Countries should fight public health threats with the same vigor they use to tackle terrorism, WHO warns in a roundup of the top health challenges of the next decade.   Highlights from the list (in no particular order): 

The FDA is approving new drugs faster and with less evidence of their safety and effectiveness, according to a new JAMA study

Physicians’ bias against black Americans meant they received fewer opioid prescriptions than whites in recent years, potentially saving thousands of lives. 

Tramadol was long considered a safer opioid. But as addiction to the painkiller sweeps across poor countries worldwide, its dangers have become abundantly clear.   In Mali, children walk the streets high on the drug. Nigerian officials say addiction there is more pervasive…

What’s thought of as “the opioid crisis” is actually several simultaneous—and sometimes overlapping—epidemics.    A new Rural Sociology study of death certificates found that different drugs caused overdoses in different regions:

Opioids have become synonymous with addiction, overdose and endless tragedy in the US—but in Uganda, low-tech, non-addictive doses of liquid morphine offer an affordable solution for poor people in extreme pain.   Touted as easier to make than a cup of coffee, the powdered…

How did Purdue Pharma sidestep widespread criticism for so long? As suspicions—and lawsuits—mounted around its blockbuster painkiller, OxyContin, the company deployed a massive PR machine to second-guess bad press about opioids. Purdue funded studies, think tanks, and…

In 2009, an estimated 3% of women Afghanistan were addicted to opium or heroin; by 2015, that had climbed to 9.5%, the UN says. And in 2015, 9.2% of children tested positive for at least one drug. Some wives were introduced opium by husbands who gave it to them during…

A gene-based therapy for a rare form of blindness costs $425,000—per eye. How to extend gene-based medications beyond hospitals in wealthy countries? The NIH and the Gates Foundation are investing $200 million in gene-based cures for sickle cell disease…

The US isn’t alone in battling opioid overdoses—but Americans are much more likely to die than people in other hard-hit countries. Opioid overdoses kill nearly 70,000 Americans each year—27 times the number of people per 100,000 who die in Italy, another country that has…