In other news, shortages of Naloxone are predicted and more details emerge about the outbreak of hepatitis among children.

The Hill: Indigenous Americans See Five-Fold Increase In Fatal Opioid Overdoses Over Two Decades, Study Says

Fatal overdoses among Indigenous Americans are spiking as the US remains mired in a worsening opioid crisis. A new study published this week in the journal BMJ Open found opioid overdose deaths among American Indian and Alaska Native communities increased five-fold from 1999 to 2019, while the number of drug overdoses overall in the US has quadrupled since 1999. … study’s authors looked at overdose deaths attributed to opioids alone, opioids in combination with other drugs and alcohol, and deaths linked to specific types of opioids among American Indians and Alaska Natives ages 12 and As Benito Luna-Herrera teaches his seventh-grade social studies classes , he is on alert for signs of inner turmoil. And there is so much of it these days .. (Guzman, 5/3)

Axios: Opioid Settlements Could Lead To Naloxone Shortages

Recent opioid settlement agreements Teva Pharmaceuticals struck with three states could create shortages of treatment and opioid reversal drugs in the rest of the country, a pair of House lawmakers warned Attorney General Merrick Garland. Letting a single company provide free treatments to entire patient populations could limit competition and undercut physicians. As part of a settlement of claims it helped fuel the opioid epidemic, Teva agreed to give Texas, Florida and Rhode Island more than $ 220 million of the overdose drug naloxone and other opioid treatments in lieu of monetary compensation. (Bettelheim, 5/3)

The Washington Post: Fewer People With Mental Health, Substance Use Disorders Are Smoking

Depression and substance use disorders stereotypically come with a side of smoking. New data, however, suggests the number of people with mental health and substance use disorders who smoke is falling quickly. A study in JAMA finds “significant declines” in cigarette smoking among people with depression, substance use disorder or both between 2006 and 2019. (Blakemore, 5/3)

ABC News: The Fentanyl Trip: How The Drug Is Coming To America

As fentanyl overdoses and deaths have been on the rise across America, investigators have been setting their sights internationally to stop the flow. Police and other experts say fentanyl and fentanyl-laced pills have been illegally imported from as far out as China and even smuggled through the US-Mexico border. “I’ve been doing this for almost 10 years now. And at one time, we would never find fentanyl. Now we’re catching it all the time -and it is coming in different forms,” ​​Robert Meza, an import specialist with the US Customs and Border Protection Agency, told ABC News. (Ordonez, Luna, Salzman and Pereira, 5/3)

AP: Washington Reaches $ 518M Settlement With Opioid Distributors

Months into a complex trial over their role in flooding Washington with highly addictive painkillers, the nation’s three largest opioid distributors agreed Tuesday to pay the state $ 518 million, with the vast majority being directed toward easing the addiction epidemic. Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced the deal, noting that it’s worth tens of millions of dollars more than Washington would have received from the companies if it had signed onto a national settlement reached last summer involving the distributors and Johnson & Johnson. (Johnson, 5/3)

On the developing news about hepatitis in children –

Stat: Disease Detectives See Clues In Viral Hepatitis Cases In Kids

When medical professionals think they’re seeing something new, or an unusual spike in cases of something known, disease detectives – epidemiologists – are generally tasked with solving the mysteries of the case. Some of these seeming events turn out to be nothing more than coincidence. Some, however, are very real and teach us more about what a known disease agent can do or introduce us to a new bug that poses a hitherto unrecognized threat. Increasingly, it appears that the mounting reports of unusual pediatric hepatitis cases will turn out to be the latter type of event. At least 18 countries have reported nearly 200 cases of pediatric hepatitis of unknown etiology or origin. Roughly 10% of the children have required liver transplants and a handful or so have reportedly died. The question is no longer “Is this real?” but “What is triggering severe liver inflammation in previously healthy little kids?” (Branswell, 5/4)

The New York Times: What Scientists Know About The Unusual Hepatitis Cases In Children

At least 16 countries and 10 US states have either identified or are investigating reports of unusual hepatitis cases in otherwise healthy children. The cases remain extremely rare, with about 200 children affected worldwide, according to a report issued last week by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control. But even these small clusters are unusual. In Britain, where most of the cases have been reported, two pediatric liver units have already had at least as many admissions for acute, unexplained hepatitis in 2022 as they typically have in an entire year, according to a briefing from the UK Health Security Agency . (Anthes, 5/3)

CBS News: Mystery Liver Disease Kills Three More Children After “Unexpected Significant Increase” In Cases Reported

Three children in Indonesia have died from a mysterious liver disease, the country’s health ministry said, raising to at least four the global death toll of a fatal ailment puzzling doctors from the US to Asia. This severe strain of acute hepatitis has been identified in nearly 170 children across 11 countries in recent weeks – raising concerns from the World Health Organization (WHO) of the disease’s “unknown origin.” The symptoms afflicting the children include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain – before their livers showed signs of inflammation. At least one death was previously reported by WHO. (5/3)

In other public health news –

Press Association: Measles Outbreak: Vaccinations Fall As Disease Spreads

There is an “epidemic” of measles, global health leaders have warned, as cases of the potentially deadly disease appear to be on the rise. The World Health Organization (WHO) urged parents to get their children vaccinated against the highly infectious disease. It raised concerns that a dip in vaccination uptake during the Covid-19 pandemic could be behind a rise in cases compared to what would usually be expected in the first two months of the year. (Pickover, 5/3)

The Wall Street Journal: Alzheimer’s Patients Now Less Likely To Receive Biogen’s Aduhelm Treatment

People with Alzheimer’s disease will be less likely to receive Biogen Inc.’s Aduhelm treatment because of the company’s decision to slash commercial support for the drug in the face of restricted reimbursement by the US Medicare program and other insurers. The Cambridge, Mass., Company said Tuesday that it is eliminating its “commercial infrastructure” for Aduhelm. It will maintain minimal resources to provide the drug for patients currently on the treatment at no cost. (Loftus, 5/3)

Axios: Purchases Of Food With Added Sugar Drop With Increased Tax Credits

The temporary expansion of the Child Tax Credit during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021 coincided with greater food security and may also have reduced children’s consumption of sugary foods and beverages, according to a study in Health Affairs. The observational study, led by the University of South Carolina, used surveys from nearly 600 households, as well as one taken three months later, to see how the monthly tax credits were being used. Among participating parents, about half said they used the additional money for food and beverage purposes and more than 60% of those who were “very” food insecure used the money for food. (Reed, 5/3)

The Hill: California Pushes Ahead With Kids’ Online Safety Proposals As Washington Stalls

A California state panel advanced a proposal that would hold tech companies responsible for features that can be addictive and harmful, a measure that, if passed, could put California at the forefront of the fight for kids’ online safety as Washington stalls. All but one member of the California Assembly Judiciary Committee voted to advance the bill, AB 2408, with Republican Assemblymember Kevin Kiley, who is running for Congress, abstaining. (Klar, 5/3)

KHN: Even When IVF Is Covered By Insurance, High Bills And Hassles Abound

After years of trying to have a baby without success, Brenna Kaminski and her husband, Joshua Pritt, decided to try in vitro fertilization. Only 15 states require insurance to cover fertility treatments, and Florida, where Kaminski and Pritt live, isn’t one of them. Still, the couple’s insurance, from Pritt’s job at an energy company, did – putting them among the fortunate minority of Americans whose insurance plan covers the pricey fertility procedure. Kaminski and Pritt gamed out what their share of the cost would be for one round of IVF: $ 2,700, the out-of-pocket maximum under their policy. (Galewitz, 5/4)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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