Jan 31, 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.

  • More naloxone, fewer opioid prescriptions, higher treatment rates and a strong economy have all contributed to the declining death rate, HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir said.

By the numbers: Life expectancy rose from 78.6 years in 2017 to 78.7 years in 2018.

Yes, but: There's also some bad news.

  • The rate of drug overdose deaths from synthetic opioids — like fentanyl — increased by 10% between 2017 and 2018.
  • Cocaine and meth overdose deaths are also on the rise.

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Electronic health record vendor took kickbacks from opioid maker

A fictitious electronic medical record. Photo: Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Electronic health record company Practice Fusion will pay $145 million after federal prosectors said the vendor accepted $1 million in kickbacks from an unnamed opioid manufacturer, and in return, Practice Fusion engineered its software to encourage more prescriptions of that company's opioids.

Why it matters: Several Practice Fusion executives not only booked the kickbacks as revenue, but also agreed to help peddle more of the company's painkillers during the height of the country's opioid epidemic that has killed tens of thousands of people.

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Keep ReadingArrowJan 28, 2020

U.S. life expectancy rises slightly

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

On average, an infant born in 2018 year is expected to live about 78 years and eight months, the CDC says in a report out Thursday.

The big picture: That's up one month from the year before — the first time in four years that U.S. life expectancy has risen, AP reports.

Go deeperArrowJan 30, 2020

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