New Report Breaks Down Challenges Fueling Deadly US Opioid Crisis

Over 100,000 American lives were lost last year to opioid overdoses — a public health emergency that costs the nation over $1 trillion annually. Those are among the findings of a bipartisan congressional report that identifies Mexico as the “dominant source” of fentanyl and synthetic drugs, and recommends that a new cabinet-level position to tackle the entrenched problem.

ABC News: Overdose Deaths Cost US $1 Trillion Annually, Bipartisan Report Finds

The drug overdose epidemic in the United States, now primarily driven by synthetic opioids like ultra-deadly fentanyl, costs the nation roughly $1 trillion a year, according to a new bipartisan congressional report released Tuesday. “Whether measured in lives or in dollars, the United States’ drug overdose epidemic should shock everyone,” the report reads. “It is unacceptable.” (Owen, 2/8)

AP: Report: New Strategy For Opioids And A Cabinet-Level Leader

The US needs a nimble, multipronged strategy and cabinet-level leadership to counter its festering overdose epidemic, a bipartisan congressional commission advises. With vastly powerful synthetic drugs like fentanyl driving record overdose deaths, the scourge of opioids awaits after the COVID-19 pandemic finally recedes, a shift that public health experts expect in the months ahead. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 2/8)

CNN: US Report Finds Mexico Is Dominant Source Of Fentanyl Trafficked Into US

A new government report out Tuesday details how opioid trafficking in the United States has changed in recent years, with Mexico now a “dominant source” of the country’s fentanyl supply and synthetic opioids rapidly saturating drug markets. In its report, the federal Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking — a bipartisan group of US lawmakers, experts and officials from federal departments and agencies — warns that if the US does nothing to change its response to the new challenges, more American lives will be lost. (Stracqualursi, 2/8)

NPR: Synthetic Opioids Contribute To The Rising Rate Of Drug Overdoses

NPR’s Leila Fadel talks to Bryce Pardo, from the RAND Drug Policy Research Center, on the findings of a new opioid trafficking report. (2/8)

And the federal government suggests it might allow safe havens for injections —

AP: Justice Dept. Signals It May Allow Safe Injection Sites

A year after winning a major court battle against the opening of so-called safe injection sites — safe havens for people to use heroin and other narcotics with protections against fatal overdoses — the Justice Department is signaling it might be open to allowing them. In response to questions from The Associated Press, the Justice Department said it is “evaluating” such facilities and talking to regulators about “appropriate guardrails.” (Peltz and Balsamo, 2/8)

In other news on the opioid crisis —

Reuters: Teva, Texas Strike Opioid Settlement Worth $225 million

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd (TEVA.TA) has reached a settlement worth $225 million to resolve claims the drugmaker fueled an opioid epidemic in Texas by improperly marketing addictive pain medications, the state’s attorney general said on Monday. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Teva agreed to pay $150 million over 15 years and provide $75 million worth of generic Narcan, a medication used to counter the effects of opioid overdoses. (Raymond, 2/7)

AP: CDC: Maine 2020 Opioid Prescription Rate Top In New England

Maine had the highest opioid rate in New England in 2020 even though overall prescriptions of opioids in the state have decreased over the last decade, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The state’s opioid prescription rate has dropped lower than the national rate since 2017, due to laws restricting access to opioids, but Maine still has a relatively high rate for New England, The Bangor Daily News reported Monday. (2/7)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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