Opioids

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

Jul 18, 2019
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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.

Federal Opioid Strikeforce Indicts More Than a Dozen Ohio Valley Doctors

Apr 17, 2019
Joanne Chiedi, center, Principal Deputy Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, answers reporter's questions during a news conference  Wednesday, April 17, 2019, in Cincinnati.
John Minchillo / Associated Press

The U.S. Department of Justice announced on Wednesday more than a dozen indictments against doctors in the Ohio Valley on charges relating to the illegal distribution of opioids. These are the first major indictments from the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force, which started work in December.

Huntington
Delano Patterson / Wikimedia Commons

A West Virginia city is getting a new task force to combat drug trafficking organizations.

The Huntington Police Department on Tuesday announced a partnership with the federally-funded Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program.

pills
Wikimedia Commons

A former West Virginia pharmacist convicted in state court of improperly dispensing medications has been fined $336,000 in federal court.

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A total of $14,630,361 has been awarded to West Virginia by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to combat the opioid epidemic.

West Virginia Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito made the announcement in a press release Thursday.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the opioid crisis is hitting a new generation in the Ohio Valley with thousands of babies born affected by drugs in the womb.

Doctors call it neonatal abstinence syndrome, or NAS. Now researchers are looking for the long-term effects NAS has as children grow. As the Ohio Valley ReSource’s Aaron Payne reports, the research could help parents, schools and communities meet a new challenge.

The House of Delegates considered amendments to SB 451 – comprehensive education reform – all day, and they’ve continued their work into the evening. We break down the day’s proceedings, and we have a discussion with the Senate Health Committee over several healthcare bills that are moving through the legislative process.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, from 2014 to 2016, more than 300 West Virginians on Medicaid overdosed. Researchers from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health wanted to see what kind of care those people got afterward. They found that only about 10 percent of people who experienced a non-fatal overdose received appropriate follow-up.

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

As the nation’s opioid crisis was deepening, the company that makes a powerful prescription painkiller considered marketing an anti-addiction drug to “an attractive market” of people with addictions, according to allegations in court documents made public Thursday, Jan. 31.

Assistant News Director Glynis Board leads a discussion on the impacts and trauma the opioid epidemic has inflicted on West Virginia’s youth, and host Suzanne Higgins chats with Senior Statehouse Reporter Dave Mistich for an update on some of the day’s major stories.

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On set for the Legislature Today, health reporter Kara Lofton spoke with Bob Hansen, the new director for the West Virginia Office of Drug Control Policy, and Brian Gallagher, chair of the Governor’s Council on Substance Abuse, Prevention and Treatment about what’s being done to help get a handle on West Virginia’s opioid crisis. 

Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from Marshall Health and Charleston Area Medical Center.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, after weeks of speculation about the contents of an education reform bill, lawmakers in the West Virginia Senate are now releasing details of the legislation. Widely known as an “omnibus” bill, the legislation is set to offer pay raises and address health care, but also offer additional components leaders of teacher and service personnel unions oppose. Dave Mistich has more.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On last night’s episode of The Legislature Today, senior reporter Dave Mistich spoke with Senate Finance Chairman Craig Blair and House Minority Finance Chairman Mick Bates about the current fiscal situation in West Virginia -- including a look at possibilities for the nearly $186 million-dollar surplus announced in December’s revenue report. We hear an exerpt from the interview on this West Virginia Morning.

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