Opioid Crisis News | September 2, 2019

PR Newswire PR Newswire • September 17, 2019

The opioid crisis started to take shape back in 1991 when deaths from opioids began to rise. At this time, there were assurances from pharmaceutical companies that the risk of addiction to prescription painkillers was low. Starting in 2010, deaths from heroin abuse began to rise, and a full-blown epidemic was on the way. By 2013, fentanyl came into the mix, which made opioid abuse far more dangerous. There have been numerous attempts over the years to gain a handle on this systemic problem, and it seems as though the United States is finally on the path to remediation.

In this ongoing series, we will go through new developments in the fight against opioids. Each week, you will see headlines about the crisis from around the country. Each of these articles will cover the major developments of the week so you can stay in the loop with everything that goes on. By some estimates, roughly 2 million Americans are addicted to opioids, so chances are good you know someone struggling with this disease. By staying knowledgeable about each new update, you can help those you know who may be dealing with this personal calamity.

The Pharmaceutical Industry Is Finally Held Accountable

The war against opioid abuse saw a landmark development this month with a massive lawsuit in which an Oklahoma judge penalized Johnson & Johnson for its role in the opioid crisis. The judge held the company liable in the form of a $527 million penalty. The lawsuit also includes Purdue Pharma, which is presently in talks to settle for up to $12 billion. In terms of Purdue, the settlement would require the Sackler family, who owns the company, to pay out $3 billion. The company would need to file for bankruptcy and reorganize into a new entity on behalf of opioid victims.

For years, people have wanted to hold organizations that fueled the opioid crisis accountable. Purdue Pharma is the maker of OxyContin, a prescription medication used to treat severe pain. It also comes with a high risk of addiction, and over the years, doctors prescribed it with reckless abandon. Many people who suffer from opioid addiction started with these prescription painkillers and then moved on to illicit substances, such as heroin.

For years, the manufacturers of these substances faced no consequences. However, now it appears judges are willing to take action against the companies so victims can seek some form of justice. Unfortunately, for those who have already passed away, it is too late.

The Trump Administration Pledges Nearly $2 Billion To Fight the Crisis

On September 4, the Trump administration formally announced plans to allocate $1.8 billion to local and state governments to combat the opioid epidemic. This money will be provided in the form of grant funding to increase prevention and treatment efforts. President Trump said at the White House, “These funds will be delivered to the communities where their help is most needed.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will receive $900 million of the funds over the course of three years to improve its drug-related data. An additional $932 million will go to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in the form of opioid response grants. During the announcement, President Trump was joined by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to highlight his plan to combat the epidemic.

The CDC has plans to award $301 million to 47 states, the District of Columbia, two United States territories and 16 local municipalities. Meanwhile, the HHS will provide funding to all 50 states and multiple territories to expand the use of treatments and help with the criminal justice systems. President Trump has emphasized his administration will do everything in its power to combat this problem, which claims, on average, nearly 130 American lives every day.

Kentucky alone will receive $31.5 million in grant money from the HHS to address its massive crisis. At last, Kentucky has made strides in reducing its opioid fatalities with opioid deaths decreasing by 15% in 2018 compared to the previous year.

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