Recent News

Bad Batch App Notifies Community of Heroin Overdoses (Baltimore Magazine)

A local tech entrepreneur is trying to curb the massive spike in deaths related to the opioid epidemic one text at a time.

The Bad Batch Alert app is made for heroin addicts and their loved ones and essentially notifies them of any bad batches of opioids in the area. When an abnormal amount of overdoses in a neighborhood is detected, a text is sent out alerting users that a bad batch is in the area.

“It’s similar to an Amber Alert,” says creator Mike LeGrand, who started up Code In Schools in order to spread computer science education around Baltimore.

With the help of six teens and one mentor from that program, they started up Bad Batch Alert in October. He says, “Loved ones might use it, because they often care more about the people in the grips of addiction, than the people themselves do.”

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New text service, Bad Batch Alert, hopes to help with addiction (WMAR)

The Baltimore City Health Department is fighting the opioid epidemic any way they can. Now they're using cell phones.

The health department gave Code in the Schools a grant for $4,500, under their TECHealth program, to create Bad Batch Alert.

"I think a lot of people we know have been affected by this problem," Michael LeGrand works with Baltimore City Public School students at Code in the Schools writing the language that makes the service work.

He personally has been affected by the opioid epidemic. His childhood friend Rachel Vicary was smart. She had a degree in Computer Science, and is a chess whiz. She was known in her New York borough as the local mechanic fixing motorcycles.

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Are drug companies 'profiteering' off life-saving heroin overdose medicine? (Penn Live)

The greatest outrage is directed at Evzio, a high-tech dispenser which "talks" a novice through reversing an overdose.

It cost $690 when it came out in 2014. Now the list price is $4,500 -- an increase of more than 500 percent.

Evzio delivers a dose of naloxone, which blocks the effects of heroin and opioid painkillers, jumpstarting the heart rate and breathing of someone who overdosed.

Cheaper configurations of naloxone exist. It's a generic drug that's been around since the early 1970s.

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Justice Department to send federal prosecutor to Maryland to aid opioid fight (WJZ)

The Justice Department announced a new plan Wednesday to dispatch a federal prosecutor to Maryland and other areas hit hard by drug misuse. Attorney General Jeff Sessions calls it the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit.

The plan will work in conjunction with a data program, focusing on finding those who are illegally distributing prescription drugs.

Sessions unveiled the program, which would put 12 federal prosecutors in areas with high overdose rates, including Baltimore, to investigate and prosecute opioid scams like physicians and others running pill mills as well as health care fraud."We must create a culture that is hostile to drug abuse," Sessions said.

Read the entire statement

How to stop the deadliest drug overdose crisis in American history (Vox)

The scale of America’s opioid epidemic is shocking.

It is the deadliest drug overdose crisis in US history. In 2016 alone, drug overdoses likely killed more Americans in one year than the entire Vietnam War. In 2015, drug overdoses topped annual deaths from car crashes, gun violence, and even HIV/AIDS during that epidemic’s peak in 1995. In total, more than 140 people are estimated to die from drug overdoses every day in the US. About two-thirds of these drug overdose deaths are linked to opioids.

Yet so far, there’s been a lack of policy action to end the opioid epidemic. Much of what has been done has focused on reducing the amount of prescription painkillers out there, yet the latest federal data shows prescriptions were still three times what they were in 1999. Other prevention efforts have focused on stopping heroin and fentanyl from entering the US, but they have so far failed to make a dent in the flow of these drugs.

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Baltimore enlists doulas to help bring infant mortality rate down (Baltimore Sun)

When Kendra Nelson was in labor with her second child, small gestures from a doula helped her get through the strongest and most painful contractions. The woman held Nelson’s hand and spoke words of encouragement. She guided Nelson through breathing exercises and pulled her hair back in a scrunchie to keep her comfortable.

“She was there as a form of support and it made my delivery better,” said Nelson, 32.

Now Nelson is working to become a doula herself, in hopes of helping other women experience a healthier pregnancy and better delivery. Baltimore health officials hope she will play a role in helping to reduce the city’s infant mortality rate.

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Trump’s opioid epidemic commission wants the president to declare a state of emergency (Vox)

A commission created by President Donald Trump has asked him to declare a state of emergency over the nation’s opioid epidemic.

The recommendation, from a preliminary draft of the opioid commission’s report, comes in the midst of grueling statistics linked to the epidemic. In 2016 alone, drug overdoses likely killed more Americans in one year than the entire Vietnam War. In 2015, drug overdoses topped annual deaths from car crashes, gun violence, and even HIV/AIDS during that epidemic’s peak in 1995.

“With approximately 142 Americans dying every day, America is enduring a death toll equal to September 11th every three weeks,” the report argues. “After September 11th, our President and our nation banded together to use every tool at our disposal to prevent any further American deaths. Your declaration would empower your cabinet to take bold steps and would force Congress to focus on funding and empowering the Executive Branch even further to deal with this loss of life.”

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CityLab comes to Baltimore Wednesday (Baltimore Sun)

As Baltimore officials attempt to tackle some of the city’s long-festering problems, experts from around the country are coming to town to discuss ideas for progress.

At “CityLab Baltimore,” which takes place Wednesday afternoon, leaders from New York, Boston, Rhode Island, Albany, N.Y., New Orleans and Detroit plan to discuss ideas to address blight and drug abuse, among other problems.

“The basic idea is to create a moment for city leaders to exchange ideas about what’s working and what’s not and how we can get better together,” said James Anderson, who leads the government lnnovation programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies.

The Atlantic, the Aspen Institute and Bloomberg are co-sponsors of the event, which will take place at the Parkway Theatre at 5 West North Avenue at 2 p.m. The theater quickly filled up, but organizers said additional tickets might become available.

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Impact of Affordable Care Act Repeal on America’s Opioid Epidemic (Plos-Blogs)

The November 2016 U.S. elections resulted in a Republican sweep of the Presidency and both chambers of Congress. Republicans’ first major policy priority has been to “repeal and replace” the Obama Administration’s effort to reform healthcare, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), signed into law in 2010. To date, a key component of proposed legislation from both the House and Senate has been severe cuts to Medicaid, which currently provides the lion’s share of health insurance for low-income Americans.

These legislative proposals have been introduced at a time when the U.S. is experiencing an epidemic of opioid addiction and overdose. In 2015, there were more than 2.6 million Americans with opioid use disorder (OUD) [1]. During the same year, more than 33,000 died of overdoses involving one or more opioids, corresponding to an age-adjusted opioid-related death rate of 10.4 per 100,000 [2]—more than triple the rate in 2000 [3]. The U.S. now accounts for about a quarter of the world’s drug-related deaths [4].

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Could you walk a billion steps in a year? (WBAL)

Could you walk a billion steps in a year? That's the challenge posed by Baltimore City and the Baltimore City Health Department as part of a new initiative that kicks off this weekend.

"We're trying to get 1 billion steps by next year, and we know we can do it," walking ambassador Coach Donte Samuel said.

 

Baltimore's Billion Step Challenge asks city residents of all ages to reach that goal in the next year.

"That campaign involves the city actually organizing events throughout the year that people can come and participate in, but it also is going to include us inventorying all the great things that are already happening in the city related to opportunities for people to get active and be more fit," said Greg Sileo, with the Baltimore Health Department.

That includes things like the November Project that brings folks together for a fun workout, or the Safe Zones at Belmont Camp to get kids started on a healthy lifestyle while they're still young.

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