Opioids

Sentencing is scheduled to begin on Monday in the criminal trial of top executives at Insys Therapeutics. This landmark case was the first successful prosecution of high-ranking pharmaceutical executives linked to the opioid crisis, including onetime billionaire John Kapoor.

Allie Gutierrez for NHPR

New Hampshire Public Radio covered thousands of stories in 2019. Some stories offered closure, while others still await a final chapter.

New Hampshire is one of 10 states selected by the Trump administration to receive a Medicaid grant aimed at improving treatment for pregnant mothers suffering from opioid misuse disorder.

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Congress is expected to vote on a government spending bill this week that would allow money earmarked for opioid use disorder to be used to treat other addictions. The provision, authored by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, comes in response to concerns that federal money coming into New Hampshire was too narrowly tailored to the opioid crisis.

Courtesy of American Medical Response

 

More people in Manchester and Nashua have been using Narcan this year to revive someone who has overdosed on opioids

The data comes from American Medical Response, which provides emergency response services in southern New Hampshire.

AMR says that for the fourth consecutive month, a record number of people have used Narcan after an overdose before first responders arrive. 

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Almost 500 infants born in New Hampshire between July 2018 and September 2019 had signs of neonatal abstinence syndrome. That's according to a new report from the State Child Advocate which looks at how well the state is dealing with the problem.

The report identifies systemic problems in how the Division for Children Youth and Families currently responds when a baby is born exposed to drugs.

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Carroll County Commissioners voted 2 to 1 Wednesday against continuing the county jail's current Medication Assisted Treatment program, also known as MAT. MAT provides anti-opioid medications, along with counseling and therapy, to help people with substance use disorders.

Rockingham, Strafford, Cheshire, Grafton and Sullivan counties, along with the state prison in Berlin, and the men and women’s prison in Concord, currently offer this type of treatment.

Carroll County's MAT program has been in limbo since commissioners voted 2 to 1 in October against having an MAT policy.

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An estimated 14,000 children in New Hampshire were affected by opioid abuse in 2017. That's the finding of a new study that tries to quantify the impact of the opioid crisis on children in America.

The study from the United Hospital Fund shows 51 out of every 1,000 kids in New Hampshire were impacted by the opioid crisis in 2017, either from their parent's opioid use or their own. 

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

 

Drug recovery centers first became a stop on the campaign trail in the 2016 New Hampshire primary, and they’re playing an especially important role this year, as presidential hopefuls unveil their plans to tackle the opioid crisis.

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In a new book, Dr. John H. Halpern and documentary filmmaker David Blistein trace opium's use over millennia, starting with the discovery of poppy artifacts in ancient Mesopotamia. In Opium: How an Ancient Flower Shaped and Poisoned Our World, Halpern and Blistein describe the global spread of opium, through trade and war, and how some medical practitioners of ancient times, while refining its power, issued warnings about opium that resonate today: "The sweeter the dreams, the rougher the awakening." 

Air date: Oct. 15, 2019


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Carroll County Commissioners voted two to one last Wednesday against a policy that would provide medication assisted treatment to inmates who aren't on that program before they get to jail.

But the Carroll County Jail superintendent still plans to move forward with the proposed policy. 

Medication assisted treatment provides anti-opioid medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to help people dealing with substance use disorders.

Each week in Manchester, in an undisclosed location, a similar scene unfolds. On this particular day, in early September, it goes like this: A few people set up a card table in a shady spot. In front of the table they place a few plastic buckets.

Soon, a woman approaches holding a shopping bag. Inside are several used syringes. She empties the bag into one of the buckets, chats with the people manning the table, then refills the bag with a few boxes of clean syringes.

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Dartmouth College has received a $4 million grant to research new models for providing opioid addiction treatment to patients outside of traditional healthcare settings.

The grant will fund a number of different research projects at Dartmouth, including a pilot program to test the effectiveness of a new injection-form of buprenorphine, a drug that can reduce withdrawal symptoms for people suffering from opioid addiction.

Another project will look at how opioid addiction treatment is administered in emergency rooms.

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Dartmouth College and a health care technology company are sharing $4.7 million in federal grant money to work on improving the treatment of opioid addiction.

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A Strafford County Superior Court judge has denied the city of Rochester’s request to dismiss a lawsuit it’s facing from a local church and addiction recovery center.

The city is in an ongoing dispute with First Church Congregational in downtown Rochester. SOS Recovery operates recovery service located in the church building. The city is trying to shut down the SOS operations, saying it doesn’t meet zoning ordinances.

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Peter Fifield says the moment when someone struggling with addiction decides they are ready for help can be a fleeting one. The mental health and drug and alcohol counselor sees it firsthand. He manages one of nine locations around New Hampshire where people can seek help.   

These “hubs” are part of the state’s new Doorway program, launched in January with federal funding to address the state’s addiction crisis. “The walk-in access is paramount,” Fifield said on The Exchange.  “They can just walk in and get connected.”

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Federal authorities say a weekslong investigation into drug trafficking in Massachusetts has led to about 50 arrests and the seizure of large amounts of fentanyl, heroin and cocaine.

U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling said in a statement Monday the 10-week operation code named Devil's Highway was a coordinated effort by federal, state, and local partners to focus on drug distribution in Lawrence and between Lawrence and New Hampshire.

Sara Plourde For NHPR

The new statewide program for people seeking addiction treatment, The Doorway, is described as a "hub and spoke" system that  includes nine locations around the state, called "hubs," where people can just walk in and begin the process of getting help.  The system was set up about nine months ago. We're finding out how it's working in certain areas of the state.

This show airs Tuesday, Sept. 24, live at 9 a.m., with rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

New Hampshire-based defense contractors, military personnel and research universities should be on guard against foreign adversaries trying to steal information, according to senior FBI officials.

The state is home to more than 80 defense contractors with security clearance, as well as multiple military installations and university research and development campuses that are at risk, says Joe Bonavolonta, Special Agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston Division, who spoke with NHPR on Thursday.

The state of New Hampshire is suing four members of the Sackler family who own drug maker Purdue Pharma.

Read the lawsuit here.

The state accuses the Sacklers of being the architects of a deceptive marketing campaign around opioids that contributed to the state's drug crisis.

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The New Hampshire Attorney General's office is objecting to a proposed settlement offered by drug maker Purdue Pharma.

The maker of oxycontin is hoping to resolve thousands of lawsuits that allege the company played a major role in creating the opioid crisis.

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: September 13, 2019

Sep 12, 2019

We discuss how 2020 candidates fare in the third Democratic Presidential debate from a national, and Granite State, perspective.  Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts share the debate stage for the first time.  We check in on any progress in negotiations on the state budget.  And we take a closer look at the mounting pressure on leaders in Manchester to deal with a crisis of homelessness and addiction.  NHPR's Southern New Hampshire reporter Sarah Gibson is guest host.  

GUESTS:

Narcan, also known as naloxone, is an anti-overdose drug.
Paige Sutherland for NHPR

 

Documented opioid overdoses in Manchester and Nashua are on the decline, but in Manchester, overdose deaths are increasing.

New data from the emergency response group American Medical Response shows a mixture of progress and struggle for those coping with opioid use disorder and the agencies tasked with supporting them.

Sara Plourde / New Hampshire Public Radio

Keene’s hub for addiction services, known as the Doorway, is moving from its current location to a new site downtown on Railroad Street.

Shawn LaFrance is director of the Doorway in Keene. He says the Doorway's current location on Route 101 wasn't meant to be permanent, and the downtown location is also closer to other services clients might use.

"We want to be downtown because, No. 1, there are sidewalks, for people to walk to it on 101 is not conducive to that. But also there are other transportation options,” he said.

Associated Press

Trump administration officials announced Wednesday morning that New Hampshire will receive more than $26 million in a new round of federal grants designed to combat the opioid crisis.

Sara Ernst / NHPR

  Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig is demanding the state open more treatment and support options across New Hampshire for those suffering from opioid addiction and other substance abuse disorders.

Craig and other Manchester officials said Friday they’re overwhelmed by the high numbers of people coming to their city from other communities to find help. They also expressed frustration with the governor's office.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

The number of prescriptions for the opioid addiction treatment drug buprenorphine for people on Medicaid in New Hampshire has more than quadrupled since 2011, according to a new report.

The report from the Urban Institute shows that in 2011, about 8,000 prescriptions for buprenorphine were written for people on Medicaid in New Hampshire.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

A new addiction recovery service center is open in Hampton, despite a delay in some promised state funding.

The Hampton recovery center, located on Lafayette Road close to Seabrook and Hampton Falls, is the third run by the nonprofit SOS, which also has locations in Rochester and Dover.

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The Washington Post has released data obtained by the Drug Enforcement Administration that is painting a clearer picture of the prevalence of opioid drug use in New Hampshire.

According to the data, 280 million oxycodone and hydrocodone pills were supplied to the state between 2006 and 2012. That’s about 36 pills per person, per year.

Jordyn Haime

Governor Sununu cut the ribbon Wednesday for the opening of a new transitional home for mothers recovering from substance abuse.

The new facility in Rochester is named Abi's Place after Abi Lizotte, a young mother who died of substance abuse in December 2017.  She played a critical role in the opening of Hope on Haven Hill, a substance abuse treatment center for homeless women with children, also in Rochester. 

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