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Dangerous New Drug Kratom Being Sold Legally In Illinois

From CBS 2 (Chicago):

The DEA says there’s a new and dangerous drug popping up all over the country and parents need to be on the look-out for it. The CBS 2 Investigators found while it’s banned in some states it’s being legally sold all over the Chicago area.

Wesley Todd manufactures a controversial pill called Kratom, and is based in Florida, with a distribution and processing center in California.

He and other Kratom sellers — use plant leaves grown in Indonesia and Thailand. Kratom is banned in Thailand and law enforcement officials say Kratom acts similar to an opiate. There is a buzz all over the internet and numerous testimonials from people on Youtube who compare it to Oxycontin or a sedative.

Todd — who runs a company called Mayan Kratom — said it’s all-natural, safe, and helped him deal with the lasting effects from injuries suffered in motorcycle crash.

CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini reports, while some call it an alternative herb, others call it a potentially deadly addictive sedative — including Jack Riley, Special Agent in Charge for the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

“This is as dangerous as it comes. It can cause heart rate going up sweating going up blood pressure going up and if you have other medical conditions it could actually be life threatening,” Riley said.

Riley says in small doses it’s considered a stimulant, and in larger doses a sedative.

Posted: 11/20/2013 1:46:00 PM

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Phthalates Associated With Increased Risk for Preterm Births

From Medscape:

Ubiquitous manmade chemicals known as phthalates, found in some plastics, personal care products, and foods, among other things, are associated with increased preterm births, especially those involving spontaneous preterm deliveries, according to a study published online November 18 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Shanna H. Swan, PhD, professor, Department of Preventive Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City, author of an accompanying editorial, writes that the study made "an important public health contribution by demonstrating a sizable impact of phthalates, a class of commonly used chemicals, on a health outcome of major public health concern: the growing burden of preterm birth."

The study authors found significant associations for the phthalate di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) metabolites and for metabolites of mono-n-butyl phthalate (MBP) among all preterm births and among spontaneous preterm births. The research identified additional associations for spontaneous preterm births with increased levels of mono-benzyl-butyl phthalate metabolites and MBP metabolites.

Further, the research found that odds ratio rose with the amount of phthalate metabolite found, with women in the 75th percentile for MEHP, MECPP, DEHP, and MBP at more than 2 times the risk for preterm birth as women in the lowest quartile. The effect was much stronger when only spontaneous preterm births were considered. For instance, women in the 75th percentile for MECPP had an OR of 5.23 for spontaneous preterm birth and an OR of 2.39 for any preterm birth. For MEHP, DEHP, and MBP, women in the highest quartile had ORs greater than 3.5 for spontaneous preterm births.

Posted: 11/19/2013 10:47:00 AM

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FDA-approved immune-modulating drug unexpectedly benefits mice with fatal mitochondrial defect

From the University of Washington:

The transplant anti-rejection drug rapamycin showed unexpected benefits in a mouse model of a fatal defect in the energy powerhouses of cells, the mitochondria. Children with the condition, Leigh syndrome, show progressive brain damage, muscle weakness, lack of coordination or muscle control, and weight loss, and usually succumb to respiratory failure.

Leigh syndrome is often diagnosed within the first year of life. Affected children rarely survive beyond 6 or 7 years. At present, the disorder, which can result from several different underlying causes, has no effective treatment.

Reporting this week in Science Express, UW researchers said that they found that treatment with rapamycin “robustly enhances survival and attenuates disease progression in a mouse model of Leigh’s syndrome.” Given as a daily injection, the drug delayed the onset of neurological symptoms, reduced brain inflammation, and prevented brain lesions.

For most of their lives, the treated mice breathed normally, and did not clasp their legs against their bodies, a posture characteristic of this and related brain disorders in mice. Unlike the untreated mice, they could balance and run on a rotarod, a miniature log rolling exercise toy. Both the median and maximum lifespans within the group of treated mice were strikingly extended, the authors noted.

The median lifespan for this mouse condition is 50 days. In comparison, treated males lived a median of 114 days, and females 111 days. The longest survival in the treated group was 269 days, more than triple that of the untreated animals.

“We were excited at the findings because of the potential impact on treatment for kids with this or related mitochondrial diseases,” said the senior author of the study, Dr. Matt Kaeberlein, UW associate professor of pathology. “Similar intervention strategies might also prove useful for a broad range of mitochondrial diseases or for other conditions resulting from mitochondrial dysfunction."

Posted: 11/15/2013 11:27:00 AM

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Couple found dead in home killed by lethal new synthetic drug

From The Times-Picayune:

A couple found dead Oct. 7 inside an Old Metairie home, overdosed on a relatively new synthetic opioid that has already gained a lethal reputation in New England. Toxicology tests disclosed that the couple had taken acetyl fentanyl, a deadly drug five times more potent than heroin, said Mark Bone, chief investigator for the Jefferson Parish coroner's office.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an emergency alert after health officials in Rhode Island identified a cluster of 14 overdose deaths related to the drug. Ten of those deaths occurred in March.

Bone said the couple's toxicology screens also showed the presence of the pain killer hydrocodone and carisoprodol, a muscle relaxant known by its brand name, Soma. But the main cause of death was the acetyl fentanyl.

Acetyl fentanyl resembles heroin and can be injected, though law enforcement agencies in Rhode Island are beginning to see the drug in pill form. The drug is not available by prescription and is not used to treat anything, according to the CDC.

Acetyl fentanyl is so new that few law enforcement agencies and health officials know of its existence.

Acetyl fentanyl is not yet classified into one DEA's five schedules of controlled dangerous substances. But Davis said the drug is illegal. Law enforcement agencies treat acetyl fentanyl as an controlled substance analogue, a drug substantially similar to an illegal version.

Posted: 11/1/2013 12:36:00 PM

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