The pharmaceutical industry was pushing for language into the popular opioids’ package that would ease how much it owed in covering some Medicare drug costs. A a concerted effort by patient-advocate groups successfully blocked the last-minute add that would have given drug companies a $4 billion windfall.
As it became more difficult and dangerous to produce meth in the U.S., Mexican cartels recognized an opportunity to fill the void. “They came in with much purer, much cheaper meth and just flooded this region of the country,” says the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Richard Salter.
Speaking to a National Institute of Justice opioid research summit, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Trump administration is “determined to achieve” the goal of reducing U.S. opioid prescriptions by one-third in three years.
Even as law enforcement tries to reduce the number of deaths attributed to the super-opioid fentanyl, some states are trying to increase them through their use for capital punishment. But it raises the same Constitutional questions posed by other methods of state execution regarding “cruel and unusual punishment,” says TCR’s columnist on drug issues.
So far in 2018, ads containing opioid messaging have aired more than 50,000 times across 25 states. At this point in 2014, there had been only one political TV ad touching on the topic that aired 70 times—in Kentucky’s Senate race.
Federal funding to combat the opioid epidemic has risen as the crisis has worsened. The spending bill passed in March included $4.7 billion to fight the crisis, including $1 billion for grants for states. Lawmakers are on track to approve $3.8 billion for next year.
The number is worrying “because cannabis use among youth can adversely affect learning and memory and may impair later academic achievement and education,” said researcher Katrina Trivers of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Despite recent “scare” stories, there’s no evidence that simply touching fentanyl can lead to overdoses. No one disputes that it’s a dangerous drug, but unsupported fears about the effects of exposure could make first responders less willing to help individuals who are overdosing, writes TCR’s columnist on addiction issues. Meanwhile AP reports on a new test strip that can help heroin users detect fentanyl.
As California considers a proposal to allow marijuana businesses to send home-delivery vans into places where retail stores are prohibited, police chiefs are preparing for the worst. “This will make it easier and more lucrative to rob a delivery person than a liquor store,” said David Swing, president of the California Police Chiefs Association.