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.

First licence granted for commercially grown medicinal cannabis in Australia

Dept of Health, 8 March 2017
“Access to medicinal cannabis has taken another major step forward today with first licence being granted for an Australian company to grow and harvest medicinal cannabis. This major development will lead to improved access to domestically produced medicinal cannabis products for Australian patients.”
Find media release 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.

 

Outdated Privacy Law Limits Effective Substance Use Disorder Treatment: The Case Against 42 CFR Part 2

Health Affairs Blog, 1 March 2017
Authors: Sarah Wakeman, Peter Friedmann
“On November 17, 2016, Surgeon General Vivek Murphy released the first report on substance use disorder (SUD) in the U.S. This landmark document described the tremendous toll of alcohol and drug use on the health and well-being of our nation. With the report, the Surgeon General issued a call to action, stating “how we respond to this crisis is a test for America.” Highlighted in the recommendations was the need to address the segregation of SUD treatment outside of medical care and the need to fight persistent stigma. However, full implementation of these recommendations remains nearly impossible so long as the archaic federal privacy law known as 42 CFR part 2 remains in place.”
Find article here.

Recreational Cannabis — Minimizing the Health Risks from Legalization

N Engl J Med 2017; 376:705-707
Author: Beau Kilmer
“The cannabis-policy landscape is undergoing dramatic change. Although many jurisdictions have removed criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of cannabis and more than half of U.S. states allow physicians to recommend it to patients, legalizing the supply and possession of cannabis for nonmedical purposes is a very different public policy. Since the November 2016 election, 20% of the U.S. population lives in states that have passed ballot initiatives to allow companies to sell cannabis for any reason and adults 21 or older to purchase it. Although other states may move toward legalization, uncertainty abounds because of the federal prohibition on cannabis.”
Find article here.

White house expects justice crackdown on legalized marijuana

Associated Press, 23 February 2017
Author: Sadie Gurman
“The Justice Department will step up enforcement of federal law against recreational marijuana, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Thursday, offering the Trump administration’s strongest indication to date of a looming crackdown on the drug, even as a solid majority of Americans believe it should be legal.”
Find article here.

US opioid epidemic: it’s harder to get the painkillers I legitimately need

BMJ 2017; 356: j784
Author: Kelly Young
“The crackdown on misuse of prescription drugs has had unfortunate consequences for people with legitimate needs in the US. Stricter laws have made access to controlled medications more difficult. Patients wonder whether restricting their access is necessary to reduce illicit drug use when the misconduct of physicians running for-profit ‘pill mills’ has been responsible for most misuse.”
Find article here.

Exclusive: Canada seeks warnings on prescription painkillers amid rising deaths

Reuters, 23 January 2017
Author: Anna Mehler Paperny
“As deaths from powerful painkillers continue to rise, Canada is pursuing unprecedented measures to curb their use, including requiring cigarette-style warning stickers on every prescription, Health Minister Jane Philpott told Reuters.”
Find article here.

Letting Seriously Ill Patients Try Drugs Whose Safety, Efficacy Hasn’t Been Proven Could Be Deadly

Forbes, 20 January 2017
Author: Rita Rubin
“The new FDA report, released practically on the eve of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, challenges critics who want to make drugs available to patients as soon as possible. It includes several examples of drugs and vaccines that had a favorable effect on biomarkers–measurable indicators of health, such as blood cholesterol levels–but did not improve symptoms or reduce the risk of a disease.”
Find article here.