The big picture

Drug distributors, J&J reach $26 billion opioids settlement

The amount equates to 4% of the companies' combined annual revenue.

Jul 21, 2021 - Health
Mental health coverage is getting worse

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

Nov 21, 2019 - Health
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 - Health
The plight of America's rural health care

That makes rural Americans even more vulnerable.

Aug 21, 2019 - Health

All Opioids stories

Oct 13, 2021 - Health

U.S. sees record high of 96,000 drug overdose deaths in 12 month period

Tramadol pills, an opioid. Photo: Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recorded over 96,000 deaths from drug overdoses in a twelve-month period ending in March 2021, according to provisional data released Wednesday.

Why it matters: It's a nearly 30% jump over the preceding 12 months and coincides with one of the deadliest periods of the COVID-19 pandemic, when stay-at-home orders radically changed daily life for most Americans.

Texas Observer: Medical boards allowed abusive doctors to treat patients

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A Texas doctor accused of inappropriately touching 17 female patients had then been told by a medical board to only treat men before being reported for assault by a male patient, an investigation by the Texas Observer found.

Why it matters: Medical boards that oversee doctors across the U.S. have used this loophole of curbing the types of patients predatory doctors are allowed to see rather than revoking their licenses, experts in the report said.

Sep 16, 2021 - Health

DOJ files appeal to block Purdue Pharma deal that shields Sackler family

Fake prescription bottles of OxyContin seen dropped outside a courthouse. Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Department of Justice on Wednesday filed an appeal to block the Purdue Pharma bankruptcy plan, which shields the Sackler family from getting sued over opioids in the future, NPR reports.

Driving the news: Earlier this month, a federal judge approved a bankruptcy settlement that granted immunity to the Sacklers as long as they paid $4.3 billion and renounced ownership of Purdue Pharma. The DOJ said the deal was "unlawful" and "unconstitutional."

How opioid use across America varies by insurance coverage

Nearly a quarter of U.S. adults with chronic pain had used a prescription opioid in the past three months when surveyed in 2019, according to data published Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics.

Why it matters: Prescription opioid use for chronic pain management has been associated with an increased risk of misuse, addiction and death — have been the subject of massive class-action lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and distributors.

Jul 27, 2021 - Health

Companies won't stress to find opioids settlement cash

Data: Company filings; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Since 2016, the four companies involved in the latest opioid settlement — Johnson & Johnson, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health — have funneled a combined $100 billion to shareholders through stock buybacks and dividends.

Why it matters: If that's any indication, those companies won't have much trouble paying off a combined $26 billion settlement agreement.

Jul 8, 2021 - Health

15 states reach $4.5 billion settlement in Purdue Pharma opioid lawsuit

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Fifteen states have reached an agreement with Purdue Pharma, the maker of the powerful painkiller OxyContin, that will see them drop their opposition to Purdue's bankruptcy plan, the New York Times reports.

The big picture: Purdue Pharma will release millions of documents, and the Sackler family, which owns the company, will pay out an additional $50 million as part of the settlement. The deal would shield the family from future opioid lawsuits.

Jun 1, 2021 - Health

New York counties, New York City sue McKinsey over opioid crisis

Photo: David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images

New York City and 21 New York counties on Tuesday sued McKinsey & Company, alleging the global consulting firm contributed to the opioid crisis by helping drug companies increase prescription drug sales, AP reports.

Why it matters: The company earlier this year reached deals with all 50 states to pay more than $600 million in settlements for its role in advising OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma.

May 1, 2021 - Health

FDA approves high-dose nasal spray to treat opioid overdoses

Bottle of Vicodin pills. Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved a higher dose of naloxone hydrochloride nasal spray to reverse the effects of opioid overdoses.

The big picture: "Experts and patient advocates say the more potent medicine is needed because low-dose naloxone sprays and injections sometimes must be given multiple times to keep someone alive until medical help arrives," AP writes.

Apr 2, 2021 - Health

White House: Deaths due to drug overdoses hit 88,000 during pandemic

Tablets believed to be laced with fentanyl are displayed at the Drug Enforcement Administration Northeast Regional Laboratory in New York. Photo: Don Emmert/AFP via Getty Images

The acting director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Regina LaBelle, on Thursday said that drug deaths increased by 26.8% during the coronavirus pandemic.

What she's saying: "We lost 88,000 people in the 12-month period ending in August 2020," LaBelle said, according to NPR.

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