Opioids

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

In forming a nonprofit last week to oversee a supervised injection site in Philadelphia, public health advocates got closer to what may be the opening of the first such site in the country.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

 

Hulking German Shepherd Dogs are a ubiquitous part of many police forces -- sniffing for drugs, bombs and all manner of bad guys -- but another breed greets its target with a lick.

  Pittsburgh K-9 trainer Sgt. Sean Duffy says his latest recruit, Cappy, a 17-month-old bloodhound puppy, will be an essential part of the force's search and recovery and missing persons efforts.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration via AP

A former Pennsylvania doctor has pleaded guilty to felony charges after officials say he filled 332 prescriptions for Hydrocodone medications he wrote in family members' names.

The state attorney general's office announced Tuesday that 65-year-old Ralph Capone of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, had pleaded guilty to fraud, forgery, identity theft and felony charges related to the prescriptions.

Matt Rourke / AP

Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner says he'd sue the makers of prescription painkillers to recoup Pennsylvania's cost of dealing with opioid-related addiction.

Jeff Chiu / AP

New research from Duquesne University finds when a patient requests a high dose prescription for a certain epilepsy medication, it could be a warning sign of illicit drug use.

UPMC

Doctors often ask patients to rank their pain on a scale of one to 10, and responses inform prescriptions, diagnoses and help physicians monitor progress. But University of Pittsburgh assistant professor Charles Jonassaint says this isn't a very effective way for doctors and patients to communicate, because there are different types of pain and not everyone has the same tolerance for pain.

Major Opioid Maker To Pay For Overdose-Antidote Development

Sep 5, 2018
Tony Talbot / AP

A company whose prescription opioid marketing practices are being blamed for sparking the addiction and overdose crisis says it's helping to fund an effort to make a lower-cost overdose antidote.

Danforth
Brian Cook / 90.5 WESA

 

Sarah Danforth begins her daily routine, stacking boxes of clean syringes and unpacking the tools she needs to help those in search of a clean start.

“I feel as though I am a conduit,” she said. “I help other people save lives.”

 

Mike Mozart / Flickr

Pennsylvania is one of six states starting a pilot program providing reemployment services to people with a history of opioid use.

Funding comes from a $22 million grant overseen by the U.S. Department of Labor, nearly $5 million of which will go to Pennsylvania. The grant will run through the end of June 2019, and be administration by the state Department of Labor and Industry.

Mel Evans / AP

Six states are sharing more than $22 million in federal grants to help people recovering from opioid addiction get back to work.

'It Keeps Us Safe': An NYC Bathroom Set Up To Stem Overdoses

Jul 13, 2018
Mary Altaffer / AP

At an unassuming storefront on a busy Brooklyn street, people sign up to use a bathroom outfitted to try to curb an overdose crisis.

Federal Prosecutors To Focus On Synthetic Opioids In PA, Seven Other States

Jul 13, 2018
Robert F. Bukaty / AP

Federal prosecutors in Pennsylvania and seven other states with high drug overdose death rates will pursue even seemingly small synthetic opioid cases under a program announced  by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

PA Hospital Cuts Opioid Scripts, Looks At New Ways To Ease Pain

Jul 2, 2018
Toby Talbot / AP

The culture of clinicians treating pain as a fifth vital sign, targeting pain-free living through a prescription regimen, is acknowledged as a driving factor behind the rise of opioid addiction.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine found 4 in 5 new heroin users began by abusing prescription painkillers.

Geisinger Health System took efforts to change that culture internally, slashing by half its opioid prescriptions and focusing instead on a regimen of pain management combining physical therapy with changes in diet and behavior.

PA Prosecutors Focus On Charging Dealers Who Sell Fatal Doses Of Heroin

Jun 1, 2018

Midstate counties are charging more drug dealers who sell a fatal dose with a crime known as 'drug delivery resulting in death.'

Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts data shows York County tops the list, with 10 percent of the cases statewide.

Lancaster, Dauphin, Cumberland, Franklin, and Lebanon also rank among the top 10 counties.

Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said some counties, including his, view the stricter interpretation of the state law as one more way to combat the opioid crisis.

Brett Sholtis / Transforming Health

York County Solicitor Glenn Smith knows the county coroner's phone number by heart. He calls often to get the most recent number of drug overdose deaths, a number that increases almost every day. 

"As of today?" said York County Coroner Pam Gay. "Twenty-two confirmed, another 25 suspected... We just had two this morning."

York County has been hit hard by the opioid crisis, with 176 overdose deaths last year. It is one of 17 Pennsylvania counties to sue Purdue Pharmaceuticals and other companies that make prescription opioids.

Tony Talbot / AP

The city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County are suing eight pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors, alleging the companies trivialized the risk of opioid addiction while overstating the benefits of the drugs.

Andrew Rush / AP

The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh said a year ago that its many parishes and church buildings could no longer be justified given current finances and clergy shortages.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Governor Tom Wolf has vetoed a bill that would have created a drug formulary for the state workers’ compensation program.

Emma Lee / WHYY

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf recently renewed the state’s disaster declaration for the opioid crisis, in part to remove barriers to addiction treatment. 

Ted S. Warren / AP

Dry leaf marijuana will soon be available for a growing list of Pennsylvania patients, including those addicted to opioids. State Health Secretary Dr.

Pat Sullivan / AP

A researcher at Duquesne University has developed anti-inflammatory pain medication that could be more effective than current options — while also using far smaller doses.

The "nanomedicine," created by Jelena Janjic, co-director of Duquesne's Chronic Pain Research Consortium and associate professor of pharmaceutics, and colleagues, is able to effectively target specific, affected areas of the body. Common anti-inflammatory drugs are distributed indiscriminately throughout the body via the bloodstream after being ingested.

Dentist Group Puts Teeth In Push To Curb Opioid Painkillers

Mar 26, 2018
Toby Talbot / AP

The American Dental Association wants dentists to drastically cut back on prescribing opioid painkillers.

The association announced a new policy Monday that "essentially says eliminate opioids from your arsenal if at all possible," said Dr. Joseph Crowley, the group's president. The Chicago-based group represents around 161,000 dentists.

The group is also pushing for limiting opioid prescriptions to no more than a week and mandatory education for dentists that encourages using other painkillers.

Toby Talbot / AP

With more than 650 drug fatalities in 2017, Allegheny County broke the record for fatal overdoses set the previous year, which in turn broke the record established in 2015.

Trump Opioid Plan Includes Death Penalty For Traffickers

Mar 19, 2018
Evan Vucci / AP

President Donald Trump's plan to combat opioid drug addiction nationwide calls for stiffer penalties for drug traffickers, including the death penalty where appropriate under current law, a top administration official said. 

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

Acclaimed poet Sheryl St. Germain is a college professor whose son died of a heroin overdose in 2014, after a long struggle with drug abuse. He was 30 years old.

Toby Talbot / AP

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's administration says it is ending a pre-authorization requirement for Medicaid recipients to receive coverage for medication they are prescribed to help treat opioid addiction.

Jeff Roberson / AP, file

Methamphetamines have faded into the background as the opioid epidemic has taken hold of the country with deadly tenacity.

However, in the last couple of years, meth cases have been on the rise in some parts of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

The change is one of degrees, said Patrick Trainor, a supervisory special agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in Philadelphia.

“These drugs have never gone away, but we have noticed an increase in seizures in this region,” he said.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday the federal government will use Pittsburgh-area expertise to step up its fight against opioid-related crimes online.

Keith Srakocic / AP

A memorial wall that includes 22,000 pills — each engraved with the face of someone who died of an opioid overdose — has arrived at the University of Pittsburgh.

The National Safety Council will host an unveiling of the memorial during a private event Monday at the William Pitt Student Union. It will be open to public on Tuesday.

The memorial was initially launched in Chicago in November. It's also due to make stops in Atlanta, Ohio and Washington D.C. later this year.

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