How much does NJ get from feds to fight opioid epidemic?

Nearly $13 million has been earmarked for New Jersey by the federal government to battle the opioid epidemic.Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price announced Wednesday that the department will soon release $485 million in grants to 50 states and U.S. territories.  The funding is the first of two rounds provided for in the 21st Century Cures Act, signed into law by President Obama in December. EPIDEMIC: Heroin forum at Ocean County Library in MayThe money will go toward the department’s five strategies to battle the opioid crisis: strengthening public health surveillance, advancing the practice of pain management, improving the availability of treatment and recovery services, increasing the distribution of the overdose antidote naloxone and supporting research.A spokesman for Gov. Chris Christie’s office said it has not yet been determined how the $12,995,621 set aside for New Jersey will be allotted. ADDICTION: Is your loved one a heroin addict? Learn the secret signsThe funds going to states and territories are based on rates of overdose deaths and unmet need for opioid addiction treatment, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Ken Serrano: 732-643-4029; [email protected] Continue Reading

Study: Opioid epidemic increasingly reaching newborn babies

The surging opioid epidemic in the United States is increasingly affecting some of the country's most vulnerable citizens: newborn babies.A study released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based on data in 28 states, reveals that babies born dependent on drugs increased 300% between 1999 and 2013. The babies, born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), experience withdrawal at birth. They often suffer from vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, feeding difficulties and sometimes respiratory distress.NAS is most often the result of opioid exposure, and the increase in NAS rates coincides with the ongoing heroin epidemic and the increase in the supply of prescription opioids. A CDC study released last month found that heroin addiction among women doubled from 2011 to 2014 compared with 2002 to 2004. Additionally, the CDC says the sale of prescription opioids nearly quadrupled between 1999 and 2014."NAS is an indicator of the nation's broader opioid epidemic," said Jean Ko, the lead author of the study. "It is a concerning condition and trend."To curb the problem, Ko said clinics should be stricter in handing out prescription opioids, which include painkillers such as oxycodone, morphine and methodone. They have high potential for addiction and are sometimes a gateway to heroin, which is an opioid.State-specific programs could also help solve the problem, Ko said.Four states — Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee — have made NAS a reportable condition to their respective state health departments. Such surveillance systems can help states monitor NAS and determine effective treatment for women and newborns, Ko said.In addition to withdrawal symptoms, babies affected by NAS are likely to suffer long-term cognitive disabilities such as attention-deficit disorder, said Dr. Suna Seo of MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. Seo, who specializes in neonatology, said concrete Continue Reading

Our View: What the opioid epidemic says about us

America is addicted and dying from drug overdoses. Arizona is anchored squarely in this dysfunctional new reality.There’s a lot of talk about who is to blame for the epidemic of opioid deaths.There’s a bigger need to ask how our culture enabled this crisis.Round up the usual suspects.Our pharmaceutical companies got us here.Our doctors got us here.Our desire to escape reality got us here.Let’s look at them one by one:Pharmaceutical companies made a lot of money selling opioid painkillers, and some say they did so without regard to the dangers.On May 31, Ohio filed suit against five pharmaceutical companies saying drug makers spent “millions of dollars on promotional activities and materials that falsely deny or trivialize the risks of opioids while overstating the benefits of using them for chronic pain.”A similar suit was filed in Mississippi in 2015, and other states, cities and counties have started litigation.Some people draw parallels with the lawsuits that states – including Arizona – pursued against the tobacco industry in the 1990s. Settlements totaled more than $200 billion nationwide.But unlike cigarettes, this situation has a middleman who facilitated the substance use.Too many doctors failed to look closely at the drugs they were prescribing.Before the spotlight was turned on this problem, it was not uncommon to hear stories of people returning home after surgery with enough oxycodone to chemically enslave or kill them. MY TURN: It'll take some pain (literally) to solve our opioid epidemic In 2015, more than 25,000 people nationwide overdosed on opioids like fentanyl, oxycodone and hydrocodone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.In Arizona, last year, 790 people died from overdoses of prescription opioids and heroin, according to reporting by The Republic’s Ken Alltucker. That was a 74 percent increase since 2012.Deaths from heroin – the evil emperor of street drugs Continue Reading

Feds give NJ $7.6M to fight heroin, opioid epidemic

The federal government has awarded New Jersey $7.6 million to fight the heroin and opioid epidemic. Here’s a breakdown.A grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of $727,666 will go to the New Jersey Department of Health for: MORE: Red Bank FBI busts heroin ringleaderThe New Jersey Department of Human Services will receive $6.9 million from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.About $1.9 million will target prescription drug misuse by:The department will also receive $5 million - $1 million a year for the next five years - to reduce the number overdose deaths through training and the purchase and distribution of naloxone kits. PREVIOUS: 5 heroin stories for Overdose Awareness Day Continue Reading

Congress made opioid epidemic worse: Letters to the Editor

The opioid epidemic in Delaware was heightened by recent Congressional activity.On Sunday, 60 Minutes reported on its investigation conducted with the Washington Post that inquired into the opioid abuse crisis. The probe revealed the multi-year Drug Enforcement Agency efforts to stop the opioid epidemic were derailed by the passage of Congressional legislation, now signed into law.The bill stripped the DEA of its most potent weapon against large distribution drug companies responsible for the deadliest drug epidemic in U. S. history that has claimed 200,000 lives. Congress was aggressively lobbied by pharmaceutical companies to pass legislation that completely undermined the DEA’s efforts to check the distribution of opioids by making the DEA procedures industry-friendly.The legislation was championed by allies of the pharmaceutical industry: U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and U.S. Representative Tom Marino (R-PA), who was President Trump’s nominee to be the drug czar — Marino withdrew after the report aired.I pray Delaware's congressional delegation has not given up completely to the multi-billion-dollar pharmaceutical companies that lobbied Congress and poured millions of dollars into the election campaigns of allied Congressional legislators. John J. Madison WilmingtonThe News Journal recently did some excellent reporting of the difficulties experienced by the Muslim community here in Delaware. It also has written some very informative stories about refugees entering our state. So it seems important that fellow Delawareans learn about incidents concerning Christian refugees who were imprisoned by the Taliban in Pakistan for promoting their Christian faith, getting generous collaboration by the Jewish, Protestant, Catholic and Muslim communities.The Islamic Society of Delaware teamed up with Parish of the Resurrection (Catholic), to provide months of rent and food money for this persecuted, refugee Continue Reading

Brick plans to sue drugmakers over opioid epidemic

BRICK - The township could soon join a growing number of state and local governments suing opioid manufacturers, claiming the companies misrepresented the dangers of their products.If approved by Township Council, the law firm Motley Rice LLC of Washington, D.C. will represent Brick in a lawsuit against drug makers, at no cost to the town. Instead, the firm will take a percentage of any settlement money the township may receive.Motley Rice is also representing Toms River in the lawsuit.The move follows a rising number of drug overdoses in Brick, from 69 in 2014 to 212 in 2016, Mayor John G. Ducey said in a news release. “While we will continue our efforts to attack the heroin problem through treatment and aggressive law enforcement, we also will hold the manufacturers accountable for telling doctors and patients that opioids are not addictive. They know that’s not true,"  Ducey said in the news release. Related:  Should NJ sue Big Pharma over the opioid epidemic? The Brick Township Council is expected to approve the agreement on Tuesday"The council joins the mayor in this effort against the opioid manufacturers," Council President Arthur Halloran said in the news release. "These drugs have unfortunately destroyed many lives across our nation and right here in Brick.” More: Brick toxic dry cleaner cleanup will last until 2022 Motley Rice, according to its website, has participated in such high-profile cases and negotiations as the BP Deepwater Horizon settlement for property damages and medical benefits, a $500 million decision for asbestos victims against Travelers Insurance Company, and has represented more than 6,600 Sept. 11 survivors and their families in court.Suing opioid manufacturers is part of a growing movement across the country.New Jersey Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced Thursday that his office filed a four-count lawsuit Continue Reading

Hackney: Make the drug profiteers pay for opioid epidemic

Indianapolis has joined a growing list of cities and states trying to combat the deadly opioid crisis by suing companies that make and distribute the prescription painkillers that fuel addiction.Finally.On Thursday, Mayor Joe Hogsett announced the hiring of a legal team to pursue claims against companies that "have made a fortune actively exacerbating this epidemic — and who should be held responsible for the enormous financial burdens it has imposed on our city and its taxpayers."There were 345 drug overdose deaths in Marion County last year, according to a city news release that cited Indiana University research. Statewide, deaths from opioid overdoses spiked to 757 last year, according to Indiana's new Next Level Recovery website. For much of 2017, companies such as OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma and pharmaceutical companies Endo Health, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen and McKesson have been targeted by more than two dozen government entities — counties, cities and states — demanding billions of dollars in compensation for increased public costs in law enforcement, health care and treatment.  States such as Mississippi, Ohio and West Virginia have sued large drug distribution companies — the first lawsuits of their kind — claiming that the companies created public health and safety hazards by shipping large quantities of opioids into those states.These lawsuits may seem frivolous, but they are not without teeth. Remember when states sued Big Tobacco, eventually forcing a $248 billion settlement in 1998 for tax dollars spent to treat patients with smoking-related health issues?  Litigation is not a cure, but it is a tool. Hit a company hard enough in the pocket and you will get its attention.This summer, the U.S. Justice Department announced a $35 million settlement with Continue Reading

Imagine leading with solutions to opioid epidemic

The Enquirer’s “Seven Days of Heroin” –  the special report in the paper and the video – was much to digest and the front-page news continues with Sunday’s story about the need for treatment on demand.  As a mom, a private citizen and an advocate for drug prevention/education and treatment for decades, I am not willing to accept the new normal.   Addiction and our current opioid epidemic are paramount in my run for Cincinnati City Council.   As a mom, I want all young people to thrive and be the best version of themselves.  As parents and caregivers, we need to be just as aware of our children’s mental health as their physical health.  Drug prevention education works and I continue to advocate for sound prevention strategies. If we can let go of the stigma and openly discuss mental health, addiction and the use of drugs – both prescription and illegal – to dull feeling and sooth pain, we will begin to chip away at the root of the issue.   To prevent drug use, we need ongoing family and community conversations about mental health, addiction, how we handle stress and pain. As a citizen, I have witnessed our local opioid/heroin epidemic trend upward over the last decade.  Cincinnati at the epicenter of this issue – a public health emergency that impacts every one of our city’s 52 neighborhoods. As a candidate, I began sharing my comprehensive plan to address our current public health crisis early this year  ("Drug addiction is a disease, not a personal failing"), addressed City Council at a June budget hearing to implore them to do something meaningful today, not “after the election” or in the next budget cycle and released my comprehensive plan on my website last week.   Addiction changes a person’s brain chemistry, which can drive someone to do things they would never do otherwise.  For Continue Reading

Trevor Noah is ‘disappointed’ by Donald Trump’s handling of the opioid epidemic

Don't fall out of your chairs or tumble onto your standing desks, but Trevor Noah actually had something nice to say about President Trump. In a clip from Aug. 10, the president called the opioid crisis "a national emergency," which Noah acknowledged was "huge" during Thursday's NSFW Daily Show segment.  "Declaring the opioid crisis an official national emergency, that is a big step," Noah said, "because when the president does that, the government can start using money from a multi-billion dollar fund to fight the problem. Donald Trump getting it done."But The Daily Show host's praise was short-lived, ending as Trump called the opioid crisis a "national public health emergency" Thursday.While the difference might seem small, it has a big impact. If Trump had declared the opioid crisis a national emergency — a tricky legal maneuver, to be sure — access would've been granted to the billions of dollars Congress is spending on disaster relief bills. Declaring it a national public health emergency lets the Department of Health and Human Services access a special fund Congress set up to allow a fast response to unexpected health emergencies. But that fund only has $57,000 in it. More: What Trump's opioid emergency declaration does — and doesn't do More: Those battered by opioid epidemic applaud Trump effort, but ask 'where's the money?' Noah said he was "disappointed" in Trump as "what he delivered was very far from the promise.""It's like if Trump stood at the border in a few years and was like, 'Ladies and gentlemen, I'm proud to announce my big, beautiful Wal ... greens," Noah said, adopting a Trump voice. "No Mexicans allowed and guess who paid for it: Mexico's ... neighbor, America.'" Contributing: Gregory Korte More: Noah blames Trump not for being inarticulate to soldier's widow but refusing to apologize More: Trevor Noah re-upped for Comedy Continue Reading

Those battered by opioid epidemic applaud Trump effort, but ask ‘where’s the money?’

Parents of children who overdosed on opioids have waited patiently for President Trump to declare the epidemic a "national emergency," as he twice promised he would.On Thursday, some were disappointed. To some survivors, the declaration instead of a public health emergency is too little, too late. The distinction is an important one as these parents were hoping for a flood of extra funding for the epidemic that’s claimed tens of thousands of lives, and Trump's declaration does not include that. It also includes less than what Trump's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis recommended in its preliminary report in July.The White House action is “like trying to put a Band Aid on a fatal wound," says Charlotte Wethington of northern Kentucky, who lost her son to a heroin overdose 15 years ago. "It is absolutely ridiculous that we have not done more in the time that this epidemic — pandemic — has been going on.” Wethington has been a leading advocate for those with addiction disease in Kentucky and several other states. Kentucky passed the Matthew Casey Wethington Act for Substance Abuse Intervention in 2004, a law allowing for involuntary, court-ordered treatment.New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who chairs the president's opioid commission, told USA TODAY that a public health emergency should put pressure on Congress to act.A national emergency, however, may have allowed the use of funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which prepares for and responses to disasters.How fast that would have happened, says National Council for Behavioral Health’s Joe Parks, would depend on administrative decisions, and “how much funding they have left considering the demand on their funding due to the recent hurricanes, flooding, and fires.”“It would make extra funding available, but it also probably would've forced Congress to give FEMA more funding to meet Continue Reading