North Carolina Opioid Overdose Prevention Program Dramatically Cuts Deaths

A North Carolina opioid overdose prevention program has succeeded in dramatically cutting overdose deaths in one county, according to Medscape. The program is now being rolled out statewide.

Addiction experts discussed the program, called Project Lazarus, at the recent International Conference on Opioids.

Project Lazarus was implemented in Wilkes County, a socioeconomically depressed area in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Many residents have chronic pain because of physically demanding jobs in the logging, farming and textile industries. The county has experienced extremely high rates of opioid overdose deaths. In 2007, the county had the third highest drug overdose death rate in the United States.

Full story of opioid overdose prevention program at drugfree.org

Chicago Lawsuit Alleges Drug Companies Contributed to Prescription Drug Epidemic

A lawsuit filed by the city of Chicago against five drug companies alleges they contributed to the nation’s prescription drug abuse epidemic through deceptive marketing of their opioid painkillers, Reuters reports.

“For years, big pharma has deceived the public about the true risks and benefits of highly potent and highly addictive painkillers in order to expand their customer base and increase their bottom line,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a statement.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday against Purdue Pharma, Cephalon, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Endo Health Solutions and Actavis. The suit alleges the companies aggressively marketed opioid painkillers as rarely addictive, while misrepresenting the drugs’ benefits for treating common pains and concealing the risk of addiction, overdose and death.

Full story of drug companies and prescription drug epidemic at drugfree.org

Fentanyl-Laced Heroin Suspected in at Least 50 Recent Fatal Overdoses in Three States

Heroin laced with the synthetic opiate fentanyl is suspected in at least 50 recent fatal overdoses in three states, according to law enforcement officials. In Pennsylvania, the drug combination is suspected in at least 17 deaths. Officials in Maryland and Michigan are also investigating deaths linked to the drug mix. In Flint, Michigan, fentanyl-laced heroin is suspected in four recent overdoses.

Fentanyl is often used during surgery. Drug dealers add it to heroin to create a stronger high, ABC News reports.

People who use the drug combination “don’t know that fentanyl is in it and shoot it up and stop breathing, because they were unaware of the added punch in the narcotic,” said Ray Isackila, counselor and team leader of addiction treatment at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland. He noted fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin, and affects the central nervous system and brain. “Heroin with illicit fentanyl laced into it makes it stronger, cheaper and more desirable on the street,” he said. “People hear about this new heroin or this super strong heroin that someone is selling,” and they want it.

Full story of fatal overdoses at drugfree.org