Photo: Sam Owens, Charleston Gazette-MailEric Eyre’s investigative series, Painkiller Profiteers, chronicled massive pain pill shipments to West Virginia. This shows the cremated ashes of a West Virginia woman who died from a drug overdose.
Lack of work, educational gaps, despair, overprescribing – there’s a host of reasons behind the nation’s opioid crisis. It may seem daunting to reporters who want to nail down the epidemic’s causes, but sometimes you just have to keep digging – literally.
West Virginia reporter Eric Eyre realized something was off when, during a trip to the state pharmacy board, he began digging through boxes filled with faxes from drug wholesalers reporting suspicious pharmacy activity. Continue reading
In two days in December, the Charleston Gazette-Mail published two blockbuster articles about the opioid crisis in West Virginia, the results of months of reporting by Eric Eyre, the paper’s statehouse reporter.
Anyone who read them would recognize that Eyre’s work was outstanding, if only for the numbers he included in each piece. Over six years, the nation’s largest drug distributors shipped 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills to pharmacies in the state, he reported. In that same period, 1,728 West Virginians fatally overdosed on those two painkillers, he wrote. Drug distributors shipped enough hydrocodone and oxycodone for each of the state’s 1.8 million residents to have 433 pills. Continue reading
In response to the nation’s epidemic of opioid addiction, health care leaders including U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy have urged providers to consider alternatives when helping patients manage pain.
Among those receiving the appeals are dentists, who have been among the leading prescribers of opioid pain medications, according to numerous studies. Dentists regularly write the prescriptions for patients who have undergone surgical tooth extractions, according to a research letter published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Continue reading
In-depth investigations into heroin and pain-pill abuse drew several top awards in this year’s Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism.
The 2016 awards, announced today by the Association of Health Care Journalists, recognize the best health reporting in 11 categories. This year, the contest’s 13th, drew nearly 400 entries.
Winning entries included investigations into inflated prescription-drug prices, agricultural practices fueling antibiotic resistance, and poor oversight of dangerous drug interactions.
Read more about the winners.
On Monday, analysis from the Congressional Budget Office showed that 24 million more Americans would become uninsured over 10 years if the U.S. House Republican’s bill to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) becomes law. Coverage of the CBO report overshadowed other news last week that the proposed American Health Care Act also would slash insurance coverage for those who are addicted to opioids and other drugs, according to reporting in USA Today and the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Deirdre Shesgreen and Terry DeMio on March 9 reported the bill would freeze the ACA’s Medicaid expansion provisions and limit federal payments to the states for all beneficiaries. That would result in a disproportionately adverse effect on patients coping with mental illness and addiction, they wrote. Continue reading