Boom in overdose-reversing drug is tied to fewer drug deaths

Houma Today - Prescriptions of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone are soaring, and experts say that could be a reason overdose deaths have stopped rising for the first time in nearly three decades.

The number of naloxone prescriptions dispensed by U.S. retail pharmacies doubled from 2017 to last year, rising from 271,000 to 557,000, health officials reported Tuesday.

The United States is in the midst of the deadliest drug overdose epidemic in its history. About 68,000 people died of overdoses last year, according to preliminary government statistics reported last month, a drop from the more than 70,000 in 2017.

Our opinion: A tragic flow of deadly drugs

Houma Today - Local police officers and other emergency workers have watched in horror as the ongoing opioid epidemic stole many lives and ruined many more.

And family members have seen their loved ones suffer and die because of deadly addiction to painkillers and the drugs they sought after prescription drugs became less readily available.

All the while, drug companies and the federal government had access to information that could have helped curtail the problem, but it looks like neither side did much to stem the flow of drugs into our communities.

Opinion: Opioids gone? Cops still haven’t won

Houma Today - The war against the production, distribution and sale of prescription pain medication continues to grow, even though overdose deaths from these same drugs are in decline. Doctors that regulate the amount of pain meds dispensed to patients are now afraid to prescribe for fear of retribution from law enforcement. Patients that need pain medication, meanwhile, are finding it increasingly difficult to find doctors that will provide them with the drugs that they need.

Revamped OxyContin was supposed to reduce abuse, but has it?

WNTZ - Dr. Raeford Brown was uniquely positioned to help the U.S. government answer a critical question: Is a new version of the painkiller OxyContin helping fight the national opioid epidemic?

An expert in pain treatment at the University of Kentucky, Brown led a panel of outside experts advising the Food and Drug Administration on opioids that have been reformulated to deter snorting and injecting.

There’s just one problem: Neither the company that makes OxyContin nor the FDA has allowed the experts to see data on whether it reduces abuse.

Elevated opioid risks found at Native American hospitals

KLFY - U.S. government hospitals put Native American patients at increased risk for opioid abuse and overdoses, failing to follow their own protocols for prescribing and dispensing the drugs, according to a federal audit made public Monday.

The report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General does not say whether patients suffered because of the hospitals’ practices. But all five Indian Health Service hospitals that were reviewed had patients who were given opioids in amounts exceeding federal guidelines, the report said.

Q&A: Newly public data maps opioid crisis across US

WNTZ - The release of a massive trove of data from lawsuits over the nation’s opioid crisis provides the most detailed accounting to date of the role played by the major pharmaceutical companies and distributors.

In legal cases across the country, they have defended themselves as being little more than bystanders — dispensing government-approved drugs at the behest of prescribing doctors.

But the data gives a stunning portrait of how the nation’s deadly public health crisis unfolded year by year, with manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies turning a firehose of prescription painkillers disproportionately on rural, working-class communities at the same time the death toll from prescription and illegal opioids was climbing.

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.”

Delta will begin carrying powerful overdose-reversal drug on flights

KALB - Delta Air Lines said it will add naloxone, a medication that reverses overdoses, to its emergency medical kits starting in the fall.

The company made the decision to carry the drug, which is often sold under the brand name Narcan, after a passenger tweeted that a man died aboard one of its flights.

The passenger reportedly passed out in the bathroom with a needle in his arm during a flight from Boston to Los Angeles on Saturday, and flight attendants, a doctor and passengers couldn’t save him.

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."

Data shows flood of opioids across US, many of them generics

WVLA - The maker of OxyContin has been cast as the chief villain in the nation’s opioid crisis. But newly released government figures suggest Purdue Pharma had plenty of help in flooding the U.S. with billions of pills even as overdose deaths were accelerating.

Records kept by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration show that 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pills — the vast majority of them generics, not brand names — were shipped to U.S. pharmacies from 2006 to 2012.

The annual number swelled by more than 50 percent over that period of time even as the body count climbed. The powerful painkillers flowed faster even after Purdue Pharma was fined $635 million for falsely marketing OxyContin as less addictive than other opioids.

Federal data shows opioid shipments ballooned as crisis grew

WNTZ - Newly released federal data shows how drugmakers and distributors increased shipments of opioid painkillers across the U.S. as the nation’s addiction crisis accelerated from 2006 to 2012.

The data, released this week by a federal court in Ohio as part of a far-reaching opioids case, shows that companies distributed 8.4 billion hydrocodone and oxycodone pills to commercial pharmacies in 2006 and 12.6 billion in 2012. That’s an increase of over 50%.