Opioid analgesic drugs, like morphine and oxycodone, are the classic double-edged swords. They are the very best drugs to stop severe pain but also the class of drugs most likely to kill the person taking them. In a recent journal article, I outlined how a combination of state-of-the-art molecular techniques, such as CRISPR gene editing and brain microinjection methods, could be used to blunt one edge of the sword and make opioid drugs safer.
A new study shows that fentanyl test strips nudge drug users to take extra precautions.
Over the last two decades, as prescriptions for opioids began to soar, rates of addiction and overdose deaths increased in parallel.
Rising intravenous drug use has created new public health epidemics of hepatitis C and deadly bacterial infections.
What if addiction is less about drugs and genetic propensities and more about circumstances? It's a question the powers-that-be might not be comfortable hearing, but for decades Bruce Alexander has worked to make addiction as we know it a thing of the past.
The CDC blamed the increase in drug overdose deaths, as well as a continuing increase in suicides, for a drop in life expectancy in 2017, making that year the third in a row in which life expectancy fell or remained flat.
Several immunizations show initial promise, but when they will be available remains murky.
For people who do want treatment, however, the good news is that three FDA-approved medications exist to treat opioid addiction. Together, the three are often termed “medication-assisted treatment,” or MAT.
How much to prescribe, and to whom, is a complicated medical question.
The US is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. It’s the world’s center of innovation and medical science, yet the country can’t keep their youth from dying. US millennials are now dying at such high rates that it’s driven life expectancy in the country to decline for two years in a row, the first time that’s happened since the early 1960s. The primary cause for the trend is the opioid crisis.
Politicians and the media are ignoring the one solution that could make a difference: more and better treatment.
Medications like buprenorphine help save lives, and we need to prescribe them, now. But we also can’t lose sight of the larger solution, which must be more than just 15 minutes and a pill.
Few primary care doctors are willing to do what Nicole Gastala has: endure the challenges of prescribing buprenorphine, a medication for opioid addiction.
If you looked across the epidemic, you would see junkies, smugglers, cops, ruined veins and broken mothers, all connected in a vicious puzzle stretching from the poppy fields of Mexico to the cracked streets of Georgia and, finally, into scattered graveyards, where prayers and hymns echo over coffins of the fallen.
America’s heroin and opioid scourge is intimate and distant, resounding and silent. It is a haunted landscape of slack-faces, failed recoveries and holding cells.
Prisons aren’t linking people to adequate addiction treatment — and many are dying as a result.
We’re not really doing much of anything to solve this problem.
The death of Prince underscores the opioid abuse epidemic in America that is created by the over-prescribing of opioids to treat pain known by names like Percocet, OxyContin, Fentanyl and Vicodin.
While a strong case can be made for carefully reducing doses in voluntary patients, no data support nonconsensual or forcible dose reductions or curtailment in otherwise stable patients. There is also anecdotal evidence of harm (emotional trauma, medical or psychiatric deterioration, and suicide).
Opioids could kill nearly half a million people across America over the next decade as the crisis of addiction and overdose accelerates.
Deaths from opioids have been rising sharply for years, and drug overdoses already kill more Americans under age 50 than anything else. STAT asked leading public health experts at 10 universities to forecast the arc of the epidemic over the next decade. The consensus: It will get worse before it gets better.
Drug overdose deaths, once rare, are now the leading cause of accidental death in the US, surpassing peak annual deaths caused by motor vehicle accidents, guns, and HIV infection.
As a former public health official, clinician, and researcher, I’ve been engaged in efforts to control the opioid addiction epidemic for the past 15 years.
The data shows that the situation is dire and getting worse. Until opioids are prescribed more cautiously and until effective opioid addiction treatment becomes easier to access, overdose deaths will likely remain at record high levels.
Fellow users who provided the drugs that caused overdoses are being treated like murderers. That won’t solve the problem.
The current drug crisis already kills more people than guns or cars. But a new study suggests it’s even worse than the current numbers say.
If nothing is done, we can expect a lot of people to die: A forecast by STAT concluded that as many as 650,000 people will die over the next 10 years from opioid overdoses — more than the entire city of Baltimore. The US risks losing the equivalent of a whole American city in just one decade.
The reason, says Ruhm, is the “drug environment.” The overprescribing of opioids and the increased availability of cheap heroin from Mexico is a much better explanation for the US’s jump in mortality than socioeconomic decline.
Medication-assisted treatment is often called the gold standard of addiction care. But much of the country has resisted it.
Technology and data have helped solve and address many social problems in recent years. But local governments still aren’t doing enough data sharing about health-related issues. Down the road, we will face another epidemic that seems unlikely, even impossible right now. Laying down a practice of using data in a transparent and up-to-date fashion will arm agencies to respond and collaborate better in the future.
Over the last few years opioids have gotten a lot of bad press. But is profit motive more to blame than the drug itself?
This documentary offers an immense amount of information as it follows the lives of three individuals. Here are five key takeaways as efforts continue to end the opioid epidemic.
Leaving a jail or prison is a particularly risky time for opioid users, due to lower tolerance and the increased prevalence of fentanyl.
The CDC’s latest recommendations are an attempt to reel those prescriptions in. Notably, one of the first recommendations is to treat chronic pain without opioids when possible.
Doctors are not the only ones responsible for the opioid epidemic, but as Dr. Murthy makes clear, they’ll have to play a leading role in the fight against it.
A new study reveals a correlation between drug companies’ payments to doctors and opioid prescriptions.
There is a danger in doing something to solve a problem without fully understanding the possible consequences of such actions.
Carfentanil is the most potent commercial opioid in the world, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. It is 10,000 times stronger than morphine, and at least 100 times more powerful than its analog, the opioid fentanyl, which was linked to Prince's untimely death.
The opioid epidemic has been called the worst drug crisis in American history. Death rates now rival those of AIDS during the 1990s, and with overdoses from heroin and other opioids now killing more than 27,000 people a year, the crisis has led to urgent calls for action. The epidemic didn’t happen overnight.
Even today, many feel better about Americans taking “medical heroin” than medical marijuana.
Houry emphasized that “ EDs are a critical entry point for prevention of overdose , with opportunities to improve opioid prescribing, respond to overdoses with overdose education and naloxone distribution, engage in motivational interviewing of patients, initiate treatment for opioid use disorder, and improve surveillance efforts in collaboration with health departments. EDs and physicians who engage in these efforts can save patient lives and reduce health care costs.”
Uncomfortably aware of the struggle patients face, the pharmaceutical industry is at a crossroads while political and regulatory pressures mount on how — and whether — to limit the addictive traits of the painkillers they market or curb sales.
The CDC reports that the relatively recent epidemic of opium-addiction is now America's fastest growing drug problem. The source of most of these opiates is not the foreign cartels, traffickers and drug dealers depicted in Hollywood movies; it is pharmacies fulfilling prescriptions written by often well-meaning doctors for Vicodin, Oxycontin, Oxycodone, and other opoid pain relievers.
There are two opioid crises in the world today. One is the epidemic of abuse and misuse, present in many countries but rising at an alarming rate in the United States. The other crisis is older and affects many more people around the world each year: too few opioids.
BEGINNING in the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies selling high-dose opioids seized upon a notion, based on flimsy scientific evidence, that regardless of the length of treatment, patients would not become addicted to opioids.
It has proved to be one of the biggest mistakes in modern medicine.
"Do No Harm: The Opioid Epidemic exposes the opioid lie we have been living in America for decades. This film and companion book can play a key role in educating communities about why opioid manufacturers should be held accountable for their calculated deception of health professionals and the general public. It's time for accountability. It's time for restitution. It's time to help our communities heal and recover."
We, as clinicians, are uniquely positioned to turn the tide on the opioid epidemic - U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.