Dec. 20, 2019
Best of the Week — First Winner
How tramadol, touted as the safer opioid, became a 3rd world peril
It was supposed to be the safer opioid, a way to fight pain with little risk of addiction. That promise has meant much less regulation of tramadol than other opioids. And its relatively low cost has made tramadol the drug of choice in many developing countries, becoming what the United Nations calls “the other opioid crisis.”
National writer Claire Galofaro spent months researching the issue – but how to illustrate the story from a fresh perspective?
Galofaro turned to New Delhi-based correspondent Emily Schmall, who traveled to India’s Punjab state, where she talked to people struggling with addiction, visited a treatment center and gained unprecedented access to officials trying to stem the crisis.
The deeply reported story, one of the top-read pieces on AP News, also delved into tramadol’s heavy toll in Africa, and its trafficking among terrorist groups.
For their work exposing an aspect of the international opioid crisis that has received far less attention, Galofaro and Schmall win AP’s Best of the Week award.