opioid epidemic | WOSU Radio

opioid epidemic

Faced with a flood of addicted inmates and challenged by lawsuits, America's county jails are struggling to adjust to an opioid health crisis that has turned many of the jails into their area's largest drug treatment centers.

In an effort to get a handle on the problem, more jails are adding some form of medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, to help inmates safely detox from opioids and stay clean behind bars and after release.

A major pharmaceutical distribution company and two of its former executives are facing criminal charges for their roles in advancing the nation's opioid crisis and profiting from it.

Federal officials are charging 60 defendants across five states in what they're calling the largest opioid prescriber takedown ever. These are the first arrests announced since an opioid strike force began late last year.

Updated at 11:25 a.m. ET

Federal prosecutors are charging 60 doctors, pharmacists, medical professionals and others in connection with alleged opioid pushing and health care fraud, the Justice Department said Wednesday.

The charges came less than four months after the Justice Department dispatched experienced fraud prosecutors across hard-hit regions in Appalachia.

A new report out of the Ohio Substance Abuse Monitoring (OSAM) Network finds that while opioid prescriptions are falling throughout Ohio, methamphetamine remains widely available in the state. In the Cleveland area, powdered cocaine and meth are becoming more available, and the number of clients entering treatment for meth use increased.

Naloxone is an antidote that can help reverse drug overdoses.
John Minchillo / Associated Press

Despite the expanded availability of an overdose antidote, Ohio still has one of the highest rates of opioid overdose deaths in the country.

But what happens to someone after they overdose and survive? A new research project from Miami University seeks to answer just that question.

J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and a bipartisan group of Senators want sanctions on the table to ensure the China adequately regulates fentanyl. The Chinese government agreed earlier this week to classify fentanyl and its variants as controlled substances.

China has announced that all variants of fentanyl will be treated as controlled substances, after Washington urged Beijing to stop fueling the opioid epidemic in the United States.

Authorities in China already regulate 25 variants of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid linked to thousands of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. But some manufacturers in China, seeking to evade controls, have introduced slight changes to the molecular structure of their drugs, giving them the legal loophole to manufacture and export before the government can assess the products for safety and medical use.

OxyContin pills are arranged for a photo at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vermont.
Toby Talbot / AP

As the nation's opioid crisis has devastated thousands of families, it also has taken a crippling financial toll on cities, small towns and counties in Ohio and around the country.

fentanyl
Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) recently re-introduced the POWER Act to equip law enforcement officials with screening devices to detect fentanyl.

A nationwide report released Tuesday looks at how federal dollars are being spent on the opioid epidemic. The study from the Bipartisan Policy Center drills down on five states in particular, including Ohio, where federal spending increased from $10 per person in 2017 to $19 last year.

Portsmouth Stealth is the subject of a new documentary called "'Til The Wheels Fall Off."
Portsmouth Stealth

The owner of a Portsmouth football team is finding his own way to bring hope to an area hit hard by Ohio's opioid epidemic.

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that a former U.S. Attorney in Northeast Ohio cannot defend a drug company against lawsuits brought by Cleveland and Cuyahoga County over the opioid crisis.

Carole Rendon joined law firm BakerHostetler after the Trump Administration asked her to resign as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio in 2017. She’s been defending Endo Pharmaceuticals in a massive group of lawsuits brought by local governments against drug companies.

In the wake of the opioid crisis, a pilot program in Cincinnati is designed to fill another gap in addiction treatment. In the Safe Places Cincy project, anyone seeking help for addiction can ask for help at a city health center and get a ride to one of three treatment programs.

Experts often blame illicit fentanyl for skyrocketing overdose deaths among illegal drug users. Now a series of deaths at an Ohio hospital is raising questions about oversight in prescribing pharmaceutical fentanyl.

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