Montana Public Radio

Brian Mann

In the weeks after winning the November election, Joe Biden began naming officials to tackle the vortex of crises his administration would face on day one.

When the first coronavirus wave hit New York state last spring, nursing homes and assisted living facilities were devastated.

An investigation by the office of state Attorney General Letitia James issued Thursday found the death toll was far worse than officials disclosed.

"A larger number of nursing home residents died from COVID-19 than [New York Department of Health] data reflected," the preliminary report concluded.

The Trump administration introduced new addiction treatment guidelines Thursday that give physicians more flexibility to prescribe a drug to patients struggling with opioid addiction.

For the first time, a medication regime has been found effective for some patients with meth addiction in a large, placebo-controlled trial.

It's welcome news for those working with the growing number of people struggling with meth addiction.

"It's progress and it's quite significant," says Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Addiction, which funded the two-year clinical trial involving roughly 400 patients.

When Ashwani Sheoran showed up for early morning shifts at pharmacies in rural Michigan wearing his white Walmart smock, he often found customers waiting, desperate for bottles of pain pills.

"I see my patients, 15 to 20, already lined up to get prescriptions filled for morphine sulfate, oxycodone and other straight narcotics," he said.

This was in 2012 when the prescription opioid epidemic was exploding, killing tens of thousands of Americans every year.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Updated at 1:22 p.m. ET

Members of the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma's CEO say they did nothing wrong during the years their company illegally marketed Oxycontin and other opioids.

"There's nothing I can find that I would have done differently," said Dr. Kathe Sackler who served on Purdue's board for nearly 20 years.

One of the world's most influential corporate consulting firms, McKinsey & Company, says it regrets efforts to boost sales of OxyContin and other highly addictive opioids.

The rare apology follows revelations in documents made public last month for the first time that showed McKinsey working closely with Purdue Pharma and members of the Sackler family who sat on Purdue's board.

Updated at 7:20 p.m. ET

Newly public documents paint a detailed and often damning portrait of the role played by members of the Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma, during years when the privately owned drug company launched criminal schemes designed to "turbocharge" sales of Oxycontin and other highly addictive opioid medications.

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