FDA Calls on Online Companies to Police Opioid Sales

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Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb this week called on Internet service providers and social media companies to more carefully monitor online sales of opioids. “We find offers to purchase opioids all over social media and the Internet, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Google, Yahoo and Bing,” Gottlieb said at the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta. Many illicit drugs that enter the U.S. are bought and sold online, including drugs laced with fentanyl, he said. Gottlieb plans to meet with leaders of Internet companies and advocacy groups “to identify technology gaps and new solutions,” The Wall Street Journal reports. Such solutions might include search algorithms to alert potential buyers about treatment programs and the deadly risks of opioids.
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FDA to Host Meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Opioid Use Disorder

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will host a public meeting April 17 on patient-focused drug development for opioid use disorder (OUD), in collaboration with the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The FDA is also working closely with patient advocacy and community organizations to encourage participation from people with OUD. The FDA is interested in learning patients’ perspectives on OUD, including the effects on their health and well-being that have the greatest impact on daily life, their experience using prescription medical treatments and other treatments or therapies for OUD, and challenges or barriers to accessing or using medical treatments for the disorder. The meeting will take place at FDA White Oak Campus, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Building 31, Room 1503A (Great Room), Silver Spring, Maryland, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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Schools Confront Sudden Increase in Easily Concealed Vaping Devices

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Middle schools and high schools are struggling to cope with a sudden increase in students using easily concealed vaping devices called Juul, which resembles a flash drive. Officials at schools across the country say they are concerned these devices are creating a new generation of young people addicted to nicotine, The New York Times reports. Pods in vaping devices have a higher concentration of nicotine than do individual cigarettes, the article notes. Vaping devices come in flavors such as fruit or mint. Because they don’t produce a noticeable plume of smoke, some students use them in class. “I’m afraid that we’re going to be hooking a new generation of kids on nicotine, with potentially unknown risks,” said Dr. Mark L. Rubinstein, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. “With cigarettes, we’ve been studying them for many years, we have a pretty good idea of what the...
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Nerve Pain Medication Gabapentin Linked With Increasing Overdose Deaths

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Public health officials say the nerve pain medication gabapentin is being found in an increasing number of overdose deaths, according to CBS News . Gabapentin is a non-narcotic drug used to treat seizures and pain associated with shingles. Doctors have been prescribing it for a growing number of other conditions, as a way to offer pain relief without opioids. A study published last year found that for people who use heroin, the combination of opioids with gabapentin potentially increases the risk of overdose death. “Unfortunately, we now need to worry about it because people are abusing it,” Dr. James Patrick Murphy, a pain and addiction specialist in Kentucky, told the Louisville Courier-Journal. “Alone, it’s not something that will stop your breathing or your heart,” he said. “But if you take it along with a drug like heroin or fentanyl, together it might be enough to make you stop breathing and...
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More Americans Should Carry Naloxone: Surgeon General

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U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams released a public health advisory Thursday urging more Americans to carry the opioid overdose antidote naloxone, NPR reports. Naloxone is already carried by many first responders, such as EMTs and police officers. The Surgeon General is recommending that more people, including people at risk for an opioid overdose, as well as their family and friends, also keep naloxone nearby. “For patients currently taking high doses of opioids as prescribed for pain, individuals misusing prescription opioids, individuals using illicit opioids such as heroin or fentanyl, health care practitioners, family and friends of people who have an opioid use disorder, and community members who come into contact with people at risk for opioid overdose, knowing how to use naloxone and keeping it within reach can save a life,” he said in a statement.
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NIH Announces the HEAL Initiative

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In April 2018, NIH launched the HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) Initiative, an aggressive, trans-agency effort to speed scientific solutions to stem the national opioid public health crisis. This Initiative will build on extensive, well-established NIH research, including basic science of the complex neurological pathways involved in pain and addiction, implementation science to develop and test treatment models, and research to integrate behavioral interventions with Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder (OUD). Successes from this research include the development of the nasal form of naloxone, the most commonly used nasal spray for reversing opioid overdose, the development of buprenorphine for the treatment of opioid use disorder, and evidence for the use of nondrug and mind/body techniques such as yoga, tai chi, acupuncture, and mindfulness meditation to help patients control and manage pain. Over the past year, NIH has worked with experts from public and private organizations to identify...
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Opioid Overdoses Clustered in Poor Areas With Few Job Opportunities

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Opioid overdoses are clustered in poor areas with few job opportunities, according to a new study. Researchers found the opioid overdose death rate varied widely by county. Rates were highest in poorer counties and those with high levels of family distress, as well as areas dependent on mining. Some rural counties, especially in Appalachia, have the highest opioid overdose death rates in the nation, the study found. “The drug epidemic is a pressing concern among policymakers, but the media portrayal of the drug overdose epidemic has largely been that it is a national crisis, with the common refrain that ‘addiction does not discriminate,'” lead author Shannon Monnat of Syracuse University in New York told HealthDay . “Failure to consider the substantial geographic variation in drug-related mortality rates may lead to failure to target the hardest-hit areas.” The findings are published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
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National Prevention Week is May 13 – 19, 2018

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National Prevention Week is an annual health observance dedicated to increasing public awareness of, and action around, substance abuse and mental health issues. The three primary goals of National Prevention Week are to: Involve communities in raising awareness about behavioral health issues and implementing prevention strategies; Foster partnerships and collaboration with federal agencies and national organizations dedicated to behavioral and public health; and Promote and disseminate quality behavioral health resources and publications. National Prevention Week is held each year during the third week of May—near the start of summer, an important time for school, communities, and prevention professionals to re-focus on prevention! Adolescents and full-time college students most often use substances for the first time during June or July, according to SAMHSA National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) data on adolescents – 2012 and NSDUH data on full-time college students – 2015. The timing of National Prevention Week...
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Large Percentage of Deaths by Drug Overdose May be Suicides

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Between 25 and 45 percent of deaths by overdose may be suicides, according to the immediate past president of the American Psychiatric Association. Dr. Maria Oquendo told NBC News the opioid epidemic is occurring at the same time suicides have risen to a 30-year high. One study of overdoses from prescription opioids found almost 54 percent were unintentional. The rest were either suicide attempts or undetermined, the article notes. Few doctors are looking for a connection between opioid addiction and suicides, Dr. Oquendo said. “They are not monitoring it,” she said. “They are probably not assessing it in the kinds of depths they would need to prevent some of the deaths.”
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Cocaine Laced With Fentanyl Causing Growing Number of Deaths

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A growing number of drug overdose deaths are due to cocaine laced with fentanyl, NPR reports. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), 7 percent of cocaine seized in New England in 2017 included fentanyl, up from 4 percent the previous year. In Connecticut, the number of deaths involving fentanyl-laced cocaine has increased 420 percent in the last three years. Massachusetts officials say an increasing amount of fentanyl-laced cocaine is changing hands on the streets. The DEA, in its National Drug Threat Assessment, says people typically add fentanyl to cocaine for the purpose of “speedballing,” which combines the rush of cocaine with a drug that depresses the nervous system, such as heroin. Some experts told NPR fentanyl may be mixed with cocaine accidentally during packaging. Others say drug cartels are adding fentanyl to cocaine to expand the market of people who are addicted to opioids.
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Facing Addiction and The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) are proud to announce the merger of our organizations – creating a national leader in turning the tide on the addiction epidemic.
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