Dan Picard, a council member of a small town in Ohio, said that responding to an ever-increasing number of overdose calls threatens to bleed his city dry. Media outlets report on the crisis out of California, Texas, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Maryland, as well.
The Washington Post: One Politician’s Solution To The Overdose Problem: Let Addicts Die
Under a plan by a city council member in Ohio, people who dial 911 seeking help for someone who’s overdosing on opioids may start hearing something new from dispatchers: “No.” In response to the opioid epidemic that swept the nation — including the small city of Middletown, population 50,000 — council member Dan Picard has floated an idea that has been called more of “a cry of frustration” than a legitimate solution. At a council meeting last week, Picard proposed a three-strikes-style policy for people who repeatedly overdose: Too many overdoses and authorities wouldn’t send an ambulance to resuscitate them. (Wootson, 6/28)
Stat: Setting Medicaid Aside, The House Heroin Task Force Searches For Common Ground
The House Heroin Task Force is attempting to tackle the opioid crisis with a set of bipartisan bills that would alter medical record laws, fund new grant programs for prevention and awareness efforts, and increase accountability within the Department of Veterans Affairs. In other words, the legislators are doing what they can to address the epidemic — as long as Medicaid doesn’t come up. (Facher, 6/28)
Los Angeles Times: Amid Opioid Overdoses, Santa Clarita Officials Team Up To Arrest Dealers And Offer Rehab
The dealers were smuggling in bundles of cocaine and heroin, some of it hidden in secret compartments inside their cars. They carried thousands of dollars in cash and at least one firearm, all believed to be linked to their drug peddling in Santa Clarita. Over the last month and a half, a special team of Los Angeles County sheriff’s detectives based out of the Santa Clarita Valley station arrested 39 people on suspicion of narcotics possession and sales, officials announced Wednesday. The team also seized two pounds of heroin, $13,000 in cash and a stolen firearm in the operation. (Lau, 6/28)
Stat: Kentucky Senate President Urges Release Of Secret OxyContin Records
The president of the Kentucky state Senate said Wednesday that he plans to file a motion to intervene in support of a legal effort by STAT to unseal documents filed in a case involving OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma. The secret documents were filed as part of a lawsuit by the state of Kentucky against Purdue Pharma that was settled in December 2015, with Purdue paying $24 million to the state. The documents include a deposition of Dr. Richard Sackler, a former president of Purdue and a member of the family that owns the company; internal emails about the marketing of the drug; minutes of strategy meetings; analysis by the company of clinical trials; and other documents. (Armstrong, 6/28)
The Philadelphia Inquirer/Philly.com: Methadone Is Getting An Image Rehab As Opioid Crisis Deepens
Nearly a half-century into the “war on drugs,” with a new wave of opioid addiction at crisis proportions, a handful of commercial health insurers are beginning to cover methadone maintenance, the oldest and best-researched treatment for addiction to heroin and prescription pain relievers. Independence Blue Cross, the Philadelphia region’s largest insurer, will join the emerging trend in August, offering complete coverage with no co-pays. There are spaces available at local methadone clinics and the treatment is considered highly effective. (Sapatkin, 6/29)
The Baltimore Sun: Doctor’s License Suspended After State Board Said He Over Prescribed Opioids
As Baltimore struggles with skyrocketing overdose deaths linked largely to opioids such as heroin and prescription painkillers, state officials suspended the medical license of a local pain doctor for allegedly over-prescribing the highly addictive medications. According to an emergency order from the state Board of Physicians suspending the medical license of Dr. Kofi Shaw-Taylor, he gave “excessively high” amounts of opioid painkillers to some patients, while prescribing others both opioids and drugs to curb opioid addiction at the same time. (Cohn, 6/28)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.