The 33rd China (Guangzhou) International Health Industry Expo 2025

12-14 June 2025

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‘One Is Too Many, And A Thousand Is Never Enough’: A Look At How Opioids Permanently Rewire The Brain

Time: 2018-12-21

The New York Times investigates what makes the opioid epidemic unique and how the drugs can permanently alter the brain chemistry of anyone who uses them to make it nearly impossible to quit. Meanwhile, the government is encouraging doctors to prescribe anti-overdose medications along with painkillers, and a top lawmaker is looking into the financial ties between opioid makers, advocacy groups and government panels. Other news on the crisis comes out of D.C., New York, Pennsylvania, Kansas and Georgia.

The New York Times: Heroin Addiction Explained: How Opioids Hijack The BrainGetting hooked is nobody’s plan. Some turn to heroin because prescription painkillers are tough to get. Fentanyl, which is 50 times more potent than heroin, has snaked its way into other drugs like cocaine, Xanax and MDMA, widening the epidemic. To understand what goes through the minds and bodies of opioid users, The New York Times spent months interviewing users, family members and addiction experts. Using their insights, we created a visual representation of how the strong lure of these powerful drugs can hijack the brain. Dr. Pedro Mateu-Gelabert, one of the nation’s top opioid researchers, said this work brings “an emotional understanding” to the epidemic but “without glamorizing or oversimplifying.” (Sinha, 12/18)

The Associated Press: US Urges Doctors To Write More Rx For Overdose AntidoteThe U.S. government told doctors Wednesday to consider prescribing medications that reverse overdoses to many more patients who take opioid painkillers in a move that could add more than $1 billion in health care costs. Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir, a doctor appointed by President Donald Trump, announced the guidance, saying it's important for doctors to discuss overdose dangers with patients. (Johnson, 12/19)

CQ: HHS Unveils Opioid Overdose Drug Prescribing GuidelinesSurgeon General Jerome Adams has recommended that anyone taking opioids or with a family member doing so carry naloxone as a preventive measure, but the new guidance will likely increase the number of physicians who prescribe the medication. This could curb the rapidly rising number of deaths from opioid overdoses. (Raman, 12/19)

Stat: Wyden Probes Ties Of Opioid Makers, Advocacy Groups, And Federal Panel A leading lawmaker is intensifying his scrutiny of the financial ties between opioid makers, advocacy groups, and government panels that provide advice on the controversial and lucrative business of managing patient pain. In a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked the agency to review various conflicts of interest among some members of the Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force, which was created two years ago to make recommendations for combating chronic and acute pain. Those directives may affect Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements. (Silverman, 12/19)

The Washington Post: African American Heroin Users Are Dying Rapidly In An Opioid Epidemic Nobody Talks AboutSpoon, whose product could be trusted, wasn’t answering his phone. So just after 9 a.m. on a fetid August morning, Sam Rogers had trekked to a corner two miles east of the U.S. Capitol on Pennsylvania Avenue, hoping to find heroin that wouldn’t kill him. Now Rogers, 53, was back in his bedroom at the hot, dark house on R Street SE. Sitting in a worn swivel chair, he cued a Rob Thomas song on his cellphone and bent over his cooker and syringe. The heroin — a tan powder sold for $10 a bag — simmered into a cloudy liquid with the amber hue of ginger ale. Palliative or poison: He would know soon enough. (Jamison, 12/19)

The Washington Post: D.C.’s Opioid Epidemic: As African American Heroin Overdoses Skyrocketed The City Ignored Life-Saving StrategiesFor the past four years, the nation’s capital has undergone its worst public-health crisis since the arrival of AIDS: an explosion of fatal drug overdoses among African Americans. The rate of death, caused by heroin cut with the lethal synthetic opioid fentanyl, is comparable to the opioid epidemic’s worst ravages in rural and suburban parts of the United States. More people died of opioid overdoses than homicides last year in the District. But the city’s overdose victims are different from those in areas of the country more commonly associated with opioid abuse. Many are black men who have been addicted to heroin for decades. And unlike drug users elsewhere, they have often been left by their government without basic help. (Jamison, 12/19)

Reuters: Judge Blocks New York From Enforcing Opioid Surcharge On CompaniesA Manhattan federal judge on Wednesday blocked New York state from enforcing a recently enacted law that aimed to collect $600 million from drug manufacturers and distributors to defray the costs of combating the opioid addiction epidemic. U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla ruled that while the concerns driving New York's decision to adopt the law were valid, the means by which the state would extract payments from the companies violated the U.S. Constitution. (12/19)

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Meth Goes Hand-In-Hand With Opioids In Much Of PennsylvaniaThe state Attorney General’s Bureau of Narcotics Investigation has recovered just under 12,000 grams of meth this year. In some rural areas and small towns, a gram can sell for up to $80. In DuBois, Police Chief Blaine Clark said his city has seen a 129 percent jump in drug reports from July 2017 to July 2018, most of them possession arrests. (Nark, 12/19)

Kansas City Star: Wyandotte County, Kan., Sues Opioid Industry GiantsWyandotte County joined the parade of local governments lining up to sue opioid manufacturers and distributors Tuesday, filing suit in federal court against 14 industry giants and their affiliates. Wyandotte County is at least the 20th local government in Kansas and Missouri to file suit against the companies, accusing them of getting rich by hooking people on pain meds while costing citizens large amounts of money in health care and law enforcement to deal with drug addiction, diversion and overdoses. (Marso, 12/19)

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: GBI: Prescription Drug Deaths Declining In GeorgiaPreliminary 2018 data that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation provided to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows prescription drug deaths are declining sharply, while fatal overdoses from illegal drugs are slightly down. Statewide, emergency room visits for overdoses are also mostly down in recent months, according to available Georgia Department of Public Health data. (Sharpe, 12/19)