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On Saturday a former Washington state prison inmate will graduate magna cum laude from Seattle University School of Law. But her criminal record may prevent her from practicing law as a licensed attorney.

With the approval this month of two drugs to treat hepatitis C in children, these often overlooked victims of the opioid epidemic now have a better chance at a cure. Kids may actually have an easier time than adults getting approved for the treatment, according to some health policy specialists.

Seahawks CenturyLink Field Dec. 28, 2014 vs. Rams
Flickr Photo/Aime Ayers (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/http://bit.ly/1W8Jbif

Jeannie Yandel speaks with Seattle Times' sports enterprise and investigative reporter Geoff Baker about his story on former Seahawks offensive tackle Jerry Wunsch.

The Seahawks had players use a combination of opioids and other drugs to deal with pain on and off the field. Wunsch now deals with joint pain, stomach problems and memory loss. He recently won a workers' compensation claim against the Seahawks and he is part of a class action lawsuit against the NFL.

In the last three years, 33 U.S. states have passed laws aimed at helping dying people get easier access to experimental treatments that are still in the early stages of human testing. Supporters say these patients are just looking for the right to try these treatments.

Such laws sound compassionate, but medical ethicists warn they pose worrisome risks to the health and finances of vulnerable patients.

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has opened an inquiry into potential abuses of the Orphan Drug Act that may have contributed to high prices on commonly used drugs.

In a statement, Grassley said the inquiry is "based on reporting from Kaiser Health News" and strong consumer concern about high drug prices.

"My staff is meeting with interested groups and other Senate staff to get their views on the extent of the problem and how we might fix it," Grassley wrote.

Registered nurse Sammy Mullally holds a tray of supplies to be used by a drug addict at the Insite safe injection clinic in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday May 11, 2011.
AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck

It's official: Seattle plans to be the first city in the United States to open a site for users to inject illegal drugs – without police intervention.

'Week in Review' panel Hanna Brooks Olsen, Bill Radke, Lorena Gonzalez and Randy Pepple.
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

In Donald Trump’s first week as president he’s signed executive orders on the Affordable Care Act, the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline, Trans-Pacific Partnership, the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, immigration, and putting a hiring freeze on federal workers.

He said he thinks torture works, 3-5 million people voted illegally in the U.S. election and argued about the size of his inauguration crowd. We’ll come to grips with all that happened this week.

Bill Radke talks to state Senator Mark Miloscia and Kris Nyrop of the Public Defender Association. Senator Miloscia has introduced legislation that would effectively ban safe consumption sites in King County. He argues that a focus on abstinence is the way to curb drug use. Nyrop is a harm reduction specialist who says that focusing on safer, more realistic solutions is how to deal with the epidemic. 

The 12-seat injection room in InSite in Vancouver, B.C. Participants at the clinic inject drugs under the supervision of trained staff and nurses.
Courtesy InSite

Seattle and King County could open the nation's first supervised drug use site. The idea doesn't have formal approval, but King County's Board of Health and a separate heroin task force have both endorsed the sites.

Registered nurse Sammy Mullally holds a tray of supplies to be used by a drug addict at the Insite safe injection clinic in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday May 11, 2011.
AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck

Supervised drug consumption sites have the approval of King County's Board of Health. On Thursday, the board unanimously endorsed the idea, after a task force on heroin recommended it last year.

A Superbug That Resisted 26 Antibiotics

Jan 17, 2017

"People keep asking me, how close are we to going off the cliff," says Dr. James Johnson, professor of infectious diseases medicine at the University of Minnesota. The cliffside free fall he is talking about is the day that drug-resistant bacteria will be able to outfox the world's entire arsenal of antibiotics. Common infections would then become untreatable.

Before Luke Whitbeck began taking a $300,000-a-year drug, the 2-year-old's health was inexplicably failing.

A pale boy with enormous eyes, Luke frequently ran high fevers, tired easily and was skinny all over, except his belly stuck out like a bowling ball.

"What does your medicine do for you?" Luke's mother, Meg, asked after his weekly drug treatment recently.

When people turn in their used needles at the Needle Exchange, they get fresh supplies to prevent the spread of HIV and other blood-borne infections.
KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

Seattle police officers are warning heroin users about dangerous purity levels after four people overdosed on Saturday. Three of the overdoses were fatal.

The Seattle Police Department believes the victims may have bought heroin from the same person. All overdoses occurred within hours of each other and in a similar geographic area.

Policing and homeless services are high profile items in Seattle's proposed budget. A program that helps drug users touches on both. Now, the fate of the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program is stirring up debate.

Through LEAD, police connect low level drug and prostitution suspects to community services, instead of arresting them.

The scariest thing about heroin? 'You're gonna love it'

Oct 19, 2016
Alyssa Gaudinier started using heroin when she was 14. She’s now 20 and works as a daycare teacher. Here she is before and after she got clean.
Courtesy of Alyssa Gaudinier

When she was 10 years old, Alyssa Gaudinier found the spot where her parents hid the alcohol. The moment it touched her lips, she was addicted to that escape.


Kratom Gets Reprieve From Drug Enforcement Administration

Oct 12, 2016

It's been a wild ride for kratom lately.

America has a long and storied history with marijuana. Once grown by American colonists to make hemp rope, by 1970, it was classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic. Possession of it was — and is — a federal crime, despite the fact that in recent years 25 states have legalized medical marijuana and four states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for recreational use.

Two often-overlooked medications might help millions of Americans who abuse alcohol to quit drinking or cut back.

Public health officials, building on a push to treat people who abuse opioids with medications, want physicians to consider using medications to treat alcohol addiction. The drugs can be used in addition to or sometimes in place of peer-support programs, they say.

Many people struggling with opioid addiction can't find a doctor to provide medication-assisted treatment, even though it's highly effective. One reason could be that doctors who are qualified to prescribe the medication typically treat just a handful of patients.

Shilo Murphy holds drug paraphernalia that his needle exchange supplies to users on an alley off the Ave.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

Kim Malcolm talks with Caleb Banta-Green, an opiate addiction expert and a member of the King County Heroin and Prescription Opiate Taskforce, about Seattle possibly becoming the first U.S. city to create a safe-consumption site for heroin users.


Registered nurse Sammy Mullally holds a tray of supplies to be used by a drug addict at the Insite safe injection clinic in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday May 11, 2011.
AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck

Now that a task force to address King County’s heroin epidemic has unveiled its recommendations, the hard work begins. 

Some of the strategies in the report are already in motion, like making naloxone, a drug that prevents overdoses, readily available.

Kratom Advocates Speak Out Against Proposed Government Ban

Sep 12, 2016

Kratom is made from the leaves of a small tree native to Southeast Asia that is a relative of the coffee plant. According to David Kroll, a pharmacologist and medical writer, farmers and indigenous people have used it for hundreds of years as both a stimulant to increase work output and also at the end of the day as a way to relax.

The leaves are often brewed like a tea, or crushed and mixed with water. In the U.S., kratom has become popular among people coping with chronic pain and others trying to wean themselves off opioids or alcohol.

Karisa Rowland is one of them.

A task force to address King County’s heroin epidemic will release recommendations this week that could include a safe consumption site for people who use drugs.

The group will make another recommendation: creating a buprenorphine program at the site of Seattle’s Needle Exchange program.

Treatment for life-threatening allergic reactions is about to get a little cheaper.

Mylan, the maker of the EpiPen, said Monday that it will launch a generic version of the device for half the price of the brand-name product.

Federal data suggest illegally manufactured fentanyl, a drug that is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, is behind an increase in synthetic opioid deaths.

Editor's note: Updated at 9:20 am ET to include Mylan's announcement that it will reimburse consumers for some of their out-of-pocket costs.

EpiPens are in your friend's purse and your kid's backpack. The school nurse has a few, as does Grandma.

The medicine inside — epinephrine — has been around forever, and the handy gadget that injects it into your leg is not particularly new either.

Once people realized that opioid drugs could cause addiction and deadly overdoses, they tried to use newer forms of opioids to treat the addiction to its parent. Morphine, about 10 times the strength of opium, was used to curb opium cravings in the early 19th century. Codeine, too, was touted as a nonaddictive drug for pain relief, as was heroin.

Those attempts were doomed to failure because all opioid drugs interact with the brain in the same way. They dock to a specific neural receptor, the mu-opioid receptor, which controls the effects of pleasure, pain relief and need.

The state hospital association has teamed up with a toxicology company to address one gateway to opioid addiction. 

People prescribed pain medication sometimes don’t use all of it. And those drugs can get into the wrong hands. Washington residents may  have another way of getting rid of their unused prescription drugs. 

U.S. swimmer Wendy Boglioli dives in to the pool to begin the second heat in the women's 100 meter butterfly competition at the Olympic pool in Montreal, Canada, July 21, 1976.
AP Photo/Harry Cabluck

At the summer Olympics, 19-year-old American swimmer Lilly King is making headlines – and not just for winning gold.

After beating Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova, King openly condemned the Russian swim team for doping.

Heroin needle
Flickr Photo/William Fahrnbach (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/qNv4vL

Emily Fox talks with Molly Carney, executive director of Evergreen Treatment Services, about a new opioid treatment clinic opening this week in Renton.

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