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00000174-c556-d691-a376-cdd69e980000Day after day, week after week, the headlines in Northeast Ohio and across much of the country contain news of tragic loss: lives lost to opioids. It’s a problem that knows no bounds: geography, race, gender, level of education or income.The problem took on new urgency this summer as the powerful elephant sedative, Carfentanil, began hitting the streets. First responders armed with their only weapon, the overdose antidote Naloxone, have struggled to keep up with what’s become an overwhelming problem. It’s an issue that’s straining public and social resources. What has become clear is that business as usual is not going to fix the problem.WKSU news has been covering the unfolding crisis. Tuesdays during Morning Edition, the WKSU news team digs even deeper. WKSU reporters will examine what’s led us here and what might be done to turn the tide. Support for Opioids: Turning the Tide in the Crisis comes from Wayne Savings Community Bank, Kent State University Office of Continuing and Distance Education, Hometown Grocery Delivery, Mercy Medical Center, AxessPointe Community Health Center, Community Support Services, Inc., Medina County District Library and Hudson Community First.00000174-c556-d691-a376-cdd69e980001

Panel Recommends the FDA Reconsider its Approach in Approving, Monitoring Opioid Painkillers

National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine
The timelne of the problem

A major new study on the opioid epidemic that has swept through Ohio and much of the rest of the country says the painkillers that triggered the crisis likely never should have been prescribed for many chronic pains.  

David Clark directs a Veterans Affairs Pain Clinic in California and is one of the 18 researchers who participated  the study for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. He says opioids are undeniably beneficial for advanced stages of cancer, severe injuries and for end-of-life treatments:

“Much less well-established is the role of these drugs in the management of pain for patients with chronic pain conditions such as osteoarthritis and low back pain, and in fact there is at least some evidence suggesting the medications do not work as well as expected and that outcomes in fact might be worsened.

The report calls for the FDA to re-review opioids it has already approved and to ensure that public health is key when any new opioids are being considered. When it comes to treatment, the report calls for special attention for subgroups such as pregnant women and highlights one program in Ohio that combines methadone and other medical treatments with prenatal care and case management. 

Click here for the highlights of the report.

Lee Hoffer is a medical anthropologist at Case Western Reserve University and one of the team that spent more than a year researching and compiling the report. He’s been studying the impact of drugs since the mid-90s, but says he’s seen nothing of this magnitude.

Lee Hoffer
Lee Hoffer is a medical anthropologist at Case Western Reserve.

A Q&A with one of the report's authors

The report also recommends expanding the availability of naloxone and other overdose interventions. Hoffer can that often be the best hope of eventually getting someone into treatment.