Addiction-Based Mental Health Crisis Still Getting Worse in Virginia

During the beginning of COVID-19, hospital inpatient volume and emergency department visits decreased, in part due to people postponing treatment. But the same data showed an increase in the number of patients getting treatment for alcohol, drug use, and related mental disorders, the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) reported in April. In a Friday press conference, VHHA Vice President of Data and Analytics David Vaamonde reported that increased treatment for those kinds of disorders continued into the first two quarters of 2021 — one of only two Major Diagnostic Categories (MDCs) that saw growth since the beginning of the pandemic.

“We’re looking at MDCs where volumes actually increased since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have alcohol and drug use, and drug induced organic mental health disorders, obviously a very concerning trend there, and then diseases and disorders of the respiratory system and infectious and parasitic diseases,” Vaamonde said, adding that the respiratory, infectious, and parasitic categories line up with what a COVID-19 patient would have.

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Former Head of OxyContin Giant Purdue Pharma Denies Fault or Blame in Opioid Crisis

The former president and board chair of Purdue Pharma testified in court on Wednesday that he, his family and the company are not at fault for the opioid crisis, CBS News reported.

Richard Sackler, 76, who is a member of the family that owns the OxyContin maker, denied responsibility at a White Plains, New York, bankruptcy hearing, CBS News reported.

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Biden Nominates Candidates for U.S. Attorney for Western and Eastern Districts of Virginia

President Joe Biden has announced his nominees for United States Attorney for the Western and Eastern Districts of Virginia. Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) Jessica Aber and Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia (WDVA) Christopher Kavanaugh were on a list of two candidates for each seat recommended by Virginia Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner.

“We are pleased that the President has nominated Ms. Aber and Mr. Kavanaugh to fill these vacancies,” the senators said in a joint press release. “After a thorough review of their distinguished records, we believe they will serve Virginia and the country with distinction. We hope our colleagues will join us to support these well-qualified nominees to be U.S. Attorneys in the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia.

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15 States Reach Agreement, Pave Way for $4.5 Billion Settlement over Opioid Crisis

Spilled pill bottle with lid beside bottle

A coalition of 15 states agreed to a deal with drug maker Purdue Pharma, which could soon lead to a $4.5 billion settlement over the company’s role in the U.S. opioid epidemic.

The states agreed to no longer oppose Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy plan while the pharmaceutical company agreed to publicly release a trove of millions of documents, according to a court filing late Wednesday night. The Sackler family, which owns the company, would pay an additional $50 million under the settlement.

The agreement will be tacked onto a broader proposal that is set to be voted on by more than 3,000 plaintiffs, The New York Times reported. In addition to the states, plaintiffs include cities, counties and tribes that sued the company over its role in boosting its painkiller OxyContin, the cause of thousands of opioid deaths.

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More Lethal Fentanyl Found Along the Southern Border this Year Than Last

Federal authorities have seized significantly more fentanyl along the U.S.-Mexican border in Arizona and California since October than they did in the entire 2020 fiscal year.

Since October, authorities have seized 7.000 pounds of the drug, compared to just 4,500 pounds in the entire last fiscal year, according to data from Customs and Boarder Protection. The reasoning, according to authorities, is simply supply and demand.

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Virginia’s Democratic Gubernatorial, Attorney General Candidates Debate

Virginia’s GOP nomination process for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general is grabbing headlines but early voting in the Democratic primary is still ongoing, and the final day of voting is in June. On Wednesday and Thursday, Democrats held debates between their candidates for attorney general and governor.

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Fairfax ‘Pill Mill’ Doctor Gets Seven Years

U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema sentenced Fairfax doctor Felicia Donald to seven years in prison for operating a “pill mill” at For Women OB/GYN Associates and NOVA Addiction Center. According to a Department of Justice press release, from April 2016 to April 2020 Donald distributed over $1.2 million worth of oxycodone and other controlled substances. Donald pled guilty on May 4, 2020.

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Kasich Warns Of Widespread Fentanyl, Warns Users They Are ‘Playing With The Devil’

John Kasich

by Steve Birr   Authorities in Ohio are cracking down on drug dealers trafficking in the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl with harsher legal penalties as synthetic overdose deaths continue rising. Republican Gov. John Kasich signed a bill Wednesday that reclassifies fentanyl from a Schedule II to a Schedule I substance and…

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Three People Are Dying Each Day From Opioids In Tennessee

Bill Haslam

by Steve Birr   A new report reveals the deteriorating national opioid epidemic is hitting Tennessee particularly hard, killing three people across the state each day. Republican Gov. Bill Haslam created the Tennessee Commission on Pain and Addiction Medicine Education Jan. 24 to investigate the addiction crisis and develop new standards for…

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Illegal Aliens Charged In Heroin Scheme That Led To Overdose Deaths In Tennessee

ICE arrest

by Will Racke   Two illegal aliens have been indicted on multiple counts of conspiracy and drug distribution for allegedly running a drug trafficking operation that led to the overdose deaths of at least two people in Tennessee, federal prosecutors announced Thursday. Juan Manuel Morales-Rodriguez, 39, and Juan Samudio-Castro —…

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Autopsy Finds Ohio Police Chief Died of a Fentanyl Overdose

by Steve Birr   The recent death of an Ohio police chief was the result of a fentanyl overdose, an autopsy report released Friday by a local coroner determined. Authorities in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, found Kirkersville Police Chief James Hughes Jr. dead in the bathroom of his home on May 25, along with a plastic…

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Gov. Haslam Signs Legislation to Restrict Opioid Access, Punish Trafficking, Provide Treatment Help

Bill Haslam

The state of Tennessee is adding restrictions to opioid prescriptions and measures to track and punish unlawful distribution of the powerful pain medications. Gov. Bill Haslam signed two bills and issued an executive order last Friday to support TN Together, the latest effort to fight the opioid crisis, WBIR reported,…

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Attorney General Sessions Announces Charges For 601 People In Largest Health Care Fraud Bust In History

by Steve Birr   Federal officials are charging 601 people, including more than 100 medical workers, for fueling opioid addiction in the largest bust of health care fraud in U.S. history. The Department of Justice revealed the charges Thursday, which were brought as part of an annual effort to dismantle…

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Rep. DesJarlais Focuses in on Support for Law Enforcement and Addiction Treatment

Scott DesJarlais

Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN-04) released a statement this week geared to focusing attention on his work in support of both law enforcement and addiction treatment. “During a week in which the House of Representatives focused solely on solutions to the country’s opioid crisis, Congressman Scott DesJarlais, M.D., voted to improve…

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