Opioids

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we hear a sneak peak of this weekend's episode of Inside Appalachia. Guest host Giles Snyder speaks with Eric Eyre, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reporter whose reporting into the opioid epidemic won the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. 


oxycontin
Toby Talbot / Associated Press file photo

The federal judge overseeing the bankruptcy case of OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma set a June 30 deadline to file claims against the company. That includes governments, entities such as hospitals and, for the first time, individuals with personal injury claims. There is no guarantee that people who became addicted to opioids or their families would receive any money, and the judge emphasized that those claims would be open only to people who believe they were harmed by Purdue.

Members of the Coast Guard stand near seized cocaine Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, in Los Angeles.
Chris Carlson / Associated Press file photo

Alarmed by a deadly new twist in the nation’s drug addiction crisis, the government will allow states to use federal money earmarked for the opioid epidemic to help growing numbers of people struggling with meth and cocaine.

Sentencing is scheduled to begin on Monday in the criminal trial of top executives at Insys Therapeutics. This landmark case was the first successful prosecution of high-ranking pharmaceutical executives linked to the opioid crisis, including onetime billionaire John Kapoor.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In Clay, downtown Main Street is maybe a half mile long.  Amid shuttered storefronts, the two most prominent stores are Family Dollar and the Dollar Tree. 

 

Like the rest of southern West Virginia, the opioid epidemic has hit Clay hard.

 

 

“I would venture to guess that every single student in this entire school has been affected by addiction in some way,” said Leslie Osborne, the school counselor.

Rural Americans Increasingly Concerned About Opioid Addiction, Study Finds

Jan 10, 2020
oxycontin
Toby Talbot / Associated Press file photo

Researchers at Harvard University and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that rural Americans identified drug addiction and economic concerns as the most serious problems facing their communities. 

The open-ended survey of 2700 rural adults aimed to identify the major concerns of rural voters, and found that 25 percent of rural Americans said drug addiction was their biggest concern for their community, and 21 percent said the same about economic concerns. The striking results illustrate the dramatic toll of addiction on rural communities, which have generally struggled to recover from the 2009 recession.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the Ohio Valley has been known for having some of the highest rates of fatal drug overdoses in the nation for years.

Now, a nonprofit group is trying to shift the focus toward the region’s innovative solutions to the addiction crisis. The Ohio Valley ReSource’s Aaron Payne reports on programs using collaboration to expand addiction treatment and recovery.

Updated at 1:22 p.m. ET

The family that owns Purdue Pharma pulled billions of dollars from the company after introducing its signature opioid medication, OxyContin, growing personally wealthy as the heavily marketed drug took on a significant role in a nationwide addiction crisis.

When Matthew Braun gets out of medical school, he'll be able to prescribe opioids.

A decade ago, he was addicted to them.

"The first time I ever used an opioid, I felt the most confident and powerful I'd ever felt," Braun says. "So I said, 'This is it. I want to do this the rest of my life.' "

Opioids took away his anxiety, his inhibitions, his depression. And they were easy to get.

"I just started breaking into houses," Braun says. "I found it amazing how trusting people were in leaving windows open and doors unlocked, and I found a lot of prescriptions."

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we’re hearing stories this week that explore the benefits of going outside.

People from all over the state and region converged in Terra Alta, West Virginia, earlier this year to celebrate nine decades of Mountain Nature Camp. It’s a camp where adults go to study pristine Appalachian corners of the world.

Many folks came to celebrate community and traditions that have been going since 1929. But they also go to get their nature fix, which, as Glynis Board reports, an increasing number of researchers say is critical for both human health and maybe even life on the planet.

In this Aug. 17, 2018 file photo, family and friends who have lost loved ones to OxyContin and opioid overdoses protest outside Purdue Pharma headquarters in Stamford, Conn.
Jessica Hill / Associated Press File Photo

A federal bankruptcy judge on Wednesday agreed to keep nearly 2,700 lawsuits against OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma and hundreds more against the family members who own the company on hold until at least April so the sides can keep working toward a settlement.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, some communities are trying to think outside the box to help people struggling with addiction. In the Potomac Highlands of the Eastern Panhandle, law enforcement, faith-based organizations and community members want to create one robust network of support. As Liz McCormick reports, the network strives to fight the stigma associated with substance abuse disorder and offer a safety net that some say feels like a family.

Chuck Roberts/ WVPB

By branding southern West Virginia “Hatfield & McCoy” country, are we re-affirming negative stereotypes in Appalachia?

In this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia, we’ll look at how some communities in southern West Virginia are hoping to jumpstart their local economies through tourism. In particular, we’ll explore a type of tourism that caters to ATV riders along the Hatfield and McCoy trail system.

But what do we gain, and what do we lose, when we market ourselves to visitors? Are people able to remain true to their real identity, and claim ownership of their own narrative? We'll discuss that and more in this week's episode.


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A Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine has been sentenced to federal prison for distributing oxycodone outside the bounds of professional practice.

Matthew Sisson was sentenced Wednesday for prescribing Oxycodone to an individual who was not his patient, according to a press release from the federal prosecutor’s office. The case was tried in federal court. 


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, foster families are in high demand in many states. West Virginia has the highest rate in the country for the number of children who are removed from their homes and put into state care. There are a lot of families who are stepping up to take them in, but many say they feel unprepared for the looming task of taking care of the children who are placed in their homes. Roxy Todd reports.

How Should Opioid Lawsuit Money Be Spent? Ohio Valley Has No Shortage Of Needs

Oct 21, 2019
Clients waiting for addiction treatment services in Berkeley County, W.Va.
Rebecca Kiger / Ohio Valley ReSource file photo

At a town hall event in Logan, Ohio, Kelly Taulbee walks through the steps of an encounter with someone experiencing an opioid overdose. She's training a group to use NARCAN, the opioid reversal medication. She pulled out the small applicator and demonstrated how easy it is to spray the medication in someone’s nose.

As the director of nursing for the Hocking County health department, she understands the importance of this life-saving medicine.

“It is simple. It is safe. It is effective,” she said.

But she also knows that NARCAN is just one of many tools needed to respond to a crisis that has grown to affect nearly every aspect of life in this rural corner of southern Ohio.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, last-minute settlement negotiations in Ohio are proceeding in a closely watched case against some companies that made or sold opioid painkillers.

It’s the first hearing of the National Prescription Opiate Litigation, which consolidated thousands of lawsuits brought by state, county and local governments. The stakes are enormous, especially for the Ohio Valley, which has some of the worst rates of addiction and overdose deaths.

As the Ohio Valley ReSource’s Aaron Payne reports, the hardest-hit communities have no shortage of needs, and plenty of ideas for how money won from a judgement or settlement should be used.

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Public forums will be held starting this week on a statewide response to substance abuse in West Virginia.

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As many American parents struggle with opioid addiction, the number of children put into foster care in the U.S. is steadily increasing. 

In West Virginia, the foster care system has been hit particularly hard; roughly 6,700 children in the state are in foster care, an increase of almost 70% in six years. 


A Virginia doctor received a 40-year prison sentence on Wednesday for illegally prescribing more than half a million doses of oxycodone, hydromorphone, fentanyl and other opioids to patients for years.

Authorities say Dr. Joel Smithers operated a "pill mill" out of Martinsville, Va., located about 15 miles north of the Virginia-North Carolina border and about 175 miles southwest of Richmond.

Johnson & Johnson and two Ohio counties have reached a tentative $20.4 million settlement that removes the corporation from the first federal lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, scheduled to begin later this month.

Schools Seek Ways To Help Children Exposed To Drugs In The Womb

Sep 23, 2019
White House

Students line up single file behind teachers at West Elementary in Athens, Ohio, for. the walk downhill from the brick building to board buses or meet up with the person taking them home.

Some talk about their day, others run off to the playground and some discuss the latest Pokémon movie. A chant for the yellow, electric mouse Pikachu breaks out.

It’s a scene familiar to Tom Gibbs, the superintendent of the Athens City School District, who’s making sure these and the nearly 3,000 other students he watches over make it home safely.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In the latest episode of Inside Appalachia, we hear how the opioid crisis is reshaping life in some Appalachian communities, and why people across our region are calling for new approaches to care for babies who are exposed to opioids in the womb, and their mothers. Our assistant news director, Glynis Board, guest-hosts this episode. On this West Virginia Morning, we’ll hear the first part of Inside Appalachia’s show.

Photo: Jess Mador/100 Days in Appalachia

One-month-old Cayden wakes with a fierce cry and clenched fists as a nurse places her on a metal scale to check her weight. When she was born, the infant, now dressed in tiny pink socks, flowery leggings and a bright yellow polkadot top, weighed 6 pounds, 7 ounces and was at risk for neonatal abstinence syndrome. 

“Have you noticed any tremors, tight muscles?” Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Amber Knapper asked Cayden’s mother. 

Tight muscles and tremors are among a long list of symptoms connected to neonatal abstinence syndrome, commonly known as NAS, a condition where babies are born in withdrawal from opioid drugs their mothers used during pregnancy. 


Joanie Tobin/100 Days in Appalachia

Life as empty nesters was on the horizon for Lisa Robbins and her husband Brent. They had raised two children and were enjoying helping them with their two grandchildren. But in 2016, police arrested Lisa’s daughter, Mollie Ogle. 

“She got caught using drugs, shooting up in her vehicle in a convenience store parking lot,” Lisa said. “And so she went to jail."


Photo: Joanie Tobin/100 Days in Appalachia

This week on Inside Appalachia, we’re dedicating our episode to all the children who are affected by substance abuse before they're even born. Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) is a topic that is heartbreaking, but critically important for us to spend some time understanding. The stigma that follows mothers, and their unborn babies, is keeping them from getting the prenatal care, and help for recovery, that women across our region desperately need. 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Purdue Pharma, manufacturer of the opioid drug OxyContin, said it reached a tentative deal last week that would settle some of the thousands of lawsuits brought against them by state and local governments in the wake of the opioid crisis. But the company now says it will delcare bankruptcy in the face of their potential legal liability.

As Kara Lofton reports, some are arguing any money recovered from Purdue and other defendents shouldn’t go to state governments. Instead, they say it should go directly to providers and hospitals.

Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Sunday night, just days after striking a settlement with more than 2,000 local governments over its alleged role in creating and sustaining the deadly opioid crisis.

Purdue Pharma, the maker of the opioid drug OxyContin, has reached a tentative deal worth billions of dollars that would resolve thousands of lawsuits brought by municipal and state governments who sued the company for allegedly helping to fuel the opioid crisis.

The pending settlement likely means Purdue will avoid going to trial in the sprawling and complicated case involving some 2,300 local governments across 23 states.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we hear a two-part story from Report for America corps member Emily Allen. The small southern West Virginia town of Kermit has had more than its fair share of national headlines, especially when it comes to the town’s struggle with the opioid crisis. 

But few stories focus on the people themselves. Emily visited Kermit earlier this summer to hear from several residents, and what they think the town needs to emerge from that struggle.

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