WXXI AM News

Opioids

We continue our conversation with Dr. Tim Wiegand from UR Medicine about the opioid crisis. This hour, Dr. Wiegand discusses an opioid prescription "opt-in" program for patients post-surgery. He says that program has led to a significant reduction in opioid prescriptions.

We discuss the impact of the program and the broader opioid crisis. Our guest:

  • Tim Wiegand, M.D., director of toxicology at URMC, and associate director of the UR Medicine Combined Addiction Fellowship Training Program

Monroe County Heroin Task Force

More than twice as many people died of opioid overdoses in Monroe County this April and March compared to the same months last year, according to data from the county’s heroin task force.

The combined 2019 death toll for the two months was 12. During the same period this year, the county recorded 29 fatal overdoses.

Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Favata, the head of the county’s heroin task force, said the social isolation brought on by distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 is likely driving some people toward drug use as a coping mechanism.

Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has introduced a bill to fund community support programs for people who have substance use disorders, as well as their families. 

The bill, called the Family Support Services for Addiction Act of 2020, would create a $25 million pool of grant money for non-profit organizations that work in the addiction field.

NORC at the University of Chicago

Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center have received a $6.7 million federal grant to study how to reduce the toll of the opioid epidemic in rural Appalachian counties.

“It’s not as far away from us in Rochester as it sounds,” said Michele Lawrence, one of the principal investigators on the research team. “Many people don’t realize that Appalachia extends to New York’s Southern Tier.”

Max Schulte / WXXI News

Rochester Drug Cooperative, which has paid millions of dollars to settle federal charges connected to opioid trafficking, said Tuesday that it will no longer sell any controlled substances.

"RDC will cease distribution imminently," the company wrote to its customers. "Seek immediate alternative arrangements to procure controlled substances."

Monroe County Sheriff's Office

Deaths in Monroe County from opioid overdoses decreased in 2019 for the second straight year, according to data released this week by the county’s heroin task force.

The numbers are preliminary and usually differ slightly from the official tally from the county medical examiner’s office that comes out later in the year. Still, they offer a glimpse into a changing tide in an epidemic that’s claimed more than 300,000 lives nationwide, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Monroe County

Opioid overdose deaths in July reached their second-highest monthly total since Monroe County law enforcement agencies started tracking the data at the beginning of 2018.

Seventeen people died of overdoses in July, according to the Monroe County Heroin Task Force, up from a low of four people in April.

Governor Andrew Cuomo's office

  

Calling it an "industrywide conspiracy," Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his intention to file a lawsuit for the overprescription of opioids that he said has defrauded New Yorkers out of billions of dollars. 

Cuomo said his Department of Financial Services is gathering evidence for a lawsuit that he said extends beyond the drugmakers to the drug distributors and pharmacies for what the governor said is systemwide "fraud" that went on for decades.

James Brown WXXI

Monroe County Clerk Adam Bello claims that County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo’s efforts to tackle the opioid epidemic do not meet the scale of the problem. The Democrat, who is challenging Dinolfo, the Republican incumbent this fall, called the epidemic the largest public health crisis to hit Rochester in his lifetime. 

“This is one of the largest public health crisis to hit our community in my lifetime and I think the response from our government needs to be scaled to match that level of emergency,” said Bello.

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

A group of surgeons in upstate New York has adopted new guidelines for prescribing opioids.

The recommendations, developed by a team convened by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, aim to reduce excess supply of the drugs in the midst of an opioid epidemic that killed almost 200 people in Monroe County last year.

Pages