Opioids

On this edition of Political Rewind, a rash of ethics charges fly in the Democratic contest for governor.  Also, Republican David Shafer has been cleared of sexual harassment charges, but have the accusations taken a toll on his campaign for lieutenant governor?  Plus, Senator Johnny Isakson opens up about the tragic death of a grandson following an opioid overdose. And, why it is not Confederate Memorial Day in Georgia.

Panelists:

AJC Lead Political Writer Jim Galloway

Republican Strategist Heath Garrett

Life expectancy in the U.S. fell for the second year in a row in 2016, nudged down again by a surge in fatal opioid overdoses, federal officials report Thursday.

"I'm not prone to dramatic statements," says Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch at the National Center for Health Statistics. "But I think we should be really alarmed. The drug overdose problem is a public health problem, and it needs to be addressed. We need to get a handle on it."

It's no secret why drug users come to George Patterson in a mall parking lot just outside Phoenix to get their clean needles, syringes and other supplies on Tuesday afternoons, instead of heading to the pharmacy down the street.

"It's really low-barrier the way we are doing it," Patterson says. "All you have to do is find us."

  • Voters go to the polls to elect Atlanta's next mayor
  • Atlanta's Board of Education amends dress code policy after a petition
  • New study finds that the state hasn't done enough to combat the opioid crisis

About a month ago, President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency. He's spent a lot of time talking about the severity of the drug crisis. But he's spent less time outlining the specific steps he'll take to fight it. Today, a White House analysis declared that the true cost of the opioid epidemic in 2015 was more than half a trillion dollars.

For years the Food and Drug Administration has been trying to get doctors to quit prescribing codeine, an opioid painkiller, to children after getting their tonsils or adenoids out.

But it can be hard to get clinicians to change their prescribing habits, even when children have died and other less risky medications are available.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

ALEX SANZ / AP PHOTO

On this edition of "Political Rewind," how did voter data end up being erased from state computers even as a lawsuit challenging the integrity of Georgia elections was underway? It’s a story that could haunt top candidates in next year’s statewide elections. Also, President Trump speaks out about the opioid crisis. Did he make it clear he’s ready to commit the resources necessary to make an impact? It matters in Georgia, where the crisis looms large. Plus, Obamacare rates are out for 2018, and Georgians will pay more than people in many other states.

Panelists:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Opioid abuse causes a 9/11-scale loss of life every three weeks in America. Last year, more than 50,000 people died from a drug overdose. The largest annual jump ever recorded. The evidence suggests the problem is even worse this year.

On the same day President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency, the co-founder of a prominent opioid medication manufacturer has been arrested on fraud and racketeering charges. John Kapoor, former CEO of Insys Therapeutics, has been charged with conspiring to push the company's signature drug for unacceptable uses through a series of bribes and kickbacks.

President Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency on Thursday, freeing up resources to deal with the epidemic.

Last year, more than 64,000 people died from drug overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics. Many of those overdoses were from heroin, prescription painkillers, fentanyl and other opioids.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Today, President Trump addresses the opioids crisis in the United States. He's not declaring a national emergency precisely. He is declaring, however, a public health emergency, as we understand it.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

It has the power to save lives by targeting opioid overdoses — something that kills more than 140 Americans every day. And now Narcan, the nasal spray that can pull a drug user back from an overdose, is being carried by all of Walgreens' more than 8,000 pharmacies.

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