DEA stops funding major way to help stop drug diversion/abuse!

http://www.pharmaciststeve.com/?p=10313

Across Colorado, law enforcement agencies are filling up storage rooms with unwanted prescription medications.The glut is the legacy of a Drug Enforcement Agency program that was set up to stem prescription abuse back in 2011, when the White House identified proper medication disposal as one of four major ways to reduce the abuse.¬†But many of Colorado‚Äôs law enforcement agencies haven‚Äôt disposed of a single pill since Sept. 27, 2014, when federal money went away…

For those permanent take-back locations, there‚Äôs only one EPA-approved disposal facility, about 35 miles from Denver, in Bennett to get rid of the drugs…

These take-back programs are supposed to be a big deal, including working with state Attorneys General.  Do they help?  No one really knows.  I mean, how many people return Oxy or Xanax?

So far, the organizations that the state has deemed ‚Äúpermanent‚ÄĚ take-back locations have been left to themselves to figure out how to dispose of prescription drugs ‚ÄĒ or whether to get rid of them at all. Depending on who you ask, you get a different answer…

I wonder how they dispose of prescription medications.  Burn them like marijuana?  Dissolve the pills in acid?  Flush them down the toilet?

Opioid Use Linked to Increased HCV

http://www.medpagetoday.com/

The incidence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) jumped nearly fourfold among people 30 or younger over a 7-year period in four central Appalachian states, the CDC is reporting.¬†The rise was paralleled by increasing treatment admissions for opioid dependency with significantly more patients reporting injection drug use, according to an analysis in the May 8 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report…

To help understand the phenomenon, researchers from the CDC and the health departments of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia analyzed surveillance data for acute HCV cases as well as information about drug treatment admissions.¬†All told, the analysis showed, there were some 1,377 cases of acute HCV infection reported to CDC from the four states over the 7-year period, with about 45% ages 30 or younger…

Taken together, the investigators argued, the data suggest “the increase in acute HCV infections in central Appalachia is highly correlated with the region’s epidemic of prescription opioid abuse.”

Perhaps the increase in acute HCV infections is highly correlated to poverty, and a lack of access to affordable and quality health care. ¬†Or maybe drug abuse in this region is tied to the kind of pain these people live in because of the jobs they do, like working in a coal¬†mine. ¬†Could be that the chemicals¬†from certain industries in that region are weakening people’s immune system, creating many more opportunities for infections.

Is the CDC now interested in reporting on correlations? ¬†If so, why is this agency only concerned about correlations that have to do with drugs like opioids? ¬†I don’t understand the purpose of reports like this, unless the CDC is now being staffed by the DEA. ¬†But that’s ridiculous, right?

The investigators of the four-state HCV increase cautioned, however, that the study is ecologic in nature and can’t demonstrate a causal relationship between rising HCV infections and increasing injection drug use…

You know, if the CDC spent as much time reporting on¬†the increase in suicide rates as it does on opioid abuse, maybe we could open up a discussion in this country that would save lives. Instead, the CDC is mainly concentrated on tying every public health problem to opioids — while ignoring everything else.

In January of this year, the CDC was reporting on how some women of reproductive age may be taking opioids, and how opioids can cause birth defects.  The same information was reported by the CDC in 2011:

http://www.medscape.org/viewarticle/738725

“Despite evidence of adverse fetal effects with maternal codeine use and the paucity of data on the effects of maternal use of other opioids, such treatment is often assumed to be safe during pregnancy,” the study authors note…

Really? ¬†Who would assume taking drugs during pregnancy was safe? ¬†My goodness, pregnant women aren’t even supposed to have caffeine. ¬†But if they break a bone or have a root canal, are they just supposed to suffer? ¬†Is acute or chronic pain suffered by the mother supposed to be good for the fetus?

“It’s important to acknowledge that although there is an increased risk for some types of major birth defects from an exposure to opioid analgesics, that absolute risk for any individual woman is relatively modest,” principal investigator Cheryl S. Broussard, PhD, from the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, said in a news release...

The first part of CDC reports always have the effect of screaming fire in a movie theater, but when you read all the way to the end, there’s actually no fire… there’s not even a movie playing.

Pfizer settles lawsuits tying sex and gambling addictions to dopamine meds

http://www.fiercepharma.com/story/pfizer-settles-lawsuits-tying-sex-and-gambling-addictions-dopamine-meds/2015-05-08

Pfizer ($PFE) is settling class-action litigation brought by patients who claimed the drugmaker did not adequately warn them of possible side effects of drugs they were taking to treat their Parkinson’s disease or restless leg syndrome. While this kind of litigation is routine, the side effects were not. Instead patients said the drugs created addictions they didn’t previously have, causing them to gamble away their life savings, or become obsessed with shopping or sex.

The confidential settlement with 172 patients, said to be for millions of dollars, was approved by a judge in federal court in Australia, the Financial Review reports, although payments were delayed until they are assessed by an independent review. Pfizer had agreed to the settlement late last year, ahead of a trial of the cases brought by people who took Pfizer’s Cabaser and Dostinex between 1996 and 2010 to treat tremors associated with Parkinson’s disease or RLS…

The drugs work by providing dopamine agonists that imitate the effects of dopamine in the brain, something Parkinson’s patients lack. A study published last year in JAMA Internal Medicine found that the “psychiatric side effects” of uncontrollable urges were not as rare as first believed. It found the they occurred in at least 10% of patients, but said they probably were underreported because patients were ashamed to talk about what they had done.

The authors of the study said the potential was large enough, greater than suicide risks of antidepressants for example, that the FDA should require a “black box” warning on the labels on dopamine agonists, a class that includes Requip from GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), UCB’s Neupro and Mirapex from Boehringer Ingelheim. The German company was sued by a New York man some years back who said that taking the drug had turned him into a “pathological gambler,” who ruined him as he gambled away $3 million.

According to the Financial Review Eli Lilly and Aspen Pharmacare also settled with 32 patients in 2013 in similar case involving the drug Permax.

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/neurology_neurosurgery/centers_clinics/restless-legs-syndrome/what-is-rls/problems.html

Dopamine Drugs and Possible Side Effects

http://www.opioids.com/dopamine/

The reward pathway is a neural network in the middle of the brain that prompts good feelings in response to certain behaviors, such as relieving hunger, quenching thirst or having sex, and it thereby reinforces these evolutionarily important drives. However, the circuit also responds to drugs of abuse, such as heroin, cocaine, amphetamine and nicotine, which seem to hijack the circuitry, altering the behavior of its neurons.

The nucleus accumbens is the engine of the reward response. And, in their study, the UCSF researchers determined that the reward pathway activates pain relief through the release of both opioids, a morphine-like drug produced by the body, and dopamine, a chemical messenger whose effects can be mimicked by amphetamine and cocaine, in this structure. The finding overturns the long-held assumption that the release of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens is associated only with positive experiences…

Thinking of you, Maddy Holleran

http://espn.go.com/espn/feature/story/_/id/12833146/instagram-account-university-pennsylvania-runner-showed-only-part-story?src=longreads

In fact, she was, at that exact moment, buying the items she would leave for her family at the top of a parking garage. Godiva chocolates for her dad. Two necklaces for her mom. Gingersnaps for her grandparents, who always had those cookies in their home. Outfits for her nephew, Hayes, who had been born two weeks earlier. The Happiness Project for Ingrid, with a note scribbled inside. And a picture of herself as a young kid, holding a tennis racket. Over winter break she had told her dad that she was borrowing that picture, that she needed it for something.

She didn’t say what.

Then, on the evening of Jan. 17, just after dusk settled on the city, Madison took a running leap off the ninth level of a parking garage in downtown Philadelphia.

She was 19 years old…

Cop-Cams: Taser’s Last Shot at Getting Beyond the Stun Gun

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2015-05-07/cop-cams-taser-s-last-shot-at-getting-beyond-the-stun-gun

Then, in July 2004, the New York Times ran a front-page story questioning claims by Taser that its stun guns were ‚Äúnonlethal.‚ÄĚ Three months later, CBS News released the results of a yearlong investigative report that said getting shocked by a Taser could, in fact, be deadly. Those reports mentioned at least 50 cases in which someone Tasered by police died soon afterward. That same year, Amnesty International released a report that accused Taser of contributing to violations of ‚Äúinternational standards prohibiting torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.‚ÄĚ

In Taser‚Äôs 2003 annual report, the company cited six cases of open litigation against it, two of which involved the deaths of people who were shocked with Taser weapons. Two years later, in 2005, it listed 56 cases of product liability alone, 31 of which alleged wrongful deaths. That winter, the Securities and Exchange Commission began an informal inquiry into the company, which had told shareholders its weapon was ‚Äúnonlethal.‚ÄĚ From December 2004 to September 2005, when the SEC formalized its investigation, Taser’s stock price dropped 80 percent.

Taser said fatalities tied to its devices were the result of drug use by suspects in custody, preexisting health conditions, or misuse by police officers who failed to follow its training. The SEC eventually dropped the matter. ¬†Personal injury lawyers did not…

So far hundreds of lawsuits alleging wrongful death or serious injury have resulted in tens of millions of dollars in judgments against the company, although many of the awards have been sharply reduced on appeal…

In his most recent case, a 50-year-old actress named Angela Jones was approached by police on an Encino (Calif.) road in June 2012 while sitting in her car, which was illegally parked. She offered to drive on. The officers conducted a field sobriety test, which she passed. Then they said they wanted to check her background and asked to see her purse. In a video taken by a dash-cam in the cruiser behind her car, Jones responds, “I just don’t feel like I want you to take my purse from me,” and gets back in her vehicle. As she reaches for the door, one of the officers deploys a Taser, striking her in the chest. Jones starts screaming as the Taser shock goes on for nearly 40 seconds, and then becomes unresponsive, having gone into cardiac arrest…

Taser is already benefiting from the national demands for transparency, which have been building for years. In last year’s fourth quarter, when Obama made his proposal, Taser’s Axon revenues were $6.4 million, a 159 percent increase from a year earlier. This year, Taser’s body camera sales were up 288 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier. The company’s shares, which have been on a tear since August, ended at a 10-year high on Friday after the Justice Department announcement…

Not one mention in this article about Taser’s activities in New Mexico, which is chronicled on this website:

http://joemonahansnewmexico.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, May 05, 2015
Which Councilors Are Running For Mayor? Taser Sour Here But Sweet Nationally And The Richest Man In NM Not Quite As Rich Now

That DOJ blessing could be be enough to keep Taser around ABQ for a long time, despite its controversial involvement with Schultz. Still, there is this:

A high-ranking retired member of the department (says) they had serious concerns about those (Taser) cameras. They say the gear was “shoved down their throats,” even as people questioned their reliability…

Another prison to boost New Mexico’s economy?

http://joemonahansnewmexico.blogspot.com/

The Albuquerque native, retired from APD when President Obama appointed him marshal, has a proposal that if it came to fruition could employ hundreds of city residents in good paying federal positions that don’t necessarily require a four year degree. That proposal is to build a federal correctional facility on the outskirts of the metro. Now before you say “not in my backyard” think about it.

Entry level federal correctional officers can earn between $39,000 and $51,000 a year…

This is the only idea so far on how to spark New Mexico’s economy. ¬†This is how low we have sunk — the prison industry is the only one interested in this state.

Instead of another prison, how about a mental health facility? ¬†Oh, there’s more profit in prisons? Should Albuquerque become a prison town, financially dependent on putting people in prison? Why would anyone (but the privileged) want that?

Choosing and buying your bud

http://www.thecannabist.co/2015/05/07/marijuana-edibles-vs-smoking-pot/34486/

Smoking vs. eating pot ‚ÄĒ why is the high so different?

Shellene Suemori, director of science and R&D at Dixie Elixirs & Edibles suggests production methods may actually alter the sativa, indica and strain attributes. Suemori says, ‚ÄúDue to many processing techniques, most of the terpenes that people associate with strain-specific attributes are largely lost before the oil is incorporated into an edible. If not lost in processing, many will be lost during the making of the edible (especially if exposed to heat).‚ÄĚ …

Suemori describes smoking and vaping effects as having a quick onset, and the overall effects are not as long-lasting as an edible…

As¬†a medical cannabis patient who cannot tell the difference between a sativa, indica or hybrid, it was difficult to choose strains just by these labels. ¬†When I was in the program, I was not really interested in the “kind” of high that is described between indica and sativa. ¬†I was more interested in¬†the strength of the effect, because so many of my purchases were not strong enough for chronic pain.

For a chronic pain patient, the strength of the plant¬†is important, especially because the medicine is used on a daily basis. ¬†If the bud you purchase isn’t strong enough, you’ll end up consuming¬†a lot more each day, which is an expensive way to medicate.

My uneducated guess is that I need at least 20% THC to find the strength I need, but cannabis testing is a very new industry and it’s difficult to trust the labels used by dispensaries. ¬†Heck, you can’t even trust the food labels in the grocery stores (the FDA allows for a 20% error rate).

The only way to determine if the medicine will work for you is to try it. ¬†Unfortunately, that’s a very expensive way to medicate also, going from dispensary to dispensary, trying strain after strain. I think there is one dispensary in New Mexico that allows patients to try products onsite before purchasing, as long as you have a driver. ¬†I don’t have access to a driver, so whenever I’m able to afford to renew in the program, I guess I’m stuck with the expensive ways in choosing and buying my medicine.

Really, it’s a crap shoot no matter where you purchase your bud,¬†as the production of one batch of a good strain doesn’t guarantee the same quality with the next batch. ¬†It’s so frustrating (and expensive) to purchase hundreds of dollars of what was a great strain a month ago, but is now just mediocre. ¬†And not strong enough for your pain levels.

I spent a lot of money during the year I was in New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program, experimenting and searching for the¬†right medicine for me — mostly bud, with a small amount of edibles (I couldn’t afford both). ¬†I was successful only about 20% of the time. ¬†And now I’m broke (thanks also to Unum), and stuck in a beautiful state with a medical cannabis program for rich people. ¬†Is there anyone out there who wants to fund my move to Colorado, where the medicine is more affordable and the quality is better?

In all seriousness, I would love to stay in Albuquerque. ¬†I don’t want to move again. ¬†But as a¬†chronic pain refugee, there’s only a few states where I can afford medical cannabis, and New Mexico isn’t one of them. ¬†An expensive lesson for me, but I hope other pain patients learn from my mistakes.