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drugs

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.

In a big hotel conference room near New York's Times Square, six doctors huddle around a greasy piece of raw pork. They watch as addiction medicine specialist Michael Frost delicately marks the meat, incises it and implants four match-sized rods.

"If you can do it well on the pork, you can easily do it on the person," Frost tells his audience.

More than 60 track and field athletes from Russia have had their bid for an appeal rejected by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, dealing another blow to their hopes of participating in the Summer Olympics in Rio next month.

The CAS decision comes weeks after the International Olympic Committee backed a ban on Russia's track and field athletes who were seeking the right to compete in Rio as neutral athletes, after their country's sporting federation for track was suspended by the International Association of Athletics Federations.

Caleb Banta-Green is a UW professor and a member of the King County heroin and prescription opiate task force.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

Kim Malcolm talks with University of Washington professor Caleb Banta-Green about a report on 2015 drug trends in King County. It finds heroin overdoses have declined from 2014. Banta-Green is a senior research scientist at the UW's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute.

Ashley Hempelmann says a safe space to use drugs could've helped her.
KUOW Photo/Kim Malcolm

Kim Malcolm talks with Patricia Sully, coordinator for VOCAL-WA, about why she's advocating for supervised consumption sites for drug users in King County. She says that drug consumption is already happening in your backyard and that these sites aren't meant to encourage drug use, but support people along a continuum of care. 

The International Olympic Committee held an emergency meeting Tuesday but put off a final decision on whether to ban all Russian athletes from the Summer Games that begin in Brazil on Aug. 5.

Though the games are less than three weeks away, the IOC said it would "explore the legal options" and would weigh a collective ban "versus the right to individual justice."

Jevon Lawson wore a diamond pendant with pale green gems mimicing the OxyContin trail from Los Angeles to Washington state.
(US Marshals Service)

Emily Fox talks with Los Angeles Times reporter Harriet Ryan about how an illegal OxyContin ring in Southern California helped spark an opioid epidemic in Snohomish County.

Naloxone Syringe
Flickr Photo/VCU CNS (CC BY NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/r3Msnd

Heroin addiction has no boundaries. Deaths from overdoses have gone up across Washington state, but in Snohomish County, the rates have gone up more than in King or Pierce Counties.

R
Mauricio Fidalgo/Reuters

Residents of Rio de Janeiro’s Maré complex of poor favela neighborhoods were too terrified to walk down the street.

Nighttime police raids and daytime shootouts between police and a drug gang last week killed three civilians, wounded two officers and kept people shut inside a classroom for hours while bullets whizzed outside.

Eric Seitz used to be homeless, he's now a nurse working to help homeless people in Seattle
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

Bill Radke speaks with Eric Seitz about how he turned his life around. Seitz used to be homeless and addicted to drugs. He's now a nurse, he's housed and he tries to help other people in Seattle experiencing homelessness.

Prescription drug prices continue to climb, putting the pinch on consumers. Some older Americans appear to be seeking an alternative to mainstream medicines that has become easier to get legally in many parts of the country. Just ask Cheech and Chong.

Nika Nellum (right) graduated Wednesday from the rigorous King County Juvenile Drug Court program. The program has drawn national attention. But Nellum gave her mother most of the credit.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

It’s graduation week at the King County Juvenile Drug Court. Four teenagers made it through a tough program that’s drawn attention from around the nation. Instead of incarceration, they got help.


Track and field's world governing body has unanimously decided to bar Russian athletes from competing in the upcoming Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro amid allegations of state-sponsored doping.

The International Association of Athletics Federations made the announcement at a press conference Friday in Vienna.

"Because the system in Russia has been tainted by doping from top level and down, we cannot trust that what we call and what people might call clean athletes really are clean," said Rune Andersen, head of the task force that provided recommendations to the IAAF.

Tennis champion Maria Sharapova wasn't breaking any rules when she took her first dose of meldonium a decade ago.

But her continued use of the heart medication after the World Anti-Doping Agency banned it on Jan. 1 prompted the International Tennis Federation to announce last Wednesday that Sharapova would be suspended for two years. She appealed the suspension Tuesday, and a decision is expected by July 18.

Caleb Banta-Green is a UW professor and a member of the King County heroin and prescription opiate task force.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

Bill Radke speaks with Caleb Banta-Green, an opiate addiction expert and a member of the King County Heroin and Prescription Opiate Task Force. Banta-Green wants to see access to medication-assisted treatment for opiate addiction expanded. He says stigma attached to that kind of treatment is a barrier. 

The first time Ray Tamasi got hit up by an investor, it was kind of out of the blue.

"This guy called me up," says Tamasi, president of Gosnold on Cape Cod, an addiction treatment center with seven sites in Massachusetts.

"The guy" represented a group of investors; Tamasi declines to say whom. But they were looking to buy addiction treatment centers like Gosnold.

Zunika Crenshaw cringes as a tire swing whips her children around in circles just a little too fast. It's a sunny afternoon in the park, in Pleasanton, Calif. As her children play, she keeps a close watch on their breathing.

She says asthma is in her genes.

"You have a family, a person who has four kids, and all of them have it, including me," she says. "And then my mom has it, and my sister's two kids."

A little girl, 3-year-old Jhase, runs over to her, wheezing. Crenshaw grabs an inhaler, and her daughter breathes deeply from it.

FLICKR PHOTO/M (CC BY-NC-ND)

Seattle-area public health officials are warning cocaine users about two recent deaths believed to have been caused by a tainted batch of cocaine.


Kevin Boggs is a patient at one of three methadone clinics in Seattle. He moved into the Jungle last winter, which makes it easier to show up for his daily treatment.
KUOW Photo/Mike Kane

Kevin Boggs moved to Seattle to pursue his glass blowing dreams, but today he stands in line at a methadone clinic.


(This post was last updated at 4:20 p.m. ET.)

The iconoclast musician Prince died of a drug overdose, the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office in Ramsey, Minn., has found.

In a report released publicly on Thursday, the medical examiner said Prince Rogers Nelson self-administered a deadly dose of the synthetic opiate fentanyl by accident.

Dr. James Gill walked through the morgue in Farmington, Conn., recently, past the dock where the bodies come in, past the tissue donations area, and stopped outside the autopsy room.

"We kind of have a typical board listing all of the decedents for the day," Gill said, pointing to the list of names on a dry-erase board. "Overdose, overdose, overdose, overdose, overdose. That's just for today."

Kim Malcolm speaks with Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer about Fentanyl, an opiate claiming lives in British Columbia. Overdoses from this drug are on the rise and health officials are trying to educate the public. 

Scientists and doctors say the case is clear: The best way to tackle the country's opioid epidemic is to get more people on medications that have been proven in studies to reduce relapses and, ultimately, overdoses.

Yet, only a fraction of the more than 4 million people believed to abuse prescription painkillers or heroin in the U.S. are being given what's called medication-assisted treatment.

Courtney Griffin was addicted to heroin and ready to get help. She packed up her things, and her mom drove her to a residential treatment facility about an hour from their home in New Hampshire. There was a bed waiting for her.

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