Trump Administration Will Face Hurdles in Reducing Opioid Overdose Deaths

Trump Administration Will Face Hurdles in Reducing Opioid Overdose Deaths
President-Elect Donald Trump, who has pledged to solve the nation’s opioid crisis, faces significant hurdles in achieving that campaign promise, according to The Wall Street Journal. Much of the work of preventing drug overdose deaths is done at the local level, the article notes. Newer and deadlier versions of opioids are continually appearing. In addition, complex regulatory changes are often needed to rework federal drug policies. Trump has vowed to dismantle parts of the Affordable Care Act, which requires millions of subsidized health plans to cover treatment for substance use and mental health disorders. He has vowed to prosecute illegal drug traffickers more aggressively, and to close shipping loopholes that he says allow the Chinese to mail synthetic fentanyl into the country. He also called for reducing the amounts of legal prescription opioids that can be manufactured and sold in the United States, and increasing access to naloxone for first responders...
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Study: Opioids Appear to Blunt Natural Parenting Instincts

Study: Opioids Appear to Blunt Natural Parenting Instincts
A new study suggests opioids may blunt natural parenting instincts. The findings may help explain why some parents who are addicted to opioids put their children at risk, The New York Times reports. The researchers scanned the brains of 47 adults before and after they underwent treatment for opioid dependence. While their brains were being scanned, participants looked at pictures of babies. Their brain scans were compared with those of 25 healthy people who looked at baby photos. Some of the photos were manipulated to make the babies seem more appealing, with round faces and big eyes, while others were made to look less appealing, with smaller cheeks and eyes. The brains of people with opioid dependence did not produce as strong a response to the cute baby pictures as the brains of healthy people. When the people dependent on opioids were given naltrexone—a drug that blocks the effects of opioids—their...
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New Hampshire City Opens Fire Stations to People Addicted to Opioids

New Hampshire City Opens Fire Stations to People Addicted to Opioids
Manchester, New Hampshire has opened the doors of its fire stations to people addicted to opioids, in an effort to address its community’s opioid crisis. The city of 110,000 people began its “Safe Station” program in May. Since then about 370 people have shown up at fire stations, The Wall Street Journal reports. A person walking into a fire station is checked for medical problems that might require a ride to the hospital. The person is then connected to a nearby nonprofit. Some end up in a recovery center or outpatient program, while others take information and return on another day. At least 70 percent of people who have sought help in fire stations have gone into treatment, according to Christopher Hickey, the fire department EMS officer who created the program.
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Medical Services for People Dependent on Opioids Rose 3,000% in Seven Years

Medical Services for People Dependent on Opioids Rose 3,000% in Seven Years
A new study finds medical services for people dependent on opioids rose more than 3,000 percent between 2007 and 2014, according to Kaiser Health News. The study is one of the first to analyze data from privately insured patients who are dependent on opioids. It was conducted by Fair Health, a nonprofit databank corporation focused on health care costs and insurance. Researchers used data from 150 million patients. A diagnosis of opioid dependence often leads to office visits, lab tests and related treatments, the study found. Patients with an opioid dependency diagnosis used these services 217,000 times in 2007, and 7 million times in 2014
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Street Drug Combining Fentanyl and New Synthetic Opioid Poses Danger

Street Drug Combining Fentanyl and New Synthetic Opioid Poses Danger
A street drug that combines fentanyl and a new synthetic opioid is being sold illegally as the prescription painkiller Norco, according to a new report. Researchers caution that the street version is much stronger and more hazardous than the real medication. The illegal version of Norco looks very similar to brand-name Norco, according to Dr. Patil Armenian of the University of California, San Francisco. She reported the case of a woman who took the illegal version of Norco in the Annals of Emergency Medicine. Legal Norco contains acetaminophen and hydrocodone, HealthDay reports. The illegal version has led to an unexpected cluster of fentanyl deaths in California this spring, Armenian said.
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Wristband Biosensors May Help Track Relapses in People in Recovery

Wristband Biosensors May Help Track Relapses in People in Recovery
A new study suggests wristband biosensors may be useful in tracking relapses in people in recovery from opioid addiction. The biosensors track how the body reacts to opioids. The study included 30 patients in a hospital emergency room, who were given intravenous opioid painkillers for acute pain. Each patient received a wristband biosensor, which measured the body’s response to the drugs. Some participants used opioids daily, while others rarely or never used the drugs. Researchers were able to use the biosensors to identify when an opioid was injected into a patient, by detecting less body movement and an increase in skin temperature, Medical Daily reports. People who used opioids daily had fewer changes in movement, compared to people who rarely or never used opioids. This information could be used by doctors to track patients’ tolerance to painkillers, which could help prevent them from becoming addicted when they are being treated for...
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12 Million Medicare Beneficiaries Received Commonly Abused Drugs

12 Million Medicare Beneficiaries Received Commonly Abused Drugs
Almost one-third of Medicare beneficiaries—nearly 12 million Americans—received a prescription for commonly abused opioids in 2015, according to a new report. Spending for these drugs exceeded $4 billion, according to the Associated Press. The high level of spending raises concerns about the misuse of these drugs, the report noted. The findings come from the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Opioid use can be appropriate in some cases,” the report states. “However, misuse of opioids not only has serious financial costs but also human costs, including deaths from overdoses. Moreover, these continuing high rates provide further evidence of this crisis facing our nation.” Medicare beneficiaries who got an opioid prescription received an average of five such prescriptions or refills. The most common opioids prescribed were OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, fentanyl or their generic equivalents, according to study author Miriam Anderson. “In fact, there were about...
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Some States See Large Decrease in Amount of Opioids Received by Injured Workers

Some States See Large Decrease in Amount of Opioids Received by Injured Workers
Some states are seeing a significant decrease in the amount of opioids received by injured workers, according to a new study. Reductions between 20 percent and 31 percent were seen in Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Texas. The study, by the Workers Compensation Research Institute, looked at 337,000 workers’ compensation claims in 25 states, and the 1.9 million prescriptions linked to those claims. The study compared the amount of opioids prescribed per claim over two 24-month periods. One period ended in March 2012, and the other in March 2014. The reductions in opioid claims coincided with reforms directed at opioid use, HealthDay reports. Workers who were off work for more than seven days were most likely to be prescribed opioids. Between 65 percent and 80 percent of these injured workers who were given pain medications received opioids in most states. Injured workers in Louisiana, New York and Pennsylvania were...
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Many Hip and Knee Replacement Patients Take Opioid Painkillers Months After Surgery

Many Hip and Knee Replacement Patients Take Opioid Painkillers Months After Surgery
Many patients who have undergone knee or hip replacement surgery are still taking prescription opioid painkillers up to six months after the operation, a new study finds. Some patients continue to use potentially addictive pain medications even though their hip or knee pain has improved, the findings suggest. The study also suggests persistent opioid use after knee or hip replacement surgery may be more common than previously reported, the researchers said. Continued opioid use after joint replacement surgery is not necessarily related to pain in the affected joint, the researchers said. “We hypothesize that the reasons patients continue to use opioids may be due to pain in other areas, self-medicating affective distress, and therapeutic opioid dependence,” they wrote in the journal Pain. Researchers at the University of Michigan studied opioid use in 574 patients undergoing knee or hip replacement surgery, Science Daily reports. They followed up with patients one, three and...
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Many Parents Keep Children’s Leftover Prescription Opioids at Home

Many Parents Keep Children’s Leftover Prescription Opioids at Home
Almost half of parents whose child had unused prescription opioid painkillers left over from a surgery or illness keep the medication at home, a new poll finds. Parents who have a discussion with their child’s doctor about how to properly dispose of the medication are much more likely to do so, the poll found. Researchers from the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, polled nearly 1,200 parents with at least one child ages 5 to 17. They found about one-third of parents said their children had received pain medication prescriptions, mostly for opioids such as oxycodone or hydrocodone, HealthDay reports.Only 8 percent of parents said they returned the unused medication to a pharmacy or doctor, while 30 percent disposed of the drugs in the trash or toilet, and 6 percent said other family members used the medication. Nine percent said they didn’t remember where the medications went. Only one-third...
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