Stemming The Tide Of Prescription Opioid Overuse, Misuse, And Abuse

Health Affairs, blog September 22, 2015
Authors: Samantha DuPont, Athan Bezaitis, and Murray Ross
“A silver badge with interlocking lines at the top of a triangle represents awareness of drug overdose and its effects. Worn worldwide on August 31, the symbol demonstrates support to those fighting through addiction and others bearing the burden of grief from injury or loss. On that day—and every other day in the United States—44 people will die of overdose from prescription painkillers. These deaths have more than quadrupled in the past decade and a half. Today, more people die from prescription opioid overdose than from heroin, cocaine, and all other drugs combined, an alarming trend that led the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to declare it an epidemic in November 2011.”
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Scientists engineer yeast to turn sugar into hydrocodone

Washington Post, 13 Auguts 2015
Author: Rachel Feltman
“In an effort to create pain medication components like hydrocodone – the main ingredient in the pain killer Vicodin – without the help of poppies, scientists have engineered simple baker’s yeast to synthesize these medicinal compounds from sugar. In a paper published Thursday in Science, researchers at Stanford University report the successful synthesis of hydrocodone from sugar, thanks to genetically engineered yeast.”
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Russia’s war on drugs leaves patients without pain relief

The Lancet, Volume 386, No. 9990, p231–232
Author: Fiona Clark
“A change to the Russian law governing narcotics now enshrines a terminally ill patient’s right to pain relief, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can get the drugs they need. Fiona Clark reports. In February last year, Rear Admiral Vyacheslav Apanasenko held a gun to his head and shot himself. The 66-year-old former head of the rocket artillery unit of Russia’s naval forces had stage IV cancer and was in unbearable pain. His family had been battling through a bureaucratic system that is repeatedly described as “hell” in the Russian media to get the opioid-based pain relief he needed.”
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Medicinal cannabis: study finds Australians suffering chronic pain get more relief from cannabis than conventional medicines

SMH, 26 January 2015
Author: Amy Corderoy
“Australians suffering from chronic pain may get more relief from their symptoms using cannabis than they do from some conventional medications, researchers have found. A large study of people suffering from chronic problems such as back pain, migraine and arthritis has discovered many are turning to cannabis to relieve their symptoms, despite already being prescribed heavy-duty opioid medications such as morphine and oxycodone.”
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Drugmaker wrote big checks to doctors with troubled records

The Seattle Times, 28 November 2014
Author: Katie Thomas
“Judson Somerville, a pain specialist in Laredo, Texas, received $67,000 in speaking fees, travel and meals in 2013 to promote a powerful and addictive painkiller called Subsys, according to a new federal database of payments that drug companies make to physicians.”
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Russian doctor is acquitted of drug trafficking charges for providing opioid to a dying man

BMJ 2014;349:g7097
Author: Ingrid Torjesen
“A doctor and a pharmacist in Russia have been acquitted of drug trafficking charges for helping a dying man get the pain reliever tramadol, after a three year legal battle, Human Rights Watch has reported.1 The patient, Viktor Sechin, who had a physical disability, died from cancer in 2011. He usually received tramadol free under a state run programme designed to benefit socially vulnerable people, but in April 2009 the city’s pharmacies ran out of their stock of free tramadol, and Sechin’s doctor refused to give him a refill prescription to purchase it.2”
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China Hospital Gives Men Chance To Experience Pain Of Childbirth

The Huffington Post, 21 November 2014
Author: Natalie Thomas
“A hospital in eastern China is offering fathers-to-be a chance to experience the pain of childbirth after several new moms complained they got little sympathy from their partners. Free sessions are held twice a week at Aima maternity hospital in Shandong province and about 100 men have signed up to be tortured. Most are expectant dads but there are thrill seekers too among the volunteers for “taster sessions”.
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Chicago and 2 California Counties Sue Over Marketing of Painkillers

The New York Times, 24 August, 2014
Author: John Schwartz
“As the country struggles to combat the growing abuse of heroin and opioid painkillers, a new battlefield is emerging: the courts. The City of Chicago and two California counties are challenging the drug industry’s way of doing business, contending in two separate lawsuits that “aggressive marketing” by five companies has fuelled an epidemic of addiction and cost taxpayers millions of dollars in insurance claims and other health care costs.”
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