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opioid crisis

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The opioid crisis is taking a tragic toll on families nationwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2016, double the amount from a decade prior.

Among Native Americans, the rate of opioid overdoses is disproportionately higher. In Michigan, opioid-related deaths are nearly twice as high among tribal members compared to other demographics.

Patino distributed 300 free hams to struggling Pontiac residents in 2014. He is now charged with a health care fraud scheme valued at over $100 million.
Brian Tam / Flickr

A Detroit-area doctor who wrote prescriptions for more than 2 million painkiller pills has been charged with health care fraud.

Dr. Frank Patino appeared in Detroit federal court Wednesday. He was returned to jail to await a Friday hearing to determine if he'll stay locked up without bond.

Patino is accused of submitting claims to Medicare and Medicaid for health care that wasn't performed or wasn't necessary. The value of the alleged scheme is pegged at $112 million.

narcan kit
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The opioid epidemic reaches every corner of life in our state.

That includes libraries, where administrators and staff are figuring out the best response if a patron appears to be under the influence of drugs, or potentially experiencing an opioid overdose.

Gavel
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The opioid epidemic is causing death and havoc for families all across the United States.

Hundreds of state and local governments have filed lawsuits against the manufacturers of the prescription opioids. Among those suing are 50 cities in Michigan.

There is a big hurdle for those Michigan cities to clear, though. A 1995 state law, sponsored by then-state senator Bill Schuette, gave pharmaceutical companies protection from lawsuits filed by consumers.

Melissa Benmark / Michigan Radio

A county at the tip of Michigan's Thumb is bucking a trend: It won't join a lawsuit against the makers of opioid drugs.

Cities and counties across Michigan are suing drug companies and retailers over the consequences of excessive opioid use. They want the companies to reimburse them for the costs of responding to the crisis.

needle
Partha Sahana / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

It began in Switzerland in 1986 as a way to combat overdose deaths and diseases linked to opioid drugs: safe injection sites, also known as supervised injection sites.

It’s a place where users can inject drugs in a clean place, with clean needles, and under medical supervision.

prescription pill bottle
Melissa Benmark / Michigan Radio

The prescription opioid drug addiction problem not only takes its toll on individuals and families. It also costs local governments in many different ways -- from emergency medical services to more police work.

Some municipalities are signing on to a lawsuit against the manufacturers and distributors of the prescription painkillers.

Melissa Benmark / Michigan Radio

Prescription opioids and other addictive medications would have to be dispensed in lockable vials under legislation that was introduced yesterday in the Michigan House. 

The goal of the bill is to deter young people from sneaking small numbers of pills from bottles they find in their homes or the homes of friends.

prescription drugs
Charles Williams / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The United States Surgeon General Jerome Adams joined a panel discussion on opioid addiction at the University of Michigan Thursday. 

Adams highlighted the challenges of the opioid addiction epidemic, calling for a cultural change in how people use opioid medications.

"We need you all to have discussions in your communities, at your board room tables, at your break room tables, at your dinner tables, about how dangerous these medications can be when used improperly and the fact that in the majority of cases you simply don't need them," said Adams. 

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

There was a punk rock band called The Dead Milkmen that had a fun little run of popularity in the late 1980s. They were goofy and sardonic and unapologetically without polish.

One of their songs was called "Bleach Boys," in which the singer extols the supposed virtues of his buddies all drinking bleach (as opposed to indulging in alcohol or other drugs). It's hilarious.

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Last May, Michigan health officials authorized a way for people at risk of opioid overdose to get Naloxone directly from a registered pharmacy without a doctor's prescription.  The authorization also allows family members, friends and other people who may be able to help a person at risk of overdose to obtain Naloxone directly from a registered pharmacy.

Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, is a medication designed to reverse overdoses.

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When President Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency, he offered some ideas for tackling this national emergency. He didn't offer specific plans or funding for implementation, however.

One of those ideas was telemedicine, which might be especially helpful where America's opioid crisis is at its worst: rural areas.

Jamey Lister, an assistant professor of social work at Wayne State University, joined Stateside to discuss the future of telemedicine and its potential to serve rural populations.

Listen to the full conversation above, or read highlights below.

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Recent reports show that the number of organ transplants is rising. While this may be good news to those on an organ waitlist, the reason for the rise — opioid overdose deaths — is troubling.

Dr. Michael Englesbe is a transplant surgeon and an associate professor of transplant surgery at the University of Michigan. He joined Stateside to share his perspective on the opioid crisis.  

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A federal indictment was unsealed today charging a Livonia doctor and seven other people with conspiracy to illegally distribute highly addictive prescription drugs.

According to the indictment, Dr. Zongli Chang wrote medically unnecessary prescriptions for opioids and other controlled substances in exchange for cash payments. 

Michigan State Police patrol vehicle shield
Michigan State Police

Julia Simonelli says when she walked into the Michigan State Police post in Cadillac and told them she needed addiction treatment, police spent hours trying to find the right rehab center for her.

person shaking prescription pills from bottle into hand
flickr user frankileon / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The number of government lawsuits against prescription opioid makers and distributors is rising rapidly.

"There are over a hundred that have been filed by state governments, federal governments, local governments, and then Native American tribes,” said Rebecca Haffajee, assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health.

Haffajee thinks those lawsuits could be an effective tool in the fight against the opioid epidemic, as she wrote in a recent New England Journal of Medicine article

pills
DenisenFamily / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

President Donald Trump recently declared America's opioid crisis a “national emergency."

Prescription opioids are prescribed for pain, but the medications can be highly addictive. People who become addicted may switch to heroin when they can no longer get pills at the pharmacy or on the black market.

The epidemic is rapidly killing people, something like 90 people a day in the U.S.

While the nation is coming to grips with the opioid crisis, researchers at the University of Michigan have started a group to reduce opioid addiction in this state.

Drew Hayes

Synthetic opioids are evolving so fast, even Michigan’s forensic scientists are caught in a game of cat and mouse: As soon as a new synthetic gets identified, another one pops up.

First it was fentanyl, which can be lethal even in very small doses – far smaller than a lethal dose of heroin. Then it was carfentanil, which made headlines for being even more powerful than fentanyl. And new variations on these synthetics keep turning up in crimes scenes and autopsies.

Wayne County Medical Examiner Carl Schmidt says at least with carfentanil, they knew what they were dealing with.

“But when you get these synthetic fentanyls, who come from who knows where, you don’t know what their potency is,” he says. “But so far they’ve proven to be more potent than just plain old fentanyl.”

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Monday night, the Lansing city council declared the opioid crisis a public nuisance. It’s a first step toward filing a lawsuit against drug companies.

person shaking prescription pills from bottle into hand
flickr user frankileon / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The founder of a company being sued by Wayne and Oakland counties has been arrested on charges of racketeering, mail fraud, and wire fraud, among others.

Insys Therapeutics is one of the companies named in a broad lawsuit targeting manufacturers and distributors of opioid drugs. The lawsuit alleges that a number of companies engaged in misleading and deceptive marketing tactics, and that many failed to report suspicious deliveries of drugs a required by law. 

Needle
bradadozier / Flickr / http://bit.ly/2yVn117

Twelve men face federal charges for their alleged roles in an Oakland County-based drug ring that’s linked to at least one overdose death.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Detroit unsealed an indictment against the men Wednesday.

The indictment alleges the men were part of a “drug trafficking organization known as the TEAM.” The “TEAM” was reportedly a merger of two former street gangs who “joined together to distribute heroin” starting in 2010.

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Patients and surgeons can now find free, online recommendations about how much opioid pain medication to prescribe for 11 common operations.

The guidelines were developed by a team of University of Michigan medical researchers, with the goal of curbing opioid addiction. They include suggested information for health care providers to give patients about post-surgical pain expectations and medication use. 

Michigan Radio

Oakland and Wayne County Executives have filed suit in federal court against 13 opioid drug manufacturers and distributors.

They claim the drug makers' deceptive marketing campaigns over many years contributed heavily to the current opioid addiction crisis.

In 2016, there were 817 opioid-related deaths in Wayne County, a 61 percent increase over the previous year. In Oakland County, opioid-related deaths have risen from 9 in 2009 to 33 in 2015. 


Syringe
VCU CNS / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office is hosting an open community meeting on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, to discuss the rising rates of opioid-related fatalities in the county. Nearly 300 people have died in Washtenaw County from opioid overdoses since 2011. In 2016, opioid-related fatalities outnumbered automobile accident fatalities. That reflects overall trends across the country. 

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In 2000, 59 young adults in Michigan between the ages of 18 and 29 were reported as having chronic hepatitis C (HVC). Last year, there 2,060 reported cases in that same age group.

That’s an astonishing 3,391 percent increase within the span of just 16 years.

Those numbers come from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services annual assessment of hepatitis rates, which was released on Wednesday. 

hands holding a pile of pills
Daniel Foster / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Health organizations in Michigan just got some more ammunition in the fight against opioid abuse.

The Michigan Health Endowment Fund has awarded nearly $6.5 million dollars in grants to health programs around the state in an effort to address the opioid crisis.  

Becky Cienki, the MHEF's senior program officer, says the grants were made through the fund's behavioral health initiative. The 16 projects that received grants are focused on either substance abuse disorders or mental health.

person shaking prescription pills from bottle into hand
flickr user frankileon / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

State officials say overdose deaths jumped by 18% last year in Michigan with the majority of cases involving opioid abuse.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday that nearly 1,700 of the 2,335 overdose deaths in 2016 were opioid-related.

doctor
Public Domain

Doctors would be required to check an electronic monitoring database before prescribing painkillers and other drugs under legislation aimed at preventing opioid addicts from "doctor shopping."

Senate Bills 166 and 167 won approval Thursday in the Michigan Senate and were sent to the House for consideration.

Michigan's per capita rate of opiod painkiller prescriptions is the 10th highest in the U.S.