Monday October 21, 2019

Children of Opioid Users have High Risk of Attempting Suicide: Study

Another study found that among girls age 10 to 14 the suicide rate rose by 12.7% per year after 2007

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Family and friends who have lost loved ones to OxyContin and opioid overdoses leave pill bottles in protest outside the headquarters of Purdue Pharma, which is owned by the Sackler family, in Stamford, Conn., Aug. 17, 2018. VOA

The U.S. opioid crisis is taking a toll on children of users as a study published on Wednesday showed they were more likely to attempt suicide.

The study in JAMA Psychiatry published by the American Medical Association found children whose parents were prescribed opioids were twice as likely to attempt suicide as the offspring of people who did not use those drugs.

The latest study from researchers at the University of Chicago and the University of Pittsburgh is the first research attempting to tie rising suicides among U.S. children to the opioid crisis.

“I think that it’s obvious in many ways; it’s just that we were able to put it together and prove it,” said Dr. David Brent, one of the authors of the study.

Brent, of the University of Pittsburgh, said he believes some opioid users might display less care, monitoring and affection for their children, which would explain the higher suicide rate in those kids.

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Laura Levine prepares to dispense drugs at Vocal NY, an organization that works with addicts, where she is the health educator and coordinator for the opioid reversal drug Narcan, in the Brooklyn borough of New York, March 15, 2019. VOA

Suicide increased across all ages in the United States between 1999 and 2016, spiking by over 30% in half the country, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last year.

Another study found that among girls age 10 to 14 the suicide rate rose by 12.7% per year after 2007. In the latest study, researchers used medical insurance data from 2010 to 2016 for more than 300,000 children ages 10 to 19, and broke that group down into those whose parents were prescribed opioid drugs and those whose parents were not.

Among the children of parents who used opioids, 0.37% attempted suicide, compared to 0.14 % of the children of non-users, according to the study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

The parents were all legally prescribed opioids that they used for at least a year. The study did not identify which of those users may have been abusing painkillers, as opposed to using them in line with doctor recommendations.

Challenges for children of drug users

Children of opioid users still had a significantly higher risk of attempting suicide after researchers adjusted for factors such as depression and parental history of suicide.

Some researchers have suggested social media could harm children’s self esteem and increase their suicide risk. But Brent and his co-authors noted social media is prevalent in countries that have not seen a rise in child suicide.

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The U.S. opioid crisis is taking a toll on children of users as a study published on Wednesday showed they were more likely to attempt suicide. Pixabay

U.S. President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency in October 2017 and has promised to hold drugmakers accountable for their part in the crisis.

Nearly 400,000 people died of overdoses between 1999 and 2017 in the United States, resulting in the lowering of overall life expectancy for the first in more than 60 years, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

ALSO READ: UK Study: E-Cigarettes help Smokers Quit as Much as Stop-Smoking Aids

Eric Rice, an associate professor at the University of Southern California’s school of social work, said other research has found children of drug users face challenges.

“A doubling in the suicide rate is a pretty shocking manifestation of that, I’ve got to be honest,” Rice said. “But to hear that there are impacts on children which are negative is not a surprising thing,” said Rice, who was not involved with the study. (VOA)

Next Story

Opioid Settlement Talks Broaden ahead of First Federal Trial over Crisis

It would include $22 billion in cash over time plus up to $15 billion worth of overdose antidotes and treatment drugs, with distribution

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In this Sept. 11, 2019, photo, narcotics detective Paul Laurella retrieves unused medications from the police department's disposal box in Barberton, Ohio. Jury selection is set to begin Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. VOA

Efforts to settle thousands of lawsuits related to the nation’s opioid epidemic intensified Wednesday ahead of the scheduled start of arguments in the first federal trial over the crisis.

A person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press that three major drug distributors plus two manufacturers were working on the outlines of a settlement.

It would include $22 billion in cash over time plus up to $15 billion worth of overdose antidotes and treatment drugs, with distribution of those drugs valued at another $14 billion – a calculation of how much a distributor could charge for them.

Under the proposal, the distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson would pay a total of $18 billion over 18 years. Johnson & Johnson would pay $4 billion over time. Drugmaker Teva would contribute the drugs, but not cash.

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In this Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019, file photo, narcotics detective Ben Hill, with the Barberton Police Department, shows two bags of medications that are are stored in their headquarters and slated for destruction in Barberton, Ohio. VOA

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the talks were ongoing and said the details of the deal could change.

A $50 billion framework was first reported Wednesday by The New York Times. Samantha Fisher, a spokeswoman for the Tennessee attorney general’s office, confirmed to the AP that that report “appears to be correct on the details of the tentative settlement framework.”

It’s not clear whether states and local governments will accept the deal.

“We await the fine print of the settlement framework so that we can work alongside the 2,600 communities we represent to determine the best path forward,” the lead lawyers for local governments said in a statement Wednesday. “Our priority when assessing settlement proposals is to ensure they will provide urgently-needed relief in the near term and that these resources will be directed exclusively toward efforts to abate the opioid epidemic.”

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The lawyers said the aim is “to secure funds that will aid law enforcement officers, medical professionals, and treatment facility staff around the country for the decades-long recovery process ahead.”

Drug companies and other state attorneys general who are leading the talks either did not return messages or comment.

The talks are picking up as a jury is being selected in Cleveland for a trial on claims against some companies in the drug industry being brought by the Ohio counties of Cuyahoga and Summit. They claim the companies engaged in a conspiracy that has damaged their communities should be held accountable.

Jury selection began Wednesday and could wrap up Thursday, with opening arguments scheduled Monday.

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A person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press that three major drug distributors plus two manufacturers were working on the outlines of a settlement. Pixabay

Johnson & Johnson has already settled with the two counties. If the other companies settle, too, it would leave only the pharmacy chain Walgreens – in its role as a distributor to its own stores – and the smaller distributor Henry Schein as defendants. It’s not clear whether the trial would go on in that case.

The defendants in the Cleveland trial include Actavis and Cephalon, drug companies now owned by Teva.e

All the companies say they complied with the law and supplied only drugs that doctors prescribed.

While the case concerns only claims for the two counties, it is a bellwether intended to show how legal issues might be resolved in more than 2,000 other lawsuits over the opioid crisis.

Also Read- Experts Emphasize the Need to Work with Nature to Save Asia’s ‘Disappearing Deltas’

In court Wednesday, lawyers for the defendants argued that the trial should be postponed in case potential jurors saw any of the coverage and would be tainted when learning of the massive amount of money possibly being discussed.

U.S. District Court Judge Dan Polster said he didn’t believe many of the potential jurors would have been exposed to the stories but that he would question them to determine whether they were aware of the coverage.

A delay, he said, could push the trial into next year.

The other major question was how to select a dozen jurors for a trial over opioids in a region hit particularly hard by addictions and overdoses.

Questionnaires were sent to potential jurors in nine northeast Ohio counties, including Cuyahoga, which along with neighboring Summit County was chosen as the first plaintiff in a trial in what could become the most complicated class action lawsuit in U.S. history. Cuyahoga County is home to Cleveland, and Summit to the city of Akron.

The questionnaire asked potential jurors to answer questions about their and immediate family members’ experiences with prescription painkillers and the crisis itself.

They were asked to check off whether they had ever used 11 different prescription opioids. Had they or family members ever used heroin or illicit fentanyl? Have they ever been prescribed painkillers after surgery? Have they or a family member ever been treated for addiction? Have they ever overdosed?

Those with close connections to the crisis are expected to be excluded from serving on the jury.

Counting prescription drugs and illegal ones such as heroin and illicitly made fentanyl, opioids have been blamed for more than 400,000 deaths in the U.S. since 2000. (VOA)