Fentanyl-related drugs permanently made criminal under bill passed by U.S. House
WASHINGTON — Lawmakers in the U.S. House passed bipartisan legislation Thursday in an effort to curb staggering overdose deaths from illegal fentanyl substances that are illicitly produced and up to 50 times stronger than heroin. The HALT Fentanyl Act, passed on a 289-133 vote with 74 Democratic votes and support from the Biden administration, would […]
U.S. House Judiciary’s debut hearing on the border centers on blame for fentanyl crisis
WASHINGTON — U.S. House Republicans on the Judiciary Committee blamed the Biden administration for fentanyl drug smuggling at the U.S.-Mexico border during a Wednesday hearing. Chair Jim Jordan of Ohio also blamed U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for the number of migrants at the border, and said there are already hundreds of […]
Monday numbers: A closer look at the mounting toll of fentanyl on the nation’s youth
Last year, Policy Watch delved into the epidemic within the opioid epidemic: the terrifying rise of synthetic opioid fentanyl and staggering number of deaths it has caused in North Carolina and across the country. This month a new analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data by the non-profit Families Against Fentanyl shed new light on the ongoing crisis, particularly deaths among children 14 and under. The group’s analysis found fentanyl deaths among that group are rising faster than any other, tripling nationwide in just two years from 2019 to 2021 (the last year for which full CDC data is available). Over the same period, fentanyl deaths among infants increased twice as fast as overall deaths.
‘We are sinking’: More anxiety, more violence, and a shortage of NC healthcare workers
State lawmakers get an earful during mental health town hall "Folks, we have a huge problem with mental health," state Senator Jim Burgin (R-Harnett) told a room full of people at a town hall in Kannapolis last week. Sharing the stage with North Carolina Health and Human Services Secretary Kody Kinsley and three other Republican legislators, Sen. Burgin said lawmakers wanted to hear directly from the public about mental health and substance abuse challenges in advance of the upcoming legislative session.
NC Attorney General announces $19 million settlement with consultant McKinsey for its role in opioid crisis
Attorney General Josh Stein says North Carolina will collect nearly $19 million from McKinsey & Company for its role in helping market highly-addictive opioids. The global business consultant reached a $573 million settlement with 47 states for the recommendations that it provided drug makers for years. “Purdue Pharma didn’t dream up all of its ideas […]
Drug overdose ER visits in NC increased 22%
While the state and the nation have been overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid epidemic has marched along its shadow. Preliminary data from the NC Department of Health and Human Services says that hospital emergency room visits for drug overdoses in 2020 increased 22% over the previous year. According to DHHS, heroin overdoses were […]
N.C. gets $1.2 million in grants as it grapples with policies to combat opioid crisis
Rural areas in North Carolina will share $1.2 million in federal grant dollars to expand their response to the opioid epidemic, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services announced this week. Six separate hospitals or organizations will receive a $200,000grant: Ashe Memorial Hospital in Jefferson, Coastal Horizons Center in Wilmington, North Carolina Quality Healthcare […]
CNN story: What in the heck was Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC thinking?
In case you missed it, reporter Wayne Drash of CNN had a powerful and disturbing story yesterday about Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) and the mad vagaries of America’s private health insurance regime. In “Insurer sent $33,000 to a man struggling with addiction. He used the cash to go on a binge […]
Lack of treatment more of a problem than sentencing options in NC opioid epidemic
Treatment options for North Carolinians with addiction are woefully inadequate. That was the conclusion Tuesday at a task force meeting on sentencing reforms for opioid convictions. The meeting began with a presentation from Duren Banks, of RTI International, who was tasked with examining policy changes in North Carolina to help curb the heroin epidemic. According to […]
NC Harm Reduction Coalition gets $1 million grant to battle opioid epidemic
The work of the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition was given a boost this week when the group received a $1 million grant Tuesday from health care provider Aetna. From the Spectrum News story on the grant: Healthcare provider, Aetna, presented a $1 million grant to the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, a group dedicated to battling […]
Two years of “Hope Initiative” opioid addiction battle
If you’ve been following Policy Watch’s coverage of the opioid crisis, you’ll want to read this week’s guest column from Nashville, NC Police Chief Thomas Bashore in the Wilson Times. Bashore writes about his department’s “Hope Initiative,” which encourages those experiencing addiction to seek treatment through the department without fear of arrest. At the two-year […]
The other side of the opioid crisis – a first-hand account
We’ve done some coverage of the opioid crisis lately – particularly in Wilmington, one of the worst cities for opioid abuse in the nation. While taking an unflinching look at the very real problem and its very real human costs, it’s worth considering another aspect of our reaction to it. Last month Lynn Frank, 64, […]