• Discharged, Dismissed: ERs Often Miss Chance To Set Overdose Survivors On ‘Better Path’
    The last time heroin landed Marissa Angerer in a Midland, Texas, emergency room — naked and unconscious — was May 2016. But that wasn’t her first drug-related interaction with the health system. Doctors had treated her a number of times before, either for alcohol poisoning or for ailments related to heavy drug use. Though her immediate, acute health issues were addressed in each episode, doctors and nurses never dealt with her underlying illness: addiction. Angerer, now 36 and in recovery, had been battling substance use disorder since she started drinking alcohol at age 16. She moved onto prescription pain medication after... Read more »
  • Must-Reads Of The Week From Brianna Labuskes
    The Friday Breeze Newsletter editor Brianna Labuskes, who reads everything on health care to compile our daily Morning Briefing, offers the best and most provocative stories for the weekend. Happy Friday! Also known as the day President Donald Trump is getting his second annual physical. Last year, Dr. Ronny L. Jackson attributed the president’s “excellent health” to good genes and God. Will this year be different with a new physician? The headliner from this week was obviously the State of the Union address, so let’s get right to it. Trump’s pledge to end the HIV epidemic was greeted with cautious optimism — laced with... Read more »
  • What ‘Dope Sick’ Really Feels Like
    Detoxing off heroin or opioids without medication is sheer hell. I should know. For many users, full-blown withdrawal is often foreshadowed by a yawn, or perhaps a runny nose, a sore back, sensitive skin or a restless leg. For me, the telltale sign that the heroin was wearing off was a slight tingling sensation when I urinated. These telltale signals — minor annoyances in and of themselves — set off a desperate panic: I’d better get heroin or some sort of opioid into my body as soon as possible, or else I would experience a sickness so terrible I would do almost... Read more »
  • Lawsuit Details How The Sackler Family Allegedly Built An OxyContin Fortune
    The first nine months of 2013 started off as a banner year for the Sackler family, owners of the pharmaceutical company that produces OxyContin, the addictive opioid pain medication. Purdue Pharma paid the family $400 million from its profits during that time, claims a lawsuit filed by the Massachusetts attorney general. However, when profits dropped in the fourth quarter, the family allegedly supported the company’s intense push to increase sales representatives’ visits to doctors and other prescribers. Purdue had hired a consulting firm to help reps target “high-prescribing” doctors, including several in Massachusetts. One physician in a town south of Boston wrote... Read more »
  • Must-Reads Of The Week From Brianna Labuskes
    The Friday Breeze Newsletter editor Brianna Labuskes, who reads everything on health care to compile our daily Morning Briefing, offers the best and most provocative stories for the weekend. Happy Friday! It seems we have a new example of just how broken the health system is every week, and here’s today’s: A school superintendent was arrested after allegedly using her insurance to cover a sick student. She took him to the clinic after noticing he had signs of strep throat, and then filled a prescription for him. The total cost of the claim? $233. Now she’s facing felony charges. (It should be noted,... Read more »
  • Postpartum Psychosis Is Real, Rare And Dangerous
    Even after all she had been through — the helicopters circling her house, the snipers on the roof and the car ride to jail — Lisa Abramson still wanted to have a second child. That’s because right after her daughter was born in 2014 — before all that trouble began — everything felt amazing. Abramson was smitten, just as she had imagined she would be. She would look into her baby’s round, alert eyes and feel adrenaline rush through her. She had so much energy. “I actually was thinking, like, ‘I don’t get why other moms say they’re so tired, or this... Read more »
  • Students With Addictions Immersed In The Sober Life At ‘Recovery’ High Schools
    SEATTLE — It’s the last class period of the day. The students lean back on couches and take turns describing the most important day of their lives: the day they became sober. For Marques Martinez, that date was Nov. 15, 2016. Until then, he had used OxyContin, Xanax and nearly every other drug he could get his hands on, he said. He had been suspended from school for selling drugs. “I knew what I was doing was bad,” he said. “But I didn’t think there was another way.” Two years ago, Martinez’s parents sent him to an in-patient treatment center and then... Read more »
  • Listen: ‘Death Certificate Project’ Aims At Opioid Crisis, But Doctors Cry Foul
    On “All Things Considered” Thursday, KQED’s April Dembosky reports on the California medical board’s Death Certificate Project, which collected almost 3,000 death certificates of people who died of opioid overdoses, then cross-referenced those with the state’s drug prescription database. The board then sent letters to more than 500 doctors throughout the state who had prescribed the drugs to the people who died. The board has filed formal charges against 25 doctors, and left hundreds more, like Dr. Ako Jacintho of San Francisco, waiting to learn their fate. Jacintho is a family physician who discovered through the project that one of his patients died in 2012... Read more »
  • Meth’s Resurgence Spotlights Lack Of Meds To Combat The Addiction
    In 2016, news reports warned the public of an opioid epidemic gripping the nation. But Madeline Vaughn, then a lead clinical intake coordinator at the Houston-based addiction treatment organization Council on Recovery, sensed something different was going on with the patients she checked in from the street. Their behavior, marked by twitchy suspicion, a poor memory and the feeling that someone was following them, signaled that the people coming through the center’s doors were increasingly hooked on a different drug: methamphetamine. “When you’re in the boots on the ground,” Vaughn said, “what you see may surprise you, because it’s not in the headlines.” In... Read more »
  • Newsom Diverges Sharply From Washington With Health Care Budget
    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday unveiled his first state budget, one that leads California down a very different health care path than the one Washington has forged. The progressive blueprint embraces a state health insurance mandate, beefed-up insurance subsidies, coverage for undocumented immigrants and six months of paid parental leave — not unexpected from a Democrat who campaigned on expanding health care and criticized President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans for eroding the Affordable Care Act. The new governor declared his $209 billion state budget proposal, of which health care accounts for nearly 30 percent, “a reflection of our values.” Newsom’s... Read more »