Tag Archives: opioids

As opioid settlement money comes in, experts say journalists must demand accountability

Photo courtesy of Joanne DeCaro

As millions of opioid settlement dollars flow into states, substance use disorder experts at AHCJ’s Rural Health Workshop 2022 said reporters should “follow the money” and hold officials and programs accountable for using that money to fund evidence-based programs.

“That’s what we didn’t see implemented and really borne out within the tobacco settlement,” said Sonia Canzater, J.D., M.P.H., associate director of the Hepatitis Policy Project at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, referring to the $246 billion major U.S. tobacco companies agreed to pay states in 1998 over 25 years as part of the Master Settlement Agreement.

Similar to that pact, pharmaceutical companies have agreed to pay roughly $26 billion to settle a barrage of lawsuits from states that allege those companies are partly to blame for the nation’s deadly opioid epidemic.

Brian Winbigler, Pharm.D., M.B.A., an assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Translational Science at the University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy, said opioid settlement funds should go to evidence-based programs, such as those that facilitate medication-assisted treatment and harm-reduction programs.

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Studies examine dental ailments as a driver of prescription abuse

Spurred by concerns about opioid addiction and antibiotic overuse, experts have urged clinicians across health care disciplines to take a hard look at their prescribing habits. Dentists, who are numbered among the nation’s leading prescribers of opioids and antibiotics, have been included in these warnings.

Dentists were responsible for writing more than 11 million opioid prescriptions one recent year, yet experts have cautioned that addiction often begins with such routine prescriptions. Continue reading

Tip sheet on covering alcohol highlights do’s, don’ts and story ideas

Photo: Casey Clough via Flickr

Every day, stories about the U.S. opioid epidemic appear in daily newsfeeds, and rightly so: they are responsible for two out of every three drug overdoses in the country.

But there’s another drug not included in the usual drug overdose stats which kills almost twice as many people a year as opioids — alcohol. And yet, a casual perusal of the daily headlines usually turns up as many fun or fluff stories about alcohol as ones that suggest the risks and harms of drinking. Continue reading

Infectious disease rates rising with opioid epidemic

As the opioid crisis has continued to plague the nation, a less-reported story for journalists to consider is the surging number of bacterial and viral infections threatening to make the crisis worse.

The rise includes an increase in bacterial infections caused by Staphlococcus aureus, a pathogen that is often resistant to antibiotics – and a climb in new HIV, hepatitis, sexually transmitted diseases and skin and soft tissue infections.

“A converging public health crisis is emerging because the opioid epidemic is fueling a surge in infectious diseases,” said the Journal of Infectious Diseases in August 2019. Continue reading

Trump riffs on health at campaign rally

Photo: Classic Film via Flickr

President Donald Trump has pledged to unveil a new plan to repeal and replace the ACA – but we haven’t seen it, and it’s not clear that we ever will.  If the president does announce a plan, it’s to campaign on in 2020, not to try to enact before the November elections with a Democratic-controlled House and a divided Senate.

There’s no way to know how the Ukraine scandal will factor into health care and domestic policy. Trump may focus on impeachment and politics to the exclusion of health care – or he may try to change the subject with some kind of health platform. Continue reading