Opioids

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.


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.

Adobe Stock

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."


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.

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