New drug-driving law will affect some prescription medicines

From WebMD:

It is illegal to drive or to attempt to drive while impaired by alcohol or drugs. This is because drinking alcohol, or taking illegal drugs or some prescription medicines, can affect someone’s ability to drive safely. This summer, the government plans to update and clarify the law about ‘drug-driving’. It will state exactly which drugs are affected, and it will be an offence to drive if you have taken more than a specified level of that drug.

Although the list of drugs affected by the law will still mainly contain so-called ‘recreational’ drugs - things like cannabis, cocaine, heroin, and ecstasy - there are some names on it that people will recognise as medicines. The prescription medicines on the list include methadone, morphine, and benzodiazepines including diazepam and temazepam.

People taking medicines prescribed by their doctor shouldn’t have any difficulty. The new law will state that people who take prescription drugs will have a legal defence (that means it’s not likely they will be prosecuted) as long as:

--they haven’t been taking more than the recommended dose of their medicine, and
--they haven’t gone against the advice about their medicine given in the manufacturer’s information leaflet.

Doctors are already well aware of which prescription drugs can affect people’s ability to drive - usually by making them drowsy. And doctors should make sure people who use these prescription medicines know about how these drugs might affect them.

Posted: 1/28/2014 10:51:00 AM

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Painkiller-spiked heroin kills at least 17 in Pittsburgh region

From the New York Daily News:

Tainted heroin killed as many as 17 people in the region in the past seven days, including five suspected overdoses since Friday, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Authorities say the killer dope is spiked with the powerful narcotic, fentanyl, and is being sold in baggies stamped with the word "Theraflu."

Allegheny County medical examiner Karl Williams said his office typically sees 250 fatal overdoes at year.

At this rate, the county was looking at somewhere in the neighborhood of 800 deaths for 2014.

The rash of deaths brought to mind an epidemic of deadly “China White” heroin in the late 80s that killed nearly 20 and led to dozens more overdoses.

“China White” also contained fentanyl.

Posted: 1/27/2014 12:35:00 PM

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Scary New Drug 'Krokodil' Seen for First Time in Texas

From WOAI (Texas):

The Texas DEA tells 1200 WOAI news that it has experienced the first case of a Texan being treated for using a new type of drug which leaves the user with flesh lesions and turns the skin a scaly green color.

The 17 year old girl from Houston checked into a hospital in the Mexican state of Jalisco, where she had gone to visit relatives over the holidays. She was complaining of digestive problems, and doctors notices the fresh skin lesions and diagnosed the drug use.

Officials say the girl told them that she obtained and ingested krokadil in Houston. DEA agents are now keeping an eye on Texas emergency rooms, to see if any more cases pop up here.

Researchers say Russian chemists cooked up the homemade concoction, using the prescription painkiller codeine, along with other scary chemicals including gasoline and phosphorus.

Posted: 1/6/2014 9:36:00 AM

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Portable drug test a new addition at New Year's DUI checkpoints

From the Los Angeles Times:

The upcoming New Year’s crackdown on drunken driving will include a new test for many people who are pulled over — an oral swab that checks for marijuana, cocaine and other drugs.

The voluntary swabbing has been used just 50 times this year. But Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer is pushing to use it at more checkpoints and jails as officials try to limit the number of drivers impaired by substances other than alcohol.

“Traditionally, our office has focused on drunken driving cases,” Feuer said at a news conference Friday. “We’re expanding drug collection and aggressively enforcing all impaired-driving laws.”

Individuals arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs must submit to a blood test. But prosecutors said the eight-minute, portable oral fluids test could eventually become a more effective use of resources in drugged-driving cases.

The test screens for cocaine, benzodiazepine (Xanax), methamphetamine, amphetamines, narcotic analgesics, methadone and THC representative of marijuana usage within the past few hours.

Posted: 12/30/2013 9:34:00 AM

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Synthetic marijuana use down, but real pot use up among teens

From CBS News:

While use of synthetic pot is down among high schoolers, more teens are smoking real marijuana, a government survey revealed.

Health officials are concerned, as the survey also found fewer teens are worried about the potential dangerous effects from marijuana use.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institutes of Health released the 2013 Monitoring the Future survey on Wednesday. The annual survey asks eighth, 10th and 12th graders across the country about their drug use history and how they feel about illicit drugs. This year’s survey involved results from 41,675 students from 389 schools.

Synthetic marijuana -- often sold under the brands K2 or Spice -- was not as popular as it used to be among 12th graders. The survey showed 7.9 percent of high school seniors surveyed admitted to using it this year, while 11.9 said they smoked it last year.

Daily pot use among high school seniors was recorded at 6.5 percent, up 4 percent over the last 20 years. Overall, 23 percent of seniors, 18 percent of 10th graders and 12 percent of eight graders lit up in the month before being surveyed.

The survey's authors are concerned, because less than 40 percent of high school seniors believe that marijuana use will have negative effects. Those numbers are the lowest since 1978.

Part of the concern is because marijuana today is stronger than it used to be. In 1990, marijuana had about 3.35 percent Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient that gets users high. In 2013, pot contained a little less than 15 percent THC on average.

Over the last five years, opioid, alcohol and cigarette use also declined, according to the survey. Vicodin and salvia use was down amongst the oldest teens surveyed, as well as the use of inhalants by eighth graders. Cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine abuse levels remained low among students.

However, researchers were startled to find that non-medical use of Adderall has increased over the last four years. About 7.4 percent of high school seniors said they used Adderall recreationally in 2013. The researchers believe that teens think that using the prescription ADHD drug will help their grades, and there is some evidence they are using the pills to get high.

Antibacterial Soap No Longer FDA Approved?

From CBN News:

Antibacterial soaps might actually be dangerous to your health, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Millions of Americans choose antibacterial soaps and body washes, thinking they're better than ordinary soap.

But the FDA shocked consumers by announcing this week that these products aren't better at all, and in fact, could be a lot worse -- so bad they might be removed from store shelves.

Believe it or not, human beings have a lot of good bacteria in their bodies, important bacteria that actually keep us healthy.

But antibacterial soaps can kill those good bacteria, possibly leading to serious issues, like antibiotic resistance or hormone problems.

The FDA says research from animal studies suggested that daily exposure to antibacterial chemicals had an effect on estrogen, testosterone, and thyroid hormones.

But companies that make these products say the FDA's concerns are overblown.

The FDA wants to give antibacterial soap companies a year to prove their products are safe and better than regular soap. If they can't, the products must be reformulated, relabeled, or removed from store shelves by 2016.

Posted: 12/17/2013 2:11:00 PM

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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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