O’Grady. O’Grady started last week as a senior policy analyst for the Columbus City Council, and will oversee the county’s efforts to combat the opiate epidemic.

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