Oct 15, 2017

Congress derails opioid crackdown

A seized bag of fentanyl displayed at the DEA's lab in Sterling, Virginia. Photo: Cliff Owen / AP

"Amid a targeted lobbying effort, Congress weakened the DEA's ability to go after drug distributors, even as opioid-related deaths continue to rise, a Washington Post and '60 Minutes' investigation finds," according to the Washington Post's Scott Higham and Lennie Bernstein:

  • "In April 2016, at the height of the deadliest drug epidemic in U.S. history, Congress effectively stripped the Drug Enforcement Administration of its most potent weapon against large drug companies suspected of spilling prescription narcotics onto the nation's streets."
  • "A handful of members of Congress, allied with the nation's major drug distributors, prevailed upon the DEA and the Justice Department to agree to a more industry-friendly law, undermining efforts to stanch the flow of pain pills."
  • "By then, the opioid war had claimed 200,000 lives, more than three times the number of U.S. military deaths in the Vietnam War."
  • Why it matters: "Overdose deaths continue to rise. There is no end in sight."

Go deeper

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll surpasses 14,800

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 2,000 people for the second day in a row, and it's infected more than 432,000 others, per Johns Hopkins data.

Where it stands: More than 14,800 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. — including over 4,500 in New York. The state's death toll surged to its highest one-day total on Wednesday — beating the previous day's record. 779 people died in New York in 24 hours. N.Y. has reported more cases than the most-affected countries in Europe.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 15 mins ago - Health

World coronavirus updates: U.K. PM "stable, improving" in intensive care

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is "stable, improving, sat up and engaged with medical staff" in the intensive care unit of London's St. Thomas' Hospital, where he is being treated for the coronavirus, Culture Minister Oliver Dowden told the BBC Thursday.

Zoom in: The update comes as ministers meet to discuss whether to extend the United Kingdom's lockdown and after the country's health officials reported Wednesday the highest daily rise in COVID-19 deaths — 938, taking the total to over 7,300. London Mayor said Wednesday the U.K. is "nowhere near lifting the lockdown," with the virus not expected to peak there until next week.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 30 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,484,811 — Total deaths: 88,538 — Total recoveries: 329,876Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 432,132 — Total deaths: 14,817 — Total recoveries: 23,906Map.
  3. Federal government latest: Top Trump administration officials had been developing a plan to give cloth masks to huge numbers of Americans, but the idea lost traction amid heavy internal skepticism.
  4. States latest: New York has reported more cases than the most-affected countries in Europe. Chicago's Cook County jail is largest-known source of coronavirus in U.S.
  5. Business: One-third of U.S. jobs are at risk of disappearing, mostly affecting low-income workers.
  6. World: WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged countries to put politics aside "if you don’t want to have many more body bags.”
  7. Environment: COVID-19 is underscoring the connection between air pollution and dire outcomes from respiratory diseases.
  8. Tech: A new report recommends stimulus spending to help close the digital divide revealed by social distancing.
  9. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.