News Coverage

Baltimore gets $200,000 to fight overdoses (WYPR)

The Baltimore City Health Department is getting a new $200,000 grant from the Open Society Institute – Baltimore to aid in the fight against opioid overdoses, city Health Commissioner Leana Wen announced Monday. The money is slated to pay for real-time alerts about overdose spikes and new community engagement efforts.

Through the new program, the health department gets an alert from public safety and hospital officials. Outreach teams then go to areas with large numbers of overdoses to educate the community about the Fentanyl that may be mixed in with Heroin, and about how to use Narcan — the brand name for the drug Naloxone — to stop an overdose.

Wen said one of the biggest challenges her agency faces is the stigma attached to treating opioid addiction.

Read the entire article. 

$200K private grant to help Baltimore fight opioid epidemic (WBAL)

Baltimore City health officials announced on Monday a private grant will help in the fight against the opioid epidemic.

The opioid epidemic continues to grow, especially in Baltimore City, but at the same time, resources have not kept pace with need.

Despite millions of dollars being directed to fight the opioid epidemic, people in Baltimore City are still dying in unprecedented numbers. The number of fatal overdoses in Baltimore City involving fentanyl have increased more than 35 times since 2013, according to the Health Department.

The Baltimore City Health Department has drawn national attention for its innovative approach to the opioid epidemic. City health officials revealed some new unconventional measures that they are using.

One innovative approach includes training for members of the community on how to administer the overdose-antidote drug Narcan. It's one way the Baltimore City Health Department is building an army to combat a national crisis in a hands-on, personalized approach to save lives.

"Baltimore City is at the epicenter of the epidemic. A third of the overdoses that occur in the state of Maryland, occur right here in our city," Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen said.

Read the entire article. 

CDC: Opioid prescriptions down, but still overprescribed (WTOP)

WASHINGTON — New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention find opioid prescriptions are down nationwide, but are still overprescribed.

Baltimore City Health Commissioner Leana Wen said it’s good news that opioid prescriptions are down in the State of Maryland from the high of 2010, but doctors are still too quick to prescribe opioid drugs. She said the over-prescription of the highly addictive drug continues to be a huge problem.

“There are enough prescriptions for opioids given so that every adult American can have their own bottle,” Wen said.

Nearly 700 Baltimore City residents died from opioid overdose, said Wen, and even though the state awarded more money for the opioid reversal drug naloxone just last week, they can’t keep up with demands.

Read the entire story. 

The war on Maryland's opioid epidemic gets new funding (Fox 45)

The state of Maryland is pouring millions of dollars into the fight against heroin and opioid abuse.

The Governor’s office announced on Friday that it’ll provide more than $22 million dollars into the effort.

The funds will be spread among the state’s 24 local jurisdictions.

Two-million dollars will be used to operate a crisis and stabilization center in Baltimore.

“The stabilization center is meant for individuals to stay for sobering,” said Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Lena Wen.

Read the entire story. 

Baltimore gets $2 million for 'sobering center' as part of larger opioid prevention efforts (Baltimore Sun)

Baltimore City will get $2 million to open a 24-hour "sobering center" to help those addicted to drugs, part of a larger pool of money the state is giving out to every county to fight the heroin and opioid epidemic.

The Governor's Office of Crime Control & Prevention announced Friday how the more than $22 million would be distributed among the state's 24 jurisdictions. The money comes from funds the governor committed to fight the opioid epidemic, the federal government's 21st Century Cures Act and the state's crime control and prevention agency.

Eighty percent of the $22 million will go to local jurisdictions; the rest will be used to fund other efforts and programs, including collaboration between federal, state and local law enforcement, to increase state regulatory oversight of controlled dangerous substances, increase the number of beds in residential drug treatment centers, and make improvements to the statewide crisis hotline

The city health department will also receive $750,000 to buy 20,000 doses of naloxone, the drug used to reverse an opioid overdose that health officials have had to ration because of a shortage. The city will get another $830,429 to fund treatment programs and other efforts to curb the number of opioid deaths and overdoses. City officials can also apply for grants that would make them eligible for up to $6 million in total funding, said Katie Kuehn, communications director with the state's opioid operational command center. The grant money is not guaranteed, however.

City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen said that although the money would help efforts to fight the opioid epidemic, the city should have received a larger proportion because it has been hit harder by the crisis than any other jurisdiction.

Read entire story. 

How does healthcare actually work? (Viceland)

Linette Lopez, Dr. Leana Wen, and Dr. Jay Parkinson discuss the money behind health—whether or not you need an expensive doctor, and how the healthcare industry actually works.

Watch the video.

5 things to know about the race to identify new deadly opioids (Becker's Hospital Review)

As newer and stronger synthetic opioids and synthetic opioid combinations continue to cause overdose flare-ups across the United States, Crime labs are working to identify these unfamiliar drugs.

A new report from STAT examined the issue. Here are five key takeaways from the report.

1. While the opioid analogs fentanyl and carfentanil — an elephant tranquilizer lethal for humans in minute doses — are now widely known, new analogs are cropping up in communities scattered across the nation.

...

5. In Baltimore, firefighters responding to 911 calls and emergency room physicians now report sudden upticks in opioid overdoses to Leana Wen, MD, the city's health commissioner, who can dispatch outreach teams to hard-hit areas of the city in the same day.

Read the entire article.

Baltimore teens built a system that sends text alerts during heroin overdose spikes (Technically)

Since October, a group of six teenagers have been meeting for three hours on Saturdays at Code in the Schools’ offices in Station North. They’re working on a tool that utilizes mobile phones to address one aspect of the city’s heroin crisis.

Bad Batch Alert sends text messages to alert people to a spike in overdoses in a given area.

The application amplifies data from Emergency Medical Services that gets analyzed by the Baltimore City Health Department. The application is designed to let loved ones or neighbors know when people are overdosing at a high rate in a given area, indicating the presence of a dangerous batch of heroin that could be tainted with a substance like fentanyl.

Read the entire story. 

CDC finds uneven progress on reducing reliance on addictive opioids (Baltimore Sun)

Fewer opioid painkillers are being prescribed to patients in half of U.S. counties, including most in Maryland, in recent years, but the amount remains three times what it was in 1999, according to new figures released Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC and other public health officials have sought to curb prescriptions of these potent, but addictive painkillers because they are seen as a key contributor to the nationwide overdose epidemic. Users become hooked on them and later turn to cheaper and more deadly street drugs such as heroin.

Read the entire story.

20-Year Gap In Life Expectancy Between Richer, Poorer Areas Of Baltimore (CBS)

New numbers show, in Baltimore, it really depends on where you grew up, according to the health department.

“When it comes down to it, the biggest driver is poverty,” says Health Department Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen.

New data says a baby born in a neighborhood like Homeland or Roland Park can expect to live to 84 years old. In Fells Point, Canton and Federal Hill, the life expectancy is around 79.

But in Clifton, Greenmount East, Sandtown or Druid Heights, the life expectancy is under 70. Those numbers are far below the city-wide average of 74.

Read the entire article. 

Pages