opioid abuse

Toby Talbot / Associated Press File

The maker of OxyContin, one of the most common prescription painkillers involved in opioid overdose deaths, will no longer market the drug to doctors, an announcement that came Saturday as Purdue Pharma faces a lawsuit for deceptive marketing brought by cities and counties across the U.S., including several in Maine.

The days of marketing opioids to U.S. doctors are over, according to a statement issued by Purdue Pharma. The drug manufacturer has also cut its sales force by more than half.

DOVER, N.H. - New Hampshire authorities are investigating a possible opioid overdose by a 6-year-old boy in Manchester.
Police say they were called to an apartment early Tuesday for an unresponsive child. Police say it's unclear how the boy became incapacitated. They say he was revived after Narcan was administered by first responders and remains hospitalized.
The incident happened the same day Gov. Chris Sununu and the state's new "drug czar'' visited a Dover bakery to discuss the state's opioid crisis.

'It's Raining Needles': Drug Crisis Creates Pollution Threat

Jul 17, 2017
Charles Krupa / Associated Press

LOWELL, Mass. - Increasing numbers of discarded needles from drug users are turning up in cities and towns across the country, finding their way into rivers, parks and onto beaches.
In Portland, Maine, officials have collected more than 700 needles so far this year, putting them on track to handily exceed the nearly 900 gathered in all of 2016. In March alone, San Francisco collected more than 13,000 syringes, compared with only about 2,900 the same month in 2016.

AUGUSTA, Maine - A Republican's bill tackles the opioid crisis in a rural Maine county with the state's highest rate of drug overdose deaths.

Republican Sen. Joyce Maker's bill would provide $1.6 million to create a pilot project for treatment and recovery services in Washington County.

Her bill is set for a work session Wednesday and could receive a key committee vote.

The county has the highest average rate of drug overdose deaths in Maine with 19.7 overdose deaths per 100,000 residents. Its rate of drug-affected babies is nearly double the statewide average.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine lawmakers are considering whether to repeal the current 24-month limit on MaineCare treatment of opioid addiction with Suboxone. 

Rep. Patty Hymanson is a retired doctor.  The York Democrat said the limit on coverage is unwarranted, and urged her colleagues to repeal it.

“Relapse brings nothing but pain with the potential for criminal behavior, overdose and death," Hymanson said. "Keeping the two-year cap on Suboxone and evidence-based treatment is arbitrary and unsound.”

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine lawmakers are set to consider bills to protect babies exposed to drugs and support peer recovery.
More than one person a day died from drug overdoses in Maine last year, and lawmakers this year have taken steps to increase access to medication-assisted treatment.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Veterinarians, law enforcement officers and doctors are sharing strategies to combat the opioid epidemic at a sold-out conference in Maine.
The state Department of Health and Human Resources sponsored the Monday event in Augusta and says Maine is recognized nationally for steps it's taking to save lives.
More than one person a day died from a drug overdose last year, and Maine lawmakers have passed strict opioid prescribing rules in hopes of stopping the flood of highly addictive painkillers.

Members of two legislative committees heard more details Thursday about a plan to expand treatment for opioid addiction to several hundred more Mainers. The surge in overdoses last year to an average of one death a day helped drive the proposal.

PORTLAND, Maine - Over the weekend, York police responded to a 24-year-old man who overdosed on elephant tranquilizer.

Sgt. John Lizanecz says carfentanil is the lastest synthetic opioid that's being mixed with heroin, and it's 10,000 more times powerful than morphine. 

"If you touch skin-to-skin on this, even a couple of grains - they liken it to granules of salt - can kill you, if it touches your skin, or if you inhale it," Lizanecz says.

Sanford police responded to six suspected opioid overdoses last weekend, including one death.

The overdoses all took place from Friday to Saturday within about a half a square mile of each other. Sanford Police Chief Thomas Connolly says he suspects that the people who overdosed all purchased heroin from the same individual, and that it was laced with fentanyl, a highly potent narcotic.

Connolly says the spate is a reminder that the state needs to provide more access to medication assisted treatment.

AUGUSTA, Maine - A survey underscores the extent of Maine's drug crisis, indicating six in 10 Mainers know someone who has used heroin or abused prescribed opiate painkillers.

The Portland Press Herald poll that was conducted by the University of New Hampshire shows roughly 780,000 Mainers have seen the crisis up close.

The 60 percent figure is higher than the 44 percent in a recent Kaiser Health national survey who said they knew someone who abused heroin or opiates.

Courtesy photo

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new drug to treat opiate addiction called Probuphine. Its manufacturer calls it a game-changer, because it’s an implant that releases medication over months. But some Maine physicians who treat those with opiate addiction are more skeptical about the drug’s potential promise.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine 2nd District Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a member of the House Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic, says a hearing the task force is holding today in New Hampshire is aimed at coming up with recommendations for dealing with the drug crisis.

"What we are trying to do is get expert testimony from the most experienced people around the country who know how to deal with this heroin or opiate addiction problem," Poliquin says. "This is an epidemic in our state and the federal government clearly has a role in trying to defeat this."

About 75 people gathered in Portland Wednesday night for a community forum focused on the opioid crisis in Maine.

Speakers from the city of Portland and area agencies addressed prevention, treatment, law enforcement and recovery aspects of the problem.

Courtesy photo

Sometime in the next two months the Food and Drug Administration is expected to decide whether to give the go-ahead for an implant designed to treat addiction to heroin or prescription painkillers.  Known as probuphine,  the implant releases medication that helps prevent withdrawl and reduces cravings over the course of six months.  An FDA advisory committee voted 12-5 to recommend its approval.  But the product has raised some safety concerns