Opioids

The big picture

Mental health coverage is getting worse

That's happening as opioid overdoses and suicide rates rise.

Nov 21, 2019
Today's health problems are tomorrow's health crises

Rising obesity rates will strain the most expensive health care system in the world.

Oct 31, 2019
The plight of America's rural health care

That makes rural Americans even more vulnerable.

Aug 21, 2019
Opioid prescriptions are declining

But illegal drugs like heroin and fentanyl are now causing most opioid-related deaths.

Jun 6, 2019

All Opioids stories

First supervised drug injection site in U.S. to open in Philadelphia

Advocates for safe injection sites rally in front of the James A Byrne Federal Courthouse in Center City, Philadelphia, on Sept. 5, 2019. Photo: Cory Clark/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The nation's first supervised drug-use site is set to open in Philadelphia next week, after a federal judge ruled Tuesday in favor of the nonprofit that plans to open it, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The big picture: Advocates of such sites say that they help prevent deadly overdoses while potentially helping connect users with treatment, but federal law enforcement officials have said that they think such sites are illegal. The Justice Department — which brought the lawsuit against the nonprofit — said it's appealing the decision.

Go deeper: Opioid death rate in the U.S. decreased in 2018

Editor's note: The image has been changed to reflect a rally the supervised drug-use site in Philadelphia.

Mallinckrodt proposes $1.6 billion opioid settlement via bankruptcy

Mallinckrodt offices in New Jersey. Photo: Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Mallinckrodt is floating a $1.6 billion proposal to settle allegations that it fueled the opioid crisis by pushing its painkillers. The drug company would make payments in the eight years after its generics business, which sells oxycodone and hydrocodone pills, emerges from bankruptcy.

Why it matters: The attorneys general from 47 states and territories, as well as the plaintiffs in the global opioid lawsuit, are supporting the deal, Mallinckrodt said. Mallinckrodt's brand-name drug business will not be affected, but its generics bankruptcy marks the third opioids bankruptcy, after Purdue Pharma and Insys Therapeutics.

Purdue Pharma and Mallinckrodt in turmoil as opioid settlements mount

Mallinckrodt offices in Bedminster, New Jersey. Photo: Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Legal and financial troubles continue to mount for two prominent opioid manufacturers.

The big picture: The prospect of multibillion-dollar settlements — which are still a long way from being hashed out — is bringing painkiller companies that were once immensely wealthy to their knees.

Go deeperArrowFeb 25, 2020 - Health

America's addiction treatment misses the mark

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Addiction treatment in the U.S. is critically necessary yet deeply flawed.

The big picture: Drug overdoses kill tens of thousands of Americans a year, but treatment is often inaccessible. The industry is also riddled with subpar care and, in some cases, fraud.

Go deeperArrowFeb 25, 2020 - Health

Rural communities face HIV outbreak risk due to lack of syringe exchanges

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Rural communities at risk of HIV outbreaks tied to drug use often don't have working syringe exchanges, which help reduce the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C, NPR reports with Kaiser Health News.

Between the lines: Many of these rural communities have seen local opposition against syringe exchanges, which provide drug users with clean needles.

Go deeperArrowFeb 18, 2020 - Health

Large gaps in opioid treatment remain for rural areas

Areas hit hardest by the opioid epidemic still struggle with access to buprenorphine, used to treat addiction according to a recent report by the Department of Health and Human Services' internal watchdog.

Where it stands: The federal government has expanded the list of which providers can prescribe buprenorphine, as well as the number of patients those providers can treat.

Go deeperArrowFeb 4, 2020 - Health

Opioid death rate in the U.S. decreased in 2018

Data: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Center for Health Statistics; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Opioid deaths in the U.S. decreased in 2018 after years of steady increases, while the U.S. life expectancy ticked up for the first time in four years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday.

Between the lines: The effort to combat the opioid epidemic appears to be working, although the problem is far from solved.

Go deeperArrowJan 31, 2020 - Health

Opioid company founder gets 5.5-year prison sentence

Insys founder John Kapoor. Photo: Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

A judge has sentenced John Kapoor, the founder and former CEO of Insys Therapeutics, to 5.5 years in prison after a jury found him guilty in a bribery and racketeering scheme around the company's potent opioid drug, Subsys.

Why it matters: "Kapoor, 76, is now the highest-ranking pharmaceutical executive to be sentenced in a case linked to the opioid crisis," Reuters reports.

Keep ReadingArrowJan 23, 2020

FDA fumbled opioid safety program

Photo: Al Drago/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

The FDA and opioid manufacturers failed to independently determine whether physician safety training and patient medication guides mitigated improper opioid prescriptions and misuse, according to new federal records obtained by researchers through the Freedom of Information Act.

Why it matters: Federal regulators created this safety program in 2012 because opioid addictions, overdoses and deaths were rising, but researchers say the FDA's program relied on poor designs and data collection — and ultimately did nothing to prevent the opioid crisis from getting worse.

Keep ReadingArrowDec 30, 2019

New court documents show former Purdue Pharma chief's role in marketing OxyContin

Purdue Pharma headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

New court records reviewed by Stat show how Richard Sackler, a former executive at Purdue Pharma, guided the company's promotional strategy for the launch of its opioid pain medication OxyContin.

Why it matters: Sackler's family founded and controls Purdue Pharma. The company in 2007 pleaded guilty to a felony related to falsely promoting OxyContin as less addictive and not as likely to produce tolerance or symptoms of withdrawal than other pain medications, even though the drugs is twice as strong as morphine. More than 218,000 Americans have died from overdoses of all prescription opioids.

Go deeperArrowDec 3, 2019
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