Deaths from accidental overdoses of prescription drugs now exceed the combined deaths from crack in the ’80s and heroin in the ’70s, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports. In response, the Obama administration announced an initiative aimed at stemming prescription drug abuse.
The rate of overdose-related deaths among Kentucky men has more than doubled from 2000 to 20009, and for women, it’s tripled, the newspaper reports. In Florida, there are seven overdose deaths a day.
Florida is the source of many of these drugs, as “pill mills” operate openly. People from around the country drive to Florida where it is easy and quick to pick up a prescription of pain pills. In Broward County, Florida, more than a million pain pills are dispensed every month.
The Obama Administration is asking every state to develop a program that monitors drug prescriptions so that “pill mills” can be quickly identified. Thirty-five states have such systems, but Florida does not. Until last week, new Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a former hospital executive, objected to state oversight.
The New York Times has a story today about the ill effects of Oxycontin, a strong painkiller, in Southeast Ohio.
• Rural health care providers in Mississippi, speaking to a Boston Globe reporter, say the new health care law will help their poor clients. But Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour wants to throw the reform out. The paper reports:
“It makes no sense at all. It is penny-wise, pound-foolish,’’ said Dr. Nate Brown, medical director of the Delta Health Center in Mound Bayou, a clinic for the poor and disadvantaged founded in the 1960s with backing from Tufts Medical School. Barbour, he said, appears to be out of touch with low-income people.
“They are not the people he rubs shoulders with on a daily basis, and they might not be people who voted for him,’’ said Brown. “But as governor he still is supposed to represent the entire population.’’
Barbour responds: “There’s nobody in Mississippi who does not have access to health care. One of the great problems in the conversation is the misimpression that if you don’t have insurance, you don’t get health care.’’
• Who says legislatures can’t take on important issues? Arizona lawmakers have passed a bill making the Colt single action Army revolver as the state’s official firearm.
• The Los Angeles Times finds that environmentalists face an “uphill battle on Gulf Coast.”
Shrimpers are still ticked an environmentalists who have fought with the fishing industry about fitting nets with devices that help exclude sea turtles. “We haven’t joined ranks with them,” shrimper George Barisich said of the major environmental groups. “It was so funny. They reached out to me, and I said, ‘Do you know who I am? Do you know what you’ve done to me for the last 20 years?’ “
And workers on the Gulf objected to the Obama administration’s moratorium on deep water drilling after the BP spill. The Times reports:
In Louisiana, the state hardest hit by the spill, the most polarizing environmental issue was the deep-water drilling moratorium issued by the Obama administration to assess industry safety and draw up new rules. The moratorium was supported by the Natural Resources Defense Council and other leading environmental groups but opposed by many Louisiana residents and state leaders.
• The New Orleans Times-Picayune reminds us that 11 men, oil rig workers, died when the Deepwater Horizon offshore rig caught fire one year ago.
• The Interior Department has given final approval for the nation’s first offshore wind farm.
• AgriPulse reports that the federal government has approved plans for 130 wind turbine generators in the Cape Wind project, which would be in Nantucket Sound, off Cape Code, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island. The turbines would produce 468 megawatts of power and will cost $2.6 billion.
Environmental groups, Indian tribes and residents of these resort communities objected to the project.