opioid epidemic

More than 1,300 died from opioid overdoses in CT in 2021. Will $300 million save lives?

When three 13-year-old boys were sickened by the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl at a Hartford middle school on Jan. 13, it was a shocking reminder of the human toll of the opioid crisis. One of the boys later died and a sweep of the school surfaced 40 small plastic bags of the drug.

Later that same day, dozens of people spoke out against a proposal to locate a methadone clinic on a commercial street on the New Haven-Hamden border.

During the ongoing battle with COVID-19, there seems to be less attention being paid to opioid addiction, advocates say. But now these two events put opioids and opioid use disorder back in the spotlight. Deaths from opioid overdose in Connecticut have increased nearly 40% over the past three years, hitting 1,356 through the first 11 months of 2021 and, police say, the state is flooded with ever-more-powerful synthetic opioids.

The incidents on Jan. 13 illustrate two stubborn facts of the war on opioids: 1) The increase in overdoses indicates that the state isn’t winning, and 2) It’s difficult to get the most effective treatments for opioid use disorder to the people who need them.

Programs including methadone and buprenorphine are most effective for people who are diagnosed with having moderate to severe opioid use disorder, , according to numerous academic studies, including one published in February 2020 by the Journal of the American Medical Association. Yet people overwhelmingly end up enrolled in abstinence and detoxification programs, even though they’re effective in only 10 to 15% of the cases. Addiction experts believe stigma and barriers to access deter many from receiving life-saving medications.

Preventing the Next Crisis: Six Critical Questions About the Opioid Epidemic

The opioid epidemic is one of those circumstances in which the crisis has required an immediate response by state and local governments to “pick up the pieces” through the provision of social services at a magnitude and cost that were unthinkable prior to 1995. The amount of money spent on first responders and medical treatments and the number of children left parentless because of the epidemic is enormous. 

Few individuals question whether state governments should be responding to the social needs of their constituents; however, less has been written about what has been relinquished—that is, the true opportunity costs—because of this response, along with the broader impact that this has on states and their citizenry. This is an important omission and one that needs to be discussed, not only to compensate states, but also to engage more constituents in understanding how those who are not directly affected by the epidemic lose out as a result.

Johnson & Johnson faces multibillion opioids lawsuit that could upend big pharma

Oklahoma is suing Johnson & Johnson in a multibillion-dollar lawsuit to hold the drug giant responsible for its opioid addiction epidemic.

Day after day, the memos flashing across screens in an Oklahoma courtroom have jarred with the family-friendly public image of Johnson & Johnson, the pharmaceutical giant best known for baby powder and Band-Aid.

In one missive, a sales representative dismissed a doctor’s fears that patients might become addicted to the company’s opioid painkillers by telling him those who didn’t die probably wouldn’t get hooked. Another proposes targeting sales of the powerfully addictive drugs at those most at risk: men under 40.

As the state of Oklahoma’s multibillion-dollar lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson has unfolded over the past month, the company has struggled to explain marketing strategies its accusers say dangerously misrepresented the risk of opioid addiction to doctors, manipulated medical research, and helped drive an epidemic that has claimed 400,000 lives over the past two decades.

Sackler Family’s Role in Opioid Crisis Revealed

The Sacklers had a new plan.

It was 2014, and the company the family had controlled for two generations, Purdue Pharma, had been hit with years of investigations and lawsuits over its marketing of the highly addictive opioid painkiller OxyContin, at one point pleading guilty to a federal felony and paying more than $600 million in criminal and civil penalties.

But as the country’s addiction crisis worsened, the Sacklers spied another business opportunity. They could increase their profits by selling treatments for the very problem their company had helped to create: addiction to opioids.

Details of the effort, named Project Tango, have come to light in lawsuits filed by the attorneys general of Massachusetts and New York. 

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