Opioid addiction

JOSH STEIN

North Carolina is among six states filing lawsuits today against drug manufacturer Purdue Pharma, accusing the company of using deceptive marketing that helped fuel the opioid crisis.

In a refrigerator in the coroner's office in Marion County, Ind., rows of vials await testing. They contain blood, urine and vitreous, the fluid collected from inside a human eye.

In overdose cases, the fluids may contain clues for investigators.

"We send that off to a toxicology lab to be tested for what we call drugs of abuse," said Alfie Ballew, deputy coroner. The results often include drugs such as cocaine, heroin, fentanyl or prescription pharmaceuticals.

Flickr/ US Department of Agriculture

Mecklenburg County health officials say more than 525 people came to emergency rooms with opioid overdoses in the county last year.  That’s about a 45 percent increase from the previous year.  Across North Carolina in 2017, emergency rooms reported a nearly 40 percent increase in visits for opioid overdoses.  Mecklenburg County government and partner agencies will host a summit Thursday to address the growing opioid crisis. 

Alex Olgin / WFAE

It’s not just rehab facilities that are treating opioid addicts. These days family practitioners are taking on more of the responsibility. To do this they need federal approval to prescribe the necessary medications. The number of doctors getting approved to do this treatment is growing, but patients are still being turned away.