MTPR

Opioids

U.S. Representative Greg Gianforte.
U.S. House of Representatives

The U.S. House of Representatives is on recess, and that means Montana’s lone Republican Congressman Greg Gianforte is back home campaigning. I caught him on the phone between events in Kalispell and Havre Wednesday.

Morphine pills.
Eric Norris (CC-BY-2) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The Trump administration this week released almost $500 million to combat the nation’s opioid crisis. 

Montana’s share of that federal funding from Health and Human Services is $2 million, the same amount it received last year.

The Montana Pain Conference takes place April 5 - 6 at the University of Montana in Missoula.
https://www.mtpain.org/

Like the rest of the country, Montana is struggling with an epidemic of abuse of opioid drugs, both prescription painkillers and illegal narcotics like heroin and fentanyl. At the end of this week, physicians and other health care providers and counselors are getting together in Missoula to learn about potential solutions.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox.
Courtesy Montana DOJ

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox says the Montana County attorney who has implemented an immediate ‘crackdown’ on pregnant women found to be using drugs or alcohol never consulted with him.

UM Investigates Pregnancy And Opioid Use In Montana

Dec 26, 2017
Jacqui Crisp of Columbia Falls lifts her squirmy daughter out of the stroller to carry her during a trip to the grocery store. Crisp moved to Montana to be near family who would support her through drug treatment and the final months of pregnancy.
Rikki Devlin for the Missoulian

Pregnant women using opioids in Montana aren’t receiving adequate care, according to a joint investigation by the Missoulian and the University of Montana Journalism School. As a result, more infants in Montana are being born dependent on narcotics. That means they can experience withdrawal symptoms - anywhere from fussiness and trouble feeding to seizures or death in extreme cases.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox at a press conference in Helena Monday
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

Montana is suing the pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma. Attorney General Tim Fox held a press conference today to announce a consumer protection lawsuit against the Connecticut-based company.

Fox says Montana is joining over a dozen other states in alleging Purdue Pharma holds some of the blame for the rise in abuse of opioid drugs across the nation. Drugs like Perdue’s painkiller Oxycontin.

Amanda Reese with a naloxone kit. Reese works at Missoula’s Open Aid Alliance, which operates a needle exchange and other health services.
Edward O'Brien

A lifesaving drug that can reverse opioid overdoses is now more widely available in Montana. State health officials today highlighted that, thanks to a new law that went into effect in October.

The law, passed this spring with unanimous support, makes it possible for nearly anyone to get a prescription for the medication, called naloxone. That includes friends and family members of a person at risk of overdose, first responders, and other organizations like needle exchanges.

Attorney General Tim Fox announcing a new report about drug abuse in Montana, September 19, 2017.
Corin Cates-Carney

A new report from the Montana Department of Justice released today says meth violations are up more than 500 percent in the last five years. And since 2010, heroin crimes are up more than 1,500 percent, contributing to Montana having the highest jail incarceration rate in the region.

The DOJ’s initial "Addressing the Impact of Drugs," or "AID" report provides a look into the data of Montanan’s use and abuse of alcohol and other drugs.

Dr. Shawna Yates is Medical Director of the Southwest Montana Community Health Center
Corin Cates-Carney

As the nation faces an epidemic of opioid drug abuse after a decade of aggressively prescribing narcotics , Montana doctors are becoming more cautious about giving painkillers to chronic pain patients.

It’s changing some patients ability to get treatment and what is considered compassionate care for chronic pain.

Corin Cates-Carney

Doctors in Montana are cutting down on the amount of painkillers they’re prescribing in response to the nationwide epidemic of opioid abuse, and that’s having some unintended consequences.

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