opioids

As the death toll rises, what to do about the continuing opioid epidemic? That was the question Monday night at Williamsville's Hyatt Place.

WBFO's Mike Desmond

As the sky darkened into evening, names rang out in front of Old Erie County Hall. They were the names of those who have died in the area's opioids epidemic, read during a memorial to help their families deal with death.

overdoselifeline.org

On a daily basis, neighborhoods across the country are hit with news of another fatal overdose caused by heroin or other opiates. However, often lost behind the news are the stories of families and other loved ones left behind.

Prescribed narcotic painkillers continue to fuel a nationwide opioid epidemic—nearly half of fatal overdoses in the United States involve opioids prescribed by a doctor.

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The city of Toronto is moving to address an opioid crisis that is crossing Canada. In the United States, it has already been described as the greatest drug crisis in American history, fueled by opioids like fentanyl. Across the continent, thousands of people are dying from overdoses. Recently in Vancouver, the city had the equivalent of nearly 130 overdose deaths in one month, the equivalent of four a day. That prompted the city's mayor to issue a warning to his counterpart in Toronto.


As the death toll from opioid overdoses continues to rise, Erie County is hitting back with a lawsuit against pharmaceutical makers and doctors who prescribe the drugs. The suit alleges they helped fuel the opioids epidemic, by spreading the falsehood that the medications aren't addictive and potentially lethal.

Chris Caya/WBFO News

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn is ramping up the fight against the growing opioid crisis by restoring a standalone narcotics bureau. Nineteen days into the new year, there have been 19 suspected overdose deaths in the county.

An expansion of industrial hemp farming was one of Governor Cuomo’s proposals at his regional State of the State address in Syracuse. The proposal comes the same week the state allots more money to fight drug addiction.

WBFO's Mike Desmond

On a cold, windy and snowy night, around two dozen people were inside the Erie County Emergency Operations Center talking about giving life, using naloxone to overcome the fatal overdose effects of opioids. As fatalities have continued to rise, the number of people wanting to learn how to use the drug spray also has increased. 

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Erie County leaders are reporting a spike in opioid-related deaths during the month of December. Health Department officials are investigating whether they may be linked to a new synthetic form of the drug.

Gretchen Ertl/Reuters/Landov

There has been a recall of one of the key weapons in the fight against fatal opioid abuse overdoses -- naloxone.

A new survey finds that nearly three-quarters of adults in Buffalo believe opioids addiction is one of today's highest social priorities, but there are not enough community resources to tackle the problem. That is why a local health provider, that began in response to the AIDS crisis of a generation ago, has been expanding into opioids addiction and other chronic diseases that are underserved and stigmatized.

New York ranked fourth among states whose lawmakers drew the most contributions from the opioid industry, but was near the bottom in prescriptions per capita, according to data compiled by The Associated Press and the Center for Public Integrity.

Dr. Julie Hogan

At a time when the nation is grappling with an opioid crisis, hundreds of researchers, addiction experts and service-providers are meeting in Buffalo to discuss prevention strategies.

Michael Mroziak / WBFO News

17 individuals are facing federal charges in relation to a massive drug trafficking operation that brought cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl from across the United States’ southern border into the Western New York area. It’s part of the largest prosecution ever taken on by the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Western District of New York.

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

The commissioner of the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) came to Buffalo Tuesday to announce new funding for addiction treatment services in Western New York.


Michael Mroziak, WBFO

After months of preparation, Erie County's Opioid Epidemic Task Force formally rolled out a three-part campaign Monday designed to provide easier connections between addicts and the treatment programs that can help them. It didn't take long for some of those services to get busy.


The final report by the state Heroin and Opioid Task Force has been handed over to Governor Andrew Cuomo. The Task Force was charged with identifying ways to address the growing opioid addiction epidemic. Task Force co-chair Kathy Hochul states that the compensation equation for doctors lends to the addiction problem.


www.gosyassociates.com

Dr. Eugene Gosy, the Williamsville pain management physician accused of unlawfully providing narcotics prescriptions to patients, has been dropped by two local health insurers.

www.gosyassociates.com

The Williamsville pain management practice of Dr. Eugene Gosy is closed for two weeks. The closure notice is posted on the practice website.

Mike Desmond/WBFO News

The North Park Theater was packed Thursday night for a town hall meeting on the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic. The meeting was sponsored by Save the Michaels of the World, an organization formed to deal with the over-prescription of drugs following the death of 21-year-old Michael Israel.


A former local physician convicted of illegally issuing prescriptions for pain medication will spend the next two years in prison. It's less jail time than what federal prosecutors sought, but the U.S. Attorney expressed satisfaction that Pravin Mehta will no longer be a key contributor to Western New York's opioid addiction crisis.


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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there’s the equivalent of one bottle of prescription painkillers for every adult American. Meanwhile, 46 people a day die from an overdose of those same painkillers. That’s why New York State is trying to curb the problem of overprescribing.

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You may have recently started to hear the term “mental health parity.” It refers to federal and state requirements for insurers to cover mental health and addiction treatment as they would any other medical condition. Insurers haven’t always complied. As Michelle Faust reports, state lawmakers' recent actions intend to take hurdles from insurance out of the long path to recovery from addiction.

Michelle Faust

Deaths from drug overdose have outpaced automobile accidents as the leading cause of injury in 35 states, including New York. But the state is making strides to curtail that trend. Physicians are integral to treating addiction, but the country has a shortage of doctors with training in the specialty.


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