California Opioid Safety Network: Saving Lives, Together

Opioids in the News

August 9, 2018

Local

Lidocaine Shortage Seems to be Hitting Family Medicine Hardest
San Diego Union-Tribune - 08/07/2018
Drug shortages, especially those associated with injection opioid painkillers, have been a continuous problem for medical providers at all levels this year. A survey of San Diego County health providers found that, in general, the lidocaine shortage seems to be hitting independent practitioners in primary care the hardest. The largest systems seem to be doing better and stockpiling supply.

Opioid Awareness Workshop held in Dunsmuir
The Siskiyou Daily News - 08/06/2018
On July 26, one of many locally scheduled Opioid Awareness Workshops was held at the Dunsmuir Community Center. The workshop, attended by community members and sponsored by Siskiyou Against Rx Addiction, was an educational opportunity to learn about the science of addiction and opioids, their combined devastating effects on families and communities, and how Naloxone nasal spray can save lives by reversing overdoses.

SJ Public Health Giving out Free Narcan Kits to Fight Opioid Overdose
San Joaquin Record - 08/01/2018
To prevent overdose deaths San Joaquin County Public Health Services has launched a naloxone distribution program in the county with the goal of getting the overdose-reversal drug into the hands of a family member, friends or anyone who can help someone who is at risk of overdose.

Orange County Supervisors OK Lawsuit to Stop Needle Exchange Program
NBC Los Angeles - 08/03/2018
Orange County supervisors voted to seek a temporary restraining order to block a needle exchange program scheduled to begin August 6th. Local officials have said the program is a public health hazard, but in a statement, state officials defended the program saying that there "is a public health need for these services due to the significant risk for transmission of HIV and hepatitis C among people who inject drugs in Orange County."

State gives OK to Orange County Mobile Syringe Exchange Program, Over Local Objections
The Orange County Register - 07/31/2018
A mobile needle exchange program opposed by Orange County and four affected cities was approved this week by the California Department of Public Health. State officials have allowed for the Orange County Needle Exchange Program to operate for two years starting in August. Supporters say such programs help reduce the spread of diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C, and are often the only regular contact injection drug users have with healthcare professionals.

Congressmen Dig into Opioid Epidemic at Simi Valley Roundtable
VC Star - 07/30/2018
Congressmen Steve Knight of Palmdale and Michael McCaul of Texas hosted a roundtable at Simi Valley City Hall to gather input from local leaders to help federal efforts to combat the nation’s opioid epidemic and human trafficking. Lack of drug treatment beds and overprescribing were some of the subjects focused on at the meeting.

Grant Helps Solano Opioid Safety Coalition Move Forward
The Reporter (Solano) - 07/30/2018
A new grant from Fairfield-based MedMark Treatment Centers will help the Solano Coalition for Better Health (SCBH) progress with the development of The Solano Opioid Safety Coalition. The Opioid Safety Coalition was founded in 2017, and aims to reduce the number of patients currently using opioids and to “improve medication safety and treatment strategies.” While the SCBH is coordinating the Solano Opioid Safety Coalition, numerous agencies are on board with the effort.

San Bruno Police to Soon Carry Opioid Overdose Kits
The San Mateo Daily Journal - 07/27/2018
San Bruno police will soon carry Naloxone Hydrochloride, commonly called Narcan, to help treat opioid overdoses. The kits’ use by police officers is intended as a “critical bridge” of care until paramedics arrive to begin treatment, Lt. Troy Fry said.

State

To Overcome Opioid Crisis, California Needs Legislators who Will be Real Leaders (Opinion)
Sacramento Bee - 07/26/2018​
We need legislators to become knowledgeable on addiction and its human impact. They need to instinctively consider the role of addiction in mental health issues. Elected officials must hold press conferences and town halls and get out in front of the issue instead of just reacting. Only a handful of ave authored or backed legislation, with limited success.​

National

US Opioids: Number of Addicted Women Giving Birth Quadrupled over 15 Years
The Guardian - 08/09/2018
The number of US women who gave birth addicted to opioids has quadrupled in the last 15 years, increasing the number of infants who face withdrawal at birth according to new government data. There was great regional variation in the data, and states with the highest increases each year were Maine, New Mexico, Vermont and West Virginia. The lowest increases were in Hawaii and California.

FDA Will Broaden How it Evaluates New Addiction Treatment Drugs
STAT - 08/06/2018
The Food and Drug Administration announced a shift in the way it evaluates drugs to treat opioid addiction that the agency says will give it more flexibility to approve new treatments, potentially increasing the use of MAT. Now, rather than merely examining whether a potential treatment reduces opioid use, the agency will consider factors like whether a drug could reduce overdose rates or the transmission of infectious diseases.

Addiction is a Disease. My Drug-Addicted Parents Showed me That (Opinion)
The Washington Post - 08/03/2018
The feelings that come with losing a parent or loved for an addiction can be complex, and it can be hard to recognize that addicts often have little ability to make choices in their lives. We must see beyond the statistics and headlines. We must remember that buried under disease are real people and real families.

City Is Making Strides In Addressing Drug Abuse, Officials Say
WFPL Louisville - 08/02/2018
Louisville is on track to meet established goals to address substance abuse in the city after The Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness released a plan to address drug abuse earlier this year. One priority of this initiative is to address substance abuse among young people, including those affected by adverse childhood experiences.

Facing Wave of Opioid Lawsuits, Drug Companies Sprinkle Charity on Hard-Hit Areas
Bloomberg - 08/02/2018
The drug industry is dishing out millions in grants and donations to organizations in cities, counties, and states that have sued the companies over the deadly U.S. opioid epidemic. This includes San Francisco-based drug wholesaler McKesson Corp., which seeded a standalone nonprofit dedicated to fighting the opioid-abuse crisis with $100 million.

Listen: Inexpensive Nerve Drug Often Abused As Opioid Epidemic Grows
California Healthline - 08/02/2018
Kaiser Health News reporter Carmen Heredia Rodriguez joins the host of “On Point,” Anthony Brooks, to discuss public health officials’ concerns about the increasing use of the drug gabapentin by people addicted to opioids.

Patients With Chronic Pain Feel Caught In An Opioid-Prescribing Debate
California Healthline - 08/01/2018
New laws in many states such as Arizona place restrictions on prescribing and limit the maximum dose for most patients. Now, some patients who saw their doses lowered say they are becoming collateral damage and are suffering as a result.

Opioid Prescribing Hasn't Declined In The Last Decade Despite Addiction Crisis
Forbes - 08/01/2018
Opioid prescription rates have remained flat for insured patients over the last 10 years, according to data published today in the BMJ. And even though prescriptions doled out to Medicare patients have recently shown signs of leveling, prescribing rates for some of those older people are actually higher than they were a decade ago.

A New Study Shows Just How Much Doctors Prescribe Opioids
TIME - 07/28/2018
A quarter of patients treated for ankle sprains between 2011 and 2015 left the hospital with an opioid prescription, according to a paper published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine. While the average opioid prescription was relatively low-dose and supplied about 15 pills, a smaller number of patients received prescriptions equivalent to more than 30 tablets of mid-strength oxycodone– which the Drug Enforcement Administration says has “high potential for abuse.”

Study finds Americans More Likely to See Opioid Crisis Nationally than Locally
The Guardian - 07/26/2018
Americans are three times more likely to be aware of a national drug epidemic than to recognize addiction in their own communities, according to a survey by Laguna treatment hospital in Aliso Viejo, California. It found only 13% of those questioned from the Southern US and 10% of those from the Northeastern US felt “drugs posed a crisis in their own communities" even though many Northeastern and southern communities have been hit the hardest by opioids

Research and Reports

Older Adults Not Counseled on Handling Leftover Opioids
Med Page Today - 07/30/2018​
According to a study from the National Poll on Healthy Aging, while most older adults in the U.S. reported discussing how often to take their prescribed pain medication with healthcare providers, only a fraction said they talked about how to handle leftover pills.​

 

July 25, 2018

Local

Humboldt County Receives $103,000 Grant to Address Addiction
KEIM Humboldt - 07/23/2018
The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors is expected to accept a $103,000 grant from the Rx Safe Humboldt Coalition. The Rx Safe Humboldt Coalition received funding support from aegis treatment centers for Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services.

Solano County Included in Beefed up Federal Fight Against Opioids, Local Cities Preparing
Solano County Reporter - 07/17/2018
Solano County is one of 10 areas nationwide included in a new Department of Justice pilot project to fight the scourge of overdose deaths from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, according to a news release.

Doctors Are Changing San Diego’s Opioid Prescribing Practices
California Health Care Foundation - 07/02/2018
Parag Agnihotri, who oversees data analytics at Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Centers in San Diego, noticed that a high number of opioids were being prescribed there and that physicians were burning out caring for patients seeking opioids from them. After Dr. Agnihotri began looking into it three years ago, Sharp formed the safe opioid committee to change their prescribing practices.

State

Tai Chi, Anyone? CalPERS Partners up in Effort to Fight Opioid Epidemic
Sacramento Bee - 07/24/2018
The California Public Employees’ Retirement System is continuing its efforts to combat the statewide opioid epidemic, following the launch of a 2017 objective to reduce prescriptions of opioids. Now they have joined forces with Medi-Cal and Covered California for Smart Care California, a collaborative effort to promote safe health care.​

California Oral Surgeons Tackle Opioid Misuse and Dependence
Markets Insiders - 07/17/2018
In an effort to stem the tide of opioid misuse and abuse, the California Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons is combating the epidemic by educating middle and high school students and first responders throughout the state. ​

CVS Health Expands California Initiatives to Help Combat Opioid Abuse
Desert Sun - 07/13/2018
As California cracks down on combating opioid abuse, CVS Health officials announced an effort to install 62 medication-disposal units in California.

National

What if a Study Showed Opioids Weren’t Usually Needed?
The New York Times - 07/23/2018
A pragmatic trial is a research tool which seeks to determine if, and how, an intervention might work in practice, where decisions are more complicated than in a strictly controlled clinical trial. A recent pragmatic trial that could have helped to reduce the widespread use of opioids showed that non-opioid analgesics could be just as effective as opioids in a clinical practice.

One Man’s $50 Billion Vendetta Against Opioids
Bloomberg - 07/23/2018
Paul Farrell is the lawyer for more than 800 lawsuits brought by cities and counties against the makers of prescription painkillers and the companies that distribute them. He has also encouraged other local governments to file their own suits.

The Real Scandal in the Fight Against Opioids
Politico - 07/21/2018
Making more treatment and better treatment available has been key to combating heroin and opioid addiction in the past, including efforts by Richard Nixon to expand Methadone treatment. Yet the President, Governors, and the Media have not focused as much attention on making treatment more available as they have on other aspects of the opioid epidemic.

‘I Am Going to Die if I Keep Living the Way I Am.’ She Was Right.
The New York Times - 07/20/2018
It takes the typical opioid-addicted user eight years — and four to five treatment attempts — to achieve remission for a single year. Over the course of six years, Tess Henry made several attempts to get help and stay off of opioids but her inability to access treatment and other difficulties kept her on drugs and in dangerous situations.

Senate Bill to Include $7.9 Billion in Federal Funding to Address Addiction
Addiction Policy Forum - 07/19/2018
Last week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued a report that determined, if approved, the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 would authorize approximately $7.9 billion in funding for key federal agencies to address the opioid crisis in the United States, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Big Pharma is Quietly Using Nonprofits to Push Opioids
Los Angeles Times - 07/19/2018
Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri introduced a bill going after nonprofits supported by the opioid industry. The legislation follows from a scorching report she released in February detailing how opioid manufacturers funneled almost $9 million over five years to various advocacy groups that amplified messages and policies favorable to their industry.

How One Rural Community Is Fighting to Save Lives from Drug Overdose 
The Fix - 07/16/2018
B.A.C.K. O.F.F., which stands for Bringing Addiction Crisis Knowledge, Offering Families Focus, makes and distributes overdose prevention kits containing naloxone to families with a loved one who uses opioids in Brunswick County North Carolina.

Cities Planning Supervised Drug Injection Sites Fear Justice Department Reaction
NPR - 07/12/2018
Harm reduction advocates hope supervised injection sites can follow the path of needle exchange programs which have gained wider acceptance over the years, but many safe injection site proposals seem to be waylaid in community debate and legal uncertainty.

‘These Kids Are Watching Their Parents Die’
The Nation - 07/03/2018
Counties in West Virginia, like Jackson, have seen an unprecedented rise in children separated from their parents due to drug use. Under-resourced schools are now struggling to deal with the mental health needs of these children, as well as budget cuts from the state. Teachers went on strike in February and calls for the state to improve its mental-health resources have increased, but many in these communities still feel overwhelmed by the challenges.

Research and Reports

Overcoming Data-Sharing Challenges in the Opioid Epidemic
California Health Care Foundation - 07/18/2018
A common roadblock to integrating medication-assisted treatment and other efforts into primary care practices are federal confidentiality rules, which can make effective information sharing a challenge. Substance Use Disorder providers and primary care practices must balance the privacy protections in 42 CFR Part 2 (generally referred to as “Part 2”) with their efforts to integrate and coordinate care. This paper is national in scope and reviews recent changes to the Part 2 regulations.​

Study Reveals Opioid Patients Face Multiple Barriers to Treatment
Medical Xpress - 07/12/2018
In areas of the country disproportionately affected by the opioid crisis, treatment programs are less likely to accept patients paying through insurance of any type or accept pregnant women, a new Vanderbilt study found.

Caring For Young Victims of the Opioid Crisis
Council for a Strong America - 07/01/2018
Existing early childhood programs and policies can be used, expanded, and enhanced to serve as powerful tools in battling the opioid crisis and ameliorating its negative impact on young children. Investing in young children now will help ensure that our next generation will be citizen-ready, despite the serious challenges presented by the opioid epidemic.

July 11, 2018

Local

Humboldt County Sheriff's Office and RX Safe Humboldt Launch New Anti-Opioid Campaign
Redheaded Blackbelt - 07/06/2018
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office and RX Safe Humboldt launched a new anti-opioid campaign titled “Heroin in your Home: The Danger Within Your Cabinet”. As part of this new campaign, the Sheriff’s Office has installed a new medication disposal bin and is promoting others around the county.

Humboldt County Superior Court and Yurok Tribal Court Partner to Assist Families in Substance Abuse Related Cases
Lost Coast Outpost - 07/06/2018
As a response to the opioid epidemic in Humboldt County, the Yurok Tribal Court and the Superior Court of Humboldt are introducing a Family Wellness Court aimed to assist parents struggling to care for their children due to substance abuse.

As Ventura County's Opioid Problems Rise, Cops Carry Life-Saving Spray for Public, Selves
Ventura County Star - 07/05/2018
With opioid deaths on the rise in Ventura County, patrol officers are encountering more overdose victims and risking contact with potentially deadly substances. Now they are carrying Narcan as a preventative measure to reverse the overdoses of citizens and to protect themselves from an overdose.

Substance Abuse Treatment Gets Boost From San Diego County
KBPS - 07/04/2018
San Diego County has begun implementing the Drug Medi-Cal Organized Delivery System. This means more federal Medicaid funds to enhance substance abuse treatment services. Spending in this area will go from $54.6 million to $179.6 million over the next three years.

San Francisco may be the First City in the Nation to Open Safe Injection Sites
KALW - 07/02/2018
San Francisco is on verge of opening the first safe-injection sites in the Nation, even though they are still illegal under state and federal law. Mayor-elect London Breed has voiced her support for the program.

San Francisco Takes Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder to the Streets
California Health Report - 06/28/2018
San Francisco announced a $6 million investment to expand a yearlong pilot program that connected close to 100 people who are homeless and dealing with heroin and opioid addiction with access to buprenorphine and other services. About a quarter of the participants had previously started on buprenorphine but were not in treatment when the pilot started.

Two Alameda County sheriff’s Investigators Survive Potentially Lethal Fentanyl Exposure
San Francisco Chronicle - 06/26/2018
Two undercover Alameda County sheriff’s investigators survived what could have been a fatal overdose of fentanyl last week following an accidental exposure while on duty. The officers used Narcan to save themselves from overdosing.

State

More California Pharmacies to Distribute Opioid Overdose Drug
San Francisco Chronicle - 07/06/2018
A month after the California Department of Public Health issued a statewide standing order for naloxone, the agency has authorized 27 organizations across the state, mostly pharmacies and addiction treatment centers, to distribute and administer the medication without a prescription.

Opioid Drugs to Treat Opioid Addiction? It's Part of a Treatment Plan at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage
Desert Sun - 07/02/2018
Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage has added medications to their opioid treatment program in an attempt to improve patient outcomes. Roughly 82 percent of the center’s patients who are receiving medication-assisted treatment are successful at self-management at six-months.

National

With More Opioid Use, People Are More Likely To Get Caught Up In The Justice System
NPR - 07/06/2018
People addicted to prescription opioids or heroin are far more likely to have run-ins with the law than those who don't use opioids, according to a study published in JAMA. About 65 percent of people who are incarcerated are known to have a substance use disorder, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.​

Illinois Seeks to Expand Obamacare Coverage of Opioid Addiction Treatment, Prevention
Chicago Tribune - 07/05/2018
Illinois has applied for assistance from the federal government for consumers who buy health insurance through the Obamacare exchange to get more coverage aimed at treating and preventing opioid addiction, starting in 2020.

Pill Designed to Help Opioid Addicts Now Poses Risk to Children
Healthline - 07/05/2018
Buprenorphine is an essential drug in the fight against opioid addiction, but its increased presence in people's homes has brought more exposure of the drug to young children, who are susceptible to overdose if they ingest the drug. Experts say greater education and focus on safe-storage of the drug is needed.

Needle Exchanges, Once Radical, Need An Update To Survive In Rural America
Huffington Post - 07/03/2018
Kanawha County was identified as one of the U.S. counties most vulnerable to an HIV outbreak among injection drug users, something their public health officer was striving to avoid. The public health department got a syringe exchange up and running, but two years later it had it close it down due to mounting public pressure.

Research and Reports

Methadone in Primary Care — One Small Step for Congress, One Giant Leap for Addiction Treatment
New England Journal of Medicine - 07/05/2018
With treatment out of reach for many of those most affected by the opioid epidemic, making Methadone available for prescription in primary care clinics would be a simple and positive move to increase access to this effective treatment. Specialized Methadone clinics often face tough regulations, and allowing substance use disorder to be treated in primary care may help remove those barriers, and reduce public stigma.

June 28, 2018

Local

Officials Say Opioid Overdose Deaths Dropped By Half In 2017
The San Francisco Chronicle - 06/20/2018
Officials with the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency said recently-released data reveal that the number of opioid overdose deaths decreased by nearly 50 percent in 2017. Members of the MEDS Coalition in Alameda County said that since 2015 prescriptions of opioids have decreased 12 percent in Alameda County and prescriptions for Buprenorphine have increased 16 percent.

San Mateo County Sues Drug Distributors Over Opioid Crisis
The San Francisco Chronicle - 06/20/2018
San Mateo County has filed a lawsuit against McKesson Corp. accusing the San Francisco drug distributor and two other major pharmaceutical distributors over their alleged role in exacerbating the nation’s opioid epidemic.​

State

California Lawmakers Want To Crack Down On Fraud At Drug Rehab Centers. Will It Work?
Capital Public Radio - 06/25/2018
Lawmakers are aiming to cut down on corruption at addiction-recovery facilities by changing the way insurance companies reimburse providers. Because no medical degree is required to get a facility license some centers are administering subpar and sometimes unnecessary care and then billing insurance companies for it in the hopes of earning high reimbursements.

Evan Low’s Legislation Will Help Reduce Opioid Abuse (Opinion)
San Jose Mercury News - 06/13/2018
Evan Low's AB 1752 seeks to strengthen the CURES System to be more reliable, protect patient privacy, and be technically capable of handling a large number of users and data requests.

 National

Reframing America’s Opioid Epidemic to Find Solutions
Stanford Social Innovation Review  - 06/26/18
Gut-wrenching stories of the opioid epidemic frame addiction as a crisis of individual suffering and bad choices, where the only solution is to make better decisions and have a stronger will. Yet framing the opioid epidemic as an individual problem can distract from evidence-based solutions. Instead, we need narratives that support the possibility of solutions.

A Solution to the Opioid Epidemic from the Urban and Rural America Perspective 
The Hill - 06/26/18
The CARE Act intends to prevent overdose deaths and has bi-partisan support from both urban and rural areas. The act would make money available to deliver sustained funding in an amount commensurate with the scope of the crisis, directly to areas hardest hit by addiction and overdose.

When an Iowa Family Doctor Takes On the Opioid Epidemic
The New York Times - 06/23/18
Dr. Nicole Gastala is trying to help by folding addiction treatment into her everyday family medicine practice. She is one of a small cadre of primary care doctors who regularly prescribe buprenorphine, a medication that helps suppress the cravings and withdrawal symptoms that plague people addicted to opioids.

House Passes Massive Package to Address Opioids Crisis
NBC News - 06/22/18
The U.S. House passed the most ambitious congressional push yet to address the growing opioid epidemic, with provisions directing federal agencies to prioritize training, support recovery centers and expand research on several fronts. The package, made up of 58 individual House-approved bills, includes a provision called Jessie’s Law that would require that medical records list a patient's addiction history.

Needle Exchanges Have Been Proved to Work Against Opioid Addiction. They’re Banned in 15 states.
VOX - 06/22/18
Needle exchange programs are an exhaustively studied, proven public health intervention in the fight against opioid addiction, but the exchanges are also illegal in 15 states. Exchanges often face resistance due to stigma and concerns that the programs will attract drug users to an area and lead to more drug-related problems, even though studies have shown that they reduce needle litter and other drug-related problems.

Doling Out Pain Pills Post-Surgery: An Ingrown Toenail Not The Same As A Bypass
California Healthline - 06/22/18
Surgeon Marty Makary took an innovative approach toward developing guidelines: matching the right number of opioid painkillers to specific procedures. Markary's group developed guidelines setting maximum numbers of opioid-containing pills for 20 different common surgical situations, from relatively minor procedures to coronary bypass surgery.

Opioid Crisis: This Doctor’s Street-Level Views Could Change the Course of the Epidemic
University of California - 06/22/18
The nationwide "Heroin in Transition" study is sending health researchers out for in-the-field study in communities stricken by opioid abuse. The five-year study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, is gathering statistical and behavioral data on opioid use patterns in order to gain a more accurate understanding of the changes in the heroin supply and resulting harms.

How the Government Can Lower Drug Prices
The New York Times - 06/20/18
Officials in cities like Baltimore say they can’t afford the costs of all the medications they need, such as naloxone. The Trump administration’s own opioid commission has advised the government to negotiate with drug companies to cut naloxone prices, but no steps to negotiate with drug companies have been taken.

Opioid Crisis Sending Thousands of Children into Foster Care
The Hill - 06/20/18
An analysis of foster care systems around the country shows the number of children entering state or foster care rising sharply, with foster populations up more than 30 percent in Alabama, Alaska, California, Idaho, Indiana, Minnesota and New Hampshire since 2014. The children entering state care are younger, and they tend to stay in the system longer than ever before.

After Opioid Overdose, Only 30 Percent Get Medicine To Treat Addiction
Kaiser Health News - 06/19/18
A new Annals of Internal Medicine Study finds that just 3 in 10 patients revived by an EMT or in an emergency room received the follow-up medication known to avoid another life-threatening event. Patients with access to Suboxone had a 40 percent lower death rate after one year, compared with those who did not receive any medication.

I’m a Doctor Caring for Opioid-Addicted Newborns. Here’s What I Need to Help Them. (Opinion) 
Reuters - 06/18/18
Little is known about what the long-term developmental outcomes will look like for children exposed to opioids in the womb. Research shows they may perform academically below their peers, but we don’t know if there is anything we can do in early childhood to mitigate this. Nor do we know to what degree the coexistence of childhood poverty, neglect, or foster care contributes.

Opioid Treatment Plans Must Include a Trauma-Informed Approach (Opinion)
The Hill - 06/14/18
Child welfare workers are sounding the alarm that children of those addicted are entering the foster care system at a younger age and present complicated physical and mental health issues. One of the challenges to improving outcomes is that there is not enough current infrastructure to provide family-based treatment and trauma-informed best practices.

Research and Reports

Effect of Restricting the Legal Supply of Prescription Opioids on Buying Through Online Illicit Marketplaces: Interrupted Time Series Analysis
BMJ - 06/13/2018
This report examines the effect on the trade in opioids through online illicit markets (“cryptomarkets”) of the US Drug Enforcement Administration’s ruling in 2014 to reschedule hydrocodone combination products.

June 12, 2018

Local

Deaths Surge From Fentanyl-Laced Street Drugs In San Diego County
KPBS - 06/07/2018
San Diego County’s fentanyl overdose mortality rate in 2017 was two times higher than the California rate. Nearly 275 county deaths were attributed to opioid overdoses, with more than half involving fentanyl. Test strips for the drug were offered at the Family Health Centers of San Diego syringe exchange program, but a company spokesperson said the organization is currently out of supply.

8 Opium Poppy Fields Found in Monterey County
KSWB - 05/30/2018
An opium poppy field bust that is believed to be the largest in California history unfolded in Monterey County during May the Sheriff's Office has announced. The total land area of opium poppies found growing was 5.6 acres combined for all 8 locations.

Needle exchanges help combat the opioid crisis. So why was the one in Orange County shut down?​
Vox - 05/29/2018
In January 2018 the Santa Ana government shut down Orange County's only needle exchange program by denying it a permit to operate at the local civic center. In response to losing the city permit, the Santa Ana program is now working on turning into a countywide mobile exchange, with an application into the California Department of Public Health.

State

California Orders Opioid Overdose Antidote Naloxone Available Without Prescription
The San Francisco Chronicle - 06/08/2018
The California Department of Public Health on Thursday, June 7th issued a statewide standing order for naloxone which functions as a standing prescription that enables all California organizations that work to reduce or manage drug addiction to distribute naloxone to patients and members of the community.

California Comp Fund Says Opioid Prescriptions Down 60% Since 2014
Business Insurance - 06/07/2018
California’s State Compensation Insurance Fund has reduced the number of opioid prescriptions for injured workers by 60% to 23.7 million since launching its opioid-reduction program in 2014, the state-run insurer announced June 7th.

As Opioid Crisis Grows, Medical Schools Bolster Addiction Training
The San Francisco Chronicle - 06/03/2018
UCSF School of Medicine started a yearlong fellowship in addiction medicine program last year, designed to give doctors extensive training in addiction medicine at the beginning of their careers. It is the first such fellowship in the University of California schools of medicine.

California is Now Paying for People to Test Their Drugs for Fentanyl
The Los Angeles Times - 05/31/2018
In May 2017, the California public health department began paying for needle exchanges to distribute Fentanyl test strips to drug users. Now, LA County health department's substance abuse prevention and control division, said officials are considering offering Fentanyl test strips more widely, though some are concerned that the test strips are too sensitive when detecting the drug.

National

Massachusetts Sues Opioid Maker Purdue Pharma, Executives
Reuters - 06/12/18
Massachusetts has filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma LP, accusing the OxyContin maker of illegally promoting the use of opioids, and became the first state to sue the drugmaker’s executives and directors to hold them responsible as well.

NIH Outlines Plans for $500M to Combat Opioid Epidemic
The Hill - 06/12/18
Leaders of the National Institutes of Health published an outline of how the nation’s medical research agency plans to spend the $500 million Congress gave it to fight the opioid epidemic.

CMS Releases Guidance to States on Using Medicaid to Address Opioid Crisis
The Hill - 06/11/18
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released guidance focused on covering services for infants born exposed to opioids and how to enhance federal funding for telemedicine and programs that keep tabs on patients’ prescriptions.

A New Study Shows Stigma is Hurting our Response to the Opioid Epidemic
Vox - 06/07/18
When it comes to combating opioid misuse and addiction, needle exchanges and safe injection sites have decades of evidence behind them. Yet a new study published in Preventive Medicine found that a majority of Americans oppose both and stigmatizing attitudes toward people with addiction appear to be to blame.

She Went to Jail for a Drug Relapse. Tough Love or Too Harsh?
The New York Times - 06/04/18
A case before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court may have widespread effects for the hundreds of thousands of addicted people who are caught up in the criminal justice system for failing requirements of their probation due to relapse.

When Opioids Impact the Whole Family
60 Minutes - 06/03/18
An increasing population of older Americans is stepping in to raise grandchildren who have been removed from their parents' care, largely because of addiction to drugs such as opioids. Experts note that it is important to take into account the trauma a child is exposed to when removed from their parents and to make sure caregivers have access to trauma-informed care.

‘The Police Aren’t Just Getting You In Trouble. They Actually Care.’
Politico - 06/02/18
In 2015 the police chief of Gloucester, Mass., announced that anyone who showed up at the police station and asked for help overcoming an opiate addiction would get it, without fear of arrest. Three years later, this unique approach to combating the opioid epidemic has evolved into a national program called Police-Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative.

Opioids Are Now Responsible for 1 in 5 Deaths Among Young Adults
TIME - 06/02/18
Among those between the ages of 15 and 24 nearly 3,000 opioid-related deaths were recorded in 2016 accounting for 12.4% of deaths in this demographic, and among adults aged 25 to 34, that number skyrocketed to 20%, according to a new study.

Local Governments Mapping EMS Overdoses
New America - 05/30/18
Some communities have now started mapping EMS calls for overdoses as a first step in showing how overwhelming the epidemic is for EMS personnel. One such effort by the City of Tempe, AZ, has resulted in the launch of their Opioid EMS Dashboard.

Research and Reports

Public Support for Needle Exchange Programs, Safe Injection Sites Remains Low in U.S.
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health - 06/05/18
Two strategies that research indicates would help alleviate America’s opioid crisis lack widespread public support, according to a study led by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

May 30, 2018

Local

Opioid Epidemic Subject of Community Event in Chico (Video)
Action News Now - 05/18/2018
The Prevention Unit of Butte Behavioral Health hosted the California Opioid Summit on May 21st and 22nd in Chico, it explored the history of the opioid epidemic in American and offered an opportunity for the public to learn more about how opioids are impacting the community.

How ER Docs Could Play a Key Role in Fighting the Opioid Epidemic
The Los Angeles Times - 05/17/2018
Momentum is building to get emergency departments to play a bigger role in stemming the epidemic. Now USC doctor Rebecca Trotzky is piloting a program that would start treatment for suspected opioid use disorders in the ER.

SF Mayor’s Bold plan to Treat Heroin Addicts on the Street
The San Francisco Chronicle - 05/16/2018
San Francisco’s mayor wants to create a special medical team to spread out onto the city’s streets and give homeless people better access to Buprenorphine. The investment will give a boost to the city's Department of Public Health's Street Medicine Team by adding 10 new clinicians.

Sheriff’s Office to Provide Naloxone kits for Victims of Opioid Overdoses
Paso Robles Daily News - 05/16/2018
The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office, in cooperation with the County Emergency Medical Services agency, announced that it is the first law enforcement agency in the County to begin carrying and administering Naloxone to victims of opioid overdose.

The Opioid Epidemic Isn't Hitting LA as Hard as the Rest of the Country. Ethnic Diversity Might Explain Why
KPCC - 05/15/2018
Los Angeles County has not gone unscathed by the effects of opioids, but the rate of deadly overdoses there is much lower than the national rate. Some experts say the region’s racial and ethnic diversity is likely a factor. Latinos and Asian-Americans are both less likely to ask for or be offered opioids by doctors.

In Response to the New York Times’ Humboldt County Piece (Opinion)
Eureka Times-Standard - 05/15/2018
The New York Times' story captures important nuance in the complexities that lead to and reinforce the impacts of the opioid epidemic in Humboldt County, but at the same time, The North Coast Health Leadership Team wishes to shed light on the many initiatives and stakeholders that are banding together to address the needs of our community.

How one Rural California County Went From the State’s Highest Rate of Opioid Deaths — to Zero
Center for Health Journalism - 05/14/2018
Plumas County has seen a dramatic drop in opioid-related deaths recently, a reversal credited in part to a network of regional coalitions tackling the problem the across the state. Expanding access to medication-assisted-treatment, and removing barriers to accessing that treatment as well as other coalition objectives, have been key to reducing the number of overdoses, though progress didn't come without challenges.

State

California Deaths From Powerful Opioid Fentanyl Triple in 2017
KQED - 05/25/2018
Preliminary numbers show California's overdose deaths from the synthetic opioid fentanyl tripled in 2017, however, the number of total opioid deaths, including from heroin, fentanyl, and other opioids, is down slightly from 2016.

A Dangerous Opioid is Killing People in California. It's Starting to Show up in Cocaine and Meth
The Los Angeles Times - 05/15/2018
Fentanyl, a potent opioid already responsible for thousands of deaths nationwide, is increasingly showing up in drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine in California, officials say.

National

Origins of an Epidemic: Purdue Pharma Knew Its Opioids Were Widely Abused
The New York Times - 05/29/2018
A copy of a confidential Justice Department report shows that federal prosecutors investigating the company found that Purdue Pharma knew about “significant” abuse of OxyContin in the first years after the drug’s introduction in 1996 and concealed that information.

Millennials Affected by Bad Timing of Opioid Epidemic, Expert Says
Addiction Now - 05/24/2018
Millennials are more prone the opioid epidemic than other generations, but that does not mean it is a generational problem. According to Gary Tsai of the LA department of health, they have been impacted because of the timing of the epidemic.

Researchers Tally the Physical and Financial Costs of Opioid Painkillers' Side Effects
Los Angeles Times - 05/23/2018
Researchers calculated instances of opioid-related adverse drug events, or ORADEs, in Texas hospitals and found 10.6% had at least one ORADE.

America’s 150-Year Opioid Epidemic
The New York Times - 05/19/2018
Too often we imagine that our opioid crisis is new; but fact that it has been around, to varying degrees, for 150 years can be a frustrating thought. But we can also take inspiration from the fact that we have tackled the problem before, and have won.

Treat Addiction Like Cancer (Opinion)
The New York Times - 05/19/2018
While addiction, like cancer, is a complex disease that requires a multipronged approach, the contrast between treatment experiences can be drastic. Addiction treatment often lacks the protocols and supports from the mainstream medical system, and patients don't always know what will be covered by insurance.

New Patient Assistance Program Offers Free Naloxone Pens in Six States
Addiction Now - 05/19/2018
People who suffer from opioid addiction across six states, including California, will be able to receive free naloxone pens through a new pilot program from Kaleo, a pharmaceutical company.

What Explains The Rising Overdose Rate Among Latinos?
Kaiser Health News - 05/17/2018
Overdose deaths among Latinos are surging nationwide, yet there’s little understanding about why overdose deaths are rising faster among blacks and Latinos than whites.

In a First, FDA Approves Drug Meant to Mitigate Symptoms of Opioid Withdrawal
STAT - 05/16/2018​
The Food and Drug Administration approved for the first time a drug meant to mitigate the symptoms of opioid withdrawal, rather than an underlying dependency, giving American physicians a new tool to help patients begin treatment.​

Research and Reports

The Viability of Shelter-Based Opioid Treatment for Homeless Parents
How Housing Matters - 05/16/2018
Homelessness creates barriers to accessing office-based opioid treatment. To reduce barriers to treatment, the Family Team at the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program added a shelter-based opioid treatment program to its outreach clinic at a family homeless shelter and motel. Their program is analyzed in a new study.​

May 16, 2018

Local

SLO County Law Enforcement Agencies Look to Provide Officers with Drug to Prevent Opioid Overdoses
New Times SLO - 05/10/2018
Pismo Beach is one of eight law enforcement agencies in SLO County either seriously considering or actively pursuing the ability to equip officers with naloxone, allowing them to treat opioid overdoses in the field instead of waiting for firefighters or emergency medical services.

‘The Narcan Lady’ Is on a One-Woman Mission to Distribute the Overdose-Reversal Drug
Voice of San Diego - 05/07/2018
Every week, Beth Herman of Encinitas gives about 75 drug users a medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdoses. Herman runs a small nonprofit called All Peoples’ Encinitas Inc. She has a deal with a naloxone supplier, and since last summer she’s been buying the drug herself and setting up next to the region’s only clean syringe exchange program.

State

Along California’s ‘Rehab Riviera,’ Sober-Living Is Often Anything But
KQED - 05/14/2018
Some officials and former residents claim that many so-called sober living homes are more like party houses. While some homes provide valuable services, many of these operations are unlicensed private residences that are hard to regulate. Now some bills are making their way through the legislature to establish new rules and regulations for sober-living facilities.

Big Pharma Class Action Alleges Opioid Epidemic Caused Insurance Premiums to Rise
Northern California Record - 05/13/2018
A class action lawsuit has been filed in the U.S. district court in Northern California alleging pharmaceutical companies are directly responsible for the opioid epidemic that has, in turn, caused health insurance payments to increase.

Should Opioid Drugmakers, Distributors be Held Accountable for Nationwide Addiction Crisis
KPCC - 05/11/2018
Interview with LA city attorney Mike Feuer on the latest on the suit against the top six manufacturers and three wholesale distributors of prescription painkillers.

California’s Opioid Crisis
KQED - 05/11/2018
Laura Klivans, KQED health reporter, Dr. Scott Steiger, UCSF associate professor of medicine and psychiatry, and Brian Washington, Marin County counsel, discuss California's evolving approaches to combating the opioid crisis.

Drug Makers and Pharmacies Must Pay for Their Role in Opioid Addiction, Counties Argue
Sacramento Bee - 05/09/2018
Sacramento, Placer, El Dorado and nine other northern California counties filed suit Tuesday in federal court in Sacramento against more than two dozen defendants including drug makers and national pharmacy chains.

Needle by Needle, a Heroin Crisis Grips California’s Rural North
The New York Times - 05/08/2018
In Humboldt County, the opioid death rate is five times higher than the state average, a problem exacerbated by lack of affordable housing and support programs for drug users. However new services and treatment programs are opening up, opioid prescribing rates are down, and there are many local leaders looking to support progress as discussed in this response in the California Health Care Foundation's blog: https://www.chcf.org/blog/in-humboldt-county-efforts-to-fight-opioid-epidemic-bring-progress/

California Lawmakers Move to Limit Opioids for Minors
Sacramento Bee - 05/07/2018
The CA Assembly voted unanimously to advance a bill to limit doctors from prescribing more than five days' worth of opioid drugs to minors. The bill now goes to the Senate.

 National

Is the Crackdown on Opioids Failing Patients?
KPCC - 05/14/2018
Many chronic pain patients are middle-aged and older adults, who are among the highest users of prescription opioids. There’s not much evidence to suggest opioids are an effective treatment for chronic pain. Still, policies designed to curb abuse have left some feeling stranded.

Opioid Epidemic Leaving Grandparents to Raise Grandchildren
60 Minutes - 05/13/2018
Even communities once relatively unaffected by drug use are now seeing their population of children living with grandparents rise. This includes Utah, which has 21,000 children living with grandparents, a major increase since the start of the opioid epidemic.

We Really do Have a Solution to the Opioid Epidemic — and one State is Showing it Works
VOX - 05/10/2018
While awareness and availability of Buprenorphine and similar treatments vary across the country, many states have made its use central to combating the opioid crisis. Programs in states like Virginia have made Buprenorphine more widely accessible, including by boosting reimbursement rates to addiction treatment providers who accept Medicaid.

Children of the Opioid Epidemic
The New York Times - 05/09/2018
The varying approaches states and counties take to dealing with pregnant women with drug problems, have meant that sometimes a mother will be forced into a treatment facility, or be separated from their child, while other times they may be allowed to go through treatment and continue to raise their children at home.

For Babies Of The Opioid Crisis, Best Care May Be Mom's Recovery
NPR Shots - 05/08/2018
Research indicates that babies exposed to opioids in utero test normally for cognitive, motor, and other skills when their mothers had been in medically-assisted treatment during their pregnancy. Furthermore, some residential treatment programs now pair parenting classes with addiction treatment, to make sure that children exposed to opioids continue to progress.

Reporting on Opioids, Across the Rural-Urban Divide
The New York Times - 05/08/2018
Stories about the effects of drug use, such as in the Bronx and Northern California, are always much more complicated than they first appear. For example, Humboldt county's public health crises, such as homelessness, meth, and opioid use, had collided in such a way as to increase the collateral damage to the community as a whole.

Reversing An Overdose Isn't Complicated, But Getting The Antidote Can Be
NPR Shots - 05/07/2018
Normally a doctor or nurse would have to directly prescribe naloxone for a person at risk of overdosing. And while most states have passed laws allowing for third-parties (not healthcare workers of patients) to use naloxone if someone is overdosing, there are still big variations on the ability of individuals to obtain the drug, including cost and the restrictions a pharmacy must follow to dispense the drug.

How Can U.S. Fight the Opioid Crisis? Try Antidote Patents
Bloomberg - 05/03/2018
By overriding patents for naloxone treatments including Kaleo Inc.’s injectable Evzio and Adapt Pharma Inc.’s Narcan nasal spray, the government could lower the cost and increase the availability of the antidote, Baltimore’s health department and Public Citizen said in a letter to the White House on Thursday.

 

May 2, 2018

Local

Drug Treatment Centers in Modesto Need Additional Services
Drug Addiction Now - 05.01.18
Government officials are in favor of expanding drug treatment centers that offer medication-assisted treatment (MAT) services for residents of Modesto and the rest of Stanislaus County.

Grand Jury Says More Should be Spent on Opioid Abuse Prevention
Ventura County Star - 05.01.18
Leaders of Ventura County’s drug and alcohol prevention program should consider spending more on opioid abuse prevention and less on drug treatment services, according to a Ventura County Grand Jury report.

Fresno Doctors Don't Want to Feed the Opioid Crisis. But is Tylenol Enough for Pain?
Fresno Bee - 04.30.2018
Doctors say hospitals have been receptive to reducing opioid medications for surgery patients, but the programs have not been without risk, patient satisfaction scores can be threatened. Still, many hospitals are improving the effectiveness of their non-opioid services rapidly, often successfully reducing pain as much as if they had used opioids.​

McGuire Requests Drug Screening Budget
Lake County Record-Bee - 04.26.2018
CA State Senator Mike McGuire is fighting to secure millions that would allow California to implement a successful enhanced drug screening program, which has been proven to help combat drug addiction in other states. The funding would focus on the screening of opioid and methamphetamine addiction when patients see their doctors.

State

Fentanyl Blamed for Apparent Overdoses That Killed California Prisoner, Sickened Others
KQED - 05.01.18
Fentanyl is suspected of killing an inmate and sickening 12 other prisoners at Mule Creek State Prison according to tests conducted by the state Attorney General's office. Drug overdoses are the fifth-leading cause of death inside the state prison system and the second-leading cause of non-chronic illnesses as reported by state corrections officials.

Facebook Live: Confronting Opioid Addiction
California Healthline - 04.26.2018
California Healthline columnist Emily Bazar and contributor Brian Rinker discussed the medications used to treat opioid addiction and the challenges of getting access to them.

National

Questions Raised About Study Of Device To Ease Opioid Withdrawal
NPR - 05.02.18
The Bridge, a medical device worn behind the ear, delivers electronic pulses to ease the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. The Bridge has already received support from multiple state governments, but the lone study supporting the device skirted FDA rules and ethical norms. Despite this, the FDA has now approved for the Bridge to be marketed for opioid withdrawal.

Are Restrictions on Opioids a Threat to Human Rights?
The Washington Post - 04.30.2018
A new investigation by the New York-based nonprofit Human Rights Watch is seeking evidence that the CDC guidelines and other efforts to modulate opioid prescribing result in patients being cut off from vital medication, in violation of their right to appropriate health care.

In Rural Areas Hit Hard by Opioids, a New Source of Hope
Pew Charitable Trusts - 04.30.2018
Withdrawal management centers and treatment centers in rural areas, like The Harrington project in Delaware, are examples of the type of work the USDA wants to support more strongly. A provision in the US House version of the 2018 farm bill would allow the secretary of agriculture to declare a rural health emergency, allowing the agency to move more quickly than usual and requiring it to reserve money to address the problem.

Doctors Receive Opioid Training. Big Pharma Funds It. What Could Go Wrong
Mother Jones - 04.27.2018
Many of the mandated continuing education courses that inform doctors of the benefits and risks of opioids are funded by the conglomerates who manufacture opioids, as required by the FDA. Critics see these courses as insidious forms of pharmaceutical promotion and point to evidence that the trainings promote practices that the CDC found little or no evidence supporting.

Common Pain Relievers Beat Opioids for Dental Pain Relief
The New York Times - 04.25.2018
Over-the-counter pain pills are safer and more effective than prescription opioids for controlling the pain following dental procedures, a review of the evidence has found.

LEAs Get Creative in the Fight Against Opioid Abuse
K-12 Daily - 04.24.2018
In places like Snohomish County, WA, opioid prevention outreach expanding in many directions, but especially for high-risk communities. Many counties have gotten creative in educating youth through sporting and other events, and creating programs to educate teachers and school staff such as bus drivers.

America’s Fentanyl Problem Is Reaching a Whole New Group of Users
Mother Jones - 04.23.2018
Big rises in fentanyl caused overdoses in major cities across the US are prompting officials to issue warnings, especially for users of cocaine who may be unaware of the presence of fentanyl in their drug supply.

April 24, 2018

County

Pain Management Rarely Means Opioids for San Diego Jail Inmates
The San Diego Union-Tribune - 04/23/18
Opioid painkillers have been largely swapped out for Tylenol and ibuprofen as part of a program to stem the cycle of opioid addiction in San Diego County jails.

San Francisco's Newest Tool to Prevent Opioid Overdoses Tests Drugs, Starts Conversations
KQED - 04/18/18
At the 6th Street Harm Reduction Center in San Francisco staffers give out more than just syringes, including Narcan, a rescue drug that can reverse an opioid overdose and save a life, as well as easy-to-use test strips that can detect the presence of fentanyl in other drugs or substances.

Opioid Treatment Center Coming to Eureka? Yes, Please! (Opinion)
Eureka Times-Standard - 04/16/18
Even as opioid overdose rates continue to rise in Humboldt County, some citizens are concerned about a plan to open up a treatment center in Eureka. However, some of the most vocal critics of the plan have already changed their minds.

Study: Ventura County Prescriber Shortage Creates Opioid Treatment Barrier
Ventura County Star - 04/14/18
Data presented by the Urban Institute and the California Health Care Foundation claims a shortage of prescribing doctors and treatment programs creates a care gap across California and in Ventura County.

Opioid Coalition Comes Together to Fight the Crisis in Mendocino County
Ukiah Daily Journal - 04/06/18
A community group called the Safe RX Mendocino Opioid Safety Coalition is coming together to try and provide solutions to the opioid crisis. Most of their work brings together patients, law enforcement and physicians to foster education and safe practices in dealing with opioids.

California

Marin Health Officials Test New Way to Track Opioid Overdoses
San Francisco Chronicle - 04/21/18
Marin County is rolling out a six-month pilot project, backed by a $20,000 grant from the California Department of Public Health, designed to give public health officials access to the identifying information of people who were treated by emergency medical services for an opioid overdose in the previous week. Officials plan to use this information to help individuals access treatment or naloxone.

Ralphs Grocery Company Commits to Creating Safer Communities by Joining Effort to Combat Opioid Abuse
The Daily Meal - 04/19/18
Ralphs currently stocks naloxone in its 79 pharmacies in Southern California. All Ralphs Pharmacies dispense naloxone without the need for a prescription in order to make it easier for at-risk individuals to have the drug on hand if needed to save a life.

Safety Violations Compound Pain Of Painkiller Shortages
California Healthline - 04/13/18
Safety violations at a major compounding pharmacy are exacerbating hospital shortages of key painkillers, particularly in California where health officials have taken the “extraordinary” step of prohibiting sales from one of its plants.

California Lawmakers Advance Measures To Curb Opioid Crisis
Capital Public Radio - 04/10/18
California lawmakers advanced 10 opioid-related bills in an effort to address the drug abuse crisis in the state, including a proposal that would let California share prescription records with other states.

National

An Opioid Crisis Foretold
The New York Times - 04/21/18
The history of opioid addiction, which stretches back centuries, has either been forgotten or willfully ignored by many in the medical and political establishments.

She's Spent Years Keeping Her Mom Alive. Now a State Lawmaker, She's Fighting the Opioid Crisis
Los Angeles Times - 04/18/18
Colorado state Rep. Brittany Pettersen remains committed to her state's response to the opioid crisis after spending decades helping her mother fight her way out of addiction.

Senators Push HHS to Negotiate Lower Prices on Opioid Overdose Reversal Drug
The Hill - 04/18/18
A group of senators is urging the Department of Health and Human Services to take measures to reduce the price of a potentially life-saving medication reversing the effects of an opioid overdose.

Indian Tribes Fear Being Killed Off by Opioid Epidemic
The Washington Times - 04/16/18
Oklahoma Rep. Markwayne Mullin says that, beyond the community damage addiction has caused, another danger is the sheer size of the problem: Many children are being born to addicted parents and go through opioid withdrawal, and there aren’t enough local homes to take care of them, forcing them to be displaced from the tribe.

How France Cut Heroin Overdoses by 79 Percent in 4 Years
The Atlantic - 04/16/18
In 1995, France made it so any doctor could prescribe buprenorphine without any special licensing or training. With that policy change the majority of buprenorphine prescribers in France became primary-care doctors, rather than addiction specialists or psychiatrists, and soon about 10 times as many patients began to receive medication-assisted treatment.

Trump Builds on Obama Opioid Policy
ABC News - 04/16/18
President Trump is expanding funding for an Obama-era plan to expand medication-assisted therapy.

Why Doctors Don’t Use Alternatives to Opioids
The Washington Post - 04/12/18
Why do so few doctors recommend non-opioid pain treatments? Some reason that doctors do not get enough training on using pain medicines.

Surgeon General Urges More Americans To Carry Opioid Antidote
NPR - 04/05/18
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams issued an advisory that encouraged more people to routinely carry naloxone, NPR's Rachel Martin asked Surgeon General Adams about the advisory and the administration's broader plan for addressing the opioid epidemic.

There’s No Such Thing as an ‘Opioid-Addicted’ Newborn
The Washington Post - 04/03/18
News stories that describe any baby as “born addicted” not only misunderstand addiction but also foster hysteria that can have unintended negative consequences.

Reports

Americans Recognize the Growing Problem of Opioid Addiction
AP/NORC - 04/05/18
More Americans see opioid addiction as a significant issue for their community today than in 2016, yet most Americans are still wary of associating closely with someone who is addicted and forty-four percent say opioid addiction indicates a lack of willpower or discipline.

April 3, 2018

County

McGuire, Bass Host Second Opioid Town Hall
Eureka Times-Standard - 03/29/2018
Humboldt County Supervisor Virginia Bass and state Sen. Mike McGuire held their second opioid town hall meeting in Eureka to hear about progress being made to fight the local crisis.

County to Triple Spending on Opioid, Substance Abuse Disorders
NBC San Diego - 03/26/2018
A $179.6 million Substance Use Disorders treatment plan was unveiled by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to combat opioid and other substance abuse disorders.

San Diego DA Joins in on Opioid Dealer Crackdown
Fox 5 San Diego - 03/21/2018
The U.S. Attorney's Office in San Diego has filed 53 criminal opioid cases after they enacted a 45-day surge in opioid-related enforcement.

 

California

Prescription Database Could Help Prevent Opioid Abuse, But State System Still Lags
Capitol Public Radio - 03/30/2018
California Department of Justice has acknowledged the new CURES system won’t be ready until this summer, and the mandate for doctors to check the database before prescribing opioids won’t take effect until six months after that, a timeline which critics say is disappointing.

California is Reshaping Addiction Treatment, One County at a Time
California Health Report - 03/27/2018
So far 10 California counties have launched pilot programs to massively expand coverage of comprehensive, long-term addiction treatment for low-income patients. Another 30 counties are expected to follow suit this year.

 

National

Opioid Abuse Isn't 'Victimless.' What About the Kids? (Opinion)
Bloomberg - 03/30/2018
When a parent with an open child welfare case is misusing opioids the negative effects of their use can make setting up safety plans or reunifying them with their children difficult. However, treatment programs and family drug courts have been shown to improve these outcomes.

Staying Alive: How To Fight an Opioid Addiction
California Healthline - 03/30/2018
Addiction specialists share what tactics, including having Naloxone on hand at all times, can keep a patient alive and progressing as they fight an opioid addiction.

Medicare Is Cracking Down on Opioids. Doctors Fear Pain Patients Will Suffer.
The New York Times - 03/27/2018
Medicare's proposal to refuse payments for high-dose prescriptions has caused blowback from patients and doctors alike who say the new requirements would interfere with the doctor-patient relationship and could throw patients who lost access to the drugs into withdrawal or even provoke them to buy dangerous street drugs. (Also covered on KQED Forum on April 3.)

Graphic: Opioid Painkiller is Top Prescription in 10 States
California Healthline - 03/22/2018
In 10 states, the top prescriptions are mixtures of acetaminophen and hydrocodone, those drugs appear to be on the decline nationally, but are still strongly prescribed in the South. However, Geoffrey Joyce of USC warns that the data represented in the map could give a misleading picture of prescription drug patterns

The U.S. Has Two Opioid Epidemics: The Federal Response Should Consider Both.
The Commonwealth Fund - 03/22/2018
The authors argue that the highly visible prescription-drug epidemic, which originated in predominantly rural areas, is distinct from a second, more recently emerging epidemic, affecting younger adults who are victims of illegally produced opioids such as fentanyl. These epidemics are affecting distinct populations, but so far policymakers have done little to address each epidemic’s unique attributes. 

Feds Work With Drugmakers to Boost Research Into Non-Opioid Painkillers, Treatments
USA Today - 03/21/2018
Federal officials said they are pushing to get new non-opioid painkillers onto the market, and lawmakers in the House of Representatives are considering new proposals to address the opioid crisis, including one that would encourage research on new non-addictive pain medications.

 

Reports

Drug-Related Mortality Rates Are Not Randomly Distributed Across the US
Science Daily - 03/26/2018
Evidence from the first national study of county-level differences suggests that addressing economic and social conditions will be key to reversing the rising tide of drug deaths.

Yale study: Methadone Treatment in Prison Improves Inmates' Behavior, Likelihood of Staying Clean Post-Release
Yale School of Medicine - 01/23/2018
Inmates who were given methadone in jail were less likely to be disciplined for bad behavior and more apt to continue their treatment after release, according to a state-funded evaluation of data by Yale School of Medicine researchers.

March 20, 2018

California

California Hospitals Grapple With Shortage Of Powerful Opioid Painkillers
California Healthline - Mar. 20, 2018
Hospitals across California are facing a shortage of the opioids needed to treat patients facing acute pain, such as those undergoing surgery. “Just about every hospital in California is dealing with the shortage," says Dr. Shalini Shah, head of pain medicine at UC-Irvine Health.
Good News on Opioid Usage for a Change – it’s Down in California Workers’ Comp
Insurance Journal - Mar. 14, 2018
New research shows that opioids now account for less than a quarter of all workers’ comp prescriptions in the state, down from nearly a third a decade ago.
A Battered Doctor, a Slain Patient and a Family’s Quest for Answers
Kaiser Health News – Mar. 13, 2018
In California, demand for buprenorphine has grown and recent changes to Medi-Cal have made it easier and faster for low-income people to get the drug. However, some doctors are seeing far more patients than their offices can handle.
Tribal Lands To Get Funding Boost To Curb Opioid Crisis
Capitol Public Radio – Mar. 09, 2018
American Indian and Native Alaskan people die from unintentional drug poisoning at almost twice the rate of the overall population. A new state program focused on medically-assisted treatment for Native Americans in rural Northern California offers hope, with caveats.

National

Hundreds of Millions in State Opioid Cash Left Unspent
Politico – Mar. 19, 2018
Mixed signals from the Trump administration on how to use the money and challenges in ramping up efforts have left more than three-quarters of the $500 million Congress set aside untouched.
How Many Opioid Overdoses Are Suicides?
NPR - Mar. 15, 2018
The opioid epidemic is occurring at the same time suicides have hit a 30-year high. Physicians, researchers and public health officials are trying to understand how many of the overdoses, particularly among women, may be intentional.
Emergency Rooms Share Records to Catch Patients Who Bounce From One to Another
WBUR - Mar. 15, 2018
A new pilot program in Massachusetts will alert hospitals across the state to patients who are in and out of emergency rooms on a regular basis.
How America’s Prisons are Fueling the Opioid Epidemic
VOX – Mar. 13, 2018
Rhode Island's program to treat opioid addiction in prisons and jails is the only one in the nation that offers buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone.
Measuring the Toll of the Opioid Epidemic is Tougher Than it Seems
ProPublica – Mar. 13, 2018
A reporter from ProPublica takes a close and illuminating look at the different data sources that are being used to understand the nature and severity of the opioid crisis.
Opioid Protest at Met Museum Targets Donors Connected to OxyContin
The New York Times – Mar. 10, 2018
Anti-opioid activists unfurled banners and scattered pill bottles on Saturday inside the Sackler Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which is named for a family connected to the powerful painkilling drug OxyContin.
The Opioid Crisis Is Surging In Black, Urban Communities
NPR – Mar. 08, 2018
Blacks in urban areas have seen the sharpest rise in the drug death rate.
Questions and Answers About Opioids and Chronic Pain
NPR – Mar. 08, 2018
A recent JAMA study shows nonopioids to be as effective as opioids for treating pain. NPR asked listeners on Facebook and Twitter to share their questions about treating chronic pain. Responses here come from Dr. Ajay Wasan, vice chair for pain medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

March 7, 2018

 A weekly news summary thanks to our partners at i.e. communications.

 

California

 

Methadone May be Shedding its Stigma in Light of Nation's Opioid Epidemic

San Diego Union-Tribune – Mar. 4, 2018

In San Diego County, many publicly-funded drug treatment programs have not accepted methadone patients, but new Medi-Cal rules mean this will soon change. The change will be a cultural shift for many treatment programs, which have favored abstinence-based methods over medication.

 

9 Students Hospitalized in Possible Opioid Overdose During a Party in California

Business Insider – Mar. 02, 2018

Nine students from UC Santa Barbara suffered an apparent mass overdose of prescription opioids at a party and were taken to a local hospital.

 

National

 

Opioid Crisis Spurs Medicaid Funds Push

The Hill – Mar. 7, 2018

Lifting a decades-old rule that greatly restricts Medicaid from being used to fund care for opioid addiction could help thousands of people get treatment, but GOP lawmakers are concerned about new costs associated with lifting the rule.

 

One State Forces Opioid Abusers to Get Help. Will Others Follow?

Pew Charitable Trusts – Mar. 7, 2018

In Florida, police, health care professionals and families have a powerful legal tool known as the Marchman Act. Families and health care professionals can use the state law to “marchman,” or involuntarily commit people into substance abuse treatment when they are deemed a danger to themselves or others.

 

Finally, Proof: Opioids Are No Better Than Other Medications for Some Chronic Pain

VOX - Mar. 6, 2018

In a newly published JAMA study, researchers did a long-term comparison of chronic pain patients on prescription opioids to patients on non-opioid painkillers and found that the patients on opioids did no better than those taking the opioid alternatives.

 

Emergency Room Data Shows the Opioid Crisis Continues to Accelerate

The Washington Post - Mar. 6, 2018

New CDC data shows a nearly 30 percent increase in overdose emergency room visits from fall 2016 to the end of 2017. In 16 states that have suffered high rates of overdose deaths, the jump was even higher, at 34.5 percent.

 

Child Opioid Overdoses Have Nearly Doubled in 10 Years. Here's What You Can Do About It

Fortune – Mar. 05, 2018

A study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics found that the number of children admitted to hospitals in the U.S. because of opioid overdose nearly doubled between 2004 and 2015 to 1,504 patients. The authors offer advice on preventing child overdoses.

 

While Talk About Opioids Continues In DC, Addiction Treatment Is In Peril In States

California Healthline – Mar. 05, 2018

In Colorado, Oklahoma, and other states, budgets for addiction treatment services are in flux. Even with national efforts ramping up, state budgets are often reduced year to year. In Oklahoma, just 10 percent of the population in need of addiction treatment are able to obtain it.

 

Texas College Students Teach Each Other to Reverse Overdoses

Houston Chronicle – Mar. 04, 2018

With faculty support, students are organizing themselves to train other students to use Narcan.

 

White House Opioid Summit Ignores People of Color

Think Progress – Mar. 01, 2018

The lack of racial diversity is a continuing trend in the Trump administration. But it is especially important that public officials elevate Black and brown voices because of the country’s past regressive drug policies that have negatively impacted people of color.

February 27, 2018

 A weekly news summary thanks to our partners at i.e. communications.

California

 

Legislation to Combat Opioid Crisis

Fox 40 – Feb. 21, 2018

Assemblyman Evan Low and Assemblywoman Marie Waldron talk about the introduction of a new package of legislation to combat the opioid crisis. The bills would tighten prescription regulations, expand access to alternative treatments, increase prescriber training, and enhance the tools available to health professionals and law enforcement.

 

Siskiyou supervisors hear update from opioid safety coalition

The Siskiyou Daily News – Feb. 21, 2018

The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors heard a presentation from Maggie Shepard, facilitator for Siskiyou Against Rx Addiction (SARA) – an opioid safety coalition established in 2016. Shepard discussed the group’s activities and progress since it began.

 

Police officers take on a bigger role in the fight against opioid deaths

Sacramento Bee – Feb. 19, 2018

Sacramento County officials hope police will play a bigger role in combating opioid overdoses after receiving a grant from the California Department of Public Health last year. The grant supplies the county with 2,900 doses of naloxone. Those doses will be dispersed among eight law enforcement agencies in the county and two community groups that focus on drug use.

 

These strips detect a deadly drug. But users still shoot up

The Sacramento Bee – Feb. 16, 2018

Safer Alternatives through Networking and Education, a South Sacramento organization, has been handing out strips that detect the deadly drug Fentanyl to drug users since late last year. Still, for most drug users, the presence of fentanyl in their stash is not a deterrent to using, though it may help them prevent an overdose.

 

National

 

Is the Secret to Solving the Opioid Crisis More Opioids?

Pacific Standard – Feb. 26, 2018

Medication-assisted treatment in Rhode Island's prisons is preventing overdose deaths among the recently incarcerated. Since 2016, Rhode Island jails and prisons have offered medication to treat addiction to any inmate with an opioid abuse disorder. At the same time, a network of 12 community clinics were established around the state to continue providing MAT to inmates upon their release.

 

Opioid deaths mounting, lawmakers hit gas on new legislative push

The Hill – Feb. 25, 2018

Congress is moving to take a second crack at opioid legislation, including new bills from the House of Representatives. The House’s legislation will craft new policies, some of which are likely to need a slice of newly approved dollars from Congress' newly approved spending deal.

 

Let Cities Open Safe Injection Sites (Opinion)

The New York Times – Feb. 24, 2018

If lawmakers are serious about ending the opioid crisis, American cities and states should follow the lead of other countries where such sites have proved incredibly effective in slashing overdose deaths. At safe injection sites, trained staff provide clean needles, administer naloxone when there are overdoses and offer long-term treatment options.

 

These 10 ERs Sharply Reduced Opioid Use And Still Eased Pain

NPR - Feb. 23, 2018

Ten Colorado hospitals participated in a six-month pilot project designed to cut opioid use, the Colorado Opioid Safety Collaborative. Launched by the Colorado Hospital Association, it is billed as the first of its kind in the nation to include this number of hospitals in the effort.

 

The states taking the opioid epidemic seriously (and not), in one map

VOX - Feb. 22, 2018

Some states have made an effort to build serious infrastructure around opioid addiction treatments like Buprenorphine, while others have not. This map shows how states are doing in providing a key frontline treatment for opioid addiction, compared to the number of opioid overdose deaths.

 

Medicaid, Marijuana And Me: An Ex-Opioid Addict's Take On American Drug Denial

Forbes – Feb. 18, 2018

"I learned that our laws for protecting people from dangerous drugs seem to have far less to do with safety and efficacy than you would hope," says Janet Burns who is in recovery. Burns believes the US needs to do more a lot more talking about opioids, and other drugs, and look at some basic ways to prevent overdose and death.

February 15, 2018

A weekly news summary thanks to our partners at i.e. communications.

CALIFORNIA

Bill calls for increased education about opioid addiction and overdose
The San Diego Union-Tribune – Feb. 13, 2018
Senate Bill 1109, introduced by state Sen. Patricia Bates, would require warning labels on opioid prescription bottles and require doctors and sports programs to provide more information to youths and their parents about the risk of addiction and overdose.

Opioid epidemic rages, but California drug database lags
The Sacramento Bee – Feb. 12, 2018
Under Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the CA Department of Justice has not yet certified a database designed to prevent doctors from overprescribing the drugs, angering consumer and law enforcement groups that say it hurts efforts to prevent opioid abuse. The current timeline means doctors will not have to check the database until at least January 2019.

Two federal prosecutors appointed to target opioid crisis in San Diego, Imperial counties
The San Diego Union-Tribune – Feb. 08, 2018
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego has named two prosecutors who will use criminal and civil law to help coordinate the fight against the opioid epidemic.

Opioid abuse in California has a new adversary
The Sacramento Bee – Feb. 06, 2018
Evan Low, the chairman of the Assembly Business and Professions Committee, will hold a hearing to explore ways the state can leverage its status as the cradle of technology to take on the opioid addiction crisis. Low and his colleagues have offered a slate of proposals to address physician over-prescribing and other culprits.

SF safe injection sites expected to be first in nation, open around July 1
The San Francisco Chronicle – Feb. 05, 2018
San Francisco is on track to open its first two safe injection sites this July, a milestone that will likely make the city the first in the country to embrace the controversial model of allowing drug users to shoot up under supervision.

NATIONAL 

How a Police Chief, a Governor and a Sociologist Would Spend $100 Billion to Solve the Opioid Crisis
The New York Times - Feb. 14, 2018
30 experts were asked, "if there was $100 billion to spend over five years [to solve the opioid crisis], where would you put that money?" The consensus of the experts was that any effective strategy should include funding for four major areas: treatment, harm reduction, and both demand- and supply-focused solutions, but there was disagreement on how to divide up the money.

U.S. budget deal grants $1.5 billion for drug-affected babies, families
Reuters - Feb. 13, 2018
A U.S. budget deal adopted by Congress on Friday includes what advocates call a landmark compromise to provide an estimated $1.5 billion over 10 years to try to keep struggling families together, including those with babies born dependent on opioids.

Economic Toll Of Opioid Crisis In U.S. Exceeded $1 Trillion Since 2001
NPR - Feb. 13, 2018
The cost of the country’s opioid crisis is estimated to have exceeded $1 trillion from 2001 to 2017 and is projected to cost an additional $500 billion by 2020, according to an analysis released today by Altarum, a nonprofit health research institute.

 Drugmakers Spent Millions Promoting Opioids To Patient Groups, Senate Report Says
NPR - Feb. 13, 2018
Drugmakers gave millions of dollars to pain-treatment advocacy groups over a five-year period beginning in 2012, in effect promoting opioids to individuals most vulnerable to addiction, according to a new report released Monday by U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill.

OxyContin maker stops promoting opioids, cuts sales staff
CNBC – Feb. 11, 2018
OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma has announced that it has cut its sales force in half and will stop promoting opioids to physicians, following widespread criticism of the ways that drugmakers market addictive painkillers.

Naloxone, the medicine helping fight the opioid crisis, explained
VOX – Feb. 5, 2018
Recently, a woman overdosing on a plane was not able to be helped until the plane made an emergency landing in which the woman was quickly taken to an ambulance and given naloxone. Scenarios like this illustrate how naloxone access is still limited across the country by its prescription requirement.