In a twist completely apropos for 2018, Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, has received a patent for a medication designed to treat opioid addiction. Purdue Pharma is largely considered to be responsible for the current opioid epidemic.
The patent is not for an entirely new medication; rather, it is for a new and fast-acting form of an existing medication: buprenorphine.
Any public health official interested in resolving North America’s opioid crisis should be looking towards national legalization of medical marijuana. That’s the conclusion of two new studies recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine, an American Medical Association journal.
“In this time when we are so concerned — rightly so — about opiate misuse and abuse and the mortality that’s occurring, we need to be clear-eyed and use evidence to drive our policies,” said W. David Bradford, an economist at the University of Georgia and an author of one of the studies. “If you’re interested in giving people options for pain management that don’t bring the particular risks that opiates do, states should contemplate turning on dispensary-based cannabis policies.”
Imagine feeling so thirsty and hungry that your entire survival depends on quenching it. Now imagine that same mighty thirst for drugs and alcohol. An urge so powerful it tells you that you will die without them. That is just a small glimpse of what it is like to be an addict.
America is currently in the midst of a devastating opioid epidemic. In 2016 alone, 64,000 Americans died from a drug overdose, which is more than the number of casualties from the Iraq and Vietnam wars combined. Unfortunately, addiction is heavily stigmatized and misunderstood, and many people believe that the disease is the result of a choice, a moral failing or lack of willpower. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Cigarettes can be one of the most difficult addictions to quit, as addictive as heroin. So the rise of vaping—inhaling vaporized nicotine through electronic “e-cigarettes”—has been touted as the perfect solution to help smokers quit, or to offer a less toxic alternative to smoking.
However, recent research has begun to look more closely at these allegedly reduced risks of vaping to health and finding them not as benign as they had initially thought.
Is sugar really as addictive as cocaine and other drugs? Just how addictive is sugar? These questions have been buzzing for years.
In the 1960s, the idea of healthy food consumption was still novel. The understanding that fats affect our risk of heart disease was also new; public consciousness was not yet centered on the effects of fats and sugars on our bodies and overall health. Since the 1960s, however, numerous independent and peer-reviewed studies have concluded that sugar consumption is a substantial component when it comes to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. The sugar industry denies all such claims.
In 2016 alone, prescription opioids, heroin and synthetic opioids like fentanyl were responsible for more than 64,000 deaths. Fentanyl alone accounted for a 600 percent increase in opioid-related deaths between 2014 and 2016. In the journey to solve this epidemic, addiction researchers may have finally stumbled upon an answer that could one day save thousands of lives and slow down the tragedy eroding parts of the country--a vaccine that might inoculate the brain against drugs like heroin and other opioids.
While heroin and its prescription cousins, like Vicodin and oxycontin, are plenty addictive themselves, drug users have been turning to synthetic versions of these drugs that “can sometimes be as much as 100 times more potent than heroin,” said chemist Kim D. Janda of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in California at a recent meeting of the American Chemical Society. Black market opiates are rumored to be as much as 10,000 times more powerful than morphine. “Moreover, many patients [are] receiving treatment relapse," Janda added.