Health Care Complaints Commission v West [2017] NSWCATOD 39

Decision date: 22 March 2017
“MEDICAL PRACTITIONER – inappropriate prescription of drugs of addiction – inadequate clinical records – admissions by respondent. Held- respondent guilty of professional misconduct -orders made cancelling registration and for payment of costs.”
Find decision here.

Doctors Consider Ethics Of Costly Heart Surgery For People Addicted To Opioids

NPR, 21 March 2017
Author: Jack Rodolico
“Milford is part of a group of opioid addicts whom doctors describe as the sickest of the sick: intravenous drug users, mostly people who use heroin, who get endocarditis. Some aspects of their treatment present an ethical dilemma for doctors. Cardiologists, surgeons and infectious disease doctors can fix the infection, but not the underlying problem of addiction.”
Find article here.

U.N. drugs body places fentanyl ingredients on control list

Reuters, 16 March 2017
Authors: Francois Murphy, Alison Williams
“A U.N. body on Thursday added two chemicals used to make the drug fentanyl, which killed music star Prince, to an international list of controlled substances, which the United States said would help fight a wave of deaths by overdose. Fentanyl is a man-made opioid 100 times more powerful than morphine. Roughly 20,000 U.S. overdose deaths in 2015 involved heroin or synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
Find article here.

Drugs are killing so many people in Ohio that cold-storage trailers are being used as morgues

The Washington Post, 16 March 2017
Author: Kristine Phillips
“As with much of the United States, Ohio is in the throes of a heroin and opioid epidemic that shows no signs of abating. Drug overdoses have led to a spike in the number of bodies coming to the Stark County morgue — an increase of about 20 percent in the last year. The additional bodies led to the need for more space, so the coroner’s office borrowed a trailer from the state until it gets caught up. Last year, the coroner’s office processed about 500 deaths, more than 100 of which were drug-related, Walters said.”
Find article here.

Curbing teen smoking ‘must go beyond raising minimum age’

The Straits Times, 14 March 2017
Author: Linette Lai
“Teens below the age of 18 have been barred from smoking legally since 1993. Last week, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said it plans to raise the minimum legal smoking age from 18 to 21. In Singapore, these are the years when nearly half of smokers become regular smokers. But the data tells a different story. In 2013, the average age when smokers took their first puff was just 16, according to the National Health Surveillance Survey. Experts said the discrepancy shows that efforts to curb teen smoking must go beyond raising the minimum legal age. Issues such as raising awareness and enforcement cannot be sidelined.”
Find article here.

Opioid distributors sued by West Virginia counties hit by drug crisis

Washington Post, 9 March 2017
Authors: Scott Higham, Lenny Bernstein
“A new legal front is opening in the war against the nation’s opioid crisis as attorneys begin to pursue major corporations that distribute prescription painkillers. Attorneys in West Virginia, which has the highest opioid overdose rate in the nation, filed lawsuits in federal court Thursday on behalf of two counties and targeting some of the nation’s largest drug distribution companies.They are seeking billions of dollars in reimbursements for the devastation the drugs have caused in communities across the country.”
Find article here.

Beyond ice: rethinking Australia’s approach to illicit drugs

Med J Aust 2017; 206 (4): 151-152.
Authors: Matthew Y Frei, Alex D Wodak
“The prevailing theme of the Ice Taskforce report was an emphasis on drug treatment over law enforcement measures as a response to ice use. While this recommendation came from the whole Taskforce, it reflects the sentiment of the chair, former Victorian Police Commissioner, Ken Lay. Many others, including serving and retired senior police, are now coming forward to argue that Australia cannot arrest and imprison its way out of its illicit drug problem.”
Find article here.


Doctors urge Theresa May to publish anti-smoking strategy

The Guardian, 5 January 2016
Author: Sarah Boseley
“More than 1,000 doctors, healthcare professionals and public health experts, including heads of royal colleges and public health institutions, are calling on the prime minister to publish the latest tobacco control plan without delay. Experts hope the new UK tobacco control plan, which has been delayed in part because of the Brexit vote and its fallout, will plot the course for driving smoking rates down to 5% by 2035, which a report from Cancer Research UK said was feasible.”
Find article here.

Liberals to make safe injection sites easier to open and fentanyl harder to smuggle into Canada

CBC News: 13 December 2016
Authors: Peter Zimonjic and Matthew Kupfer
“The government of Canada said in a statement that the existing National Anti-Drug Strategy would be replaced with a “more balanced approach” called the Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy. The new strategy “restores harm reduction as a core pillar of Canada’s drug policy.” That new strategy would also put drug policy back under the Health ministry and away from the Justice department.”
Find article here.

Health Care Complaints Commission v Chen [2016] NSWCATOD 144

Decision date: 28 November 2016
“The Health Care Complaints Commission prosecuted Dr Mengyi Chen, a medical practitioner, before the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (‘Tribunal’). The complaint alleged unsatisfactory professional conduct and professional misconduct in relation to Dr Chen’s inappropriate prescribing of Schedule 8 and Schedule 4D drugs, including prescribing drugs of addiction to drug dependent patients, and Dr Chen’s failure to maintain adequate medical records.”
Find decision here.