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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.

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Those seeking treatment for heroin and opioid addiction may have a difficult time find it in Delaware.

That’s was the upshot of a forum at a high school yesterday where state Attorney General Matt Denn said there aren’t enough facilities to meet demand.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that he noted there are around 200 beds available for around 11-thousand people who need care.

There has been an increase in medication-assisted treatment.

But for that to work there is a need for a stable environment.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware officials are crediting new regulations enacted earlier this year for a drop in the number of prescriptions being written for dangerously addictive opioid pain medicines.

The new regulations, which took effect April 1, were designed to help prescribers more closely monitor and control the use of opioids by their patients.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Annapolis police say a six-month investigation has resulted in indictments against 22 people accused of distributing heroin and other opioids.

Police announced Friday that they had nine of the suspects in custody and were searching for others. An Anne Arundel County grand jury handed down indictments in September.

Police spokeswoman Cpl. Amy Miguez said the investigation involved 54 "controlled" drug buys by undercover officers in the city and surrounding areas.

Police said they also seized 10 vehicles used to deliver drugs.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware appears to be on track to recording fewer drug overdose deaths in 2017.
But state health officials warned Wednesday that it's too early to predict any trends. Division of Public Health spokeswoman Emily Knearl said a "very serious drug epidemic" persists.
Officials said there have been 180 suspected drug overdose deaths as of Wednesday morning. In 2016, 308 people died from overdoses.
Knearl said the numbers can change quickly. Four people died between Friday and Wednesday. Concerns only grow during the holiday season.

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BROOKLYN, Md. (AP) - Officials in Maryland say more than 200 people have shown up at fire and police stations in Anne Arundel County seeking treatment for drug addiction since the county began its "Safe Stations" program six months ago.
The Baltimore Sun reports that about 60 percent of those seeking help entered 28-day inpatient treatment programs in the county.

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) - Local and international experts will gather at the University of Virginia to share ideas on how to tackle the opioid epidemic.

The conference on Tuesday will focus on solutions developed by community members and health care professionals.

The event will feature speakers from UVA, Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Saskatchewan, Big River First Nation community, the Virginia Department of Health and others.

The conference is free and the public is invited to attend and participate.

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BALTIMORE (AP) - Hospitals in Maryland have started trying to reduce the number of highly addictive opioid drugs that are prescribed.

The Baltimore Sun reported Friday that Anne Arundel Health System hopes to cut such prescriptions in half by 2019. 

Anne Arundel joins hospitals across the region and state that are trying to fight against the nation's deadly opioid epidemic.

Health systems officials recently conducted a review of opioid prescriptions among its doctors. It found wide disparities in how much was prescribed, even for the same health condition.

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Del. (AP) - A Delaware county's officials are launching a new effort to ensure that first responders can meet the challenge of preventing fatal drug overdoses.

New Castle County officials were to gather with public safety officials, volunteer firefighters, addiction treatment advocates and others to announce a collaborative effort to equip New Castle County firefighters with an antidote that can save drug users from fatal opioid overdoses.

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) - Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is scheduled to announce some policy proposals to fight the heroin and opioid crisis in the state.

Herring will outline new programs and initiatives on Monday at the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Virginia Beach.

His office says the proposals will be incorporated into a multifaceted approach that includes enforcement, education and prevention.

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Overdose deaths from opioids have not skipped the Virginia Eastern Shore.

Thirty people have died from drug overdoses between 2012 and 2016 according to the Eastern Shore Health District.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that the youngest was in their upper 20’s while the oldest was in their 60’s.

The paper reports that most were in their 40’s and 50’s.

And there have been law enforcement efforts to crackdown on the illegal drug trade.

An undercover narcotic effort called Operation Firecracker has carried out by the Eastern Shore Drug Task Force.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Attorney General Matt Denn is pointing out a path forward in Delaware's battle to control its opioid abuse epidemic.

Denn has scheduled a news conference Wednesday to release the results of a comprehensive substance abuse treatment needs assessment that was commissioned by the state Department of Justice.

Officials also will release the DOJ's eight-point plan for what the state needs to do over the next several months in addressing the opioid epidemic.

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OCEAN CITY, Md. (AP) - Gov. Larry Hogan has signed an executive order to create a new statewide development plan.

Hogan made the announcement Saturday in a speech to the Maryland Association of Counties.

The Republican governor says he has repeatedly heard from local officials who have asked for changes to PlanMaryland, which was put in place by Hogan's predecessor, Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat.

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GEORGETOWN, Del. (AP) - Gov. John Carney is signing legislation forming a new state panel to help tackle Delaware's opioid addiction problem.

The legislation being signed Wednesday, which passed the House and Senate unanimously earlier this year, creates the Addiction Action Committee.

The 17-member committee is charged with developing and monitoring a coordinated and comprehensive approach to Delaware's addiction problem, including prevention and treatment. Its first report is due June 1, 2018.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware Gov. John Carney is expected to sign a bill intended to make it easier for people to access a potentially life-saving antidote for opioid overdoses.

The governor is hosting a ceremonial bill signing for the measure Thursday at a CVS pharmacy in Dover.

The Department of Health and Social Services said in a statement that the bill will expand community access to naloxone by ensuring pharmacists may dispense it responsibly without legal liability.

Naloxone, commonly known as Narcan, is used to reverse drug overdoses.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is set to head to Rhode Island for meetings with other governors on healthcare, cyber security and other issues.

McAuliffe is attending the National Governors Association summer meeting in Providence, which runs from Thursday to Saturday.

As chairman of the NGA, McAuliffe will introduce Vice President Mike Pence and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau before they speak to the group.