Reporting on health and medical topics inevitably involves minefields, especially in topics already rife with stigma, such as mental health. Despite the strides made in the U.S. in destigmatizing mental health issues, subtopics within the field remain frequently misunderstood and unfairly represented — and journalists sometimes inadvertently contribute to that. Continue reading
State-run electronic databases that collect opioid prescription information are being hailed as an effective tool to curb opioid abuse in a new report released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC report got a lot of press, mainly for its primary findings that opioid prescriptions have dropped in recent years but still remained three times higher in 2015 than in 1999. The peak opioid prescribing year was 2010, according to the CDC. Continue reading
As authorities search for ways to curb the nation’s opioid epidemic, an increasing number of localities are turning to a new venue: the courts.
States, counties, cities and even Native American tribes are taking legal aim at companies they see as helping to fuel the drug crisis. In recent months, lawsuits have been filed against drugmakers, pharmacies and drug distributors even as some legal experts have said such challenges could face hurdles. Continue reading
The most recent edition of The Associated Press Stylebook – the premier guide for copy editors – has a number of updates that are important for health journalists to be aware of. Many of them are around the subject of drug and alcohol use and misuse, which many of my colleagues find themselves writing about quite a bit these days.
No fewer than four of the 2016 winners of the Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism covered the opioid epidemic from different angles. No surprise — former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy noted last year that more Americans suffer from addiction than from cancer. During his tenure, Murthy made the opioid crisis a top priority.
Murthy’s 2016 report on addiction has been compared to an influential report on smoking decades earlier, and he created a website devoted specifically to addressing the opioid crisis. But how much of it could have been prevented with a bit less complacency on the part of researchers? Continue reading