Oct 19, 2017

The Hepatitis C epidemic following the opioid crisis

Cases of Hepatitis C have almost tripled in the past few years, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention — an effect of the opioid crisis and the unsanitary use of needles by drug users. There were 2,436 reported cases of the liver disease in 2015, up from 853 cases in 2010.

Data: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Chart: Chris Canipe / Axios

Why it matters: Hepatitis C can be deadly if not treated, and treatment can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Americans will be paying for the opioid crisis for years to come, with the total tab coming to an estimated $100 billion.

"If we don't cure a significant number of the people who are injecting, in 20 years from now, the hospitals in this part of the world will be flooded with these people with end-stage liver disease, which has no cure," Judith Feinberg, professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, told the Washington Post.

Political solutions: There have been some state and local efforts to establish "syringe exchanges," which offer drug users clean syringes as a way to prevent the spread of Hepatitis C. These controversial programs are now legal in some states like North Carolina, New Hampshire and Vermont, but have recently been shut down in counties in Utah and Indiana.

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FDA fumbled opioid safety program

Photo: Al Drago/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

The FDA and opioid manufacturers failed to independently determine whether physician safety training and patient medication guides mitigated improper opioid prescriptions and misuse, according to new federal records obtained by researchers through the Freedom of Information Act.

Why it matters: Federal regulators created this safety program in 2012 because opioid addictions, overdoses and deaths were rising, but researchers say the FDA's program relied on poor designs and data collection — and ultimately did nothing to prevent the opioid crisis from getting worse.

Keep ReadingArrowDec 30, 2019

AP: China's hidden, growing opioid crisis

Oxycodone, an addictive narcotic pain reliever. Photo: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

A lack of treatment options, overprescription and little official understanding of the scale of painkiller abuse in China are likely contributing to the spread of opioid addiction in the country, per AP analyses.

What's happening: Drug company Mundipharma has "pushed ever larger doses" of painkillers like OxyContin in China, "even as it became clear that higher doses present higher risks," AP found in November. Mundipharma is owned by the Sackler family, which also owns Purdue Pharma, the OxyContin maker accused of helping fuel the U.S. opioid crisis.

Go deeperArrowDec 31, 2019

Study: 49% of American adults projected to be obese by 2030

A new study published by the New England Journal of Medicine estimates that almost half of American adults are expected be obese by 2030, and about 25% will be severely obese.

The big picture: The report used data from a decades-long federal study, while previous estimates typically rely on national health surveys, AP reports. The study found the prevalence of obesity among U.S. adults will vary across states and demographic subgroups.

Go deeperArrowDec 21, 2019