Opioid

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An initiative to combat the rise of hepatitis C infections has launched in West Virginia.

News outlets report a five-year program called HepConnect launched Wednesday at West Virginia University. It was created by California-based biotech company Gilead Sciences.

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Three WVU researchers surveyed more than 2200 teachers in 49 counties on how the opioid crisis has impacted classrooms.

Aaron Payne

Sue Meeks has worked with children for years as a registered nurse.

Meeks manages the family navigator program at Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine in Athens, Ohio.

Several years ago, she started noticing three and four-year-olds coming into the program with certain distinctive behaviors.

Republicans and Democrats are joining forces to speed legislation combating the misuse of opioids and other addictive drugs. It's expected to pass through the U.S. Senate without issue and would be a rare show of unity against a growing and deadly health-care crisis.

Larry Dowling

To most folks overnight shift work would be exhausting, and the stress of paying bills at times overwhelming. But to talk to Kelly Strickler of Huntington, WV, who clocks in at a local bakery at 11pm and clocks out at 7am, you’d think she won the lottery.

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Legislators grilled representatives from five major opioid distributors Tuesday on how painkillers flooded West Virginia under their watch.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing came as part of an investigation into why Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, McKesson, Miami-Luken and H.D. Smith failed to report suspiciously large orders of opioid painkillers at the beginning of the addiction crisis.

Hydrocodone pills
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A West Virginia doctor has pleaded guilty to a money laundering charge related to pain pills he prescribed.

Prosecutors say 64-year-old Dr. John Pellegrini of Huntington entered the plea Thursday in federal court in Beckley.

ARC and NORC at Univ. of Chicago

President Donald Trump’s call to implement the death penalty for drug traffickers grabbed headlines Monday. But public health officials within the Trump administration are stressing other elements of the president’s plan to address the opioid crisis.

Acting Director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Anne Schuchat, outlined her agency’s plans for the Ohio Valley, which has some of the nation’s highest rates of addiction and overdose deaths.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Lawmakers discussed several bills around opioid abuse and prevention this session, including the Opioid Reduction Act and have re-examined the state's medical marijuana law. Michael Brumage is the new director of the WV office of Drug Control Policy. Health reporter Kara Lofton talked to him last week about the role his office plays in implementing legislative policy. 


Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Ohio Valley’s numbers on the opioid crisis are grim, especially so in West Virginia, which has the nation’s highest rate of overdose deaths.

But those numbers could give health workers the ability to identify people at risk of drug overdose and then reach them before they die.

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On the last day of the annual GOP retreat at the Greenbrier Resort last week, two West Virginia congressmen said combating the opioid epidemic is a top priority for federal legislators. The press conference came a day after about 500 people gathered at the gates of the resort to advocate for programs like Medicaid and community health center funding.

Evan Jenkins opened Friday’s press conference by describing the scope of the opioid crisis both in West Virginia and nationally and what Congress is doing to tackle it.

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Brooke sits beside her mom on the couch at Rea of Hope’s New Life Apartments. Rea of Hope is an addiction and recovery center for women struggling with alcohol or drug abuse.

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Nearly $21 million in state funding has been awarded to expand residential treatment services for substance abuse across West Virginia. The state Department of Health and Human Resources announced the funding Monday. Two of the programs are in Morgantown and two are in Parkersburg, with one apiece in Beckley, Culloden, Huntington, Martinsburg and Wheeling.

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The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources announced Thursday steps for an opioid response plan to combat the opioid epidemic. DHHR is asking West Virginians to help develop the plan through public comment and recommendations over the next 15 days.