News in Brief

Latest opioid news: New limits, campaigning and Prince

Prince becomes the face of the opioid epidemic while candidates address opioid addiction on the campaign trail.


Here is the latest news about the nation’s opioid epidemic:

Prince’s cause of death

Last Thursday, toxicology tests concluded musician Prince did indeed die from an accidental overdose of opioid fentanyl, according to the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office.

CNN reported that the day before the pop icon’s death, Prince’s team called an opioid addiction specialist in California to fly out to the singer’s home in Minnesota for treatment. However, Prince was already unresponsive by the time help arrived the next day.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health report, only an estimated 2.5 million of the 22.7 million individuals needing treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem received treatment at a specialty facility.

Medicaid agencies limit opioid prescriptions

Twenty state Medicaid agencies are limiting how many opioids providers can prescribe in an effort to curb the disproportionate number of beneficiaries who are at risk of overdose and death.

Medicaid beneficiaries are prescribed painkillers at twice the rate of other patients and are at three to six times the risk of opioid overdose, according to a report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Opioids and campaign season

Political candidates are highlighting their efforts to fight opioid addiction in states hard-hit by addiction, including New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey.

Over in Ohio, incumbent Sen. Rob Portman’s first three paid TV ads focus on his efforts to combat Ohio’s opioid and heroin addiction problems. His Democratic opponent, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, is also touting his record on fighting opioid addiction.

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