drugs

State Prepares to Tighten Prescription Monitoring

1 hour ago
Michael Chen / Creative Commons

Connecticut’s shift next month from weekly to “real-time” reporting of prescriptions for opioids and other controlled substances is an effective way to help stem opioid-related deaths, a new study suggests.

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New Haven officials are declaring a public health emergency after nearly 20 people overdosed on tainted heroin or cocaine and at least three died in the city and surrounding towns.

Christian Schnettelker / Creative Commons

For lawmakers looking to address the crisis of drug addiction and overdose, limiting access to prescription painkillers and increasing availability of opioid-reversal drugs like naloxone have been two major policy points. A legislative push in Connecticut now aims to expand access to treatments as well. 

Harriet Jones / WNPR

Emergency rooms all over the country are seeing a huge surge in the number of people being brought in after overdosing on opioids or heroin. There’s no doubt this is a disruption for staff and a strain on resources. But one Connecticut hospital has decided this point of contact with the opioid epidemic actually represents a huge opportunity.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

A new law aimed at combating Connecticut’s opioid and heroin epidemic will go into effect on July 1, 2016. The legislation, Public Act 16-43, has been described as one of the most comprehensive opioid laws in the country and includes several key provisions -- among them: a seven-day limit on all first-time, non-chronic pain opioid prescriptions. 

Eric P / Creative Commons

As Connecticut continues to deal with the consequences of opioid abuse, a new national survey says most people prescribed painkillers in America get more than they need -- and many are saving those pills for later use. 

One impact of the addiction epidemic has been a skyrocketing rise in newborns experiencing withdrawal after being exposed to opioids in the womb. 

From 2006 to 2011, the number of newborns in withdrawal more than doubled in New Hampshire, and hospitals say the problem is only getting worse.

An independent tribunal has suspended Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova from play for a period of two years after she failed a drug test, the International Tennis Federation says.

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For some patients looking to break their addiction to heroin or prescription painkillers, there's a drug out there that works. It’s called Suboxone, but government regulations and individual doctors have made it difficult to get, which is leading many to buy it illegally. 

Michael Dwyer / Associated Press

Pressing for the same or nearly the same limits on opioid prescriptions is one of the ways New England’s Republican and Democratic governors are working together to address the drug epidemic.

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes and U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, both Democrats from Connecticut, met with public health officials and law enforcement in Stamford on Tuesday for a forum on the opioid and heroin epidemic. Himes says the epidemic is affecting more well-off communities, like Stamford, and he asked how Connecticut could use emergency federal funds to fight it.

Office of Gov. Dannel Malloy

Governor Dannel Malloy signed into a law on Friday what he called "the most comprehensive strategy" in the nation for combating opioid addiction and overdose. 

Monsanto has rejected a $62 billion takeover bid from Bayer as "incomplete and financially inadequate," but left the door open to further negotiations with the German chemical and pharmaceutical giant.

Howard Smith / Creative Commons

New data show a surge in drug overdose deaths in Connecticut during the first three months of this year involving the opioid fentanyl.  The information was released on Friday by the State’'s Chief Medical Examiner Dr. James Gill.

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Why are prescription drugs so expensive? And what can be done to make them more affordable? A forum held Wednesday in Hartford aimed to answer those questions.

Heather Brandon illustration / WNPR

As heroin and opiate addictions continue to spread among middle class communities, families who never thought they’d face this problem are finding out one simple truth: treating someone for an addiction can be really, really costly. 

Scientists and doctors say the case is clear: The best way to tackle the country's opioid epidemic is to get more people on medications that have been proven in studies to reduce relapses and, ultimately, overdoses.

Yet, only a fraction of the more than 4 million people believed to abuse prescription painkillers or heroin in the U.S. are being given what's called medication-assisted treatment.

Heather Brandon illustration / WNPR

Dave Mountuori sipped on a coffee and leaned back in his chair at a doctor's office in New Haven. He's 26 years old, and he was there to get a drug that’s turning his life around. 

Harriet Jones / WNPR

Lawrence and Memorial Hospital is donating the life-saving anti-overdose drug Narcan to six police departments around southeastern Connecticut. 

Heather Brandon illustration / WNPR

When it comes to understanding heroin and opioid deaths, data matters. But across the country, medical examiners and coroners vary widely in just how much information they provide on death certificates.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

WNPR is launching a new series on the heroin epidemic gripping the state. This hour, we hear from one of the reporters leading the investigation.

Also, the state's ongoing budget problems are causing problems for a lot more people than just number crunchers and policy wonks. We check in with two former state employees who lost their jobs in a recent round of layoffs.

The pharmaceutical company Pfizer said Friday it will move to prevent its drugs from being used in lethal injections.

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Efforts to stem the tide of heroin overdoses in Connecticut could get more difficult if a powerful new heroin additive makes its way to the state.

Michael Burghardt couldn't sleep. His legs were shaking, his bones ached and he couldn't stop throwing up.

Burghardt was in the Valley Street Jail in Manchester, N.H. This was his 11th stay at the jail in the last 12 years. There had been charges for driving without a license, and arguments where the police were called. This time, Burghardt was in after an arrest for transporting drugs in a motor vehicle.

The musician Prince had an appointment to meet with an addiction doctor the day after he died, a lawyer for that doctor said during a news conference this afternoon.

Minnesota Public Radio reports:

Doctors in Vermont will soon face new limits on the number of narcotic pain pills they can prescribe to patients.

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If your cabinets are filled with leftover prescription drugs, you'll have an opportunity to clean them out on Saturday. 

Casey Fleser / Creative Commons

Physicians, patients, and drug manufacturers are often at the center of discussions about pain and opioid abuse. But what about insurance providers? One Connecticut company said it's found a way to better manage pain, while reducing the number of prescribed opioids. 

Jackie Filson / WNPR

Protein Sciences, the Meriden-based vaccine maker, is setting its sights on the Zika virus. 

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Two more fatal overdoses in southeastern Connecticut have once again highlighted the struggle that police and emergency services face in combating the heroin epidemic.

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