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Opioid Crisis in U.S. Has Cost More Than $1 Trillion: Report

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The cost of the nation’s opioid crisis exceeded $1 trillion from 2001 to 2017, a new report concludes. The epidemic may cost an additional $500 billion by 2020. The findings come from Altarum, a nonprofit health research and consulting institute. The greatest cost of the opioid crisis comes from lost earnings and productivity losses to employers, NPR reports. Other costs come from lost tax revenue due to early deaths and substance use disorders. Emergency room visits, ambulance costs and the use of naloxone also have contributed to the increase in costs, the report notes. Opioid-related expenses are rising in part because more young people are being affected. “The average age at which opioid deaths are occurring — you’re looking at something in the late 30s or early 40s,” said Corey Rhyan, a senior research analyst with Altarum’s Center for Value and Health Care. “As a result, you’re looking at people...
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Opioid Public Health Emergency Renewed for Another 90 Days

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The Trump Administration renewed the order declaring the opioid crisis a public health emergency on January 22, a day before the 90-day mandate was set to expire, ABC News reports. The Department of Health and Human Services has not said whether the public health emergency will be renewed every 90 days, the article notes. In October, President Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency. The order waives regulations and gives states more flexibility in how they use federal funds to combat the crisis. Under a public health emergency, states could temporarily shift federal grant funds from a wide range of public health issues—such as HIV, diabetes and maternal care—to fund opioid treatment programs. A public health emergency is not as sweeping as a national emergency, which would give the president even more power to waive privacy laws and Medicaid regulations, the article notes.
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Aetna Will Waive Co-Pay for Narcan for Some Customers

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The health insurance company Aetna said it will waive co-pays for the opioid overdose antidote Narcan (naloxone) starting in January, CNN Money reports. “Aetna is committed to addressing the opioid crisis through prevention, intervention and treatment,” Harold L. Paz, MD, MS, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Aetna said in a news release. “Increasing access to Narcan can save lives so that individuals with opioid abuse disorder can live long enough to get into evidence-based treatment.” According to research from the company that makes Narcan, almost 35 percent of Aetna members prescribed the drug between January to June 2017 did not pick up their prescription. Members are less likely to fill Narcan prescriptions as co-pays increase. “Cost is clearly a factor in whether individuals with substance abuse disorder obtain medication that could save them from a fatal overdose,” Paz said. “By eliminating this barrier, we hope to keep...
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Millennials and Baby Boomers Hardest Hit by Opioid Epidemic

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Millennials and Baby Boomers appear to be the age groups hardest hit by the opioid crisis, doctors at Columbia University conclude. Millennials (people in their 20s and 30s) have higher death rates from heroin than other age groups, while Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) have higher rates of death from both prescription opioids and heroin, the researchers report in the American Journal of Public Health . The study found Baby Boomers were up to 27 percent more likely to die of a prescription opioid overdose, compared with people born in the late 1970s, HealthDay reports. They were up to one-third more likely to die of a heroin overdose. Millennials were 23 percent more likely to die of a heroin overdose compared with those born in the late 1970s.
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Some Experts Question Opioid Commission’s Marijuana Warning

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The chair of President Trump’s Opioid Commission warned about the dangers of marijuana, in a letter accompanying the release of the commission’s final report. Some experts are questioning the commission’s view that marijuana could further fuel the opioid crisis. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the chair of the commission, warned against legalizing marijuana in the midst of the opioid epidemic. One researcher, Dr. Chinazo Cunningham, a professor of medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, told CNN she is surprised to see negative language about marijuana in the opioid report. “Research that examines pain and marijuana shows that marijuana use significantly reduces pain,” she said. “In addition, the majority of studies examining marijuana and opioids show that marijuana use is associated with less opioid use and less opioid-related deaths.” Dr. Cunningham is conducting the first long-term study to test whether medical marijuana reduces opioid use among adults with chronic...
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DEA Collects Record Number Of Unused Pills As Part Of Its 14th Prescription Drug Take Back Day

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The public returns record number of potentially dangerous prescription drugs Americans nationwide did their part to reduce the opioid crisis by bringing the DEA and its more than 4,200 local and tribal law enforcement partners a record-setting 912,305 pounds-456 tons-of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs for disposal at more than 5,300 collection sites. That is almost six tons more than was collected at last spring's event.This brings the total amount of prescription drugs collected by DEA since the fall of 2010 to 9,015,668 pounds, or 4,508 tons. Now in its 8th year, National Prescription Drug Take Back Day events continue to remove ever-higher amounts of opioids and other medicines from the nation's homes, where they could be stolen and abused by family members and visitors, including children and teens. The DEA action comes just days after President Donald J. Trump announced the mobilization of his entire Administration...
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SPOTLIGHT: Jamestown, NY Affiliate’s Opioid Prevention Program

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  Recently, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced distribution of $25 million in federal funding to address the opioid crisis in New York State. The Chautauqua Alcohol & Substance Abuse Council (CASAC) in Jamestown, NY was one of the award recipients and will receive $100,000 to provide evidence-based prevention programs to underserved, hard-to-reach youth, and other at-risk populations in the City of Dunkirk. CASAC has established a collaboration with the Boys & Girls Club of Northern Chautauqua County and the Salvation Army’s After School Programs. Youth and adults will have the opportunity to engage in the “Too Good” evidence-based after school program. This program focuses on prevention education through social and emotional learning, empowering youth and teens with skills needed for academic, social and life successes. Elementary and middle school students will engage in positive, engaging, age-appropriate activities including games, stories and songs. The program reinforces basic prevention concepts,...
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SAMHSA Reaffirms Efforts to Address the Public Health Emergency on the Opioid Crisis

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President Trump’s declaration of the opioid crisis as a public health emergency reaffirms the role of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) as leaders in solving one of America’s most pressing public health issues. The President recently appointed Dr. Elinore F. McCance-Katz as the first Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, underscoring the urgency of the issue. “SAMHSA looks forward to continuing its role in helping American communities fight the opioid crisis through evidence-based programs in prevention, treatment, and recovery services,” said Dr. McCance-Katz. “The announcement today by President Trump reflects our commitment to this cause and inspires us to redouble our efforts on behalf of all who have suffered the effects of opioid addiction.” HHS is implementing five specific strategies that are guiding SAMHSA’s response. The comprehensive, evidenced-based Opioid Strategy aims to: Improve access to...
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Opioid Crisis Fast Facts

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The United States is in the midst of an opioid crisis, the impact surpassing annual car crashes, and the AIDs epidemic in the 1990s. Over two million people in the U.S. have become dependent on or abused prescription pain pills and/or an illicit drug. At the onset, many users become addicted after a legitimate injury or surgery requires them to take prescription painkillers. Legal painkillers like morphine, oxycodone, or hydrocodone are prescribed by doctors for acute or chronic pain. However, drug overdoses are on the rise, with 52,000 overdose deaths in 2015. In the same year, the International Narcotics Control Board reported that Americans represented about 99.7 percent of the world's hydrocodone consumption.
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TUNE IN: 3rd Meeting of the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis

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On September 27, the President’s Commission will convene for its third meeting. This discussion will include statements to the Commission from invited government, nonprofit, and business organizations regarding Innovative Pain Management and Prevention Measures for Diversion, followed by discussion of the issues raised. Join this meeting virtually at www.whitehouse.gov/live on September 27 starting at 12:30pm. Written comments or recommendations can be submitted to the Commission by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . More information about the Commission can be found on the Commission's webpage at https://www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp/presidents-commission
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