President Trump last October declared the opioid crisis a National Public Health Emergency, and Congress has held scores of hearings to examine how to stem the tide of deaths and illnesses. 

Policymakers have also prioritized funding to combat issues related to the problem, notably to make the opioid overdose antidote naloxone (more commonly known by one of its brand names, Narcan) more readily available.

If there is a silver lining to any of this, it is that new ideas on how to tackle the problem are flourishing from the private sector, academia, and beyond Washington, D.C., in statehouses and localities, and down to the facility level as well.

Another slice of positivity came in April when the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science said prescriptions for opioids dropped 12 percent in 2017, the largest such decline in 25 years.

Still, the high rates of addiction and deaths tied to opioids continue, and questions grow on how best to coordinate a response, be it through new crackdowns on legal and illegal drugs, new reimbursement models to aid clinicians and providers in caring for the afflicted, or alternative pain treatments.