opioid epidemic

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

Dispensing rates for the opioid overdose-reversal drug naloxone increased by 2,328% after a 2015 Ohio law went into effect that allowed pharmacists to give the drug without a prescription.

Gov. Mike DeWine signs the executive order creating the Ohio Narcotics Intelligence Center on July 31, 2019.
Olivia Miltner / WOSU

Gov. Mike Dewine is directing more than $2 million of grant funding into local drug task forces. 

For the first time since 2014, death rates in the U.S. declined and life expectancy showed a modest uptick, according to new data released in two reports Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Life expectancy at birth in 2018 was 78.7 years, 0.1 year longer than the previous year.

Summit County Council has approved spending $104 million in opioid settlement funds, but a committee that will determine how to use the money won't be fully formed until the spring. So it sits, unspent.

Greta Johnson, assistant chief of staff to County Executive Ilene Shapiro, said federal Judge Dan Polster has made it clear this should be spent more responsibly than tobacco settlement money from the 1990s.

Preliminary results show the Hamilton County Quick Response Teams (QRTs) have tried to reach nearly 800 people with drug addictions since the program started in April 2018.

Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

Former billionaire and pharmaceutical executive John Kapoor has been sentenced to five years and six months in prison. His sentencing is the culmination of a months-long criminal trial in Boston's Moakley U.S. Courthouse that resulted in the first successful prosecution of pharmaceutical executives tied to the opioid epidemic.

A city worker walks past vacant houses in the Hilltop neighborhood.
Paige Pfleger / WOSU

Columbus has released a comprehensive plan for the Hilltop neighborhood. The nearly 200-page document lays out the history of the area, recent data on everything from employment to schools and housing to crime, and a 27-point plan for its future. 

fentanyl
Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press

Deadly drug overdoses in Ohio fell nearly 22% in 2018, to the lowest number in three years. Overdose deaths also dropped in every category of drugs except one.

Ohio U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown
J. Scott Applewhite / AP

While lawmakers from both parties battle over politics, there is some movement on bipartisan efforts to fight the deadly drug fentanyl in Congress.

Americans know the dangers of drugs such as morphine and heroin. But what about a supplement that acts in the brain a bit like an opiate and is available in many places to kids — even from vending machines.

Kratom, an herb that's abundant, legal in most states and potentially dangerous, is the subject of an ongoing debate over its risks and benefits.

In this May 30, 2019, file photo, a CVS store with the new HealthHUB is shown in Spring, Texas.
David J. Phillips / AP

A series of pharmacy chains argued in federal court that doctors and other health care practitioners who write prescriptions bear ultimate responsibility for improper distribution of opioids to patients, rather than the pharmacists who are obliged to fill those prescriptions.

fentanyl
Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press

The Franklin County Coroner’s Office says the number of fatal overdoses during the first nine months of 2019 grew from the same period the year before.

India Hardy has lived with pain since she was a toddler — from dull persistent aches to acute flare-ups that interrupt the flow of her normal life.

The pain is from sickle cell disease, a group of genetic conditions that affect about 100,000 people in the U.S., many of them of African or Hispanic descent.

Sitting in the afternoon heat on her mom's porch in Athens, Ga., Hardy remembers how a recent "crisis" derailed her normal morning routine.

Legal battles over the opioid crisis will carry on into 2020, as several more cases begin to move toward trial in federal courts around the country.

After overseeing thousands of opioid lawsuits from his Cleveland courtroom for the past two years, U.S. District Judge Dan Polster has begun sending cases to other federal judges. Polster has recommended that suits brought by the Cherokee Nation, city of Chicago and San Francisco be moved to federal courts in Oklahoma, Illinois and California.

The Ohio River Valley has seen some of the largest jumps in mortality rates among people in midlife — those between ages 25 and 64 — in recent years.

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