North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum: Our criminal justice system has an opioid problem

By Gov. Doug Burgum | Fox News

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Since the age of 14, Jyssica Noble’s primary motivation has resulted in an overwhelming set of circumstances: she experienced periods of homelessness; she struggled to find work; she lost her son to foster care after police raided her hotel room; she served several stints in jail.

For the majority of Americans, Jyssica is just one of the many people who has fallen victim to the opioid epidemic. For Jyssica, now 26, each year consumed by her addiction is a painful symbol of life lost.

“That’s the biggest thing heroin takes away from you: time,” Jyssica shared with me recently. She and I, along with North Dakota First Lady Kathryn Burgum, sat down together as part of Face to Face, an initiative led by the National Reentry Resource Center and The Council of State Governments Justice Center, which gives policymakers opportunities to hear directly from people who have firsthand experience with the criminal justice system.

Following a 2017 arrest that resulted in a felony theft charge and a probation sentence, Jyssica was referred to Free Through Recovery, a statewide behavioral health program launched earlier this year that links people on probation and parole with community-based recovery support services, including counseling, peer support and access to employment and housing opportunities. Thanks to a team that includes her probation officer, a peer support specialist and counselors at one of our state’s many local Free Through Recovery providers, Jyssica now has a built-in support system that helps her stay on a path to recovery.

Listening to Jyssica’s story in person and learning directly about her experiences, her challenges and her hopes and dreams, further opened my eyes to the devastating impact of substance addiction and helped illustrate what state policies can do on an individual level.

In North Dakota, as is the case in many rural states, the disease of substance addiction is the most urgent social issue. More than 80 percent of people in North Dakota’s prisons have a substance addiction, and half of all arrests in the state are substance-related. Recognizing the severity of the problem, we’ve designated behavioral health and addiction as one of our administration’s five strategic initiatives.

Even after they are released, people like Jyssica often find themselves back behind bars due to the lack of treatment options available to them – a damaging cycle that takes a toll on individuals, their families and the system at large.

To address this far-reaching problem, a bipartisan group of state and local leaders, law enforcement officials, behavioral health specialists and other community leaders came together to take on Justice Reinvestment, a data-driven approach that identifies evidence-based policy solutions designed to create a more efficient and effective criminal justice system.

These efforts resulted in two pieces of Justice Reinvestment legislation that our state legislature approved and I signed into law last year, one of which created the program that supports Jyssica’s recovery. The new measures empowered our state to buck the traditional response of incarcerating people with behavioral health needs and instead direct resources toward implementing innovative, local solutions that will increase access to high-quality treatment. Our executive budget proposal for the 2019-21 bienniuim recommends increasing funding for Free Through Recovery by nearly 65 percent to expand the program to those beyond the criminal justice system. There’s far more work to be done in North Dakota, but Jyssica’s experience shows that we’re on the right track.

Toward the end of our conversation, Jyssica proudly told me that she has an apartment of her own for the first time, works a full-time job and is excited about her future with her son – a relationship that seemed almost impossible during the height of her struggle with addiction.

Governors and other policymakers in all states should get to know the faces of the opioid epidemic in their state’s criminal justice system. With commitment to programs like Free Through Recovery, we can continue to build a criminal justice system that opens minds to rehabilitation and opens doors to recovery. (Click to Source)

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Maker of highly addictive OxyContin says it will stop incentivizing doctors to push its deadly drugs

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(Natural News) The opioid crisis has reached epidemic proportions in this country, with the number of deaths quadrupling since 2000, and around 115 people dying from overdoses each day. President Trump has declared the opioid crisis a national health emergency, and high schools across the country have started stocking up on the drug Narcan to try to save lives in case of an accidental overdose on school premises.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that when you consider direct healthcare costs, lost productivity, criminal prosecution and addiction treatment, this crisis costs the United States around $78.5 billion annually.

Now, Big Pharma giant Purdue, the  manufacturer of OxyContin, the world’s bestselling opioid drug, has vowed to stop marketing the drug to healthcare professionals.

Several pharmaceutical manufacturers, including Purdue, have admitted to having entire teams of sales people, as well as “front groups” and “key opinion leaders,” pushing the drug as a mainstream option for chronic, long-term pain, even though the drug was designed for cancer patients and others suffering severe pain who only need pain relief for a limited period of time.

As reported by Circa, when the drug was first released in 1995, it was hailed as a breakthrough in the treatment of severe pain, but users quickly learned that they could abuse the drug to get a high:

It worked over 12 hours to maintain a steady level of oxycodone in patients suffering from a wide range of pain ailments. But some users quickly discovered they could get a heroin-like high by crushing the pills and snorting or injecting the entire dose at once. In 2010 Purdue reformulated OxyContin to make it harder to crush and stopped selling the original form of the drug.

The manufacturer did not discontinue making the drug, of course, and went on to pitch it to healthcare professionals as a low-risk wonder drug for the treatment of pain. Purdue also later admitted to minimizing the addiction risk to doctors, who went on to prescribe it for many off-label uses, directly resulting in the crisis the country is now faced with. (Related: Learn more about what caused this crisis and what is being done to cope with it at Opioids.news.)

In the meantime, Purdue has been raking in billions in profits each year.

It is unlikely that the company has altruistic reasons for agreeing to stop lying to doctors about the risks and benefits of OxyContin. It is far more likely that the multiple lawsuits it has been inundated with has led to this change of heart.

While it is certainly better that Purdue is now no longer going to pitch propaganda to the healthcare community and has halved its sales staff to that end, experts believe that other pharmaceutical companies will have to follow suit before any real progress can be made in turning the tide of the opioid crisis.

“It is difficult to promote more cautious prescribing to the medical community because opioid manufacturers promote opioid use,” said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, director of opioid policy research at Brandeis University, and expert adviser in several of the lawsuits pending against Big Pharma.

While Purdue is a major producer of opioids, other big players like Johnson & Johnson and Allergan would have to make the same commitment to stopping the propaganda machine for any real progress to be made. (Related: Didn’t they take an oath not to do harm? Opioids are coming from doctors’ offices, not the ER.)

And while Purdue has promised to make changes in the U.S., it is making no such commitment regarding the international market.

“They are still doing this abroad,” Kolodny noted. “They are following the same playbook that they used in the United States.”

Circa noted that while Purdue Pharma only operates under that name in the United States, it is associated with two other pharmaceutical companies, Mundipharma and Napp, overseas. Purdue has distanced itself from these producers, saying that they operate independently and according to local regulations.

So, no real change of heart, then. They’ve simply turned their attention to the next lucrative market. (Click to Source)

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Trump Announces Opioid Crisis a Public Health Emergency

Declaration stops short of the ‘national emergency’ designation president had assured over summer

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WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump, surrounded by addicts and their families, declared opioid addiction a “public health emergency” Thursday as he sought to accelerate a federal government response to the crisis.

“We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic,” Mr. Trump said in a 25-minute speech from the White House in which he decried the tragedy of “opioid orphans” and described opioid abuse as a “plague” that Americans must defeat.

Mr. Trump, saying his administration was already “aggressively” fighting opioid abuse, pledged to raise the subject of Chinese-made bootleg fentanyl on his November visit with President Xi Jinping. Mr. Trump also praised pharmacy benefit managers’ efforts to limit the supply of some painkillers and touted a move by the Food and Drug Administration earlier this year to urge one drug maker to pull an opioid off the market.

Reaction to the move in the states was divided somewhat along partisan lines, with Democrats questioning whether Mr. Trump’s action went far enough, especially given that it didn’t include a commitment to new funding, and Republicans praising it as forceful and necessary.

Mr. Trump also said his administration was looking at bringing lawsuits against unspecified “bad actor” companies, but it wasn’t immediately clear what steps the federal government might take in that regard. This week, Purdue Pharma L.P., which sells the opioid painkiller OxyContin, said that the U.S. attorney’s office in Connecticut was investigating the company over the drug, and that it was cooperating with the investigation. The U.S. attorney’s office in Connecticut declined to comment.

Overall, more than nine states, and dozens of cities and counties, have sued Purdue and other opioid painkiller makers, alleging that their marketing has misled the public about addiction risks. Some state and county lawsuits have also targeted distributors of the opioid drugs. Purdue and many of the other firms have denied the allegations.

Opioids such as fentanyl, heroin, oxycodone and hydrocodone killed more than 34,500 people last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and administration officials Thursday likened the death toll to that in the Vietnam War. Opioid addiction has ravaged communities throughout the country in recent years, drawing attention from officeholders of both parties, many of whom have been urging Mr. Trump to take action for some time.

The president’s declaration Thursday stopped short of the “national emergency” designation that he had said over the summer he would invoke. It was twinned with an announcement that the administration would lift a rule that effectively prevented hospitals and treatment centers from maintaining more than 16 psychiatric beds at a time.

Senior administration officials said ahead of Mr. Trump’s comments that a public-health emergency declaration would allow existing funds for unemployed workers and people with HIV and AIDS to be shifted within those programs to specifically include participants with addictions.

The declaration, which must be renewed every 90 days, carries no specific commitments for additional funding. A senior administration official said that such funding had been proposed in previous GOP-led bids to repeal and replace Democrats’ 2010 Affordable Care Act, and that the White House now hoped to see the funding in a year-end spending deal.

A White House commission on the opioid crisis led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a onetime Republican rival and subsequent backer of Mr. Trump, suggested over the summer that the president declare a national emergency, leaving open different options for what form that declaration should take.

Declaring a national emergency would have allowed federal officials to access a pool of reserve funds through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But critics of that approach worried that would draw resources from hurricane-recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and several states, and officials said a public-health emergency declaration was more fitting for a continuing crisis.

Outside the White House Thursday, Mr. Christie praised Mr. Trump’s move as an “enormous first step” and urged Congress to appropriate additional funds. His commission is due to release final recommendations next week, and Mr. Trump said he was poised to adopt many of them. (Click to Source)

Doctors In NJ Get Wealthy Helping Big Pharma Ignite Opioid Crisis

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Doctors In NJ Get Wealthy Helping Big Pharma Ignite Opioid Crisis

by Dawn Luger

We’ve all seen those who don’t understand just how addictive opioids are, blame the addict for his or her addiction. But now, new information is coming to light, and many doctors have raked in huge amounts of money by helping push these drugs on patients for Big Pharma while downplaying the addictive nature of the drug with intents to get more taking it.

The opioid crisis is the fault of Big Pharma and it was all done in the name of money. While many die on the streets, their friends and family assume it’s just a “cake walk” to quit, all while Congress protects lobbyists, so doctors can continue to prescribe the dangerous drugs that are making them wealthy.

The most powerful opioid ever mass-marketed was designed to ease cancer patients into death. The drug is fast acting, powerful enough to tame pain that other opioids can’t, and comes in a variety of easy delivery methods, including patches and lollipops. A dose the size of a grain of sand can kill you, and the effects of addiction are often immediate.Usage quickly becomes necessary, and withdrawal effects are slow and painful for the user.

Meet fentanyl. It’s heroin on steroids and it’s killing people in droves. None of that stopped Big Pharma and the doctors in bed with them from prescribing these drugs in terrifying quantities in the state of New Jersey. In New Jersey, you can get fentanyl after having your tonsils removed. But that isn’t all. Doctors who treat children’s colds and adult’s sore knees are prescribing it with alarming frequency,far more often than oncologists who seek to ease end-of-life cancer pain. (Click to Article)

The Surgeon General Has A Plan To Fix The Opioid Crisis

Will the Trump administration follow any of his recommendations?

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U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy released the nations first-ever “Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health” on November 16 that includes both alarming statistics and a plan to fix the nation’s opioid crisis.

In the 428-page report, Murthy notes that 20 million Americans have substance abuse disorders – similar to the number of people who have diabetes – but only 10% ever get specialty treatments. He also points out that prescription painkillers and heroin now kill more than 74 Americans each day, making overdoses the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S.

Additionally, more people now use opioids than tobacco, and more people have substance abuse disorders than have cancer. To be specific, there are 1.5 times the number of people misusing painkillers than there are people battling cancer.opioidcrisis-e1479529771724

(Click to Article)

Drug Companies Flooded W.V. With More Than 780 Million Pain Pills

The distributors ‘knew what was going on.’ They just ‘didn’t care.’

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The United States is embroiled in a fierce battle against opioid abuse. In 2014, there was a 3.4-fold increase in the number of opioid overdose deaths in America. The state hit hardest by the opioid crisis is West Virginia, where drug companies pumped 782 million pain pills into the state over the last 6 years.

In 2015, West Virginia had the highest rate of opioid overdose deaths in the country. Since 1999, overdose deaths have quadrupled in the state.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail obtained previously confidential drug shipping sales records sent by the DEA to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s office. The paper used the records to disclose the number of pain pills sold to every pharmacy in the state, as well as the drug companies’ shipments to all 55 counties in West Virginia between 2007 and 2012.

Their findings, both astounding and infuriating, were documented in a report published in the paper on December 17.

One drug company shipped nearly 9 million hydrocodone pills to a single pharmacy in Mingo County over the course of 2 years. The rural, impoverished county has the 4th-highest prescription opioid death rate of any county in the U.S. (Click to Article)

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