Opioid Action Summit starts Wednesday in Slidell

KDSU - Opioid overdose deaths have increased so sharply in Louisiana that the Department of Heath is hosting an action summit this week in Slidell to address the crisis. According to the department, more than 450 people died from opioids last year. They said that is a 184% increase in opioid deaths compared to 2012.

In a statement, Dr. Rebekah Gee, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health said, "Our communities are on the front lines of the opioid crisis, and we need to arm them with the very best tactics to fight back. By bringing together a wide variety of stakeholders — engaging in brainstorming, idea sharing and developing action steps and strategies — everyone will be able to return to their communities empowered with the knowledge and skills to reduce opioid abuse and overdoses."

Trump administration announcing nearly $2B in opioid grants

KALB - The Trump administration is awarding nearly $2 billion in grants to states and local governments to help fight the opioid crisis.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alexander Azar says the grants come from money that President Donald Trump secured from Congress last year. Trump says "nothing is more important than defeating the opioid and addiction crisis."

Our opinion: A deadly problem here at home

Daily Comet - Another in a string of local vigils remembering those who died from drug overdoses was held Saturday on the steps of the Houma Courthouse. It was organized by SARAH, Seeking Action Raising Awareness and Hope, a group formed by family members of 31-year-old Sarah Beth Pellegrin of Houma, who died from a heroin overdose last year.

“After I lost Sarah, my heart was so broken and I started meeting other moms who lost their children as well,” Pellegrin’s mother, Renee Dryden Bertinot, told The Courier and Daily Comet. “I couldn’t stay silent. I couldn’t just let Sarah pass away and let that be the end of it.”

Judge: Drugmakers, others can face trial over opioids crisis

WNTZ - A federal judge overseeing litigation related to the nation’s opioid epidemic ruled Tuesday that lawsuits targeting Purdue Pharma and other drug companies can move to trial even as the OxyContin maker tries to reach a settlement.

The ruling was one of several issued by U.S. District Court Judge Dan Polster, who is preparing for a trial scheduled for Oct. 21 over claims from the Ohio counties of Cuyahoga and Summit.

It would be the first federal trial seeking to hold drug companies, distributors and pharmacies accountable for an overdose and addiction crisis that has killed more than 400,000 Americans since 2000. More than 2,000 local governments have sued the industry, with most of the cases gathered in multidistrict litigation under Polster. The first trial is partly intended to answer legal questions that could arise in others that would follow if a settlement can’t be reached.

Grieving mother on crusade to fight drug addiction

Houma Today - March 29, 2018, was the worst day of Renee Dryden Bertinot’s life.

It was the day she lost her 31-year-old daughter, Sarah Beth Pellegrin, to a heroin overdose. Overcome with grief, Bertinot wanted to prevent her daughter’s tragedy from happening to another parent.

Joining with her friend, Michelle Eschete, the two created an organization aimed at eradicating the stigma associated with drug addiction. Just three months after Pellegrin’s death, S.A.R.A.H., or Seeking Action Raising Awareness and Hope, was formed.

Drug that reverses opioid overdose effects now available for online purchase in Louisiana

Gambit - Naloxone, a drug known to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, is now available online in Louisiana, announced Dr. Rebekah Gee, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH), in a tweet Thursday.

With an online order through Script Health’s naloxone exchange website, the medication can be delivered to your home or office in three to five business days. 

Louisiana residents who are at risk of overdosing or know somebody who is may order and receive naloxone without a prescription from a doctor, according to the LDH website. The hope is that friends and family of individuals at risk of overdosing will be able to easily access the live-saving antidote medication, which is only effective if the opioid is still in the user’s system.

Former Baton Rouge pain management clinic worker gets 7 years in federal prison in opioid scheme

The Advocate - A former physician assistant at a Baton Rouge pain management clinic who admitted taking part in a scheme to illegally distribute 40,000-plus oxycodone pills was sentenced Thursday to seven years in federal prison.

Christopher William Armstrong, who worked at Louisiana Spine & Sports LLC on Bluebonnet Boulevard from 2004 to 2014, tearfully apologized to U.S. District Judge John deGravelles, the community, his family and friends for his "poor decisions."

Opioid settlement would divide money based on local impact

WNTZ - The multibillion-dollar settlement that the maker of OxyContin is negotiating to resolve a crush of lawsuits over the nation’s opioid crisis contains formulas for dividing up the money among state and local governments across the country, The Associated Press has learned.

The formulas would take into account several factors, including opioid distribution in a given jurisdiction, the number of people who misuse opioids and the number of overdose deaths.

U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham’s Pharmacies Dispensed Nearly 1.5 Million Doses of Opioids in Two Rural Louisiana Towns With a Combined Population of 6,000 People

Bayou Brief - Over the course of seven years, from 2006 to 2012, two pharmacies in rural northeast Louisiana, owned by Republican gubernatorial candidate and U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, Clinic Pharmacy of Mangham and Adams Clinic Pharmacy of Winnsboro, doled out 1,478,236 doses of powerful opioids, according to a Drug Enforcement Administration database recently published by the Washington Post.

The pharmacies are 12.5 miles away from one another, and the two communities have a combined population of approximately 6,000 people. Despite the surge in opioid prescriptions, the region’s population has actually decreased during the previous twenty years.

Woman’s Hospital expanding GRACE program to help expecting mothers dealing with opioid addiction

WAFB - The number of babies in Louisiana born addicted to opioids has doubled since 2013, but an innovative program is helping to bring those numbers back down. It’s now expanding to help more moms and babies.

The reason Courtney Saylor gave birth to a healthy baby girl on July 4, but Saylor was not sure if that day would even come.

“I was really sick when I found out I was pregnant. I was probably one of the worst heroin addicts anybody could come across," Saylor said.

AG Jeff Landry in Mansfield to discuss ongoing efforts to combat the opioid epidemic

WNTZ - Attorney Jeff Landry joined DeSoto Parish Sheriff Jayson Richardson in Mansfield to discuss solutions to the opioid epidemic facing Louisiana. Louisiana ranks in the top ten with drug overdose deaths.

Sheriff Richardson says his deputies responds to numerous calls of overdoses in the parish. AG Landry believes one way to combat the epidemic is placing at least one drug take back box in every parish.

Cenla Human Services District teaches about opioid abuse at Lunch & Learn

KALB - As the U.S. continues to combat the opioid epidemic, here at home, the Central Louisiana Human Services District brought awareness to the growing problem with a Lunch & Learn on Friday.

International Overdose Awareness Day isn't until the Aug. 31, but people gathered at the Westside Library in Alexandria to get a head start and learn about local opioid abuse issues and what the organization is doing to help.

AG Jeff Landry in Mansfield to discuss ongoing efforts to combat the opioid epidemic

WVLA - Attorney Jeff Landry joined DeSoto Parish Sheriff Jayson Richardson in Mansfield to discuss solutions to the opioid epidemic facing Louisiana. Louisiana ranks in the top ten with drug overdose deaths.

Sheriff Richardson says his deputies responds to numerous calls of overdoses in the parish. AG Landry believes one way to combat the epidemic is placing at least one drug take back box in every parish.

Cassidy visits Teche Action Clinic to discuss efforts to fight opioids

The Daily Iberian -  U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) visited officials at the Teche Action Clinic in Franklin on Tuesday to discuss the clinic’s efforts to combat opioids and how Congress can support local action.

Earlier this month, Cassidy, a medical doctor, announced $7 million in federal funding for Louisiana to fight the opioid epidemic. The Teche clinic is receiving $167,000 of these funds to expand mental health and substance abuse treatment programs in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes.

Louisiana Department of Health educates public about opioid epidemic

KPLC - The nation is experiencing an opioid epidemic, and, in 2017, Louisiana had the 6th highest opioid prescribing rate, according to the Department of Health.

It’s statistics like that, leading to forums about opioids here in Southwest Louisiana.

The Department of Health reports opioid prescriptions are written in Calcasieu Parish more often than the state’s average.

Senator Bill Cassidy visits, tours Franklin health clinic

KATC - Senator Bill Cassidy visited a health clinic in Franklin today to talk about mental health and opioid addiction.

Cassidy visited The Teche Action Clinic in Franklin; the center is a private, non-profit health clinic.

Cassidy announced at the beginning of August that the state would receive over $6 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to fight the opioid epidemic.