New products in works to replace banned bath salts, synthetic pot, salvia

From The Patriot-News:

When horror stories about bath salts and synthetic marijuana began circulating, lawmakers in Pennsylvania acted swiftly to ban the so-called fake drugs.

But manufacturers are even quicker.

Today is the first day that brands of bath salts, synthetic pot and salvia are illegal in this state.

By Wednesday, a yet-to-be-named product will be on the shelves of at least one local head shop, promising to have the same effects of synthetic marijuana.

“It’s incredible,” said George Geisler of the Pennsylvania DUI Association. “But they say that as fast as these products are outlawed they will come up with new ones, so it will never end.”

That has some wondering whether this will continue as a cycle: more new drugs and more new laws.

Since Gov. Tom Corbett signed the ban into law last month, customers at Hemp’s Above in Mechanicsburg have been asking: “Are they coming out with anything else?”

Owner Brian Edmonson said about three-quarters of his sales came from synthetic pot while it was legal. Now he’ll sell a new mixture, but he said the stuff doesn’t have a name, and he’s not sure if he should call it incense, or potpourri — or something else.

Edmonson says he asks for identification from every customer, but most of his clients are over 30, and about half use synthetic marijuana for therapeutic reasons.

The forensic society might not be prepared for these drugs.

“They can’t test it like they test coke and marijuana,” said midstate attorney Justin McShane, who says he specializes in forensic science.

When you’re caught with an illegal drug — in your possession or in your blood — police have to confirm that the substance is actually the outlawed chemical compound.

For drugs that are familiar, there is an answer key. McShane says that isn’t down to a science for these newly banned synthetic drugs. He thinks it will cause problems in the courts.

Edmonson says his suppliers tell him Pennsylvania’s law is one of strictest of the 30 states that had banned the fake drugs by midsummer. But some fear the laws can’t keep up.

Modified Ecstasy Compounds Have Powerful Anti-Cancer Properties

From Medical News Today:

Altered forms of MDMA (Ecstasy) which are 100 times better at destroying cancer cells could be used to effectively treat patients with leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma, according to an article in Investigational New Drugs. The authors, from the University of Birmingham, UK, explained that while Ecstasy is already known to have anti-cancer qualities, these modified forms of the drug are 100 times more powerful.

Scientists at the same research department at the University of Birmingham had already discovered that certain psychotropic drugs, such as Ecstasy, some antidepressants and weight-loss pills were effective in suppressing the development of white blood cancer cells.

The problem was that in order for those drugs to have any significant effect on cancer patients, the dosage would have to be so high that it would kill them. Hence, the researchers have spent the last six years trying to separate and isolate their cancer-busting properties so that patients could be spared being given the toxic ingredients. They worked with scientists from the University of Western Australia.

The Australian scientists created the new, modified compounds.

The British researchers found that these modified compounds were 100 times more powerful at combating cancer cells than Ecstasy. They say they also now understand the mechanism behind them.

The modified forms of MDMA have not been tested on animals yet, because of the toxic effects they have on the brain and nervous system. In this study, the scientists added various molecular groups to the drug and then tested the MDMA analogues against B cell lymphoma cells (Burkitt's lymphoma), and then against other B-cell lymphomas. They were able to observe how the compounds destroyed the cancer cells. Initially, their compounds were found to be 10 times as effective as MDMA. After adding other related compounds the effectiveness rose to 100 times more powerful than Ecstasy.

The scientists plan to progress to pre-clinical studies soon.

Posted: 8/22/2011 8:47:00 AM

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Oxycodone toll in Florida spotlights prescription drug dangers

From CBS News:

New data shows Florida's prescription drug deaths have increased nearly 9 percent last year compared to 2009 despite an aggressive crackdown by law enforcement officials.

Oxycodone was the number one killer, causing 1,516 deaths in 2010, compared to 1,185 the year before. Overall, there were 2,710 deaths in Florida last year caused by prescription drugs, compared to 2,488 in 2009. For the second year in a row, prescription drugs continued to outpace illegal drugs as a cause of death - there were almost three times as many deaths in Florida last year attributed to oxycodone compared with cocaine.

Florida has been a leading source for the illicit purchase of prescription drugs, with addicts and dealers from across the Southeast flocking to clinics for fixes.

Posted: 8/17/2011 8:33:00 AM

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Deer Antler Supplements Might Be A Major Challenge For Pro Sports' Drug Policies

From ThePostGame:

Both Major League Baseball and the NFL have now warned players about products labeled as containing velvet deer antler. But that may be all the leagues can do. That's because the banned hormone the antler products are said to include are difficult to flag -- even with blood testing.

The growth hormone associated with velvet deer antler, Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1), is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency and all major sports leagues. But the national lab that tests supplements for the MLB and the NFL, NSF International, does not have a test for it.

"We don't know how it's metabolizing," says Ed Wyszumiala, general manager of NSF International's dietary supplement certification program. "There's not enough scientific data."

In its letter to players last week, MLB voiced concern about another possible issue with The Ultimate Spray, adding it to its list of "potentially contaminated nutritional supplements." The League says it is acting on reports from drug-testers that the spray could produce positive tests for methyl-testosterone -- a banned testosterone byproduct.

This reaction comes only weeks after the $5.4 million ruling for St. Louis Rams linebacker David Vobora in his lawsuit against Anti-Steroid Program LLC, another of Ross' companies. The suit alleged that the cause of Vobora's failed drug test in 2009 was his use of The Ultimate Spray. Vobora sent the bottle of spray he claims to have used to a lab and it was found to contain methyl-testosterone.

However, Ross says he sent a bottle to NMS Labs in Pennsylvania and provided those results to ThePostGame. They came back negative for methyl-testosterone. ThePostGame sent a sample of The Ultimate Spray to respected testing lab Anti-Doping Research and those results also came back negative for methyl-testosterone.

None of the athletes who have admitted using The Ultimate Spray to ThePostGame has tested positive for either IGF-1 or methyl-testosterone.

FDA: Caution urged with chronic fluconazole use during first trimester

From the AAP News:

Chronic, high doses (400 mg/day) of the antifungal drug Diflucan (fluconazole) may be associated with a rare and distinct set of birth defects in infants whose mothers were treated with the drug during the first trimester of pregnancy, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The risk does not appear to be associated with a single, low dose of fluconazole (150 mg) to treat vaginal candidiasis.

Based on the information, the FDA changed the pregnancy category for fluconazole indications other than vaginal candidiasis from category C to category D. That means there is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on human data, though potential risks from use of the drug in pregnant women with serious or life-threatening conditions may be acceptable despite the risks.

Posted: 8/11/2011 12:32:00 PM

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Hip Joints Set Off New Rush to Court

From The Wall Street Journal:

About 1,000 lawsuits have been filed in federal and state courts accusing the drug and medical-device maker of knowing about problems with some of its metal-on-metal hip joints before Johnson & Johnson's DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. unit stopped making them in 2009. J&J, which later recalled the joints world-wide, denies the allegations and is fighting back.

J&J recalled its metal-on-metal hip joints last year after British data showed them wearing down or otherwise requiring replacement at unusually high rates. That was the first indication the company had of any flaws in the product, the DePuy spokeswoman said.

Some patients had to undergo risky and expensive surgery to remove and replace the recalled implant—a metal ball and socket designed to replicate a natural hip joint.

J&J estimates that about 37,000 patients in the U.S. and about 93,000 world-wide have received the recalled device. The DePuy spokeswoman said the company will cover the cost of all medical care associated with the device, including replacement surgery.

Some patients who received the recalled hip joint, the so-called articular surface replacement, or ASR, system, say in their lawsuits that medical tests showed chromium and cobalt in their bloodstreams and allege the potentially toxic metals came from parts of the joint wearing down and leaching into their system.

Though the DePuy spokeswoman said the recalled joints contain cobalt and chromium, she said it wasn't clear whether the devices contributed to elevated levels of those metals in patients' blood or how many patients might have this problem.

In May, the FDA said particles from the metal-on-metal hip joints, such as cobalt and chromium, might wear off and make their way into a patient's blood. The agency said this could contribute to heavy concentrations of cobalt and chromium in the body but it wasn't clear if that would cause symptoms—such as trouble seeing and diseased heart muscle—that had been reported by a "small number" of those who received the joints. To better understand potential health effects, the FDA ordered J&J and other makers of the metal-on-metal joints to monitor the devices for possible health risks.

Posted: 8/2/2011 3:41:00 PM

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