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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Treating Cocaine Addiction With Epilepsy Medication

There are no medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat cocaine addiction, Science Daily reports. Although, a new study has found that the drug topiramate, an epilepsy and migraine medication, may help in the treatment for cocaine dependence.

Dr. Bankole A. Johnson of the University of Maryland School of Medicine conducted an earlier study, which found topiramate to be a safe and effective treatment for alcohol dependence.

The new study published in July 2013, included 142 adults seeking treatment for cocaine dependence. Test subjects were randomly given either topiramate or a placebo. Those who received topiramate, researchers found, had an increased likelihood of staying cocaine-free for weeks. Furthermore, they found that topiramate decreased cocaine craving, and improved overall functioning.

“Our findings reveal that topiramate is a safe and robustly efficacious medicine for the treatment of cocaine dependence, and has the potential to make a major contribution to the global health crisis of addiction,” Dr. Johnson said in a news release. “However, topiramate treatment also is associated with glaucoma, and higher doses of the drug can increase the risk of side effects; therefore, caution must be exercised when prescribing the drug, especially when given in high doses.”

Side effects of the drug included: abnormal tingling skin sensations, taste distortions, anorexia, and difficulty concentrating.

The new study was published in JAMA Psychiatry.
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Monday, October 28, 2013

FDA Approves Pure Hydrocodone Drug

English: Logo of the U.S. Food and Drug Admini...
Vicodin (Hydrocodone) medication has long been one of the most heavily abused prescription narcotics on the market. Doctors will prescribe hydrocodone for just about any ailment, from broken bones down to a common cold. Hydrocodone is not the strongest pain medication on the market, because it is mixed with acetaminophen, a common over the counter pain reliever.

Last Friday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Zohydro ER (extended release), the first pure hydrocodone drug in the United States, the Associated Press reports. Zohydro is meant for patients with chronic pain, those who require long-term treatment that cannot be treated with other drugs.

In December of 2012, the FDA voted against recommending approval of Zohydro ER, citing concerns over the potential for addiction. In an 11-2 vote against approval, panel members stated that despite the drug’s maker, Zogenix, meeting requirements for safety and efficacy, it was thought that Zohydro could be used by people addicted to other opioids.

The panel changed their vote after backlash from patient safety advocates, who criticized the FDA’s decision. “We’re just going to kill more kids and then the FDA is going to come back and say, ‘oh, we made a mistake,’” said Avi Israel, founder of a group combating painkiller abuse in young people.

Israel’s son Michael committed suicide after battling with painkiller addiction.

In a statement, the FDA noted, “Zohydro ER will offer prescribers an additional therapeutic option to treat pain, which is important because individual patients may respond differently to different opioids.”

It is clear that approval of the drug will open the door to more abuse cases, as well as a higher potential for overdose due to the higher strength of Zohydro when compared to Vicodin.
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Maine Purchases Prescription Drugs Abroad

Pharmacy Rx symbol
A number of states are actively seeking ways to reduce health care costs for residents. One of the biggest costs associated with health care is prescription drugs, a multi-billion dollar industry that is controlled mainly by pharmaceutical companies in the United States.

States are looking outside the country to fulfill their prescription needs at a lower cost, but U.S. companies are not going down without a fight. Maine has passed legislation, making it the first state to allow prescription drugs to be purchased abroad, according to CBS News.

Between 2004 and 2012 Portland, the largest city in Maine, saved millions of dollars filling prescriptions through Canada. Unfortunately, in September 2012, Maine’s attorney general put a stop to the program between Portland, Maine and a Canadian prescription provider, CanaRx. Pressure from U.S. pharmacies prompted the halt of the program which was allowing residents to buy from Canadian pharmacies at a lower cost than U.S. pharmacies, the article notes.

However, a law reinstating the program this month to help deal with the rising cost of health care has been passed by local legislators. Portland Mayor Michael Brennan said the law “allows us to re-institute a program that has been very successful in the city…Cities across the country are looking at ways to reduce health care costs. One of the most significant cost drivers within health care is the cost of pharmaceutical or prescription drugs.”

Ordering drugs from Canada saved Portland employees more than $3 million from 2004 to 2012, according to Brennan.

Maine is now being sued by pharmaceutical companies over the new law, arguing it “puts Maine residents at risk of serious harm.” The argument is that drugs imported from Canada might be made in other countries with few safety regulations, patients may end up with counterfeit drugs.
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Monday, October 21, 2013

Ritalin Treatment With Addiction

English: Ritalin (Australian packaging)
Prescribing narcotic medications for people who struggle with addiction has always proved challenging. There are two schools of thought regarding addicts with co-occurring disorders; some believe that it is acceptable to prescribe certain narcotics to recovering addicts, while others believe that under no circumstance should addicts be prescribed drugs with the potential for abuse.

A number of addicts who seek treatment, struggle with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a problem that is usually treated with stimulants like Adderall, Ritalin, or Concerta. Stimulants are easily abused and many health professionals steer clear of them when treating addiction. However, new research suggests that Ritalin can successfully treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in people with substance dependence, according to Medical Xpress.

ADHD is more common in people with addiction than the general population, the article notes. Swedish researchers found that if Ritalin is administered in higher doses, it works well in the treatment of ADHD with people with substance dependence.

Higher doses are required because standard doses are not effective in people with both ADHD and substance dependence due to a tolerance to the drugs, researchers said.

The effect of the medication was observed on 54 prison inmates who had ADHD and dependence on amphetamines for 24 weeks. Those given the drug had fewer relapses into drug use, fewer symptoms of ADHD, and adhered to their treatment for longer, compared with prisoners given a placebo.

“We’ve shown for the first time that ADHD in these patients is treatable,” lead author Dr Maija Konstenius of the Karolinska Institute said in a news release. “Moreover, the treatment led to fewer relapses to drug use, which is a very significant finding since a return to crime is often linked to drug abuse in this group.”

The findings are published in the journal Addiction.
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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

How Much Alcohol Is In Your Drink?

This image shows a red wine glass.
People often fail to realize how much alcohol they are consuming when they take a drink. Every alcoholic beverage, whether beer, wine, or liquor, has varying alcohol content. This fact makes it hard for people to gauge their alcohol intake, according to a new report.

Not understanding how much alcohol a given beverage has can lead to people consuming more than they had planned, often leading to unfortunate events. Beer and wine makers are not required by federal law to list the alcohol content by volume on their beverages, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

“A one or two percentage point difference in alcohol content between beer brands may not sound like much, but proportionally it’s pretty big and the difference adds up over a number of drinks,” said Public Health Institute’s Alcohol Research Group report’s lead scientist, William Kerr.

A common drink has 0.6 ounces of alcohol, but many European beers have 8 to 10 percent alcohol by volume, and several American craft beers have between 6 and 7 percent. 

“A lot of the wines now are 14 percent or even 15 percent commonly, and the standard 5-ounce glass of wine doesn’t apply to that level,” Kerr told Health Day. “Really a 4-ounce glass is more appropriate. And we’ve learned from our studies of bars and restaurants that the average glass is a little bit over 6 ounces.” Kerr states that one glass of wine may actually contain about 50 percent more alcohol than a person expects.
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Monday, October 14, 2013

Craze Work Out Supplement Contains Meth-Like Substance

Photo of poppers.
People are always looking for an edge to make their workout experience pay off exponentially without having to do as much exercise. One can hardly read a magazine or go into a grocery store without seeing supplements, claiming to help speed the process of building muscle mass.

However, many supplements have hardly been testing and more and more supplements are geared toward energy. One such product, “Craze”, has become popular in a number of countries, but it contains a meth-like ingredient that has some failing drug tests, USA Today reports.

In the United States and South Korea, scientists have conducted some tests; their research of the supplement has shown that a chemical which originally appeared as an illicit designer recreational drug can be found in the product. Despite containing the meth-like ingredients, the makers of Craze, Driven Sports, claim their product is made with only natural ingredients, the article notes.

The scientists began testing Craze after athletes who said they had used the supplement failed several urine drug tests.

“These are basically brand new drugs that are being designed in clandestine laboratories where there’s absolutely no guarantee of quality control,” study co-author Pieter Cohen of Harvard Medical School told the newspaper. “It has never been studied in the human body. Yes, it might make you feel better or have you more pumped up in your workout, but the risks you might be putting your body under of heart attack and stroke are completely unknown.”

Due to the research, Walmart.com and a number of other online retailers stopped selling Craze earlier this year after USA Today reported that tests detected amphetamine-like compounds in the product. However, the work out super-store, GNC, continues to sell Craze in their stores and on other websites.

Driven Sports released a statement in response to the article, “Craze is a legal supplement that provides people with a tool to enhance their workouts, by combining natural extracts to increase their energy. Craze conforms to all U.S. federal regulatory requirements and is proven safe when used as directed. As is the case with any such supplement, the product and its ingredients are subject to regulation by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.”  

The findings appear in the journal Drug Testing and Analysis.
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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Early Puberty Could Lead to Substance Use

It is often the case that being a teenager means one will, at some point, experiment with drugs or alcohol. Pressure from peers or just general curiosity can be a driving force in a teenager's desire to try cigarettes and alcohol; this can lead to using other drugs as well.

Teenagers who start puberty early are more likely to try cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana, compared with those who begin on time or late, according to a new survey. 

About 6,500 boys and girls ages 11 to 17 took part in the survey that included questions about substance use in the last three months and the age when puberty started, HealthDay reports.

“While puberty is often thought of as a solely biological process, our research has shown that pubertal development is a combination of biological, psychological and social processes that all likely interact to influence risk-taking behavior like substance use,” study author Jessica Duncan Cance of the University of Texas at Austin said in a university news release.

“Our study suggests that being the first girl in the class to need a bra, for example, prompts or exacerbates existing psychological and social aspects that can, in turn, lead to substance use and other risky behaviors early in life,” she said.

The findings are published in the journal Addiction.
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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Prescription Narcotic Abuse Amongst Veterans

Pharmacy Rx symbol
Prescription pain narcotics work great to relieve pain, but at a high cost due to the great potential for abuse. Veterans who come home from war with injuries, both physical and psychological, are using drugs like hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone and morphine more than ever before. In fact prescriptions have jumped 270 percent in the past 12 years among VA patients, according to a report by the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR).

The report found that the death rate from opiate overdoses among Veterans Affairs (VA) patients is almost double the national average.

The VA has issued, on average, more than one opiate prescription per patient for the past two years. The over medicating of patients is becoming more and more common in order to meet the demand for more complex treatment.

“Giving a prescription, which they know how to do and are trained to do, is almost a default,” said Dr. Stephen Xenakis, a psychiatrist and retired brigadier general who served as commanding general of the Army’s Southeast Regional Medical Command.

The VA put forth regulations in 2009 that required doctors to follow an integrated approach when dealing with veterans in pain. They require a stronger focus on treating the causes of pain, as opposed to just reduce symptoms, the article notes.

Depending where you are in the country will dictate what kind of prescribing practices you see. In southern Oregon, doctors at a VA hospital prescribed eight times as many opiates per patient as those in the VA hospital in Manhattan, N.Y.
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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Molly: Popular Amongst Middle-Aged Professionals

English: 100% Pure Methylenedioxymethampethamine
MDMA has been a popular drug amongst teenagers and young adults, found mostly at dance clubs and festivals. In the past Ecstasy, the street name for pills of MDMA, was the drug people asked for in those circles. Now people are using MDMA in powder form, known as Molly, thought to be pure MDMA by its users. Molly has become popular amongst middle-aged professionals, according to a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent who spoke with NBC.

“They’ve sort of bought into this marketing plan by the criminal organizations that this is pure MDMA.  It’s as if it has some sort of organic value and, unfortunately, it’s anything but organic and pure,” says David Dongilli of the Philadelphia Division of the DEA.

MDMA is being mixed with all sorts of other substances by those selling the drug, Dongilli said. The more any drug is cut, the better the margins from the sellers point of view; unfortunately, the cutting agents can be extremely dangerous to the user.

“What you have are people ingesting rat poison, methamphetamine mixed with cocaine, acids and any other chemical that they can get together in pill form or some sort of crystallized [form], and sadly people are ingesting this and dying from it,” he said.

What’s more, Molly has proven difficult to track, rarely showing up in drug screens, so it is hard to tell how many are using the drug, according to Dr. Jeanmarie Perrone, Director of the Division of Medical Toxicology in the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania’s Emergency Department.

Health risks can include:
  • Increased Heart Rate
  • Seizures
  • Involuntary Teeth Clenching
  • Loss of Inhibitions
  • Transfixing on Sights and Sounds
  • Nausea
  • Blurred Vision
  • Chills
  • Sweating
Molly has become more popular a more popular recently with college students due to music stars like Madonna, Miley Cyrus and Kanye West singing about the drug.
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