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opioids

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported record drug overdose numbers in 2017, but a handful of states saw a decrease last year including here in the Mountain West.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting a record 72,000 people died from opioid overdoses last year. Meanwhile, a newly published study from the University of Colorado shows pet owners may be intentionally hurting their animals to get the drug for themselves.   

map of US show one in four ankle sprains resulted in an opioid prescription in the west. Prescriptions were given at an above average rate in the south, and below average in the great lakes and northeast regions.
With permission M. Kit Delgado, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Pennsylvania; Annalls of Emergency Medicine.

A state-by-state analysis of opioid prescriptions for people who visited emergency rooms with a sprained ankle show one in four patients were given opioids for pain.

The study looked at insurance claims for ER visits between 2011 and 2015.

At the low end, prescribing rates were around three percent and at the high end 40. The overall average was 25 percent.

Librarian behind desk with printer and naloxone syringe.
Kelsie Moore / KUER


On a recent Tuesday morning at the West Jordan library outside Salt Lake City, Peter Sadler was carefully stabbing an orange with a syringe.

Erik Neumann / KUER

More than two dozen counties in Utah have filed lawsuits against opioid makers or are considering doing so. But are they really thinking of going to trial with multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical companies? 

Nicole Nixon / KUER

Utah is the latest state going after drugmakers for their role in the nation’s opioid epidemic.

Erik Neumann / KUER

As opioid overdoses from prescription and illicit drugs continue to plague Utah, librarians who serve the public often find themselves on the front lines of the drug war. Now, libraries in Salt Lake County will be taking a proactive approach: Distributing the overdose drug naloxone. 

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After months of public pressure from state lawmakers, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes is gearing up to file a lawsuit against at least one opioid manufacturing company for its role in the country’s opioid crisis.

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Of all the statistics connected to America’s opioid epidemic, Utah leads the way on one especially troubling ranking: our state has the highest rate of opioid prescriptions for pregnant mothers on Medicaid — double the national average. New legislation is exploring why.

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Medical help can be hours away for overdose victims in the rural Mountain West. That’s one reason why it’s been so important for Utah and neighboring states to allow pharmacies to dispense the antidote, naloxone.

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An effort to tighten how health care providers prescribe and dispense opioids passed out of the legislature and is awaiting the signature of the Governor. It's the next step in the fight against over-prescribing drugs.  

Erik Neumann / KUER

When people detox from opioids they describe it as having a terrible flu — times ten. For many, the fear of withdrawals is what prevents them from getting treatment in the first place. But a new device to help with detoxing is having surprising success.

Kelsie Moore / KUER

Millions of Americans suffer from chronic pain. Many use powerful opioids to treat it. But what if there was a way to manage chronic pain with your mind instead of drugs? That’s the focus of one researcher at the University of Utah. 

CDC

Last year, Utah lost almost as many people to drug overdoses as the number of people who live in the town of Corinne in Box Elder County. Six hundred and thirty-five to be exact.

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The Utah County Commission passed a resolution Tuesday to pursue legal action against the manufacturers of opioids. They’re now the second county in the state to do so this week.

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Utah’s opioid crisis is prompting Salt Lake County officials to pursue legal action against pharmaceutical companies.

Whittney Evans

A Justice Department program that tackles heroin, prescription drug abuse and violent crime is coming to Utah.

Erik Neumann / KUER

Officials have announced that a small-scale Medicaid expansion request in Utah was approved by the federal government. For lawmakers focused on difficult problems like homelessness and drug addiction, it was a time to celebrate. 

Erik Neumann / KUER

The Park City Hospital hosted a free naloxone training this week. That’s the drug used to reverse an opioid overdose. The event drew a big response from Park City residents. 

Erik Neumann

Todd Allen is the medical director of the emergency department at Intermountain Healthcare. Last month, he announced that Intermountain would reduce prescription levels of opioid painkillers by 40 percent by the end of 2018. Allen recently spoke with KUER about how they plan to do that. 

Nicole Nixon

Law enforcement authorities are warning that the dangerous narcotic fentanyl is becoming a more common street drug in Utah.

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A state lawmaker is working on new legislation to curb pain pill addiction in Utah. This one starts at the doctor’s office.

iStock.com/Roel Smart

Members of Congress met in conference Wednesday to hash out an agreement on comprehensive legislation to address the opioid epidemic. While the parties disagree about funding, Utah advocates say the need for help is urgent.

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White House Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli was in Salt Lake City Thursday to talk with community leaders about efforts to address opioid addiction.

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Intermountain Healthcare announced an effort Thursday to reduce drug overdose deaths by increasing access to an antidote called Naloxone. Utahns can now visit any Intermountain community pharmacy in the state and buy Naloxone without a prescription from a doctor.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

This week several laws went into effect intended to address Utah’s addiction to pain pills and opioids. Lawmakers this year approved legislation that will allow for the creation of a needle exchange and for anyone to distribute a drug overdose antidote called Naloxone. KUER's Andrea Smardon talks with Sam Plumb, whose brother died of a heroin overdose. Plumb and his sister Jennifer together started an organization last year called Utah Naloxone at University of Utah Health Care.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

A former St. George doctor has been sentenced to more than eight years in prison for illegally prescribing pain pills.

Law Officers Warn of Heroin “Tsunami” in Utah

Dec 11, 2015
Andrea Smardon / KUER

Law enforcement officials are seeing an alarming rise in robberies in Utah, and they say heroin addiction is fueling it. The US Attorney for Utah hosted a press conference Thursday to call for help in addressing the problem.

https://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/Medicare-Provider-Charge-Data/OpioidMap.html

The federal government has released a new online mapping tool that shows Medicare opioid prescription claims in the United States. Utah’s claims are above the national average.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

Every month, 49 Utahns die from drug poisoning. But advocates are trying to prevent more deaths by distributing a medicine they believe can save lives.