opioid epidemic | WOSU Radio

opioid epidemic

Florida is suing pharmacy chains Walgreens and CVS over their role in what the state calls "unconscionable efforts to increase the demand and supply of opioids into Florida."

State Attorney General Pam Bondi's office announced Friday that it had added the two companies to a lawsuit filed in May against opioid distributors and manufacturers — including OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma, Percocet-maker Endo Pharmaceuticals and Teva Pharmaceutical, which is one of the world's largest generic-drug manufacturers.

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

Overdose deaths are down in Summit County since a public health emergency was declared one year ago.

Ohio Statehouse Legislative Chamber
Bob Hall / Flickr

This week, Ohio lawmakers are returning for a lame-duck session, with hearings set on a so-called "right to work" bill and a Republican-backed bill on free speech on college campuses.

Ohio's bio science organization, Bio Ohio, will showcase technology Wednesday that area researchers are developing to combat the opioid crisis.

Gabe Rosenberg / WOSU

Even beyond the failed Issue 1, the impact of the opioid crisis was all over Ohio ballots on Tuesday – from candidates with proposed opioid solutions to county levies for strained children services departments.

New Hampshire State Forensic Lab

For the third time in four years, Ohio voters soundly rejected a constitutional amendment that cost supporters millions to put on the ballot. Issue 1, the drug sentencing ballot proposal, was defeated by a 2-to-1 ratio.

Marijuana plants
Jim Mone / AP

An Ohio physician and medial professor believes medical cannabis should be used to treat opioid addiction in a state that saw a record number of overdose deaths last year.

Statehouse News Bureau

Republican Dave Yost and Democrat Steve Dettelbach are both attorneys, and they both have a way with words, peppering their comments with colorful phrases like “that’s just horsefeathers” and “malarkey.” 

Alex Brandon / Associated Press

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced Friday the creation of a new task force in Cleveland aimed at taking down drug trafficking and violent crime.

Wikimedia Commons

A new report from a group of Ohio researchers documents an explosion in the number of overdose deaths involving methamphetamines and amphetamines.

Rural Americans can take a dim view of outsiders from Washington, D.C., (or even from the state capital) meddling in their communities.

Ronald Reagan summed up the feeling when he was president: "I've always felt the nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government, and I'm here to help.' "

But rural Americans have come across scarier phrases since then, like "the opioid epidemic."

With the nation reeling from an epidemic of drug overdose deaths, President Trump signed legislation Wednesday that is aimed at helping people overcome addiction and preventing addictions before they start.

"Together we are going to end the scourge of drug addiction in America," Trump said at a White House event celebrating the signing. "We are going to end it or we are going to at least make an extremely big dent in this terrible, terrible problem."

The opioid legislation was a rarity for this Congress, getting overwhelming bipartisan support in both chambers.

Larrecsa Cox is a paramedic, but instead of an ambulance with flashing lights and sirens, she drives around in an old, white sedan.

Her first call on a recent day in Huntington, W.Va, was to a quiet, middle-class neighborhood.

"He overdosed yesterday," Cox says. "And I think we've been here before. I'm almost 100 percent sure we've been to this house before."

Cox is the only full-time member of Huntington's new quick-response team — a collaborative project involving law enforcement, the county's medical first responders and several drug treatment providers.

Rep. Rick Perales (R-Beavercreek) holds up a counterfeit bill to prove how realistic the fake money can look. His legislation, signed into law by Gov. John Kasich, makes counterfeiting illegal on the state level.
Andy Chow / Ohio Public Radio

Gov. John Kasich has signed a bill into law making counterfeiting illegal in Ohio. The use of fake money is a federal crime, but it was never outlawed on the state level until now.

Lawmakers see this as another tool in the fight against the opioid epidemic.

Updated at 4:37 p.m. ET

The American opioid crisis is far from over, but early data indicate the number of deaths are beginning to level off, according to Alex Azar, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, citing "encouraging" results in overdose trends.

In a speech on Tuesday at a Milken Institute health summit, Azar walked through statistics suggesting deaths were plateauing and he highlighted efforts he says may be turning the tide in the drug epidemic.

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