Landry's office adds Louisiana in opioid multidistrict litigation

Louisiana Record -  Louisiana has joined more than 2,000 other plaintiffs including states, cities and school districts, in opioid multidistrict litigation (MDL) currently sitting before a federal judge in Ohio.

Jacques Ambers, special assistant to Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, said Landry has been working collaboratively with the governor’s office in its lawsuit against opioid manufacturers but is now redirecting efforts into the MDL. 

Ambers said the attorney general’s office is hoping for a fair settlement, but it is too early to predict any particular outcome.

“You’re not trying to kill, completely destroy a business either,” Ambers said. “At the same time, you want something that sends a message to the people and for the state of Louisiana.”

State halts Medicaid payments to detox center, leaving void for thousands

WBRZ - The State Department of Health confirmed Tuesday that Medicaid stopped paying the Baton Rouge Detox Center on Foster Drive reimbursements over a lack of accreditation.

The accreditation from one of three different agencies is the gold standard that the state uses and is required for clinics to get Medicaid dollars.

The Baton Rouge Area Alcohol and Drug Center lacks that accreditation and the state notified them Tuesday their payments would be suspended. The lack of reimbursements is a huge problem, as the clinical director said approximately 90 to 95 percent of the patients that seek treatment there are on Medicaid.

Tonja Myles is a Peer Support Specialist at the Capital Area Human Services District.

"The Baton Rouge Detox Center is vital to our community," Myles said. "What happens to the clients? I had one person call and they said they didn't take their Medicaid. They said they weren't in network. Unfortunately, that person had to leave without getting the help they need. Those beds are vital."

Reckitt Benckiser pays $1.4 billion in opioid settlement

Beauregard Daily News - Consumer products company Reckitt Benckiser says it will pay $1.4 billion to resolve U.S. investigations into the marketing of an anti-addiction drug by a subsidiary.

The company said Thursday it reached agreements with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission.

The government alleged that an ex-Reckitt subsidiary sought to increase prescriptions for Suboxone Film by deceiving health care providers into believing the drug was safer than other opioid addiction treatments.

A peek into opioid users' brains as they try to quit

KALB - Researchers are looking for people willing to have their brains scanned for science at the same time they're struggling to kick opioid addiction.

Opioid abuse changes how the brain works in ways that can persist even after people quit. Anti-addiction medicines are proven to help by easing cravings and withdrawal, but it's not clear if they speed healing of those brain circuits.

The National Institutes of Health aims to scan the brains of people in medication-based treatment to find out. Researchers also are looking for clues to help doctors choose which of the three anti-addiction medicines may be best for which patient.

Incarceration, falling incomes may play a role in the US opioid epidemic, study says

WGNO - Unraveling the factors fueling America’s opioid epidemic remains complicated.

The increasing number of deaths from drug use in the United States has been linked with a surge in the distribution of prescription painkillers as one factor. A new study suggests that some other overlooked factors might be contributors, as well.

In counties across the United States, when incarceration rates rise and household incomes fall, drug-related deaths increase, according to a study published Wednesday in the medical journal Lancet Public Health.

Opioid consortium to be created in Washington Parish on July 11

The Daily News - Everyone is invited to the inaugural Washington Parish Opioid Consortium Kick-Off Meeting, which will be held Thursday, July 11, at 9 a.m. at Pine First Baptist Church, located at 27043 Louisiana Highway 62.

Recently, Volunteers of America was awarded a HRSA Rural Communities Opioid Response Program Planning Grant. This grant was prepared with the assistance of Our Lady of the Angels Hospital, Florida Parishes Human Services Authority and ADAPT. State Sen. Beth Mizell and State Rep. Malinda White also supported the grant.

Over the next 12 months, the Washington Parish Opioid Consortium will be implemented, and meetings will be held to obtain input from parish leaders, those in the healthcare community, school systems, law enforcement, faith-based community and the general public.

New drop-off box allows locals to turn in prescription drugs

The Times Houma - Members of the Houma Police Department (HPD) and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry gathered at HPD headquarters (500 Honduras St., Houma) to announce a new tool to be used in the fight against the local opioid epidemic – a prescription drug medicine drop-box.

“There’s an absolutely alarming statistic out there that says basically 60 percent of opioid addicts start their addiction with someone else’s prescription,” said Landry at the press conference. “One of the ways that we can effectively combat this crisis is by getting those prescriptions that are just being stored in someone’s medicine cabinet...One of the answers to that is right here, and that is in placing a drug prescription take-back box.”

As opioid lawsuits balloon in Louisiana, potential settlement dollars face these complexities

The Advocate - If you live in Louisiana, there is a good chance your local government has filed a lawsuit against opioid makers or distributors, seeking damages for the companies’ alleged fueling of the nation’s opioid crisis.

More than 100 lawsuits filed in Louisiana — the lion’s share of them by cities, towns, parishes and sheriffs — are included in a massive docket of more than 2,000 similar cases from across the U.S. The plaintiffs include cities like Baton Rouge and New Orleans, insurers like Blue Cross and Blue Shield and even the University of Louisiana System, which filed suit this month.

Lawyers pause plan to divide any national opioid settlement

American Press - State and local governments suing over the toll of a nationwide opioid crisis agree that companies in the drug industry should be held accountable, but they have differences on who should have the power to strike any settlement, and how it should work.

Those disputes had been mostly in the background until this week, when a majority of the nation's state attorneys general signed letters warning of problems with lawyers' plans for creating a mechanism to divide any settlement money among nearly 25,000 local and county governments — if a deal can be struck.

But at a hearing on Tuesday, any public feud was paused.

Lawyers for local governments, responding to those letters as well as objections from drug distributors and pharmacies and questions from local governments, asked if they could have two weeks to modify their plan.

At LSU, how a 'bright future' ended amid rise in prescription drug abuse: 'Like night and day'

The Advocate - Garry and Mary Ellen Jordan were planning an unannounced visit to LSU.

They would show up and tell their son he had no choice but to withdraw from school. He needed help and he wasn't getting it there. 

The couple attended Sunday morning Mass at their church in Covington and were getting ready to leave their house when local police arrived and delivered the news: Graham Jordan had been found unresponsive in his dorm room a few hours earlier.

Jefferson Parish testing new app to combat opioid addiction

WAFB - A new app could help opioid-addicted patients stay on their treatment plan and Jefferson Parish is the first in the state to adopt it.

Opioid overdoses have plagued Jefferson Parish over the last six years and according to the parish coronoer, Gerry Cvitanovich, the numbers are still growing.

Dr. Thomas Hauth works with patients battling opioid use disorder, and sees the effects of their addiction firsthand.

"It's a devastating illness, and we know it's a brain disease, and when I tell folks or family members with the disease, it's a chronic illness that can be instantly fatal," Hauth said.

Sheriff Bobby Webre disscusses first 100 days in office

Donaldsonville Chief - “I will tell you, it feels like an incredible whirlwind,” Ascension Parish Sheriff Bobby Webre, who is running for re-election this year, said. “It’s hard to believe it’s been close to five months already.”

Sheriff Webre is not wrong. In his first 100 days as sheriff, he’s seen at least three homicides, including the Dakota Theriot case and a triple shooting in Geismar. He’s overseen a $600k drug bust, a Bishop Woods home invasion with a suspect dead, bookings for multiple vehicle burglaries, an arrest for gunfire at a party in Donaldsonville, and even the arrest of a former Catholic Priest for felony theft.

The Weekly Citizen took an opportunity to speak with Webre on Friday, May 31. Since Jeff Wiley’s retirement, Webre has taken no time getting started as the leader of the Ascension Parish police force.

Report: Drug maker files for bankruptcy to cover opioid penalties

WAFB - NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Drug maker Insys Therapeutics filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy Monday (June 11), just one week after the company was ordered to pay $225 million to resolve a federal investigation, according to the Washington Post.

“The over-production and over prescribing of prescription drugs is what led to the opioid epidemic,” Brad Byerley, DEA Special Agent in Charge, said.

Lee Zurik’s recent Investigate TV series, “Licensed to Pill” looked into the company’s practices of bribing doctors to prescribe Subsys, a dangerous fentanyl spray that’s 100 times more potent than Morphine.

“These guys were the most egregious form of greed, I have ever seen in my career,” Michael Burt, DEA special agent, said.

Medical pot laws no answer for US opioid deaths, study finds

KLFY - A new study shoots down the notion that medical marijuana laws can prevent opioid overdose deaths, challenging a favorite talking point of legal pot advocates.

Researchers repeated an analysis that sparked excitement years ago. The previous work linked medical marijuana laws to slower than expected increases in state prescription opioid death rates from 1999 to 2010. The original authors speculated patients might be substituting marijuana for painkillers, but they warned against drawing conclusions.

Still, states ravaged by painkiller overdose deaths began to rethink marijuana, leading several to legalize pot for medical use.

When the new researchers included data through 2017, they found the reverse: States passing medical marijuana laws saw a 23% higher than expected rate of deaths involving prescription opioids.

Sen. John Kennedy files legislation to crack down on fetanyl traffickers

WGNO - U.S. Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) have officially filed the “Ending the Fentanyl Crisis Act of 2019.”

The goal is to ensure that sentencing penalties for trafficking fentanyl reflect the deadliness of the drug.

This legislation marks a major step toward addressing the nation’s opioid epidemic.

The bill reduces the amount of fentanyl that drug traffickers and dealers must be caught with in order for mandatory sentencing minimums to apply.

New initiative aimed at combating Louisiana's opioid crisis

KPLC - LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - A new initiative has been introduced to combat Louisiana's opioid crisis.

Lawmakers recently approved legislation allowing hospice nurses to dispose of medications after a patient dies.

Lisa Piatt, executive director for Christus Hospice care, said disposing of these powerful medications will benefit the families of hospice patients.

"I think the families will feel much safer with those medications gone," Piatt said. "Most families do want them disposed of, they don't want to keep it around."

"It's either a bad memory for them that they don't want to face or they have fears in their own neighborhoods of those medications getting out."

Piatt said it was a long process because of the legal red tape.

How schools can raise awareness of opioid abuse

KTBS - What do Sigmund Freud, Prince, Janis Joplin and Pennsylvania-bred rapper Mac Miller all have in common? They all died from an opioid overdose.

Images of these famous faces, and many more, line a showcase in the halls of Morrisville High School in Bucks County. The display case has been in place for about a year in order to remind students about the dangers of opioid abuse and the potential consequences.

The display is one aspect of a program established by the school's MOPI (Morrisville Opioid Prevention Initiative) Committee, which was established by Dave Vaccaro at the end of the 2017-18 school year.

Vaccaro, a physical education and health teacher at the high school, says the idea to form the committee sprang from a short lesson on opioid abuse that he taught last school year. He was concerned students would not retain the information from the lesson, so he put out a call for students to help him form MOPI.

New Orleans man admits to using 'dark web' to buy Chinese fentanyl sold in Crescent City

The Advocate - A New Orleans man pleaded guilty Friday to ordering large shipments of fentanyl off the “dark web” from China just as the synthetic opioid fueled an unprecedented rise in overdose deaths in the Crescent City.

Carl Hurst admitted in court papers to using an intermediary to buy the drug from Yan Xiaobing, a Chinese chemicals manufacturer who became the first person from that country indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice for fentanyl distribution.