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Chuck Kennedy / Axios

At an Axios and HBO Documentary Films presentation of the documentary, "Warning: This Drug May Kill You," Dr. Andrew Kolodny of Brandeis University put the urgency of the opioid crisis in context: "It truly is the worst epidemic in United States history."

Senator Rob Portman said the solution must start with drug companies: "They need to come up with non-addictive pain medication."

How the epidemic started: According to Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the healthcare system doesn't train doctors on when to prescribe opioids, and "there is still very little recognition of addiction as a disease."

Potential solutions:

  • Alternative treatments: Dr. Volkow called for investment into alternative pain medication. Dr. Kolodny noted that as doctors started prescribing more and more opioid pain meds "there was actually less prescribing non-addictive pain meds," like Tylenol and Advil.
  • The big picture: According to Congressman Tim Ryan, "You've got to focus on the prevention, then the punishment, the criminal justice side, then you've got to isolate the addicted" and get them treatment.
  • The legislation: The Cures Act, which makes $500 million available via grant application, and the Comprehensive Care & Addiction Act, which Portman says has a more long term focus and will be a "stronger bill over time." Portman said he also wants to require pharmacists to register doctors and help them to identify addicts.
  • Stopping Fentanyl shipments: Fentanyl, a type of opioid which is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, is coming into the U.S. primarily through shipments from China, and people are dying at an increasing rate from overdoses from it. Portman says the shipments must be stopped and that can be done by working with FedEx and UPS and law enforcement.

For perspective on the opioid epidemic, check out our Facts Matter here.

Go deeper

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sydney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Empire State Building among hundreds to light up in Biden inauguration coronavirus tribute.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.

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