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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FDA and Opioids: What's Going On Here?

From MedPage Today:

Against the recommendation of its own advisors (who voted 11-2 in December not to approve the drug), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new high-dose narcotic painkiller, a drug that the FDA concedes has a high risk for abuse and one which was using a method that critics say may give the drug the appearance of greater efficacy.

Zohydro ER will be the first hydrocodone-only opioid, and it will come in doses packing five to 10 times more heroin-like narcotic than traditional hydrocodone products such as Vicodin that combine hydrocodone with over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

Though the narcotic in Zohydro ER is designed to be released slowly over 12 hours, pleasure seekers will be able to crush it, chew it or mix it with alcohol to unleash its full punch at once. That abuse potential would have been blunted if the FDA required that the drug be formulated with abuse-prevention technology -- a process the FDA has publicly backed, but did not require in this case.

Tthe FDA concluded that the benefits of Zohydro outweighed its risks and that data show it is safe and effective for round-the-clock use. Its label will have prominent warnings about abuse. The label will urge prescribers to monitor patients for addiction or misuse.

But during the FDA advisory committee hearing last December, a company official said an abuse-deterrent formulation of the drug was only in early development and was "several years away from the market."

Friday's approval of Zohydro is the latest action by the agency, which recently has been the target of claims that it is too friendly toward the opioid industry. And it comes follows closely complaints that the FDA had not done enough over the years to curtail the booming overuse of opioids.

The U.S. already consumes 99% of the hydrocodone used in the world.

Posted: 10/29/2013 12:25:00 PM

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FDA Approves Investigational Trials Assessing Cannabidiol for Pediatric Epilepsy

From eNews Park Forest (IL):

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved two clinical trials to assess the efficacy of cannabidiol (CBD), a nonpsychoactive plant cannabinoid, in the treatment of intractable pediatric epilepsy. The two approved trials will take place at New York Medical School and at the University of California at San Francisco.

Cannabidiol has been documented to possess a variety of therapeutic properties in preclinical models, including anti-epileptic activity. Clinical trials have shown the oral administration of CBD to be "safe and well tolerated" in healthy subjects.

Posted: 10/25/2013 12:35:00 PM

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"Unreal" Overdose Spike Has Officials Ready to Fight Opioid Drugs

From NBC10 Philadelphia:

An alarming number of drug overdoses has officials in one Bucks County township gearing up for a fight.

In the past month, 63 people have overdosed in Bensalem, Pa. on opioid drugs like heroin and prescription pain killers that include oxycodone and vicodin says township Director of Public Safety Fred Harran.

While heroin is widely known as a dangerous and severely addictive narcotic that’s long been a target of the war on drugs, Harran says it’s the prescription painkillers that are a bigger source of concern.

Between 80 and 90-percent of the crimes committed in the town are tied in one way to drugs, according to Harran. He says the drug seekers are both a mix of local residents and visitors traveling to the town to get high.

Harran and other public safety officials have been meeting to determine an attack plan to cut down on drug use and availability. The director says he’s not ready to release every detail about the plan, but said the department’s actions would be "groundbreaking."

A new report released on Monday from the Trust for America’s Health found Pennsylvania has the 14th highest rate of drug overdose deaths. The report found the Commonwealth had 15.3 overdose deaths per 100,000 residents in 2010. Most of those deaths involved the use of prescription drugs.

In Philadelphia, city officials have seen what they call a startling spike in addiction rates, deaths and confiscations by police of opioids like prescription pills and heroin.

Nationally, drug overdose is the leading cause of injury death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drug overdose deaths have jumped 102-percent from 1999 to 2010 and as of the last reporting in 2010, 60-percent of those deaths were related to pharmaceuticals.

The CDC also found that of the 38,329 overdose deaths in 2010 that involved pharmaceuticals, 75-percent involved some form of opioid.

Deadly drug 'N-bomb' claims teen's life

From WHTM ABC27.com (Harrisburg, PA):

A new designer drug is believed to be responsible for the death of a Cumberland County high school student.

Dauphin County Coroner Graham Hetrick said a 17-year-old Trinity High School student who died from an overdose last month had a drug called "25I-NBOMe" in his system.

A synthetic version of LSD, or acid, 25I-NBOMe is also known by the street names "N-bomb," "251" and "smiles." It is sometimes sold as LSD, unbeknownst to the buyer.

Across the nation, at least six deaths have been linked to its use. The drug currently is unregulated by federal law, but Louisiana, Florida and Virginia have been trying to ban it.

Posted: 10/7/2013 11:16:00 AM

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The Most Horrifying Drug in the World Comes to the U.S.

From TIME:

A flesh-eating drug called Krokodil, because it makes user’s skin scaly and green before it rots away, has arrived on American soil. The Banner Poison Control center in Arizona has reported the first two users of the drug — which has been available in Russia for more than a decade — here in the U.S.

Krokodil most closely resembles morphine or heroin and is injected into the veins. It is made of codeine, a painkiller often used in cough syrup, and a mix of other materials including gasoline, paint thinner, and alcohol.

“As far as I know, these are the first cases in the United States that are reported,” Dr. Frank LoVechhio, co-medical director at Banner Good Samaritan Poison and Drug Information Center in Arizona, told CBS 5. “So we’re extremely frightened.”

When it is injected, the drug rots the skin by rupturing blood vessels, causing the tissue to die. As a result, the skin hardens and rots, sometimes even falling off to expose the bone. ”These people are the ultimate in self-destructive drug addiction,” Dr. Ellen Marmur, chief of dermatological and cosmetic surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City told Fox News, “Once you are an addict at this level, any rational thinking doesn’t apply.”

Posted: 9/27/2013 11:30:00 AM

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Suboxone: The New Drug Epidemic?

From the National Pain Report:

A drug increasingly being used to treat opioid addiction may be fueling a new epidemic of diversion, overdose, addiction and death in the United States.

The drug’s name is buprenorphine, but it is more widely known by its brand name – Suboxone – which for many years was sold exclusively by Reckitt-Benckiser, a British pharmaceutical company. Since Reckitt’s patent on Suboxone expired in 2012, several other drug makers have rushed to introduce their own formulations – hoping to grab a share of the $1.5 billion market for Suboxone in the U.S.

Two generic versions of buprenorphine were introduced earlier this year. And this month a Swedish drug maker began selling a menthol flavored tablet – called Zubsolv – that is designed to mask the bitter taste of buprenorphine. Other formulations of the drug include a film strip that dissolves under the tongue and a buprenorphine skin patch. One company is even developing a buprenorphine implant to be inserted under the skin.

“This is insanity,” says Percy Menzies, a pharmacist and addiction expert. “Buprenorphine is one of the most abused pharmaceuticals in the world.”

Buprenorphine is a narcotic, a powerful and potentially addicting painkiller that was first approved as a treatment for opioid addiction in the U.S. in 2002. When combined with naloxone to make Suboxone, the two drugs can be used to help wean addicts off opioids such as heroin, Vicodin, OxyContin, and hydrocodone. Naloxone blocks opioid receptors in the brain and central nervous system.

Over three million Americans with opioid dependence have been treated with Suboxone. Although praised by addiction experts as a tool to wean addicts off opioids, some are fearful the drug is overprescribed and misused.

A report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found a ten-fold increase in the number of emergency room visits involving buprenorphine. Over half of the 30,000 hospitalizations in 2010 were for non-medical use of buprenorphine.

How many died from buprenorphine overdoses is unknown, because medical examiners and coroners do not routinely test for the drug.

The problem with Suboxone, according to Menzies, is that many addicts have learned they can use the medication, not to treat their addiction, but to maintain it. Suboxone won’t get them “high” but it will help them smooth out withdrawal symptoms between highs.

Suboxone is so popular with addicts that it has turned into a street drug – to be bartered or exchanged for money, heroin or other illegal drugs. According to one estimate, about half of the buprenorphine obtained through legitimate prescriptions is either being diverted or used illicitly.

Posted: 9/24/2013 10:22:00 AM

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