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Fentanyl has spread west and overdoses are surging

April 15, 2021 | The Wall Street Journal

Long a scourge on the East Coast, fentanyl is now driving a rapid increase in overdose deaths in the Western U.S. In the Seattle area, overdose deaths involving fentanyl were up 57% in 2020 over the previous year, according to data from the county medical examiner. Preliminary data show deaths from synthetic opioids like fentanyl rose 162% in the Las Vegas area last year. In Los Angeles County, a recent report blamed fentanyl for a 26% jump in overdose deaths among the homeless population during the first seven months of 2020. The problem is particularly acute in San Francisco, where a record 708 people died of drug overdoses in 2020, a 61% increase from the previous year. By comparison, 254 people died of Covid-19 in the city last year.

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New Advocacy Group Seeks Smarter Solutions to Pain Crisis

March 12, 2021 | Pain News Network

The National Pain Advocacy Center (NPAC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit led by Kate Nicholson, a pain sufferer and civil rights attorney, who emerged as a patient advocate in 2017 with an inspirational TedTalk that explained how opioids helped her walk again after a botched surgery.

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The opioid crisis in the US: fueling the next wave of drug development for chronic pain

February 18, 2020 | Tools4Patient

The opioid crisis is a major public health issue, as more than 1.2 million individuals in the US are reported to have opioid use disorder, while the number of overdose-related deaths reached over 47,000 in 2017. Overall, the total economic burden of the opioid crisis in the United States in 2019 was projected to be approaching $200 billion. This epidemic is in stark contrast to the fact that more than 50 million adults (20.4%) in the US are living with chronic pain, including nearly 20 million individuals dealing with high impact chronic pain (persistent pain that reduces life or work activities). As a result of this dichotomy, the FDA has challenged the biopharmaceutical industry to accelerate development of non-opioid analgesics, along with abuse-deterrent opioid formulations and/or solid dosage forms.

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The Opium Cycle

November 5, 2019 | NPR News

Recently, Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy as part of a tentative multi-billion dollar settlement with state and local governments over lawsuits alleging that the company misled doctors and the public about the addictive nature of their well-known painkiller, Oxycontin. But Purdue Pharma's story is part of a pattern that has repeated itself throughout the history of the opium trade. It's a pattern documented by the book Opium: How An Ancient Flower Shaped And Poisoned Our World by Dr. John H. Halpern and David Blistein. The cycle begins when an opium product proves devastating to users. Innovators come along, promising a safer alternative, and virtually every time, they downplay the risks of addiction. Addiction ensues. Then come new innovators, promising something better and less addictive, and the cycle continues.

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