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Thursday, January 29, 2015

People Look to "Vaping" to Meet their Nicotine Needs

More people are turning to e-cigarettes to quit smoking than ever before, even though the products cannot be marketed as approved smoking cessation devices. The sale of nicotine gums and patches are declining as people look to "vaping" to meet their nicotine needs, Reuters reports. The global e-cigarette market is worth $5 billion.

The nicotine replacement industry has grown exponentially in the last few years; in 2014 product sales worldwide grew 1.2 percent, to almost $2.4 billion, according to the article. The United States accounted for $900 million of those sales. Big tobacco companies, such as Altria, Lorillard and Reynolds American dove into the e-cigarette market with their own versions of liquid smoke.

While the devices are not approved for smoking cessation, it doesn’t mean that there are not success stories. In fact many have cut back their tobacco intake, and some have quit tobacco altogether. Marty Weinstein, 58, a Connecticut taxi driver who had smoked for more than 20 years decided to quit smoking. With the aid of an e-cigarette, he went from a pack a day nine months ago to the equivalent in nicotine of four or five cigarettes.

"I fully understand I'm still addicted to nicotine," said Weinstein. "But I'm now so much healthier."

Many smokers that have tried patches and gum experienced little success, which makes using an e-cigarette worth a shot. Doctors acknowledge the low efficacy of traditional ways to quit smoking.

"They have better results than placebos, but their rates of success are quite low," said Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor at the Boston University School of Public Health.

The use of e-cigarettes is still in its infancy, so there is not much data on health problems associated with vaping. But, many argue that vaping is certainly healthier than smoking tobacco, and may actually be an effective aid in quitting altogether.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Clinton Foundation Bargains for Naloxone

If every prescription opioid or heroin abuser and their loved ones had access to the lifesaving overdose antidote naloxone, the United States would see a dramatic drop in overdose death rates - saving a number of lives. In the past, naloxone was only available in an injection form that was used only in medical settings; now the drug is available in an aerosol nasal spray, known as Evzio™, which can be administered by a layman.

A number of law enforcement officials across the country have begun carrying the spray kits in their squad cars. The problem is, after recognizing the market value of such a drug, the price of naloxone has nearly doubled - making the drug unaffordable for a number of municipalities.

On Monday, The Clinton Foundation announced the negotiation of a lower price for the Evzio™ device, The New York Times reports. Institutions, such as police departments and universities will be able to purchase Evzio™ at a lower price, widening the reach of the life saving drug.

The chief executive of the Clinton Health Matters Initiative, Rain Henderson, declined to announce the negotiated price, only saying that the new price was close to what the federal government pays for naloxone, according to the article. Henderson said the government has the bargaining power to get a lower price, while municipalities and other health agencies were required to negotiate prices individually.

“These are lifesaving devices, like defibrillators,” Henderson said. “They should be available to everyone, but that’s not happening because of the cost.”

The more states that get on board with home use naloxone kits, the more lives that can be potentially saved. Towards the end of 2014, there were 24 states with laws in place that allow doctors to prescribe naloxone to friends and family members of opioid abusers, removing legal liability for prescribers and for those who administer the drug.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tobacco Free Awareness Week

This is Tobacco Free Awareness Week. While smoking rates in America continue to drop with every year that passes, the costs of smoking continue to rise - not just health wise. The personal, health and financial costs of smoking cigarettes are staggering, more than one might ever imagine.

A new study has found that an average of $1.4 million goes up in smoke per person in a lifetime, CBS News reports. Researchers calculated the cumulative cost of a cigarette pack per day over a 51 year period, between the years of 18 and 69, the average age a smoker passes away.

Next, researchers factored in how much smokers would have earned if they placed their money into the stock market. When you couple the two factors together, tobacco costs an average of $1.03 million after a lifetime of smoking, the study found.

 Many smokers are unaware of the costs of health care for smoking related illnesses. Quitting not only “saves you the money of not buying a pack, but you don’t realize how much you are saving in health care and insurance premiums,” said WalletHub spokeswoman Jill Gonzalez. “That is really what will impact people, seeing all of these prices added together.”

Naturally, in southern states where American tobacco is grown, taxes are lower, which means the lifetime cost of purchasing cigarettes was significantly lower than the country’s average.

The highest smoking costs were found in Alaska ($2.03 million). 

After Alaska, the highest smoking costs were found in: Connecticut ($1.99 million); New York ($1.98 million); Massachusetts ($1.98 million); Rhode Island ($1.95 million); New Jersey ($1.87 million); Hawaii ($1.85 million); Washington, D.C. ($1.75 million); Vermont ($1.74 million); and Washington ($1.67 million).

The 10 states with the lowest smoking costs are: South Carolina ($1.1 million); West Virginia ($1.1 million); Kentucky ($1.1 million); Mississippi ($1.15 million); Georgia ($1.15 million); Tennessee ($1.17 million); Alabama ($1.18 million); Missouri ($1.18 million); North Carolina ($1.19 million); and Louisiana ($1.2 million).

The findings can be found on WalletHub.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Dallas Taylor Passes On

The recovery community is saddened this week at news of the loss of Dallas Woodrow Taylor, Jr (66), former drummer for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Later in life Taylor involved himself in the recovery community, working as a drug and alcohol counselor specializing in interventions; for almost 30 years he had an active role in showing countless people a new way of life, one free from the chains of substance abuse.

Dallas played at Woodstock with CSNY and appeared on seven top-selling albums, but was plagued by substance abuse which ultimately resulted in his exit from the band in 1970 after the release of the album Déjà Vu, the Times reports. He liked to say that he made his first million — and his last million — by the time he was 21.

The `60’s and `70’s was time when people in the music industry partied hard, but Taylor's drug use stood out. Keith Moon, the wild drummer for the Who, warned Taylor about the price he ultimately would have to pay for his drug use, according to the Los Angeles Times.

"Keith was always rock's No. 1 bad boy — he invented the whole thing with trashing hotel rooms," Taylor told The Times in 1990. "But I remember him telling me, 'Dallas, you do too much drugs.'"

In 1989, due to the years of heavy drinking, Taylor was diagnosed with terminal liver disease which required a transplant. At the time he was already in recovery and his friends held a benefit concert in 1990 to raise funding for the transplant. With five years of sobriety Taylor received the liver transplant.

Sadly, Taylor’s health would never be a 100 percent and in 2007 he needed kidney transplant, which he received from his wife. Dallas passed away on Sunday January 18th, 2015.

Taylor is survived by his: wife, son Dallas, daughters Sharlotte and Lisa, and five grandchildren.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Taylor's loved ones.

Here you can enjoy a video of Dallas on the drums with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young playing "Down By The River." Circa 1970.

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

E-cigarette Regulations Being Called For

The argument over what to do with e-cigarettes continues. Despite the widespread use of e-cigarettes, very little is actually known about them. Some contend that the devices are an effective smoking cessation product, while others hold that e-cigarettes are just a nicotine alternative. In the recovery community e-cigarettes have become very popular as of late. Nevertheless, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is being called on by two organizations representing cancer researchers and specialists, to form e-cigarette regulations similar to traditional cigarettes, HealthDay reports.

Together, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) have issued recommendations to the FDA.

The organizations would like e-cigarette producers to give the FDA a list of all their products’ ingredients, according to the article. They would also like the FDA to require:
  • Warning labels about nicotine addiction.
  • Ban on all marketing and selling to minors.
  • Childproof caps for liquid nicotine containers.
The AACR and the ASCO say that tax revenues from traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes should be used for continued research on e-cigarettes. More information is needed regarding the potential dangers of e-cigarettes and whether or not the devices are effective smoking cessation products.

“We are concerned that e-cigarettes may encourage nonsmokers, particularly children, to start smoking and develop nicotine addiction,” ASCO President Dr. Peter Paul Yu said in a news release. “While e-cigarettes may reduce smoking rates and attendant adverse health risks, we will not know for sure until these products are researched and regulated.”

Until more is known about e-cigarettes people should use the devices with caution and keep them away from children.

The recommendations were published in ASCO's Journal of Clinical Oncology and the AACR journal Clinical Cancer Research.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Metabolizing Nicotine May Affect Quitting

Quitting cigarettes, or any nicotine product for that matter, is extremely difficult and can often take years to accomplish. Despite there being a number of smoking cessation products available, determining which is the right one can be tricky. Many smokers will juggle back and forth between certain products before finding the one that works.

New research suggests that how people metabolize nicotine differently may hold the answer to finding out which smoking cessation product will work best for each patient, Medical News Today reports. The study was joint research project between four different universities.

The research was conducted at:
  • Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia
  • Centre for Addiction and Health at the University of Toronto, Canada
  • State University of New York at Buffalo, New York
  • The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston
A total of 1,246 treatment-seeking smokers were recruited for the study, according to the article. After testing the metabolisms of each smoker, participants were separated into two groups. There were 662 "slow metabolizers" and 584 considered to be "normal metabolizers."

Each participant was given 11 weeks of treatment with behavioral therapy, but the kind of treatment each participant received was random. Participants were assessed at the end of the 11-week period, then again at 6 and 12 months.

Participants were treated with either:
  • The nicotine patch plus a placebo pill.
  • Varenicline plus placebo patch.
  • Placebo patch and pill.
Among the normal metabolizers, nearly 40% of varenicline users had not relapsed compared with 22% of patch users. Among slow metabolizers, the results were found to be about the same. However, slow metabolizers who were given varenicline reported more overall side effects, leading researchers to believe that slow metabolizers would benefit more from patches than pills.

"Matching a treatment choice based on the rate at which smokers metabolize nicotine could be a viable strategy to help guide choices for smokers and ultimately improve quit rates,” says lead author Caryn Lerman, PhD, professor of psychiatry and director of Penn Medicine's Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Nicotine Addiction. “These findings not only support the use of the nicotine metabolite ratio as a biomarker to guide treatment choices, but also underscore the notion that tobacco dependence is a heterogeneous condition and that smoking cessation treatments are not equally effective for all smokers."

The findings were published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

DEA Bans Three Synthetic Cannabinoids

Despite the dangers associated with synthetic marijuana, young adults and teenagers continue to seek out products, such as K2 and Spice. While government efforts to crackdown on the production and distribution have been somewhat successful by moving quickly to ban the chemicals that get sprayed on the benign herbs, the manufacturers move just as quickly to alter the formula and rename the ingredient.

The DEA recently banned three synthetic cannabinoids that have been commonly used for the production of synthetic marijuana, according to The Hill. The compounds were placed into the Schedule I classification of the Controlled Substances Act, meaning the drugs have a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.

The banned synthetic cannabinoids are:
  • AB-CHMINACA N-(1-amino-3-methyl-1-oxobutan-2-yl)-1-(cyclohexylmethyl)- 1H-indazole-3-carboxamide
  • AB-PINACA N-(1-amino-3-methyl-1-oxobutan-2-yl)-1-pentyl-1H-indazole-3-carboxamide
  • THJ-2201 1-(5-fluoropentyl)-1H-indazol-3-yl](naphthalen-1-yl) methanone
Synthetic marijuana has been known to cause:
  • Loss of Control
  • Lack of Pain Response
  • Pale Skin
  • Agitation
  • Uncontrolled/Spastic Body Movements
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Profuse Sweating
  • Elevated Blood Pressure
  • Elevated Heart Rate
  • Heart Palpitations
“The placement of these synthetic cannabinoids into Schedule I of the [Controlled Substances Act] is necessary to avoid an imminent hazard to the public safety,” writes the DEA in the Federal Register. “Exposure incidents involving [synthetic marijuana] continue to be documented by poison control centers in the United States as the abuse of these substances remains a threat to both the short- and long-term public health and safety."

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

FDA Approves Injectable Non-Opioid Painkiller

Prescription drug companies in the United States continue to seek out effective ways for treating moderate to severe pain without the use of opioid narcotics, drugs which have brought many Americans to their knees. Opioids are the most effective substances on the planet for the treatment of pain, but such drugs are highly addictive and if used improperly can be fatal - a double edge sword of epic proportions.

While the problem has been recognized, doing something about it has proven extremely difficult, although researchers are working tirelessly to find alternatives. The pharmaceutical company, Hospira Inc, announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had granted approval for its non-opioid injection, Dyloject™ (diclofenac sodium), a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that provides fast relief to patients suffering moderate to severe pain, Reuters reports.

What separates Dyloject™ from other injectable non-opioid painkillers is that it can be administered within 15 seconds, whereas other drug of that class require dilution prior to administration, needing an infusion of 15 to 30 minutes for a full dose, according to Hospira. Dyloject™ can be used with other non-opioid painkillers and can be administered alone.

"In today's healthcare environment, pain management and patient satisfaction are important to hospitals. As a result, various medical organizations are now recommending a multi-modal approach to pain control in an effort to minimize the use of opioids," said Sumant Ramachandra, M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president and chief scientific officer, Hospira. "As a leading supplier of hospital pain management medication, Hospira's Dyloject™ will be a complementary addition to our existing portfolio of acute-care drugs, providing clinicians an additional non-opioid option that can be administered quickly and conveniently to treat pain."

The company points out that Dyloject™ is not a replacement for opioids, but rather an aid in reducing the amount of opioids used on a given patient.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Canadian Army Drug Use

The United States military has been battling substance abuse within its ranks for years. Soldiers coming back from the wars in the Middle East often times self-medicate in order to cope with their struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as physical ailments. In many cases, American soldiers are prescribed a number of mind altering substances that are highly addictive.

However, the American armed forces are not the only ones seeing a rise in drug use, it turns out that substance abuse is on the rise with the Canadian Army, reports the fix. Data collected from random drug tests showed that the use of marijuana and cocaine are on the rise.

Urine samples from more than 4,000 participants from the majority of ranks and age groups were collected, according to the article. Of those collected, 279 (6.6%) tested positive for at least one drug. Researchers found that 5.3% of all samples tested positive for marijuana, up from 4.2 percent in 2012. The data showed that 44 urine samples tested positive for cocaine. Some of the samples, low rates, were found to test positive for morphine, methamphetamine, MDMA and MDA.

While the Canadian Forces have a zero-tolerance policy towards drugs, none of the soldiers who tested positive will be disciplined because “no urine sample can be attributed to a specific member,” as a spokesperson for the Defense Department noted. The report offered no definitive reasons for the rise in use; however it was pointed out that the highest number of positive tests may have come from younger and non-commissioned members.

The rise in marijuana use could be the result of more relaxed views on marijuana throughout Canada and the United States. Polls suggest that more than half of the country are in favor of full legalization, notes the article.

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