Opioids

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.

Updated at 8 p.m. ET

The family that owns Purdue Pharma, maker of Oxycontin, has agreed to give up "the entire value" of the privately owned firm to settle claims that Purdue played a central role in the nation's deadly opioid epidemic.

That's according to a spokesperson for the firm, who detailed the Sackler family's offer in an email sent to NPR on Monday.

"Additionally, the Sacklers have offered $3 billion in cash as part of the global resolution," wrote Josephine Martin, Purdue Pharma's head of corporate affairs and communications.

Emily Allen / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Spend a Monday at the Boone County courthouse, and you’ll see judges and public attorneys overwhelmed with a surging number of child abuse and neglect cases.   

Updated at 5:37 p.m. ET

Confronted with a torrent of lawsuits across the U.S., several major drug companies are in discussions with authorities to resolve thousands of opioid-related suits filed against them. A government source close to the negotiations tells NPR that Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, Endo International and Allergan are looking to cut deals.

Updated at 7:04 p.m. ET

An Oklahoma judge has ruled that drugmaker Johnson & Johnson helped ignite the state's opioid crisis by deceptively marketing painkillers, and must pay $572 million to the state.

Oklahoma sought $17.5 billion, blaming Johnson & Johnson for fueling the crisis that has claimed the lives of more than 6,000 people in the state.

Gee delivers his 2017 State of the University address.
West Virginia University

West Virginia University President Gordon Gee and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich are creating a nonprofit that will fight to steer cash from any national opioid settlement to hospitals, rather than to local and state governments already sparring for control of the dollars.

This van is used by the JCESA to transport deceased who are non-medical examiner cases and who have no prior death arrangements. JCESA purchased this van in 2017 to tackle an increase in calls and manage a loss in local resources.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

One of the angles of the opioid epidemic we don’t often hear about is what happens to the bodies of those who become overtaken by addiction. West Virginia Public Broadcasting looks at one group under strain – the state’s forensic pathologists who are charged with performing autopsies.

We also explore one West Virginia community’s efforts to efficiently transport the dead.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, one of the aspects of the opioid epidemic we don’t often hear about is what happens to the bodies of those who become overtaken by addiction. This morning, Liz McCormick takes a look at one group under strain -- the state’s forensic pathologists who are charged with performing autopsies.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, a federal district judge last week ordered the release of a government database that tracks the shipments of every single prescription pain pill manufactured in the U.S. In an analysis of that data, reporters at the Charleston Gazette-Mail and The Washington Post found between 2006 and 2012, 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pills were shipped to pharmacies across the country.

Three reporters at The Washington Post were responsible for the analysis that shows just how concentrated the epidemic was in Appalachian communities, including database editor Steven Rich. He spoke with 100 Days in Appalachia’s Ashton Marra about the reporting.

New Data Show Opioid Deaths May Have Peaked, and Reveal Scale of Past Pain Pill Sales

Jul 18, 2019
Adobe Stock

Two newly released sets of government data show that the death toll from the nation’s opioid crisis may finally be dropping and also reveal the scale of the pain pill sales that help set the crisis in motion. The data for the Ohio Valley show how hard the region was hit and how hard people in these communities have been fighting to save lives.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, a decade ago, not many people had heard much about fracking for natural gas. Since then, the gas industry has literally changed the landscape in northern West Virginia, southern Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. 

For some people, that has meant new jobs or payments to lease their land. But the thousands of new well pads, pipelines, compressor stations, and waste injection wells haven’t been welcomed by everyone. Thousands of complaints have been filed with the state about everything from gas leaks and crumbling roads to odors and noise people blame on energy development.

The number of cases of children entering the foster care system due to parental drug use has more than doubled since 2000, according to research published this week in JAMA Pediatrics.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, left, first lady Melania Trump, center, and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, right, listen as Huntington Police Chief Hank Dial, speaks at Cabell-Huntington Health Center in Huntington, WVa., July 8, 2019
Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

First lady Melania Trump visited West Virginia on Monday to learn how a city at the center of the nation’s opioid epidemic is grappling with the crisis.

She met with federal, state and local officials in Huntington and heard how the area’s police, schools and health care centers are trying to fight the opioid scourge.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, data on the Ohio Valley’s addiction crisis show that the problem is often more profound and persistent in communities that are economically distressed. As part of the Ohio Valley ReSource series, “Working Toward Recovery,” Aaron Payne visited an Ohio community tackling both problems.

Working Toward Recovery: Ohio Town Fights Addiction with Focus on Economy

May 28, 2019
Chillicothe Street in Downtown Portsmouth.
Aaron Payne / Ohio Valley ReSource

Addiction specialists, business leaders, law enforcement officials and other community members gathered around tables at Shawnee State University to talk about two big challenges in Scioto County, Ohio: a shrinking economy and a growing addiction crisis.

Clients waiting for addiction treatment services in Berkeley Co., WV
Rebecca Kiger / Ohio Valley ReSource

A Washington Post investigation finds the Ohio Valley is suffering the most from the surge in overdose deaths due to synthetic opioids, even as deaths from other substances are falling.

The Post analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and found the region has the nation’s highest rates of death due to fentanyl.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, as the world waits for resolution from the Trump Administration’s trade war with China, it’s a tough time to be a farmer -- especially a soybean farmer. Soybeans are a $40 billion business in the U.S. But the crop price plummeted last year because of the trade war. Farmers are desperate for anything that can help keep their profits up. Like weedkillers.

A dozen new hypodermic needles are given to a man who disposed of 12 used needles at a clinic, Friday, Jan. 20, 2012.
Robert F. Bukaty / AP file photo

“They made me feel like I was a person.”

That’s what a 40-year-old man told researchers from Johns Hopkins University about a now-closed syringe services program in the heart of central Appalachia.

Poll: Addiction, Affordability and Access Top Health Concerns in Rural America

May 22, 2019
Dr. Albert Warren consults with a patient and records the patient’s symptoms on an electronic tablet in Hawkinsville, Georgia.
Bob Nichols / USDA

More than four in 10 adults living in rural Appalachia cite drug abuse as the biggest issue facing their communities, according to “Life in Rural America: Part II,” a report released this week by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health from a telephone survey of 1,405 adults living in the rural U.S.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, as the Ohio Valley suffers some of the nation’s highest rates of addiction and overdose deaths, a growing movement shows promise for those in recovery. Many are finding employment and support in food services and farms that specifically hire people who are recovering from addiction. Brittany Patterson has the story.

Appalachian Regional Commission Announces Plan to Build ‘Recovery Ecosystem’

May 17, 2019
The Appalachia Regional Commission held six listening sessions throughout the region, including a March session in Pineville, Ky.
Courtesy Appalachian Regional Commission

The Appalachian Regional Commission is shifting its focus toward recovery. 

The organization, led by the governors of the 13 Appalachian states and a federal co-chair appointed by the president, announced this week the creation of its Substance Abuse Advisory Council. The 24-member group consists of representatives from communities throughout the region who will “develop recommendations for ARC to consider as part of a strategic plan to build and strengthen a recovery ecosystem in Appalachian communities by drawing on their own experiences.”

oxycontin
Toby Talbot / Associated Press

Five more state attorney generals have announced they have filed suit against the manufacturer of the highly addictive opioid OxyContin and it’s former chief executive.

 

West Virginia’s suit, announced Thursday by state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, alleges that the Purdue Pharma used unlawful marketing tactics that fueled a scourge of opioid addiction and related deaths.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is shown Thursday, March 3, 2016, at the state Capitol in Charleston, W.Va.
John Raby / AP file photo

West Virginia has joined a federal lawsuit alleging generic drug manufacturers conspired to inflate and manipulate prices.

John Raby / AP Photo

Two members of the West Virginia House of Delegates are urging the state’s attorney general to put money from a recently announced settlement with a pharmaceutical distributor towards substance abuse treatment.

Del. Kayla Kessinger (R-Fayette) and Del. Andrew Robinson (D-Kanawha) sent a letter Friday to Attorney General Patrick Morrisey asking for the $37 million settlement with drug distributor McKesson Corporation to be deposited in the Ryan Brown Addiction Prevention and Recovery Fund.

An exterior view of prescription drug distributor McKesson Corp. headquarters in San Francisco, in this May 3, 2006 file photo.
Paul Sakuma / AP Photo

West Virginia has reached a $37 million settlement with the drug distributor McKesson in a lawsuit accusing the company of shipping millions of suspicious orders for painkillers to the state as it was being ravaged by the opioid epidemic.

Ben Hethcoat/Marketplace

Like a slow-motion tsunami, the opioid epidemic continues to claim the lives of our friends and neighbors. Four of the top five states with the highest rates of drug overdose deaths are here, in Appalachia.

The drug epidemic is changing, but it’s not going away. People are still fighting for their loved ones and communities. This episode of Inside Appalachia looks at traditional and innovative ways law enforcement is tackling the challenge. And we’ll hear from people who end up behind bars anyway, as they struggle with substance use disorder.


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, reporters with Marketplace spent more than a year in central Appalachia. They were investigating how the opioid epidemic has changed as law enforcement began cracking down on prescription drugs. The series is part of a podcast called “The Uncertain Hour”. West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Trey Kay, host of Us and Them, recently spoke with producer Caitlin Esch. They talked about how it’s difficult to fight a drug epidemic through law enforcement alone.

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