The Associated Press: Gov’t Urged To Invoke Authority To Boost OD Antidote Access By overriding patents for naloxone treatments including Kaleo Inc.’s injectable Evzio and Adapt Pharma Inc.’s Narcan nasal spray, the government could lower the cost and increase availability of the antidote, Baltimore’s health department and Public Citizen said in a letter to the White House on Thursday. “They can choose to lower prices and make these products available, accessible, and save lives,” Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, said at a press conference in Washington on Thursday. “Or they can choose not to offend Big Pharma, and let people die for no reason at all except their political consideration for the pharmaceutical industry.” (Yasiejko and Edney, 5/3) The Trump administration should invoke government authority to slash prices of a life-saving overdose drug or provide funding to expand access amid the coast-to-coast opioid epidemic, Baltimore’s health department and a national advocacy group said Thursday. America is in the throes of its worst-ever drug crisis, yet the generic medication available in other countries by the pennies remains pricey enough in the U.S. that Baltimore’s health agency is rationing its naloxone supplies. Other hard-hit U.S. municipalities are also feeling the squeeze as rising overdose rates are fueled by synthetic opioids. (McFadden, 5/3) Several federal agencies have recommended increasing access to naloxone, especially for prescription-opioid users, and the high prices have prompted scrutiny from congressional lawmakers. Meanwhile, the pricing has strained municipal government budgets because first responders increasingly rely on the product in the wake of the growing number of opioid overdoses around the country. (Silverman, 5/3) Mayor Bill de Blasio is championing a plan that would make New York City a pioneer in creating supervised injection sites for illegal drug users, part of a novel but contentious strategy to combat the epidemic of fatal overdoses caused by the use of heroin and other opioids. Safe injection sites have been considered successful in cities in Canada and Europe, but do not yet exist in the United States. Leaders in San Francisco, Philadelphia and Seattle have declared their intention to create supervised sites, although none have yet done so because of daunting obstacles. Among them: The sites would seem to violate federal law. (Neuman, 5/3) Stat: Baltimore Officials Urge White House To Sidestep Patents On Opioid Overdose Antidotes In their latest effort to stem the opioid epidemic, Massachusetts lawmakers took a step Thursday toward establishing mandatory three-day substance use therapy for those in peril and requiring hospitals to stock buprenorphine or other medication to counter street drugs like heroin and fentanyl. (Metzger, 5/4) State House News Service: Opioid-Control Bill That Includes Mandatory 3-Day Therapy Advances In Legislature Ricciuti is one of thousands of Virginia Medicaid members who was able to find a provider thanks to the state’s Addiction and Recovery Treatment Services, or ARTS, program. Launched in April 2017, ARTS increased the rates paid for a host of substance abuse treatments for the first time in a decade. (O’Connor, 5/3) The Wall Street Journal: New York City Mayor Supports Supervised Drug-Use Facilities The New York Times: De Blasio Moves To Bring Safe Injection Sites To New York City WBUR: Committee OKs Baker’s Opioid Bill That Allows 3-Day Hold And Treatment In ER Bloomberg: How Can U.S. Fight The Opioid Crisis? Try Antidote Patents Politico Pro: Texas Pushes Sober Recovery Homes To Embrace Opioid Treatment Richmond Times-Dispatch: Medicaid Program Expands Access For Addiction Treatment, But The Death Toll Continues To Rise Overdose fatalities in New York City have more than doubled since 2000, with a record-high 1,441 people dying last year, according to a city report released Thursday. Proponents say safe-injection facilities will save lives and prevent the spread of disease, while critics say the sites would condone illegal activity and enable addiction. On Thursday, Mr. de Blasio said he would support a one-year pilot program in four city neighborhoods: Gowanus in Brooklyn and Longwood in the Bronx and Midtown West and Washington Heights, both in Manhattan. (King, 5/3) This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. To expand housing for patients recovering from opioid addiction, Texas made a big bet on Oxford House, a 40-year-old organization known for its sobriety programming. Now, in the face of the opioid crisis, the state is pushing Oxford House to fully embrace something it’s long opposed: medication-assisted treatment. (Rayasam, 5/3) And in other news on the crisis — The Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery approved a measure that keeps some of the governor’s original proposals, including one that would allow doctors to hold patients for up to three days if their addiction is deemed dangerous. (Becker, 5/3) Administration Urged To Use Workaround To Slash Cost Of Pricey Anti-Overdose Drug Baltimore’s health department and a national advocacy group wrote to the Trump administration asking officials to take action. Meanwhile, Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to make New York City a pioneer in creating supervised safe injection sites.