NEWS

17Aug 2017

Drug overdose deaths continue to climb in the United States, despite efforts to combat the nation’s ongoing opioid addiction crisis, a new federal report states.

The drug overdose death rate reached 19.9 cases for every 100,000 people during the late summer of 2016, compared with 16.7 cases per 100,000 the year before, the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) stated in its quarterly mortality report.

The 12-month overdose death rate also showed an increase. The rate was 18.5 overdose deaths per 100,000 people for the 12-month period ending in September 2016, compared with 16.1 deaths per 100,000 during the same period a year before, the NCHS said.

The increase shows that drug deaths have continued to rise from 2015, which itself had been a record-breaking year for overdose deaths.

A total 52,404 people died from overdose in 2015, a 75 percent increase from the 29,813 overdose deaths in 2005, the NCHS reported.

About 33,091 of overdose deaths in 2015 involved opioids. Prescription or synthetic opioid pain relievers — like Percocet, OxyContin and fentanyl — were implicated in more than two-thirds of opioid-related overdose deaths, the agency said.

On the same day the NCHS statistics were released, President Donald Trump said he would receive a “major briefing” on the opioid crisis with top administration officials Tuesday afternoon at his private golf club in Bedminster, N.J.

Trump said he would be joined at the 3 p.m. ET meeting by Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price and acting Director of National Drug Control Policy Richard Baum, according to published reports.

The president is still reviewing a preliminary report on the opioid crisis from the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, which he established in March, a White House spokesman told the Washington Post.

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21Jul 2017

A Macomb County factory owner sees a chance to increase production at his metal-stamping plant. He puts out a call for job applicants and dozens respond.

About half are rejected. Why? They cannot pass a basic pre-employment drug test.

A major manufacturing facility in Detroit furloughs workers during a downturn. When 100 of the workers are called back several months later, every last one of them fails the company’s drug screening, mostly for marijuana.

In Traverse City, an addiction treatment center surveys 30 companies across the region and finds only 1-in-4 conduct drug tests. The reason: They fear the results would require them to reject or fire the workers they desperately need.

“More often than not, we are finding that employers are not testing because of that problem,” said Chris Hindbaugh, executive director of Addiction Treatment Services. “They’d rather not know. And that’s dangerous.”

Across Michigan, employers say they can’t fill job openings because too many people can’t pass a drug test. Shortages are particularly acute in manufacturing, construction,  warehousing or shipping companies, which routinely impose pre-employment drug screening for workers who operate heavy machinery or heavy-haul trucks.

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17Jul 2017

One month after the FDA asked it to remove an opioid from the market, pharmaceutical maker Endo has announced it will pull the drug.

The company said in a statement posted on its website it still believes in the efficacy and safety of Opana ER, or oxymorphone hydrochloride.
The FDA said the request was the first time it had asked that an opioid pain medication be pulled because of “the public health consequences of abuse.”
Opana ER is a powerful painkiller, about twice as powerful as OxyContin, another often abused opioid.
Endo said it had worked for years to “combat misuse and abuse.” The drug was approved in 2006 and was intended to be used to manage moderate to severe pain over a long period with just one pill.
But addicts crushed it to get a massive high all at once
So, the company made the tablets with a coating that made them hard to crush. It also changed the formula in 2012.
The FDA said post-market data suggested that after the company reformulated the medication, people were injecting it more than they were snorting it.
10Jul 2017

Potheads everywhere use today, as an informal celebration of what it means to smoke, eat and vape marijuana.

Again, like every year, people will honor the day by smoking lots and lots of weed. Meanwhile, marijuana still toes the line between recreational drug and medicine, while the federal government deems it illegal without any health benefit.

The truth is, doctors and addiction experts have only had a whiff of evidence on marijuana’s effects, positive or negative. Medicinally, marijuana can treat chronic pain, nausea and the effects of multiple sclerosis. However, experts are likely to tell you it’s too early to define marijuana’s effect without more testing.

In the meantime, people continue to use the drug recreationally and medicinally. Here’s what experts say happens when you smoke weed every day:

Dr. Stuart Gitlow, a professor at the University of Florida and a past president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, said marijuana is much stronger than it was years ago, giving a more psychedelic feel rather than a mild sense of intoxication.

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07Jul 2017

The number of youngsters binge drinking across the U.S. has dropped dramatically, according to new research.

Figures from a national survey on drug use by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) show a significant fall in the number of young drinkers taking part in booze binge sessions since 2010.

Between 2010-2012 nearly 16 percent of all 12- to 20-year-olds nationwide engaged in binge drinking — defined in the study as consuming five or more alcoholic drinks on a single occasion in the last 30 days. But that number has now dropped to 14.4 percent, according to statistics collected from 2012 to 2014.

The report still points to 5.5 million underage drinkers taking part in alcohol binges across the U.S., but the drop shows that there are now half a million fewer adolescents drinking to a dangerous excess.

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27Jun 2017

Legalizing recreational marijuana use in Colorado, Oregon and Washington has resulted in collision claim frequencies that are about 3% higher overall than would have been expected without legalization, according to a new analysis from the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI).

HLDI, part of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), reported in a statement on Thursday that it conducted a combined analysis using neighbouring states as additional controls to examine the collision claims experience of Colorado, Oregon and Washington before and after law changes. Control states included Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming, plus Colorado, Oregon and Washington prior to legalization of recreational use, the statement said. During the study period, Nevada and Montana permitted medical use of marijuana, Wyoming and Utah allowed only limited use for medical purposes, and Idaho didn’t permit any use. Oregon and Washington authorized medical marijuana use in 1998, and Colorado authorized it in 2000.

HLDI also looked at loss results for each state individually compared with loss results for adjacent states without legalized recreational marijuana use prior to November 2016.

Data spanned collision claims filed between January 2012 and October 2016 for 1981 to 2017 model vehicles. Analysts controlled for differences in the rated driver population, insured vehicle fleet, the mix of urban versus rural exposure, unemployment, weather and seasonality.

HLDI noted that that collision claims are the most frequent kind of claims insurers receive. Collision coverage insures against physical damage to a driver’s vehicle in a crash with an object or other vehicle, generally when the driver is at fault. Collision claim frequency is the number of collision claims divided by the number of insured vehicle years (one vehicle insured for one year or two vehicles insured for six months each).

“The combined-state analysis shows that the first three states to legalize recreational marijuana have experienced more crashes,” said Matt Moore, senior vice president of HLDI, in the statement. “The individual state analyses suggest that the size of the effect varies by state.”

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