The synthetic opioid, blamed in health surveys for surging drug overdose deaths in the United States, has for decades concerned national security officials because of its potential widespread lethality in terror attacks.
The cities of Bristol, Roanoke, and Salem, along with Roanoke and Alleghany counties, are the most recent Virginia localities to file suit against drugmakers.
More than 600 cities, counties and tribes have filed a lawsuit against eight owners of the pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma, accusing them of creating the opioid crisis through ownership of the OxyContin manufacturer.
The findings come just three months after another report published by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics confirmed that fentanyl, a highly-potent painkiller that can shut down breathing in under a minute, is now the deadliest drug in America.
Five kilograms of the poisonously potent synthetic opioid were seized along with 6 kilograms of heroin, a more common street drug which, when spiked with fentanyl, has caused tens of thousands of fatal overdoses in America in recent years.
Court documents show that the 29-year-old dealt drugs throughout Loudoun County, Virginia. Two people who used fentanyl and heroin that he sold died in March 2016.
Under legislation that’s now being considered in Maryland, the state would be able to set up facilities where people could self-administer drugs, such as heroin, under the supervision of health care professionals.
“We don’t know at this time if it’s because it was a bad batch, if it’s tainted or mixed with other drugs, or just extremely concentrated,” Alexandria Police Capt. Gregg Ladislaw said.
Thousands of Marylanders have died from opioid overdoses in recent years, with a surge in deaths from fentanyl. But our present-day opiate epidemic has a Victorian precursor.
Through the first half of 2018, Maryland recorded 1,185 opioid-related overdose deaths — 15 percent more than the same period last year.
A new research project aimed at addressing the opioid epidemic has kicked off in Southside Virginia, an area hit hard by the drug.
At a news conference Wednesday, Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler blamed the opioid epidemic for 31-year-old Christopher Paul’s death and said he stands behind the officers’ actions.
The Department of Justice is awarding nearly $320 million to help fund the fight against the opioid crisis across the U.S., with grant recipients in Maryland and Virginia receiving support in their programs.
The governor, who is a pediatric neurologist, said the commission will review the state’s current approach at curbing opioid abuse and offer feedback on ways to improve.
About two dozen people attended a rally in front of the Maryland State House on Tuesday where participants held signs that said: “Don’t Punish Pain,” and “Make Health Care Again.”
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