DEA Further Restricts Hydrocodone Combination Products

From: Medscape

The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) voted today (Aug 21) to move forward with rescheduling hydrocodone combination products (HCPs) from schedule III to schedule II drugs. Schedule II medications are considered to be the most potentially harmful and open to abuse.

In addition to containing hydrocodone, HCPs also contain nonnarcotic substances such as aspirin or acetaminophen. Although hydrocodone by itself is classified as a schedule II drug, HCPs have been in the schedule III classification ever since the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) was first passed by Congress back in 1971.

"Based on the consideration of all comments, the scientific and medical evaluation and accompanying recommendation of the HHS,...the DEA finds that these facts and all other relevant data constitute evidence of potential for abuse of HCPs," write the DEA in their final rule.

"As such, the DEA is rescheduling HCPs as a schedule II controlled substance under the CSA," they add.

Substantial Feedback

HCPs are currently approved for marketing for the treatment of pain and for cough suppression.

The DEA published its formal proposal in February and asked for feedback, which could be given until April 28. The organization received 573 comments, of which 52% supported the recommended rescheduling, 41% opposed, and 7% did not voice a definitive opinion.

Patrick Morrisey, the attorney general from West Virginia, the state with the highest per capita rate of prescription drug overdoses in 2013, was among those who wrote in support of the rescheduling.

"This reclassification is not only justified given the high abuse and addiction potential of hydrocodone prescription painkillers, it is necessary to combat the drug abuse epidemic that is destroying so many...communities," wrote Morrisey.

"Rescheduling hydrocodone is one way to help prevent this drug from falling into the wrong hands and will ensure that these drugs are handled with the same precautions as other pain medications, such as oxycodone, hydromorphone, and fentanyl," he added in a release.

Also falling under the schedule II classification are illegal substances, such as methamphetamine and heroin, and prescribed medications, such as dextroamphetamine sulphate (Adderal, Teva Pharmaceuticals).

Once the final rule goes into effect, anybody who handles HCPs will be subject to the CSA's schedule II regulatory controls. This will include "administrative, civil, and criminal sanctions applicable to the manufacture, distribution, dispensing, importing, exporting, engaging in research, conducting instructional activities, and conducting chemical analysis" of these substances.

In addition, any individual who handles or desires to hand HCPs will need to register with the DEA.

The final rule will be published in the Federal Register on August 22, 2014.

 

Concerns Over New Dangerous Drug "Gravel" Spreading To Central Ohio

From WBNS-10TV (Columbus, OH):

Law enforcement is being warned tonight about a new, dangerous drug called gravel.

The cocktail can include rat poison, bath salts and methamphetamine. It reportedly makes users paranoid and suicidal.

It got the name gravel by the way it looks.

"When you combine a variety of drugs, none of which are good, you get a combination of something that is even worse than the sum of its parts," said Paul Coleman, the president and CEO of Maryhaven.

The new drug is being tracked in the southern part of the United States. A task force there is now warning law enforcement here in Central Ohio that it may be heading this way.

Posted: 2/27/2014 9:36:00 AM

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Leaving Track Marks: Meth continues its deadly course

From the Elko Daily Free Press:

Methamphetamine is simple to make, if you know how to do it. The drug can be produced through various chemical processes that use household materials, such as Drano, lithium batteries, matches, lighter fluid and cold medication. The chemicals used from the items to make meth are called precursors.

“A lot of people think meth is dangerous because of all the chemicals that go into it, but that’s not necessarily true,” said Barry K. Logan, president of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, during a phone interview with the Free Press. “All those chemicals can be toxic in themselves ... but together they create their own chemical, methamphetamine.”

Logan, who holds doctorates in both chemistry and forensic toxicology, is also the national director of NMS Labs, an independent forensic laboratory in Willow Grove, Pa., that specializes in new drug detection and forensic analysis for criminal justice and death investigation agencies.

Meth is a central nervous system stimulant, Logan said.

“Once the drug gets into the brain, it releases a cascade of brain chemicals inside the user,” he said. “Meth makes people think everything is moving fast around them. They get motor restlessness syndrome and they can’t stand still, they have to be constantly moving.”

Throughout his research, Logan found that many users reported a sense of contentment before the fall.

“Euphoria is gradually replaced with mounting anxiety, inability to concentrate, and delusions,” Logan wrote in an article about the effects of meth. “The user is anxious, irritable, short-tempered, and introspective. Pseudohallucinations can occur, and paranoia sets in.”

This tweaking phase may last for hours and repeat for days, known as bingeing.

If you’re a severe abuser, you may go on “runs” that could last as long as 30 days.

These runs, known scientifically as high-intensity binges, gradually deteriorate your state of mind and frequently end in a psychotic state, according to Logan’s article.

Aside from the mental disorders associated with meth abuse, the drug takes a deadly toll on the body as well. Chronic use of meth can lead to cardiovascular disease, liver disease, stroke, neurological complications (like seizures) and pulmonary problems (like pneumonia).

Addicts commonly have missing or fractured teeth and are subject to gum disease, according to a report written by Dr. Richard A. Rawson, associate director of the Integrated Substance Abuse Programs at UCLA.

Sexually transmitted diseases are also common among meth addicts due to increased risky sexual behaviors and other associated risk behaviors, such as sharing needles, while being on the drug, Rawson wrote.

Despite its lethal consequences, meth remains a staple crop of the drug industry and because of ongoing efforts to stop meth production, the hardcore drug continues to evolve.

Posted: 7/15/2013 1:36:00 PM

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Cartels flood US with cheap meth

From the Associated Press:

Mexican drug cartels are quietly filling the void in the nation's drug market created by the long effort to crack down on American-made methamphetamine, flooding U.S. cities with exceptionally cheap, extraordinarily potent meth from factory-like "superlabs."

Although Mexican meth is not new to the U.S. drug trade, it now accounts for as much as 80 percent of the meth sold here, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. And it is as much as 90 percent pure, a level that offers users a faster, more intense and longer-lasting high.

The cartels are expanding into the U.S. meth market just as they did with heroin: developing an inexpensive, highly addictive form of the drug and sending it through the same pipeline already used to funnel marijuana and cocaine, authorities said.

Seizures of meth along the Southwest border have more than quadrupled during the last several years. DEA records reviewed by The Associated Press show that the amount of seized meth jumped from slightly more than 4,000 pounds in 2007 to more than 16,000 pounds in 2011.

During that same period, the purity of Mexican meth shot up too, from 39 percent in 2007 to 88 percent by 2011, according to DEA documents. The price fell 69 percent, tumbling from $290 per pure gram to less than $90.

Posted: 10/11/2012 2:44:00 PM

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Crack is back and a new scourge is on its way

From wptv.com (St. Lucie County, FL):

If you want an instant assessment of the hottest trends in illegal drugs today, just ask corrections officials at the St. Lucie County jail. They see the latest results every day.

Trevor Morganti is the classification manager at the jail. He confirmed a trend I'd noticed in recent news reports.

Crack is back and cases involving crystal methamphetamine are on the rise, Morganti said. He sits in on first court appearances by jail inmates and tracks what offenses they're being charged with.

In addition to meth cases, Morganti is also seeing new variants of synthetic marijuana and expects to see many more of those in the future.

Some law enforcement officials credit the rise of the new drugs and the re-emergence of old "favorites" as evidence that crackdowns on prescription drug abuse are having an effect.

Posted: 10/1/2012 8:45:00 AM

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NEW STUDY: Hawaii leads nation in meth use at work

From HawaiiNewsNow:

A new study released Friday by Quest Diagnostic Incorporated shows that Hawaii has the highest percentage in the nation of methamphetamine users at work.

According to the study, Hawaii workers test positive for the drug at a rate that's four times higher than the national average.

A University of Hawaii psychiatry professor says Hawaii's location is a prime reason why meth use is so high.

"We're directly in transit lanes of areas of highest production in Korea and the Philippines," Dr. William Haning said. "And it tends to make importation into Hawaii very easy. This is not a drug this is readily identified through the usual screening techniques."

Haning says another reason is the island's service economy, in which many users take meth in an effort to work longer, harder and multiple jobs.
Posted: 9/6/2011 9:42:00 AM

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Use of Marijuana, Ecstasy, Methamphetamine on Rise in U.S.

From HealthDay News:

Illegal drug use in the United States increased from 2008 to 2009, federal drug officials reported Thursday, citing growing acceptance of marijuana and an upswing in ecstasy and methamphetamine use.

Driven largely by growing use of marijuana, drug use among those aged 12 and older rose from 8 percent in 2008 to 8.7 percent in 2009, according to a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. This represents the highest usage in nearly a decade, officials said.

The report, based on a survey of some 67,500 people throughout the country, noted non-medical use of prescription drugs rose from 2.5 percent in 2008 to 2.8 percent in 2009.

Monthly use of ecstasy climbed from 555,000 in 2008 to 760,000 in 2009. The number of methamphetamine users shot up, too, from 314,000 to 502,000 over the year, according to the report.

Posted: 9/17/2010 10:26:00 AM

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Turning to Drugs to Stop Addiction

From Drug Discovery & Development:

Could a once-a-month alcoholism shot keep some of the highest-risk heroin addicts from relapse? A drug that wakes up narcoleptics treat cocaine addiction? An old antidepressant fight methamphetamine?

This is the next frontier in substance abuse: Better understanding of how addiction overlaps with other brain diseases is sparking a hunt to see if a treatment for one might also help another.

We're not talking about attempts just to temporarily block an addict's high. Today's goal is to change the underlying brain circuitry that leaves substance abusers prone to relapse.

It's "a different way of looking at mental illnesses, including substance abuse disorders," says National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Dr. Nora Volkow, who on Monday urged researchers at the American Psychiatric Association's annual meeting to get more creative in the quest for brain-changing therapies for addiction.

Rather than a problem in a single brain region, scientists increasingly believe that psychiatric diseases are a result of dysfunctioning circuits spread over multiple regions, leaving them unable to properly communicate and work together. That disrupts, for example, the balance between impulsivity and self-control that plays a crucial role in addiction.

These networks of circuits overlap, explaining why so many mental disorders share common symptoms, such as mood problems. It's also a reason that addictions - to nicotine, alcohol or various types of legal or illegal drugs - often go hand-in-hand with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.

So NIDA, part of the National Institutes of Health, is calling for more research into treatments that could target circuits involved with cognitive control, better decision-making and resistance to impulses. Under way:

-Manufacturer Alkermes Inc. recently asked the Food and Drug Administration to approve its once-a-month naltrexone shot - already sold to treat alcoholism - to help people kick addiction to heroin and related drugs known as opioids.

-Studies at several hospitals around the country suggest modafinil, used to fend off the sudden sleep attacks of narcolepsy, also can help cocaine users abstain.

-An old antidepressant, bupropion, that's already used for smoking cessation now is being tested for methamphetamine addiction, based on early-stage research suggesting it somehow blunts the high.

Medication isn't the only option. Biofeedback teaches people with high blood pressure to control their heart rate. O'Brien's colleagues at Penn are preparing to test if putting addicts into MRI machines for real-time brain scans could do something similar, teaching them how to control their impulses to take drugs.

Minn. court: Bong water can count as illegal drug

From the Associated Press:

In Minnesota, bong water can count as an illegal drug.

That decision from Minnesota's Supreme Court on Thursday raises the threat of longer sentences for drug smokers in that state who fail to dump the water out of bong — a type of water pipe often used to smoke drugs.

The court said a person can be prosecuted for a first-degree drug crime for 25 grams or more of bong water that tests positive for a controlled substance.

Lower courts had held that bong water is drug paraphernalia. Possession of that is a misdemeanor crime.

The case involved a woman whose bong had about 2 1/2 tablespoons of liquid that tested positive for methamphetamine. A narcotics officer had testified that drug users sometimes keep bong water to drink or inject later.

New meth formula avoids anti-drug laws

From the Associated Press:

This is the new formula for methamphetamine: a two-liter soda bottle, a few handfuls of cold pills and some noxious chemicals. Shake the bottle and the volatile reaction produces one of the world's most addictive drugs.

Only a few years ago, making meth required an elaborate lab — with filthy containers simmering over open flames, cans of flammable liquids and hundreds of pills. The process gave off foul odors, sometimes sparked explosions and was so hard to conceal that dealers often "cooked" their drugs in rural areas.

But now drug users are making their own meth in small batches using a faster, cheaper and much simpler method with ingredients that can be carried in a knapsack and mixed on the run. The "shake-and-bake" approach has become popular because it requires a relatively small number of pills of the decongestant pseudoephedrine — an amount easily obtained under even the toughest anti-meth laws that have been adopted across the nation to restrict large purchases of some cold medication.

An Associated Press review of lab seizures and interviews with state and federal law enforcement agents found that the new method is rapidly spreading across the nation's midsection and is contributing to a spike in the number of meth cases after years of declining arrests.

The new formula does away with the clutter of typical meth labs, and it can turn the back seat of a car or a bathroom stall into a makeshift drug factory. Some addicts have even made the drug while driving.

The pills are crushed, combined with some common household chemicals and then shaken in the soda bottle. No flame is required.

Using the new formula, batches of meth are much smaller but just as dangerous as the old system, which sometimes produces powerful explosions, touches off intense fires and releases drug ingredients that must be handled as toxic waste.

One little mistake, such as unscrewing the bottle cap too fast, can result in a huge blast, and police in Alabama, Oklahoma and other states have linked dozens of flash fires this year — some of them fatal — to meth manufacturing.

After the chemical reaction, what's left is a crystalline powder that users smoke, snort or inject. They often discard the bottle, which now contains a poisonous brown and white sludge. Dozens of reports describe toxic bottles strewn along highways and rural roads in states with the worst meth problems.

The do-it-yourself method creates just enough meth for a few hits, allowing users to make their own doses instead of buying mass-produced drugs from a dealer.

The federal government and dozens of states adopted restrictions on pseudoephedrine in 2005, and the number of lab busts fell dramatically.

The total number of clandestine meth lab incidents reported to the Drug Enforcement Administration fell from almost 17,400 in 2003 to just 7,347 in 2006.

But the number of busts has begun to climb again, and some authorities blame the shake-and-bake method for renewing meth activity.

The AP review of 14 states found:
  • At least 10 states reported increases in meth lab seizures or meth-related arrests from 2007 to 2008.
  • The Mississippi State Crime Lab participated in 457 meth incidents through May 31, up from 122 for the same period a year ago — a nearly 275 percent increase.
  • Several states, such as Oklahoma and Tennessee, are on pace this year to double the number of labs busted in 2008. The director of Tennessee's meth task force said the pace of lab busts in his state is projected to be about 1,300 for 2009, compared with 815 for all of 2008.
  • Some states lack a central database to monitor cold medicine sales, so meth cooks circumvent state laws by pill shopping in multiple cities and states — a practice known as "smurfing" that allows them to stay under restrictions placed on sales.
Traci Fruit, a special agent with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, said law enforcement officials are becoming increasingly frustrated because there's no way to tell who is buying what "unless we go from store to store ourselves and pull up the records."

Historically, rural states like Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas have been hotbeds for meth use because an important ingredient in the traditional method, anhydrous ammonia, was easily available from tanks on farms where it's used as a fertilizer. But the new formula does not need anhydrous ammonia and instead uses ammonium nitrate, a compound easily found in instant cold packs that can be purchased at any drug store.

Data from the Justice Department and the DEA data suggest the method could only be in its early stages, and "shake-and-bake" labs have recently been discovered as far north as Indiana and as far east as West Virginia.

States surveyed by the AP also included: Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Florida, Tennessee, Kansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

Posted: 8/25/2009 9:07:00 AM

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