Trending News Today: Illinois Lawmakers Push for Medical Marijuana as Opioid Alternative

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape

Officials with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are shutting down a study evaluating the health benefits of alcohol due to ethical problems with how the research was planned and funded, the Associated Press reported. According to the article, an NIH investigation revealed that a small number of its employees had close contact with officials in the alcohol industry in interactions that “appear to intentionally bias” the study. The research was supposed to track 7800 individuals who were assigned to take either a drink per day or totally abstain for several years.

Lawmakers in Illinois passed a bill allowing anyone with a prescription for opioids to be eligible for its medical cannabis program, NPR reported. According to the article, the Alternatives to Opioids Act would allow millions of patients to apply for temporary access to the state’s existing medical cannabis pilot program. Officials hope the measure will reduce the number of opioids prescribed to new patients and help others taper off, the article reported. The bill is now awaiting Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s signature.

A county in Ohio hit hard by the opioid epidemic has seen a decline in its overdose death toll since increasing naloxone availability and improving the response to requests for addiction treatment, the Associated Press reported. According to the article, public health officials increased distribution of Narcan nasal spray by 375% over the 7-month period. Medic runs for overdoses have dropped by 33% in the past 6 months compared with the previous 6, and overdose visits to the emergency room dropped 36% in that same period, the article reported.