This Week's News in Substance Use: 8/11/17

Trump Says He'll Beat Opioid Epidemic with Law-And-Order Approach , Politico

“President Donald Trump on Tuesday vowed his administration would beat the opioid epidemic by beefing up law enforcement and strengthening security on the southern border to stop illegal drugs from entering the country.

Trump, joined in Bedminster, New Jersey, by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and other administration officials, emphasized a tough law-and-order approach, rather than new treatment or social programs, as the White House's primary strategy for halting an epidemic that kills 142 Americans every day, according to federal statistics.”

Beach Town Tries to Reverse Runaway Growth of 'Sober Homes' , NPR

“The nation's epidemic of opioid abuse has created new opportunities for insurance fraud. Under federal law, health care insurance pays for the costs of recovery. That's led to a boom in residential programs to treat addiction, and also growth in deceptive marketing by some programs, fraudulent claims and what's known as patient brokering.

The state attorney for Palm Beach County, Dave Aronberg, convened a special task force to study opioid abuse and the drug recovery industry, with a report released early this year.”

Deaths from Drug Overdoses Soared in the First Nine Months of 2016 , The Washington Post

“Deaths from drug overdoses rose sharply in the first nine months of 2016, the government reported Tuesday, releasing data that confirm the widely held belief that the opioid epidemic worsened last year despite stepped-up efforts by public health authorities.

The National Center for Health Statistics reported that overdose deaths reached a record 19.9 per 100,000 population in the third quarter, a big increase over the 16.7 recorded for the same three months in 2015. Similarly, the first two quarters of last year showed death rates of 18.9 and 19.3, far greater than the corresponding periods for 2015. Data for the fourth quarter of 2016 are not yet available.”

32 Churches and No Methadone Clinic: Struggling with Addiction in an Opioid ‘Treatment Desert’ , STAT News

“When carefully managed, [Medication-Assisted Treatment] can cut the risk of overdose death by half, research shows. But not all medical providers are properly trained and approved to provide the treatments, which themselves are opioids (albeit less likely to be [misused]). Only state-licensed and federally approved clinics can provide methadone, and doctors need to apply for a federal Drug Enforcement Administration waiver to prescribe buprenorphine.

Lake Isabella sits in the Kern River Valley, home to 32 churches but not a single methadone clinic or doctor able or willing to prescribe buprenorphine. Like half the counties in California, the valley is an opioid ‘treatment desert.’”

How Big Pharma Is Hindering Treatment of the Opioid Addiction Epidemic , Los Angeles Times

“Open and vigorous competition is certainly not what the manufacturer behind the addiction treatment drug Suboxone had in mind when it combined several games to fight off generics appearing on the horizon. These games included product hopping (shifting the market to a new form of the drug just as the exclusivity expires so pharmacists cannot fill the prescription with a generic), refusing to cooperate with generic companies on safety plans, and petitioning the FDA to impose safety measures on generic versions that were never required for the brand-name version.

The opioid addiction epidemic is a complex problem, and there are no simple answers. One thing, however, is certain. The U.S. system should not reward companies for blocking generic competition. When we do that, the American public pays the price.”

Opioid Crisis: The Awful Arithmetic of America’s Overdoses May Have Gotten Worse , NBC News

“The deadly drug overdose epidemic that has been ravaging the nation may be even worse than we realize.

A new University of Virginia study says the numbers of deaths due to heroin and opioid overdoses have actually been severely underreported.

Dr. Christopher Ruhm revisited thousands of death certificates from 2008 through 2014 and concluded the mortality rates were 24 percent higher for opioids and 22 percent higher for heroin than had been previously reported.”

Opioid Users Are Filling Jails. Why Don’t Jails Treat Them? New York Times

“For more than a year, the PBS series ‘Frontline’ and The New York Times followed 10 newly released prisoners in Connecticut, including Mr. Mason, as they tried to start over. Though the stories were about the criminal justice system, they were also, inevitably, about addiction — three out of four inmates in Connecticut have a drug or alcohol problem, according to the Department of Correction, and the number who use opioids has soared.”

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