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West Virginia

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When I set out to produce my fellowship series on prescription drug abuse in West Virginia, I already knew some grim statistics. Residents here are more likely than those of any other state to die of a prescription overdose. Because of high rates of chronic disease and occupational injuries, people in West Virginia also fill more prescriptions per capita than anywhere else.

Picture of Alison Knezevich

Administrators of a hot line that helps West Virginians find treatment for prescription drug abuse are worried the program will be forced to close. The Mountain State has the nation's highest rate of fatal drug overdoses, and most of those deaths involve prescription drugs. But officials with the West Virginia Prescription Drug Abuse Quitline say state leaders have not shown concern for their funding problems. The hot line launched in September 2008 with the help of $1 million from a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, maker of the painkiller OxyContin. That money will run out next year, said Laura Lander, the program's clinical supervisor.

 

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Some lawmakers say they're disappointed that Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin slashed funding to fight substance abuse and to improve end-of-life health care.

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The head of the House of Delegates health committee is calling on Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin to increase funding to fight drug and alcohol abuse.

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On a tie vote, state senators on Thursday rejected a proposal to require a prescription for cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine.

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Six areas with highest smoking rates also have highest hospitalizations. It is a sidebar to the third part of her series on health disparities in Salt Lake City.

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The nation's drug-policy chief says West Virginia can fight its prescription drug abuse epidemic by combining good police work with a focus on the prevention and treatment of substance abuse.

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More West Virginia children would qualify for free or low-cost health insurance under a proposal by Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin.

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Making smokers pay $1 more per pack for cigarettes would help West Virginia save lives, rein in medical costs and could raise revenue for substance-abuse services, public health advocates told lawmakers Wednesday.

UPDATE: The state Legislature did not pass the bill this year.

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West Virginia lawmakers want Florida's governor to reconsider his plan to drop a prescription monitoring program they say would cut down on pill trafficking.  

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