Feb 4, 2020 - Health

Large gaps in opioid treatment remain for rural areas

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals

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.

Yes, but: Authorizing more providers to prescribe the drug doesn't do much to solve, for example, provider shortages in rural areas. And some providers who are authorized to prescribe buprenorphine just aren't doing so.

  • Most authorized providers don't see the maximum allowed number of patients.
  • 40% of U.S. counties don't have any authorized providers, and another 24% have low treatment capacity. Most of these counties are rural, and there's plenty of overlap with the counties hit hardest by the opioid epidemic.
  • Even in counties that appear to have average-to-high treatment capacities, that could be misleading — especially in large counties where an authorized provider may be located far away from the patient.

The bottom line: Even though we're making progress against the opioid epidemic, we've still got a very long way to go.

Go deeper: More opioid companies facing criminal probes

Go deeper

The latest: George Floyd protests nationwide

Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued for a seventh day across the U.S., with President Trump threatening on Monday to deploy the military if the unrest continues.

The latest: New York Attorney General Letitia James responded to Trump's comments by tweeting that he "is not a dictator & he doesn’t have the right to unilaterally deploy U.S. military across American states. We will guard the right to peaceful protest & will not hesitate to go to court to protect our constitutional rights during this time & well into the future."

2 hours ago - World

The world watches America burn

Newspaper front pages via the Newseum

The world is watching the grief and anger, violence and pain in America's streets.

The big picture: The U.S. accounts for nearly one-third of the world's deaths from COVID-19. The killing of a black man, George Floyd, by police has sparked days of protest and nights of chaos in America's major cities.

Trump walks to historic St. John's Church outside White House as protests rage

President Trump walked to the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church, located just steps away from the White House across Lafayette Park, on Monday night as protests linked to the murder of George Floyd raged across the capital and cities around the country.

What we're seeing: Military police and park rangers used physical force and tear gas on peaceful protestors to clear the area so that Trump could "pay respects" to the church that was damaged by a fire on Sunday.