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In 2008, Christopher Poulos went to federal prison for dealing cocaine in his home state of Maine. Today, he’s a licensed lawyer who’s been hired to lead Washington’s effort to help prison inmates transition back into society.

California Gov. Jerry Brown defied the drug industry Monday, signing the most comprehensive drug price transparency bill in the nation that will force drug makers to publicly justify big price hikes.

"Californians have a right to know why their medical costs are out of control, especially when pharmaceutical profits are soaring," Brown says. "This measure is a step at bringing transparency, truth, exposure to a very important part of our lives, that is the cost of prescription drugs."

Oxycodone pills.
Flickr Photo/Be.Futureproof (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/4xcHp9

Washington state’s attorney general and the attorney for the city of Seattle have filed separate lawsuits against opioid manufacturers, including OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma.

Both the city and the state claim drug companies have contributed to the ongoing opioid and heroin epidemic.  

Oxycodone pills.
Flickr Photo/Be.Futureproof (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/4xcHp9

Bill Radke speaks with author and journalist Sam Quinones about why Washington state and the city of Seattle have filed lawsuits against Purdue Pharma and other opioid producers. Attorney General Bob Ferguson said he's suing because Purdue lead a deceptive marketing campaign to promote their drugs and mislead doctors on the risk of pain killers.

Linda Hargrove discusses using Suboxone with her doctor Grant Scull during an appointment.
KUOW Photo/Anna Boiko-Weyrauch

Linda Hargrove takes white Suboxone tablets daily, dissolving them in her mouth. She’s used to the taste: chalky, not real bitter. Still, Hargrove sips juice from a straw to wash it down. 

KUOW PHOTOS/MEGAN FARMER

Bill Radke talks to Turina James who supports safe consumption sites and Corri Durrant who opposes them about how drug abuse has affected their lives and informed their position on King County's proposal to open two safe consumption sites.  

Sharon Larcey and her boyfriend live in their vehicle. Sharon said many of her friends would benefit from a supervised drug site.
KUOW Photo/Amy Radil

At a King County council meeting earlier this month, Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles sought to allay fears about supervised drug consumption sites being imposed on unwilling neighborhoods.


Courtesy of Andrew Bannecker

Does anyone not know Nancy Pearl?

For years she’s told NPR and KUOW listeners what to read with a kind of care and insight that’s made her a household name. There’s also a decent chance her action figure is on your desk or bookshelf right now. 

President Trump says he is ready to declare the nation's opioid crisis "a national emergency," saying it is a "serious problem the likes of which we have never had." Speaking to reporters at the entrance to his Bedminster, N.J., golf club, where he is on a working vacation, Trump promised "to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis."

In Prince George's County, Md., every first responder carries naloxone, the drug that can reverse an opioid overdose.

"We carry it in our first-in bags," says Bryan Spies, the county's battalion chief in charge of emergency services. "So whenever we arrive at a patient's side, it's in the bag, along with things like glucose, aspirin and oxygen."

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

Bill Radke speaks with Bellevue Mayor John Stokes about why the city is set to ban safe injection sites from the city. King County has said that it will create to sites where drugs users can go and safely use drugs under medical supervision. 

Safe injection sites in King County would be stocked with naloxone, a drug used to treat narcotic overdoses in an emergency
Flickr Photo/Jeff Anderson (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/QDVuAb

Bellevue could become one of the first places in King County to impose a ban on supervised injection sites for drug 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

Plans to open safe consumption sites for drug users in King County may soon be subject to a public vote. 

Opponents say they've collected nearly 70,000 signatures, more than enough to get an initiative banning such sites on the ballot.

Bill Radke speaks with Republican state Representative Morgan Irwin and former police chief Norm Stamper about safe injection sites. An initiative may be on the ballot this fall to ban safe injection sites in King County.

By the time Elvis Rosado was 25, he was addicted to opioids and serving time in jail for selling drugs to support his habit.

"I was like, 'I have to kick this, I have to break this,' " he says.

For Rosado, who lives in Philadelphia, drugs had become a way to disassociate from "the reality that was life." He'd wake up physically needing the drugs to function.

His decision to finally stop using propelled him into another challenging chapter of his addiction and one of the most intense physical and mental experiences he could have imagined: detoxing.

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

Safe injection sites in King County will be located only cities that welcome them. That's the upshot of a vote by the King County Council this week.


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.

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