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BALTIMORE (AP) - Maryland's health department says fatal drug overdoses are down for the first three months of the year, compared to the same time last year.

In preliminary data released Tuesday, the department says there were 577 total unintentional intoxication deaths. That's a 15 percent decrease, compared to the first three months of last year. Of the total, 89 percent were opioid-related deaths, primarily attributable to fentanyl.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - The state House has given final approval to a bill requiring drug manufacturers who sell opioid painkillers in Delaware to pay a new tax to help support substance abuse prevention and treatment.

The bill cleared the House on a 33-to-8 vote Thursday and now goes to Democratic Gov. John Carney.

The legislation imposes a per-pill tax on prescription opioids ranging from a few cents to a dollar or more, based on their strength and whether they are brand-name or generic.

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CHESTERFIELD, Va. (AP) - A Virginia county is one of 15 localities around the country chosen to participate in a national program to expand medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder in jails.

Chesterfield County will receive scholarships for five staff members to attend training programs. Experts will work with jail officials to create treatment guidelines, manage medication administration and educate jail staff about addiction.

Chesterfield also will develop a plan with local health officials to ensure people can access treatment after they're released.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - The state Senate is set to vote on legislation imposing a new tax on drug manufacturers who sell opioid painkillers in Delaware.

The bill to be voted on Tuesday is similar to a measure that was introduced last year but failed to get a floor vote.

The legislation imposes a per-pill tax on prescription opioids ranging from a few cents to a dollar or more, based on their strength and whether they are brand-name or generic.

The tax would be used to create a fund for drug treatment programs and research.

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NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - Nearly three dozen Virginia health professionals have lost their medical licenses - the state's harshest penalty - due to opioid abuse or irresponsible prescribing over the last two decades.

The Virginian-Pilot reports that a review of documents related to the 80 license revocations between 1998 and 2018 found that at least 34, or about 42%, involved opioids. About half of the 46 revocations in the past decade fell into that category. Some coincided with other issues like sexual misconduct or financial fraud.

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ROANOKE, Va. (AP) - Five cities and counties in southwest Virginia have filed lawsuits against drugmakers seeking compensation for the public-health fallout from the opioid-addiction crisis.

The cities of Bristol, Roanoke, and Salem, along with Roanoke and Alleghany counties, are the most recent Virginia localities to file suit. Nearly 2,000 local governments across the country have filed similar lawsuits.

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Governor John Carney stopped by the White House yesterday along with other state governors.

And they talked with the president about revitalizing low-income communities and dealing with the drug epidemic.

The Delaware Democrat was there while attending the National Governors Association Winter meeting.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that there are over 87-hundred Opportunities Zones in the country with 25 in Delaware.

Many of those are near Wilmington.

Meanwhile, the governors also discussed methods to combat the opioid crisis.

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BALTIMORE (AP) - Maryland lawmakers will consider once again a proposal to create safe drug consumption sites for opioid users, something no other U.S. state has.

The Daily Record of Baltimore reports the pilot program would authorize safe injection sites where people could use opioids near trained staffers who help if there's an overdose.

There were 1,648 opioid-related deaths in Maryland through the first nine months of 2018, an increase of nearly 10 percent from 2017.

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OXON HILL, Md. (AP) - Melania Trump, addressing an anti-drug conference, says "recovery is possible."

The first lady traveled to Maryland on Thursday to address the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America's annual youth leadership forum. Her signature "Be Best" campaign focuses on a number of issues, including the opioid crisis.

Mrs. Trump spoke about a former opioid and substance abuse addict who joined her for Tuesday's State of the Union address.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Opioid-related deaths in Virginia are set to fall slightly this year compared to the year before.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the Virginia Medical Examiner's Office predicts there will be 1,175 deaths due to opioid overdoses this year.

That's down from 1,230 in 2017, and but higher than any other year.

Deaths due to cocaine have increased since 2012 and are on pace to hit 445. Methamphetamine deaths are projected at 106 in 2018, up from only four in 2012.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Gov. Larry Hogan has named former Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh to be director of Maryland's Opioid Operational Command Center.

Hogan announced the appointment on Wednesday.

Schuh will replace Clay Stamp, who is returning to Talbot County as assistant county manager and emergency services director.

Anne Arundel County launched the Safe Stations program under Schuh. The program designates county and city police stations as safe environments for people looking for assistance to fight heroin and opioid addiction.

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CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (AP) - Another Virginia county is suing opioid industry giants it says have contributed to the devastating opioid epidemic.

The Roanoke Times obtained a copy of Montgomery County's lawsuit against three dozen named defendants and 100 anonymous defendants that's being filed in circuit court.

The county is seeking $100 million, in addition to $350,000 from each of the defendants and a possible tripling of damages.

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MILFORD, Del. (AP) - A Delaware doctor has had his medical license and controlled substance privileges suspended for failing to safely prescribe opioids.

News outlets report state documents say Ifeanyi Udezulu also ignored red flags like anonymous calls about his patients selling his prescriptions and the results of drug screens.

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A lawsuit has been brought against Big Pharma brought by around 30 Attorneys General.

In the First State a suit brought by state Attorney General Matt Denn will be decided by a Delaware Judge.

Many packed themselves into a Wilmington Courtroom yesterday for the oral arguments against the drug makers.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - State officials say Delaware is on pace to surpass 400 drug overdose deaths in 2018, after it had 345 last year.

The Delaware State News and other outlets report the statistics are from the state Department of Health and Social Services. More than 1,000 individuals have fatally overdosed in Delaware since the start of 2015 and the numbers show the opioid crisis still lingers, although the state has made progress in fighting addiction.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has asked a group of experts to advise him on how to fight the state's opioid epidemic.

Northam signed an executive order Friday establishing an advisory commission on opioids and addiction.

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.

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Wicomico County officials met last night for their fifth Take Back Our Community event.

And Sheriff Mike Lewis told WBOC that with opioid deaths up by 27 percent over the last year the problem is not going away.

Opioid overdoses this year for Wicomico County are up to 82 with 16 deaths.

But officials expressed disappointment that not many in the community showed up for the meeting.

Lewis told the television station that he believes the community has become desensitized to the problem.

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There’s a new report out from Delaware officials that calls for major action against the opioid epidemic.

The 14 month review recommended that the state First State establish three centers to treat patients with addiction.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that the current efforts to deal with addiction are characterized as fragmented, difficult and short-term.

What are called “Centers of Excellence” are expected to be fully launched this fall across the state.

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Delaware’s effort to get a handle on drug overdose deaths has not been moving forward very quickly.

The state made a commitment to examine the problem in 2016 but so far the Drug Overdose Fatality Review Commission has only looked at 10 overdose cases.

And, the process began only in December.

Dr. Terry Horton, chair of the commission, told the Wilmington News Journal that developing the method for assessing the drug epidemic has involved changing the law to allow the issuance of subpoenas for specific records.

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Wicomico County could get a new treatment center to help those facing opioid and heroin abuse.

There is a proposal for a new facility that would also help with long term employment once treatment has been completed.

WBOC reports that Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver says he would re-purpose an existing pre-release correctional facility off Nanticoke Road.

Culver told the television station that part of the problem for those facing drug addiction is long term employment once they kick the addiction.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Officials in Delaware say suspected drug overdoses have recently claimed the lives of seven people in the state.

The News Journal in Wilmington reported Tuesday that the deaths occurred over the weekend.

Wendy Hudson, a spokeswoman for the Division of Forensic Science, said pending toxicology reports will confirm whether the deaths were drug-related.

Like the rest of the country, Delaware is in the midst of an opioid epidemic. Officials said 87 people have died so far in 2018 from suspected drug overdoses.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Officials in Delaware say opioid prescriptions have dropped "significantly" since regulations were enacted a year ago to combat the drug scourge.

Delaware's Department of State said in a press release Thursday that 14 percent fewer opioid prescriptions were written in the first quarter of 2018 compared to the first quarter of 2017. There also was an 18 percent decline in the quantity of opioids dispensed.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The top prosecutor in Anne Arundel, Maryland, is reviewing how his office handles homicide charges in fatal overdoses cases after the state's second-highest court overturned one last week.

The Capital Gazette reports the ruling by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals may make it harder for prosecutors to prove dealers responsible for overdose deaths. The court ruled on April 4 that prosecutors failed to prove a man was grossly negligent in selling heroin to someone who fatally overdosed.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Delaware emergency rooms saw a total of 2,075 suspected overdose-related visits from July 2016 to September 2017.

The News Journal reports data from the Centers for Disease Control released Tuesday marks a 105 percent increase in suspected opioid overdoses, the second-highest percent change among the 16 states that participated in the enhanced data surveillance.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Insurance company Highmark will start to limit the number of opioids new patients can be prescribed.

The News Journal of Wilmington reports the restrictions will start March 8. The company's Thursday announcement says people in need of opioids due to an acute accident or procedure will only get a seven-day supply. Those in need of long-term pain management, such as cancer patients, will not be affected by the restriction.

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Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn wants the First State to spend more on drug treatment.

During testimony before a legislative panel Denn told lawmakers that prison was not the answer to those addicted to heroin or other drugs.

The state Attorney General calls the opioid epidemic a public health issue.

Denn said he is asking for lawmakers carve out $4 million for increase the construction of private treatment facilities.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that currently there are 137 residential treatment beds in the state.

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Salisbury University is creating a new unit called the College of Health and Human Services.

It is meant to streamline and create more collaboration for its health programs.

Interim University Provost Karen Olmstead says, “It’s no surprise that health and social service programs are growing for the wellbeing of our citizens of our region, of our state, of our nation. And of course to our economy.”

It is combines the schools of Health Science, Nursing and Social Work.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Delaware is suing drug manufacturers, distributors and drugstores over the opioid crisis.

The Wilmington News Journal reported Friday that the state's lawsuit blames manufacturing companies for misleading doctors and consumers. The suit claims the companies said the drugs were not powerfully addictive or dangerous.

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As the opioid addiction rate has risen in recent years local governments have struggled with how to deal with the developing crisis. Delmarva Public Radio's Tyler Simpson takes a look at one addict who struggled to get clean and the officials who faced this unexpected phenomenon.

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BALTIMORE (AP) - As the number of deaths from opioid overdoses continues to climb, some prosecutors in Maryland are bringing charges of manslaughter and even murder against drug dealers who are supplying users with fatal doses.

The Baltimore Sun reports that prosecutors in seven Maryland counties have brought serious charges in overdose cases. The newspaper found that at least 21 people have been charged with manslaughter in overdose cases since 2014.