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

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 19,499,341 — Total deaths: 723,881 — Total recoveries — 11,864,471Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30p.m. ET: 4,999,836 — Total deaths: 162,382 — Total recoveries: 1,643,118 — Total tests: 61,080,587Map.
  3. Politics: Trump signs 4 executive actions on coronavirus aid — Democrats slam Trump, urge GOP to return to negotiations
  4. Public health: Fauci says chances are "not great" that COVID-19 vaccine will be 98% effective — 1 in 3 Americans would decline COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Science: Indoor air is the next coronavirus frontline.
  6. Schools: How back-to-school is playing out in the South as coronavirus rages on — Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Howard to hold fall classes online.

Trump signs 4 executive actions on coronavirus aid

President Trump speaking during a press conference on Aug. 8. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump on Saturday signed four executive actions to provide relief from economic damage sustained during the coronavirus pandemic after talks between the White House and Democratic leadership collapsed Friday afternoon.

Why it matters: Because the Constitution gives Congress the power to appropriate federal spending, Trump has limited authority to act unilaterally — and risks a legal challenge if congressional Democrats believe he has overstepped.

9 hours ago - World

What's next for Lebanon after the Beirut explosion

Photo: Houssam Shbaro/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Beirut residents are still clearing rubble from streets that appear war-torn, days after a blast that shocked the country and horrified the world.

Why it matters: The explosion is likely to accelerate a painful cycle Lebanon was already living through — discontent, economic distress, and emigration.