Feb 4, 2019

Study: Lowering prescription opioid misuse won't stop the opioid crisis

Vials of heroin and fentanyl. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Reducing prescription opioid misuse will only moderately lower the number of opioid overdose deaths over the next few years, a new report in the Journal of the American Medical Association found.

By the numbers: The study projected that under the status quo, opioid overdose deaths would rise from 33,100 in 2015 to 81,700 in 2025. Between 2016 and 2025, 700,400 people will die from an opioid overdose, it estimates, and 80% of these deaths will be attributable to illicit opioids.

  • Lowering the amount of prescription opioid misuse from 2015 levels would only decrease overdose deaths by 3–5.3%, it found.

My thought bubble: As depressing as this is, it checks out. The opioid epidemic has evolved from being mostly about prescription opioids to being driven by heroin and fentanyl, which are much more potent than drugs like OxyContin.

  • While policy interventions like prescription drug monitoring programs are still important, we have to do vastly more than that to make a sizable dent in the opioid death rate.

Go deeper ... The border's deadliest threat: opioids

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The Fed rescues Wall Street, but Main Street is another story

llustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In less than a month, the Federal Reserve has unleashed a multi-trillion dollar tour de force to buoy the U.S. economy against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters: While it has steadied the markets, the Fed is poorly equipped to offset the hit being absorbed by small business owners and the close to 17 million Americans who have filed for unemployment in just the past three weeks.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5 a.m. ET: 1,605,548 — Total deaths: 95,758 — Total recoveries: 355,983Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5 a.m. ET: 466,299 — Total deaths: 16,686 — Total recoveries: 26,522Map.
  3. 2020 latest: Top conservative leaders are concerned the Trump administration isn't addressing the virus' long-term economic impact.
  4. Public health latest: U.S. has expelled thousands of migrants under a CDC public health orderDr. Anthony Fauci said social distancing could reduce the U.S. death toll to 60,000.
  5. Business latest: After another 6.6 million jobless claims, here's how to understand the scale of American job decimation.
  6. 1 "SNL" thing: "Saturday Night Live" will return this weekend in a remotely produced episode.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredPets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. 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.

Automakers lay out back-to-work playbook for coronavirus pandemic

Magna employees in China adapting to a new normal at work. Images courtesy of Magna

The auto industry is sharing detailed return-to-work guidelines on how to shield employees from the coronavirus as it prepares to reopen its own factories in the coming weeks.

Why it matters: We might not shake hands again, but sooner or later, most of us will return to our jobs, whether in a factory, office or public venue within close proximity of others. Reestablishing an environment where employees feel comfortable and can remain healthy will be a daunting challenge for every employer.