opioid crisis

From medical professionals to law enforcement to recovering addicts, the opioid crisis has affected people from all walks of life.

At a University of South Florida symposium Wednesday, experts said it will take them all working together to end the opioid crisis.

Updated at 3:30 p.m. ET on Oct. 24

Make no mistake: The legal fight over liability for the U.S. opioid crisis is only heating up.

Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis announced an over $58 million dollar grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to combat Florida’s opioid addiction crisis.

Florida Department of Health officials said the ‘Overdose Data-To-Action’ grant will also funnel $12 million dollars annually to county health departments in Broward, Duval and Palm Beach. 

Purdue Pharma, facing a mountain of litigation linked to the opioid epidemic, filed for bankruptcy in New York this week. The OxyContin manufacturer and its owners, the Sackler family, have offered to pay billions of dollars to cities and counties hit hard by the addiction crisis.

But that's not good enough for critics such as U.S. Rep. Max Rose.

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.

Andrae Bailey
Mattew Peddie / WMFE

Overdose is a leading cause of injury related death according to the CDC. In 2017, more than 70,000 people in the US died from an overdose in 2017, the majority of them from prescription or illicit opioid overdose.

Funding for the fight against the opioid epidemic may come from federal and state government, but community leaders in Central Florida are tackling the crisis through an initiative called ‘Project Opioid’.

Founder Andrae Bailey joins Intersection to chat about the plan to enlist the faith community and business leaders in the fight against the opioid crisis.

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.

OxyContin Maker, Government Attorneys In Settlement Talks

Aug 28, 2019
Prescription drugs on a shelf.
Daylina Miller/WUSF

State attorneys general and lawyers representing local governments said Tuesday they are in active settlement talks with Purdue Pharma, the maker of the prescription painkiller OxyContin that is facing billions of dollars in potential liability for its role in the nation's opioid crisis. 

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.

U.S. Customs and Border Protections / Flickr

Wednesday, the White House announced the federal government will be cracking down on international fentanyl trafficking. Fentanyl is a pain reliever used for treating severe pain, but in recent years the addictive drug has been used recreationally - causing more than 28,000 deaths in 2017. That’s more than half the deaths caused by opioids overall that year. Making it the biggest contributor to the opioid overdose. 

Courtesy of Orange TV

Central Florida leaders are looking to expand the reach of a partnership to combat opioid addiction. ‘Project Opioid’ brings together the faith and business communities, law enforcement and local government leaders. 

Florida's 'Pill Mills' Were A Gateway To The Opioid Crisis

Jul 22, 2019

Florida survives on tourism, but a decade ago thousands of visitors made frequent trips to the state not to visit its theme parks or beaches. Instead, they came for cheap and easy prescription painkillers sold at unscrupulous walk-in clinics.

Good news came out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Wednesday: Preliminary data shows reported drug overdoses declined 4.2% in 2018, after rising precipitously for decades.

Updated at 10:44 p.m. ET

For the first time, a federal court in Ohio is releasing a trove of data that offers far more detail about the size and scope of the nation's opioid epidemic — and about the role played by drug companies and pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens and Johnson & Johnson that profited from the rapid growth of prescription opioid sales.

In the health care industry, there are few brands more well known than Johnson & Johnson. The maker of consumer staples ranging from Band-Aids to baby shampoo has faced a number of controversies in its 133-year history. Now it is contesting charges that it contributed to the nation's opioid epidemic.

Updated 5:30 p.m. ET

A jury in Boston has found onetime billionaire and drug company executive John Kapoor and his four co-defendants guilty of a racketeering conspiracy. The verdict came Wednesday after 15 days of deliberation.

A major pharmaceutical distribution company and two of its former executives are facing criminal charges for their roles in advancing the nation's opioid crisis and profiting from it.

The opioid crisis is affecting communities of all sizes across the country. In one example, Haines City has equipped all officers in its police department with a life-saving drug that combats opioid overdoses.

Meth Is Back And Hospitalizations Surge

Nov 26, 2018
Flickr Creative Commons

The number of people hospitalized because of amphetamine use is skyrocketing in the United States, but the resurgence of the drug largely has been overshadowed by the nation’s intense focus on opioids.

In a windowless classroom at the John J. Moran medium-security prison in Cranston, R.I., three men sit around a table to share how and when they began using opioids.

For Josh, now 39, it was when he was just 13 years old. "I got grounded for a week in my house, so I grabbed a bundle of heroin and just sat inside and sniffed it all week."

"I started using heroin at 19," says Ray, now 23. "I was shooting it. It was with a group of friends that I was working with, doing roof work."

Daylina Miller/Health News Florida

The nation's second-largest drugstore chain says Florida's lawsuit alleging that it helped fuel the state's opioid crisis "is without merit."

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a potent new opioid painkiller, despite warnings from physician critics who say the drug will contribute to the addiction epidemic.

The sharp rise in opioid abuse and fatal overdoses has overshadowed another mounting drug problem: Methamphetamine use is rising across the United States.

"Usage of methamphetamine nationally is at an all-time high," says Erik Smith, assistant special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Kansas City office.

"It is back with a vengeance." he says. "And the reasons for that are twofold." The drug's now stronger, and cheaper, than it used to be.

Trump Signs Bipartisan Measure To Confront Opioid Crisis

Oct 25, 2018
Gage Skidmore (Flickr)

President Donald Trump pledged on Wednesday to put an "extremely big dent" in the scourge of drug addiction in America as he signed legislation intended to help tackle the opioid crisis, the deadliest epidemic of overdoses in the country's history.

Updated at 4:37 p.m. ET

The American opioid crisis is far from over, but early data indicate the number of deaths are beginning to level off, according to Alex Azar, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, citing "encouraging" results in overdose trends.

In a speech on Tuesday at a Milken Institute health summit, Azar walked through statistics suggesting deaths were plateauing and he highlighted efforts he says may be turning the tide in the drug epidemic.

Analysis: 'Obamacare' Shapes Opioid Grant Spending

Oct 22, 2018
Pharmacy Technician amongst two shelves of prescription pills.
Daylina Miller/Health News Florida

With Republicans and Democrats joining forces again in a bipartisan effort to target the U.S. opioid crisis, an Associated Press analysis of the first wave of emergency money from Congress finds that states are taking very different approaches to spending it.

Emergency responders providing care to a patient in the back of an ambulance.
Peter Haden/WLRN

Hillsborough commissioners on Wednesday voted to spend $13.7 million dollars over the next year to combat opioid addiction.

Past the barricades, mounds of personal belongings mixed with trash and dirty mattresses where vagrants lay with needles still clutched by limp hands, Shatara Mackey walks with her 7-year-old son to Phillis Wheatley Elementary.

Northwest Second Avenue under the Dolphin/SR 836 overpass is a better route than the next block over, she says.

“It’s just got worse,” said Mackey, 31. “You can see them using and everything down there.”

Paramedics in Sarasota County are turning away from opioids to treat patients in pain.

Instead, they will primarily use nitrous oxide also known as laughing gas.

Use Of Drug Database Increases Amid Opioid Fight

Sep 21, 2018
Flickr Creative Commons

One of Florida’s main weapons to thwart “doctor shopping” has been expanding substantially after the passage of a tough new law aimed at addressing the continuing opioid crisis.

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