Fentanyl deaths from ‘Mexican oxy’ pills hit Arizona hard

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Aaron Francisco Chavez swallowed at least one of the sky blue pills at a Halloween party before falling asleep forever. He became yet another victim killed by a flood of illicit fentanyl smuggled from Mexico into the Southwest — a profitable new business for drug gangs that has pushed the synthetic opioid to the top spot for fatal U.S. overdoses.

Three others at the party in Tucson also took the pills nicknamed “Mexican oxy” and police flagged down by partygoers saved them by administering naloxone overdose reversal medication. But the treatment came too late for Chavez, who died at age 19.

The four thought they were taking oxycodone, a much less powerful opioid, investigators believe. The death of Chavez and many others, officials said, illustrate how Arizona and other southwestern states bordering Mexico have become a hot spot in the nation’s fentanyl crisis. Fentanyl deaths tripled in Arizona alone from 2015 through 2017.

“It’s the worst I’ve seen in 30 years, this toll that it’s taken on families,” said Doug Coleman, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration special agent in charge of Arizona. “The crack (cocaine) crisis was not as bad.”

Seanna Leilani Chavez, left, holds Athena Chavez, 2, the sister and daughter of Aaron Francisco Chavez respectively, as the two stand next to a shrine for Aaron at the family home.

Seanna Leilani Chavez, left, holds Athena Chavez, 2, the sister and daughter of Aaron Francisco Chavez respectively, as the two stand next to a shrine for Aaron at the family home. (AP)

 

With plenty of pills and powder sold locally out of the arriving fentanyl shipments that are also distributed around the U.S., the drug that has surpassed heroin for overdose deaths has touched all Arizona demographic groups. Chavez’ family says he was working at a restaurant as a prep cook with dreams of becoming a chef and trying to turn his life around after serving prison time for a robbery conviction.

Also killed in the state over the last year by the pills that go for $9 to $30 each were a 17-year-old star high school baseball pitcher from a Phoenix suburb and a pair of 19-year-old best friends and prominent former high school athletes from the mountain town of Prescott Valley. The parents of one, Gunner Bundrick, said their son’s death left “a hole in our hearts.”

Popping the pills at parties “is a lot more widespread than we know,” said Yavapai County Sheriff’s Lt. Nate Auvenshine. “There’s less stigma to taking a pill than putting a needle in your arm, but one of these pills can have enough fentanyl for three people.”

Stamped with “M”on one side and “30” on the other to make them look like legitimate oxycodone, the pills started showing up in Arizona in recent years as the Sinaloa cartel’s newest drug product, said Tucson Police Lt. Christian Wildblood.

The fentanyl that killed Chavez was among 1,000 pills sneaked across the border crossing last year in Nogales, Arizona by a woman who was paid $200 to tote them and gave two to Chavez at the party, according to court documents. It’s unknown if he took one or both.

They will sell you poison, take your money, and not think twice about how they could possibly be killing someone’s son, father, brother or grandson.

— Leslie Chavez

At the same crossing last month, U.S. officials announced their biggest fentanyl bust ever — nearly 254 pounds (115 kilograms) seized from a truckload of cucumbers, enough to potentially kill millions. Valued at $3.5 million, most was in powder form and over 2 pounds (1 kilogram) was made up of pills.

The tablets in most cases are manufactured in primitive conditions with pill presses purchased online and the amount of fentanyl in each pill can vary widely, Wildblood said.

“There is no quality control,” he said.

While Chinese shipments were long blamed for illegal fentanyl entering the U.S., Mexico’s Army in November 2017 discovered a rustic fentanyl lab in a remote part of Sinaloa state and seized precursors, finished fentanyl and production equipment — suggesting some of it is now being synthesized across the U.S. border.

This photo provided by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Phoenix Division shows some of the 30,000 fentanyl pills the agency seized in one of its bigger busts, in Tempe, Ariz., in August, 2017. 

This photo provided by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Phoenix Division shows some of the 30,000 fentanyl pills the agency seized in one of its bigger busts, in Tempe, Ariz., in August, 2017.  (AP)

 

Most fentanyl smuggled from Mexico is about 10 percent pure and enters hidden in vehicles at official border crossings around Nogales and San Diego, Customs and Border Protection data show. A decreasing number of smaller shipments with purity of up to 90 percent still enter the U.S. in packages sent from China.

Although 85 percent of the fentanyl from Mexico is seized at San Diego area border crossings, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s 2018 National Drug Threat Assessment said seizures have surged at Arizona’s border and elsewhere around the state.

DEA statistics show Arizona fentanyl seizures rose to 445 pounds (202 kilograms), including 379,557 pills, in the fiscal year ending in October 2018, up from 172 pounds (78 kilograms), including 54,984 pills, during the previous 12-month period.

The Sinaloa cartel’s ability to ramp up its own production of fentanyl and label it oxycodone shows the group’s business acumen and why it remains among the world’s top criminal organizations, despite the conviction in New York this week of cartel kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, Coleman said.

“If they see a market for their stuff, they’ll make it and bring it up,” he said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says fentanyl is now the drug involved in the most fatal overdoses in the U.S., with fatalities from synthetic opioids including fentanyl jumping more than 45 percent from 2016 to 2017, when they accounted for some 28,000 of about 70,000 overdose deaths of all kinds.

Fentanyl was also involved more than any other drug in the majority of overdose deaths in 2016, the year the pop artist Prince died after taking fake Vicodin laced with fentanyl. Heroin was responsible for the most drug overdose deaths each of the four years before that.

This undated photo provided by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Phoenix Division shows a closeup of the fentanyl-laced sky blue pills known on the street as "Mexican oxy." 

This undated photo provided by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Phoenix Division shows a closeup of the fentanyl-laced sky blue pills known on the street as “Mexican oxy.”  (AP)

 

CDC figures for Arizona show the statewide deaths involving synthetic opioids excluding methadone, largely from fentanyl, rose from 72 in 2015 to 123 in 2016 and then skyrocketed to 267 in 2017.

In the first federal conviction of its kind in Arizona that linked a death to distribution of any drug, a woman from a Phoenix suburb last year got 12 years in prison for selling fentanyl tablets that killed a 38-year-old Arizona man.

And in Tucson, Chavez’ relatives wonder why the woman accused of smuggling the pills across the border allegedly decided to hand them out at the party, saying they were Percocet, which contains oxycodone and acetaminophen, and “something else,” according to court documents.

The woman, Jocelyn Sanchez, denied describing them that way and was charged with transporting and transferring narcotics. Her lawyer, Joel Chorny, declined to discuss the case.

Nicknamed “Sonny Boy,” Chavez was the third of 10 children born to Leslie Chavez, who was brought to the U.S. as an infant and deported back to Mexico last year, two months before he died. In a phone interview, she said Mexican officials arranged to have her son’s body brought across the border so she could say goodbye.

She said she had “heard about how these pills were killing people” but never thought it would happen to one of her children.

Chavez had a 2-year-old daughter and despite his robbery conviction “was trying to get his life together, he was trying to be good” for the toddler, said his sister, Seanna Leilani Chavez.

The dealers, she said, are only interested in profits.

“They will sell you poison, take your money, and not think twice about how they could possibly be killing someone’s son, father, brother or grandson,” she said. (Click to Source)
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North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum: Our criminal justice system has an opioid problem

By Gov. Doug Burgum | Fox News

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Since the age of 14, Jyssica Noble’s primary motivation has resulted in an overwhelming set of circumstances: she experienced periods of homelessness; she struggled to find work; she lost her son to foster care after police raided her hotel room; she served several stints in jail.

For the majority of Americans, Jyssica is just one of the many people who has fallen victim to the opioid epidemic. For Jyssica, now 26, each year consumed by her addiction is a painful symbol of life lost.

“That’s the biggest thing heroin takes away from you: time,” Jyssica shared with me recently. She and I, along with North Dakota First Lady Kathryn Burgum, sat down together as part of Face to Face, an initiative led by the National Reentry Resource Center and The Council of State Governments Justice Center, which gives policymakers opportunities to hear directly from people who have firsthand experience with the criminal justice system.

Following a 2017 arrest that resulted in a felony theft charge and a probation sentence, Jyssica was referred to Free Through Recovery, a statewide behavioral health program launched earlier this year that links people on probation and parole with community-based recovery support services, including counseling, peer support and access to employment and housing opportunities. Thanks to a team that includes her probation officer, a peer support specialist and counselors at one of our state’s many local Free Through Recovery providers, Jyssica now has a built-in support system that helps her stay on a path to recovery.

Listening to Jyssica’s story in person and learning directly about her experiences, her challenges and her hopes and dreams, further opened my eyes to the devastating impact of substance addiction and helped illustrate what state policies can do on an individual level.

In North Dakota, as is the case in many rural states, the disease of substance addiction is the most urgent social issue. More than 80 percent of people in North Dakota’s prisons have a substance addiction, and half of all arrests in the state are substance-related. Recognizing the severity of the problem, we’ve designated behavioral health and addiction as one of our administration’s five strategic initiatives.

Even after they are released, people like Jyssica often find themselves back behind bars due to the lack of treatment options available to them – a damaging cycle that takes a toll on individuals, their families and the system at large.

To address this far-reaching problem, a bipartisan group of state and local leaders, law enforcement officials, behavioral health specialists and other community leaders came together to take on Justice Reinvestment, a data-driven approach that identifies evidence-based policy solutions designed to create a more efficient and effective criminal justice system.

These efforts resulted in two pieces of Justice Reinvestment legislation that our state legislature approved and I signed into law last year, one of which created the program that supports Jyssica’s recovery. The new measures empowered our state to buck the traditional response of incarcerating people with behavioral health needs and instead direct resources toward implementing innovative, local solutions that will increase access to high-quality treatment. Our executive budget proposal for the 2019-21 bienniuim recommends increasing funding for Free Through Recovery by nearly 65 percent to expand the program to those beyond the criminal justice system. There’s far more work to be done in North Dakota, but Jyssica’s experience shows that we’re on the right track.

Toward the end of our conversation, Jyssica proudly told me that she has an apartment of her own for the first time, works a full-time job and is excited about her future with her son – a relationship that seemed almost impossible during the height of her struggle with addiction.

Governors and other policymakers in all states should get to know the faces of the opioid epidemic in their state’s criminal justice system. With commitment to programs like Free Through Recovery, we can continue to build a criminal justice system that opens minds to rehabilitation and opens doors to recovery. (Click to Source)

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As opioid crisis raged, Insys pushed higher doses of addictive drug and pushed salespeople to ‘own’ doctors

Published: Oct 19, 2018 7:19 a.m. ET

Concerning sales tactics involving a potent opioid medication were highlighted in a new Senate committee report

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Family members of those who died of opioid overdoses take part in a rally to end the opioid epidemic in Washington, D.C., in 2016.

To sell addictive opioids, sales representatives were encouraged to “own” doctors, keeping a close eye on how and how much they prescribe.

Speaker programs that helped drive sales left out safety problems and, in one instance, didn’t say that Insys, the drug’s manufacturer, was sponsoring the event.

And high dosages of the addictive opioid Subsys were linked to bonus payments, with company presentations encouraging this behavior through slogans like “Strength Makes the Difference” and “Don’t Forget the Doses.”

“It is much easier to take an existing patient and double their units (which in essence is the same as generating a new prescription),” one sales manager wrote, referring to patients as “low hanging fruit.”

Those tactics and more were hallmarks of drugmaker Insys Therapeutics Inc.’s INSY, -2.20%  approach at the height of the opioid crisis, according to a new report from the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s minority staff.

The Chandler, AZ-based Insys has become notorious for the role it played in advancing America’s devastating, drawn-out opioid crisis, which continues to this day.

Subsys consists of the potent opioid fentanyl, formulated in a spray that allows the drug to work faster. Approved for use in managing cancer patients’ pain, Subsys came on the U.S. market in 2012, and sales grew to roughly $329 million in 2015, at what appears to be the peak.

After a Department of Justice investigation into the company’s promotion of the medication, Insys agreed to pay at least $150 million in fines. Former executives as well as doctors also had criminal charges brought against them.

The new report “pertains to past events involving former employees that would have occurred well before 2016 and have since been dealt with by the company,” said Insys spokesperson Joe McGrath. McGrath had not reviewed the report when he spoke with MarketWatch and did not comment specifically on the facts cited in the report.

Pharmaceutical companies often bring in speakers, usually doctors, to discuss their products and drive sales. Insys viewed speaker programs as the crown jewel of its sales strategy.

The programs “are basically the ONLY thing you should be focusing on to increase your sales,” Sales executive Alex Burlakoff wrote to all sales personnel in 2013, according to the Senate committee report. “If you are not living, eating, and breathing [Insys speakers programs] to drive sales, you should not be in specialty pharma.”

In fact, speaker programs generated six times more revenue per prescriber, according to an internal company presentation cited in the report. Doctors also got more speaking opportunities when they met the prescribing expectations that Insys set for them, the report said.

However, the speaker programs had serious problems, including the omission of safety information in more than one presentation — something an outside consultant brought up with the company in 2014.

Insys later cut down on, and then stopped, the speaker programs, the Senate report — based on 1.6 million pages of internal company documents that were requested by Sen. Claire McCaskill — noted.

Insys also encouraged salespeople to push off-label prescriptions of Subsys, or prescriptions of the drug intended for non-cancer patients, the report found.

An external consultant called this strategy “troubling” in 2016, according to the report, saying that it “incentivized non-compliant behavior and was way outside the norm.”

Internal company communications also instructed employees that they must “own” doctors, including by tracking doctors’ prescribing rates and encouraging them to prescribe more, according to the new report.

Representatives should “[o]wn your territory — own a doctor — and own your destiny,” Burlakoff wrote in another email to sales representatives.

Insys’ opioid sales tactics have been the subject of many additional lawsuits, including from the state of New Jersey and health insurer Anthem. Opioid litigation, which has been brought against many drugmakers and drug distributors, could well rival the well-known lawsuits against Big Tobacco.

Insys shares rose 1% in Wednesday trade. Shares have surged 21.7% over the last three months, compared with a 0.1% rise in the S&P 500 SPX, -0.04%  and a 2.5% rise in the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.26%  . (Click to Source)
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New opioid is 500X more powerful than morphine and it could be on the market soon

By: Justin Gray

Updated: 

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WASHINGTON, DC – There are concerns over a new, even stronger opioid – and an FDA committee is recommending its approval.

Critics warn the new drug could be even more dangerous than oxycotin or fentanyl.

The question critics are asking is why would the FDA want to approve a stronger opioid right in the middle of a nationwide addiction crisis.

An DSUVIA is 500 times more powerful than morphine.

“It’s 5 to 10 times more potent than fentanyl and it actually goes underneath your tongue,” said Public Citizen’s Meena Aladdin.

The pill dissolves immediately when placed under the tongue by an applicator, meaning besides being powerful, it’s more fast-acting than other opioids.

The FDA drug advisory committee voted overwhelming 10 to 3 to recommend approving the drug Friday.

Critics like Aladdin said the strength and speed of DSUVIA make it attractive to addicts.

“It is yet another drug on the market that could allow for another avenue for abuse,” Aladdin said.

The drug maker, Acelrx said in a statement: “We believe DSUVIA represents an important non-invasive acute pain management option with potential to significantly improve the current standard of care.”

The FDA rejected approving the drug last year because of concerns it could get into the wrong hands.

So this time, the application included guidelines states that the drug must be administered by a trained healthcare professional.

This vote is not the final say. The FDA does not have to follow the committee’s recommendation, but usually does.

An FDA spokesman told Channel 2 Action News they don’t comment on specific drugs pending approval. (Click to Source)

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Lake County prepares to sue opioid makers

  • Updated 

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Lake County is poised to join a national wave of lawsuits against the makers of opioid-based painkillers.

The county commissioners have retained a group of Texas- and Montana-based law firms to represent them in a lawsuit against several drug manufacturers. This step links Lake County to hundreds of other local governments who charge the companies with stoking the opioid-abuse crisis.

The Centers for Disease Control report that overdose deaths from prescription opioids increased fivefold from 1999 to 2016, claiming more than 200,000 Americans in that time. Prescription opioid overdoses have killed 700 Montanans since 2000,according to the state Department of Public Health and Human Services.

This problem has drained county resources, said Commissioner Dave Stipe. “We know that there were costs, just like we know how meth costs us money.”

In recent years, state attorneys general, and local and tribal governments, have started trying to recoup these costs by taking the drug makers to court, accusing them of deceptive marketing practices that denied or downplayed the painkillers’ risks. One of their main targets, Purdue Pharma Inc., did not reply for a request for comment on this story, but has denied these allegations when they’re raised in other lawsuits, and stressed its commitment to being part of a solution to the opioid epidemic.

In May, hundreds of these cases were bundled together in a massive multidistrict litigation in the federal court system’s Northern District of Ohio, where Judge Dan Aaron Polster will start hearing the first cases next year.

One of the key firms involved in this litigation, Dallas-based Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett P.C., has partnered with Montana firms to represent Treasure State communities.

“Of the 56 counties, the most populated counties have been approached,” said attorney Scott Stearns, a shareholder at Missoula’s Boone Karlberg P.C. The firm, in conjunction with Simon Greenstone and others in the state, now represents Cascade and Gallatin counties, as well as Anaconda-Deer Lodge and Great Falls.

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have secured representation from Sonosky, Chambers, Sachse, Endreson & Perry LLP — a firm specializing in Indian law — in partnership with other firms, but they have not yet filed any complaints.

Stearns explained that, when filed, Lake County’s complaint will closely resemble the one that Cascade County filed last November. It accuses Purdue and several other drug manufacturers of fielding a deceptive, multi-pronged marketing campaign that transformed opioids from a rarely-used painkiller into a profitable product line, at devastating financial and human cost.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox made similar accusations against drug makers in a lawsuit currently pending in state court. But while that case seeks court-ordered penalties for the drug makers’ alleged violations of state laws, as well as reimbursement of Medicaid and other state funds that Purdue obtained through its activities, Commissioner Stipe explained that Lake County is focused on other needs.

“We’re suing for what it costs the police to respond, what it costs the court to prosecute, what it costs the health department” — the local toll of the opioid epidemic.

“It’s under the theory of, ‘You broke it, now you have to buy it,’” Stearns said. “They’ve broken the system here in America, and now they have to pay for the solution, and the solution is usually at the community level.”

At the same time, “we want to be somewhat selective” in picking cases. “We want to make the best case we can, and some counties have more clear-cut cases than others.” Stearns and his colleagues identified Lake County and the Flathead Indian Reservation as areas with “more of an opioid and drug problem than other areas that lead to jail overcrowding and dependent-neglect” cases.

George Simpson, a sergeant with the Polson Police Department, has seen these challenges firsthand. “When you have users, that obviously becomes a strain on first responder resources, and we try as hard as we can,” he said. His agency is currently training officers to administer naloxone, a lifesaving nasal-spray medication that counteracts the effects of an opioid overdose.

But the challenge goes far beyond reviving users. “You start to see an increase in property crimes, you start to see an increase in domestic violence,” as users’ habits prompt them to steal, and sour their relationships. “Treatment centers can be expensive,” too, he added.

All of these ills have drained public coffers in Lake County, Stipe said. “We don’t have the hard data yet, but we know for sure that some of the people who served hard time in jail … were there because of opioid addiction,” he said. Stearns agrees. “Early on we recognized Lake County as an important client to have to tell the full Montana story,” he said.

Under the retention agreement, the law firms will receive compensation up to 25 percent of gross recovery from the case, in addition to attorney’s fees and litigation-associated costs. “In the event that no recovery is realized, the law firms shall receive no compensation or reimbursement,” the contract states.

While a county employee will be designated to monitor the claims, Lake County is not required to assign a staff member to pursue them. “Lake County and the Law Firms both recognize that the claims present numerous factual and legal obstacles and that no assurance of success on the claims has or can be made,” according to the retention agreement.

Some Montana localities have been wary about litigating their opioid problems. In January, Butte-Silver Bow County Commissioners voted against joining the fight, citing the lawyers’ profit motives, the litigious trends in U.S. society and the absence of solid local data on the matter.

Missoula County Commissioners voiced similar concerns last November, with Deputy County Attorney John Hart telling the Missoula Current that “we have not seen, at least from a criminal justice standpoint, a significant opioid problem in Missoula County that’s costing us a lot of money and that we can quantify.”

In a follow-up email to the Missoulian, Hart said that County Commissioners did discuss the topic over the summer, but “no decisions have been made” yet. The City of Missoula has not yet decided whether to take part.

Lake County will need to tally the costs of its opioid problem for inclusion in a Plaintiff Fact Sheet. Commissioner Stipe expects that any damages or settlement funds that reach Lake County will be distributed to the involved groups in proportion to the costs they bore.

However the litigation plays out, the Polson Police Department’s Simpson predicts that resolving the problem will take time.

“The whole country didn’t get in this problem overnight, so it’s not going to be an overnight solution.” (Click to Source)

 
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Chuck Norris blasts drug overdoses: Worse than we think

Search is on for drugs that kill pain, not people

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Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the US. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, in 2015, more than 20,000 overdose deaths in this country were directly related to prescription pain relievers. Given all the media attention on this subject, you may not be at all surprised by such statistics. As bad as this news is, it is likely underestimated.

Recent research by a team at the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Public Health revealed that many drug overdoses are so broadly classified that they are not being counted properly as opioid-related.

As stated in the report published in the journal Public Health, “Potentially 70,000 opioid-related, unintentional overdose deaths from 1999 through 2015 have been missed because of incomplete reporting, indicating that the opioid overdose epidemic may be worse than it appears.” The University Of Pittsburgh findings support other recent studies that show opioid overdoses as undercounted.

When health care professionals refer to opioids, they are referencing a class of drugs that include the illicit drug heroin, as well as the lawful prescription pain relievers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine and fentanyl. A large number of overdoses today are currently being attributed to new drugs, including fentanyl-related substances. It is believed that the problem of opioid-related deaths could get even worse as new synthetic drugs come on to the market.

The dilemma we now find ourselves in: More than one-third of the population experiences some form of acute or chronic pain in the U.S. When looking at older populations, this number rises to 40 percent. Opioids effectively kill pain. That is what they are being prescribed to do. They also can kill people and create drug addicts. To combat pain, we desperately need safer pain medications. One of the most common conditions linked to chronic pain is chronic depression. It is a major cause of suicide.

In an effort to come up with a safer solution, biochemist Dr. Tao Che, a research associate at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is focusing on a structural and functional study of opioid receptors – in particular, what are known as mu and kappa opioid receptors. Nealy all currently marketed opioid drugs exert their drug action through the mu opioid receptor (clinically called MOR).

MORs are embedded in the surface membrane of brain cells and block pain signals when activated by a drug. As described by Dr. Che in an analysis posted on the Conversation, in addition to blocking pain, current opioids stimulate portions of the brain that lead to additional sensations of “rewarding” pleasure, as well as disrupt certain physiological activities. The “pleasure” trigger may lead to addiction, the “physiological” disruption can lead to death. As Che writes, “Which part of the brain is activated plays a vital role in controlling pain. For example, MORs are also present in the brain stem, a region that controls breathing. Activating these mu receptors not only dulls pain but also slows breathing. Large doses stop breathing, causing death.”

MOR is not the only opioid receptor. According to Che, there are two other closely related proteins – called kappa and delta, or KOR and DOR respectively – that also alter pain perception.

Recent lab studies are now focusing much of their attention on the KOR protein due to its ability to block pain without triggering euphoria, meaning it is non-addictive. This receptor also does not slow respiration, which means it also is not lethal. It is not without some side effects, primarily sensations of unease or sleepiness. This issue is being addressed. The ultimate goal is to design a drug that only targets the pain pathway without side effects; to utilize what are called “biased” opioids and transform these molecules into safer drugs.

I wish Che and his colleagues well. The fate of so many could depend on their success. Let us pray that the solution does not debut as yet another new exclusive high-priced designer drug by a major pharmaceutical company – one that puts the major financial burden for access on the patient. Without affordability, the introduction of such a solution would essentially be meaningless in fighting the drug overdose epidemic.

Health plans that put patients on the hook for thousands of dollars in monthly medical costs are widespread in this country and growing. The industry rationale has been that requiring workers to shoulder more of the cost of care will also encourage them to cut back on unnecessary spending. In a world where so many Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, that result was never going to happen.

Instead, studies now show that many folks are choosing to put off routine care or skipping prescribed medication entirely to save money. They simply are reducing the amount of medical care they use – including preventative care. As a result, illnesses that might have been caught early go undiagnosed. Many conditions go on to become potentially life threatening and enormously costly for the medical system.

The Trump Administration recently charged that drug companies are keeping lower-cost drugs out of the market. These mega companies are “gaming” the regulatory processes and the patent system in order to unfairly maintain monopolies, the announcement said. This is one area the Administration’s “American Patients First” Plan, announced in May, is targeted to address.

In response to the president’s announcement, Nancy LeaMond, Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer for AARP, told Forbes’ Robin Seaton Jefferson: “There is no justifiable reason for Americans to pay the highest prescription drug prices in the world. High-priced drugs hurt everyone, and seniors, who on average take 4.5 medications a month, are particularly vulnerable.”

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s “The State of US Health, 1990-2016” study found preventive services are key to giving everyone an opportunity to achieve their best state of health. Preventative health appears to be one of the areas in greatest jeopardy. (Click to Source)

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11 big signs of opioid addiction everyone should know

July 22, 2018

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Many people use opioid to deal with chronic pain.

However, when they overuse the drug, they become addicted to it.

it is not always easy to tell if someone you know has an addiction to opioids.

But researchers from University of Michigan suggest 11 signs of opioid addiction everyone should know:

Taking a substance in larger or longer amounts than intended

Prescription painkillers are meant to be a short-term fix. Any long-term use can mean something is wrong.

Cannot curb or control opioid use

Even if a person wants to quit, s/he cannot do it due to some difficulties.

That’s because genetic, environmental and psychological factors put some opioid users at an elevated risk for addiction.

Excess time spent obtaining, using or recovering from opioid use

A person addicted to opioids might spend a lot of time and money seeking drugs. Sometimes they may find other substances to use instead.

Craving or strong urge to use opioid

A user might be well aware that opioids have negative consequences, but s/he just wants to get more.

Repeat failure to fulfill work, home or school duties

Opioid use can disrupt body clock and cause sedation, the effects can affect existing life duties — and be noticeable to others.

Continued opioid use despite related social problems

Personality changes such as irritability may indicate an opioid problem. A user may keep using drugs even the behavior has already cause tensions in relationships.

Withdrawal from social, occupational or recreational activities

Many opioid users who become addicted skip leisure pursuits or group outings. They do less and less and it might not be clear why.

Recurrent opioid use in physically hazardous situations

Much like those who struggle with an addiction to alcohol, acting recklessly under the influence of opioids is a known side effect.

Those behaviors may include recklessness while swimming, driving or using machinery or having unsafe sex.

Continued use despite a persistent physical or psychological issue

Opioids can worsen mental health conditions such as depression and bipolar disorder.

And those patients already are more vulnerable to addiction.

A need for more opioid to achieve intoxication

Continued opioid use slows endorphin production, leading a user to seek more to receive the same pleasure.

Withdrawal symptoms are evident

Diarrhea, sweating and moodiness, among other things, can occur when the drugs wear off.

The symptoms are not medically dangerous, but they can be extremely uncomfortable. Moreover, they can lead to more opioid use to counteract the effects.

So how to treat opioid addiction?

Experts suggest various treatment options are available, including visiting opioid specialists and taking drugs designed to help people with addiction.

A patient’s primary care doctor — or the doctor who prescribed the opioid — can help assess the situation and recommend options.

Support from families and loved ones is very important.

It’s also recommended that households with a person with opioid addiction keep a supply of Narcan (naloxone). The drug can rapidly counteract a narcotic overdose. (Click to Source)

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