Overdose Risks Higher During Pandemic

A recent article from NPR highlighted new risks for drug users who are struggling to find legitimate drugs during the pandemic. People hoarding supplies and illicit supply drying up due to COVID-19 restrictions have led to an increase in overdoses, with many of them deadly. Why Are People Overdosing More? One of the reasons opioid use has become more dangerous is the halting of the supply. Fewer drugs mean more customers for street dealers. Sometimes, they can’t get it from their “regular guy” and must try somebody new. There are no standard formulations for illicit street drugs—some users overdose due to a different, more potent formulation than they are used to using. Other drug users may end up with a pill that’s laced with fentanyl, a drug that’s 50 to 100 times stronger than Morphine. Most people who seek out opioids on the street can’t tolerate such a high threshold; fentanyl is one of the primary causes of a deadly overdose in America today. Drug Influx Halted, But It’s…

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Is the Opioid Crisis Worse Than We Thought?

New research on the opioid crisis published by Addiction journal shows that the opioid epidemic’s numbers are as much as shows that overdose deaths might be as much as 28% higher than previously reported. A significant number of deaths may have been left out of reporting for several years. Where Are The Unreported Deaths? In Alabama, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and Indiana, the actual final numbers of deaths may have been previously underreported by as much as 50%. Nearly 72% of “unclassified drug overdoses” that occurred between 1999-2016 involved prescription opioids, heroin, or fentanyl. However, due to the victims having other drugs in their systems, they are marked as “unclassified”, even if it’s most likely that the opioids killed that person. For example, a person with Oxycontin and marijuana in their system might have their death left unclassified, even if it’s very unlikely that marijuana killed them. All in all, the number of unclassified deaths during the opioid crisis was estimated at 99,160. These deaths remain unclassified due to swamped coroner’s…

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Despite Addiction Worries, FDA Panel Quietly Approves a Stronger Opioid

An FDA panel gave preliminary approval to a new kind of opioid drug meant to treat severe pain such as the kind people experience during surgery. The drug, sufentanil, which will be marketed under the brand name Dsuvia, is actually five to 10 times stronger than fentanyl. Surprisingly, the drug advisory committee voted 10-3, approving the drug. While this doesn’t set approval in stone, the FDA usually follows the advisory committee’s instruction. While the FDA has been pushing for more restrictions on opioids, there was no mention of fears of addiction or overdose in the discussions. There was one dissenting opinion, however; Raeford E. Brown Jr., MD, who chairs the committee. Dr. Brown doesn’t like the idea of allowing another potent and lethal opioid into the drug market, where fentanyl rules the day when it comes to accidental overdoses. He worries that some doctors won’t pay attention to dosing, which could also be dangerous. With the approval, the pharmaceutical company itself is pretty thrilled to reveal a new product.…

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Pharm Companies Search for Safer Pain Relief Solutions

The addiction epidemic in America is still raging, with a record 72,000 overdose deaths according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control for 2017. The pharmaceutical industry has been slow to respond to the numbers. However, the increased scrutiny has made the industry do a double-take regarding profitability. With lawsuits stemming from nearly every state in the US, profits for opioids seem to be on a steady decline. And with the decrease in prescribing, doctors have worried that legitimate chronic pain patients will be left without treatment. New research is now in progress to find new pain drugs that prevent chronically ill people from being neglected or left behind due to opioid unavailability. Multiple research groups have been tasked with the creation of less dangerous and less addictive opioid development. While they also are focusing on changing the opioids to make them less harmful, they are also looking at opioid alternatives. This is important to note because historically, Big Pharma has downplayed the addictive nature of opioids, and…

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South Carolina Announces Emergency Response Plan for Opioids

Last Wednesday, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster announced that he had created a state emergency response plan to tackle the chronic and ongoing opioid epidemic. The plan was created with the input of more than 24 organizations and outlines strategies to support state and local efforts. In December 2017, Gov. McMaster first began formulating a plan to combat opioids by issuing a public health emergency. The governor's emergency declaration brought together state officials, private partners, and law enforcement to utilize the emergency management infrastructure to combat the growing epidemic or opioid deaths, addiction, and abuse. The new plan calls for better record-keeping in the medical community and addiction-related opioid training. Physicians will be expected to have opioid-informed conversations with their patients and understanding other pain treatment options. This should help raise awareness of the dangers of opioid use, and help physicians prevent and respond to opioid use disorder. The plan also involves adding treatment and recovery options, increasing resources to combat illicit opioid supply chains, and other actions that…

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FDA Says Kratom is Not Safe

FDA Says Kratom is Not Safe
A kratom leaf c/o YayImage.com

The FDA recently issued a warning that Kratom isn’t a safe way to withdraw from Oxycontin or other opioids -- or use for pain management. The plant that has been consumed for thousands of years by indigenous people, has made its way to America via the internet, marketed as a cure for opioid addiction, pain, and over a dozen other maladies that have normally been treated with pharmaceutical medication. One of the most storied uses of Kratom, however, is that it was once used as a “substitute” in East Asian countries during the opium epidemic. Users of the drug don’t believe that Kratom is not safe and tout the benefits of daily usage. Sure, some people use it heavily and experience withdrawal, they will admit, but this is no worse than caffeine withdrawal. Last year, the Drug Enforcement Administration tried to temporarily place the main psychoactive component found in Kratom into the schedule I category of the Controlled Substances Act, only to get a large amount of pushback from chronic…

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