drugs

If you've ever had surgery, you may have been given an analgesic named fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a favored painkiller because it acts fast. But it's also 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine. The powerful drug has made its way to the streets and increasingly is being used to cut heroin — resulting in a deadly combination.

The state’s opioid crisis is becoming increasingly clear in public places, where it’s not uncommon to find syringes littering the ground.

In Boston, Mayor Marty Walsh responded to complaints about syringes by creating the two-person Mobile Sharps Collection Team. It’s run out of the same building as the AHOPE Boston needle exchange program.

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Last week, State Comptroller Kevin Lembo’s office unveiled a plan to end a decades-old backlog of state pension audits. 

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Opioid overuse is America’s “silent epidemic,” affecting far too many of the roughly eight million people on opioid painkillers.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director of the CDC says overprescribing is to blame.  "Every single day, 46 Americans die from an overdose of prescription opioid painkillers like Vicodin, Oxycontin or Methadone," he said. "These drugs are commonly prescribed in every community, and a surge in prescriptions has been the main force of this epidemic."

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Last week's Republican debate created chaos on the internets:  Trump insulted Fox's Megyn Kelly, which naturally led to ladies live tweeting their periods at the wanna-be President. And a new slang was born: "Cuckservative."  

New Hampshire is in the throes of a drug epidemic driven by prescription opioids and heroin.

"The state of New Hampshire loses a citizen to an overdose death about every day," said Tym Rourke, chairman of the New Hampshire Governor's Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse.

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Last month, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared heroin use a national public health crisis. Connecticut, like much of the rest of country, is grappling with an alarming rise in heroin and opiate painkiller addiction and overdose. 

The U.S. Coast Guard intercepted a semi-submersible vessel carrying more than 16,000 pounds of cocaine in the Pacific Ocean in the largest bust of such a vessel in the agency's history.

The cocaine seized was worth more than $181 million. The Northern California-based Coast Guard crew also apprehended four suspected smugglers after a Navy aircraft detected the 40-foot, self-propelled vessel traveling approximately 200 miles south of Mexico last month.

New data shows the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts is worse than public health officials feared.

The number of opioid deaths in 2014 totaled 1,256 according to revised numbers released Tuesday by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.   Initial estimates had 1,008 people dying of drug overdoses last year. 

And, the epidemic shows no signs of lettering up.  An estimated 312 people are thought to have died of an overdose in the first three months of this year. 

Can the FDA Adequately Police Generics?

Jul 13, 2015
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As the federal government advocates increased use of generic drugs, concerns are mounting about the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s oversight and the quality or effectiveness of some generics.

Torchia Family

The family of a Meriden man who died in 2013 at age 56 is suing Derby nurse practitioner Heather Alfonso and the pain clinic where she worked, alleging that her rampant overprescribing of narcotics contributed to his death.

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Connecticut has a list of eleven medical conditions that can be treated with medical marijuana. But a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that marijuana has not been clinically proven to be an effective treatment for most of those ailments. 

Updated at 10:46 a.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 opinion, says the sedative used in Oklahoma's lethal injection cocktail does not violate the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Here's the background to the case, in the words of SCOTUSblog:

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A Derby nurse practitioner identified as the state’s highest Medicare prescriber of potent narcotics has admitted taking kickbacks from a drug company in exchange for prescribing pain medication.

Nathan Reading / Crea

The presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has increased over the past few decades, and the development of new antibiotics has decreased. It's a trend raising fears among physicians that, without quick and deliberate action, antibiotics could become useless.

Mel Evans / Associated Press

Firefighters in New London saved two lives over the weekend by administering the opioid reversal drug Narcan to suspected heroin overdose victims.

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The Planning and Zoning commission for Bridgeport will vote on June 29 on a proposal to extend a moratorium on applications for medical marijuana farms and dispensaries for another year.

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It has been approximately nine months since Connecticut's certified patients were first able to purchase medical marijuana.

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It took Connecticut nearly two years to start dispensing the medical marijuana  the legislature approved for conditions like Multiple Sclerosis, epilepsy and cancer.

But, the program is growing strong  since it opened nine months ago. The list of covered conditions is growing and more dispensaries will be popping up to meet the needs of the almost 4,000 enrollees. 

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Time ran out this legislative session on a bill that would have allowed minors to be prescribed medical marijuana. The legislature's inaction means a Montville mother and her sick daughter will continue to live in Maine where children can legally be prescribed pot.

Connecticut Senate Backs Cutting Penalties for Drugs

Jun 3, 2015
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The state Senate has approved legislation that would make drug possession a misdemeanor for the first two offenses and establishes other changes in criminal justice policy.

The legislation approved on a 22 to 14 vote early Wednesday requires third and subsequent convictions to be punishable as felonies.

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It’s nothing new that family steps in when family needs help. But more and more grandparents are raising grandchildren. At the center of this? Prescription drug and heroin addiction.

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When Connecticut's legislative session ends at midnight Wednesday, hundreds of pending bills will fade away without a vote.

A proposal that would give terminally ill patients the right to try experimental drugs has been ready for a vote in the House of Representatives since April 21, and is unlikely to be taken up before Wednesday night's deadline.

In Pennsylvania, it's estimated opioids like heroin killed at least 1,300 people last year. In Massachusetts, more than 1,000 have died, and in Connecticut, heroin deaths jumped more than 85 percent in two years.

But figuring out the size and scope of the problem is harder than many people think.

Pennsylvania, like many states, doesn't require reporting of specific details on drug overdoses, and whatever other information is available is at least two years old.

The problem of opiate addiction in Maine is one that state Rep. Barry Hobbins knows something about. "One of my family members has been struggling with this dreaded addiction of opiates for six years," he says.

So when pharmaceutical company Pfizer — which makes opioids that have abuse-deterrent properties — asked Hobbins to sponsor a bill that would require insurance companies to cover these more expensive drugs at the same level as other opioids, he agreed.

Courtesy Alexion Pharmaceuticals

Alexion Pharmaceuticals, the Cheshire-based company, will cut an $8.4 billion deal to buy another drug maker. Alexion says it has an agreement to buy Synageva BioPharma, located in Lexington, Massachusetts, for the equivalent of $230 a share. 

Lately, Californians have been focused on a measles outbreak that got its start at Disneyland. But in the past five years, state health officials have declared epidemics of whooping cough twice — in 2010 and in 2014, when 11,000 people were sickened and three infants died.

Heather Brandon / WNPR

A Manchester social service agency will close its 40-bed homeless shelter July 1 rather than comply with a state order to admit homeless people who abuse alcohol and drugs. 

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A bill that would give terminally ill patients the right to try experimental drugs and treatments currently not approved by the Food and Drug Administration is working its way through the state legislature. 

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Wesleyan University said two of the five students arrested on drug charges following a rash of on-campus overdoses have been expelled. 

Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Whaley said in a campus-wide letter that the judicial process is continuing for the other three students, who are currently suspended. 

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