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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.

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