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Drug overdose deaths in 2020 hit highest number ever recorded, CDC data shows
(CNN)Drug overdose deaths rose by close to 30% in the United States in 2020, hitting the highest number ever recorded, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday.
More than 93,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2020, according to provisional data released by the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. That's a 29.4% increase from the 72,151 deaths projected for 2019.
"Overdose deaths from synthetic opioids (primarily fentanyl) and psychostimulants such as methamphetamine also increased in 2020 compared to 2019. Cocaine deaths also increased in 2020, as did deaths from natural and semi-synthetic opioids (such as prescription pain medication)," the NCHS said in a statement.
"This is the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period, and the largest increase since at least 1999," Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, said in a statement.
Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/14/health/d ... index.html
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Drug Distributors and J.&J. Announce $26 Billion Deal to End Opioids Lawsuits
Source: New York Times
After two years of wrangling, the country’s three major drug distributors and a pharmaceutical giant have reached a $26 billion deal with states that would release some of the biggest companies in the industry from all legal liability in the opioid epidemic. The announcement was made Wednesday afternoon by a bipartisan group of state attorneys general. The offer will now go out to every state and municipality in the country for approval.
If enough of them formally sign on to it, billions of dollars from the companies could begin to be released to help communities pay for addiction treatment and prevention services and other steep financial costs of the epidemic. In return, the states and cities would drop thousands of lawsuits against the companies and pledge not to bring any future action. The settlement binds only these four companies — the drug distributors Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, McKesson, and Johnson & Johnson — leaving thousands of other lawsuits against many other pharmaceutical defendants, including manufacturers and drugstore chains, in the mammoth nationwide litigation still unresolved.
But these four companies are widely seen as among the defendants with the deepest pockets. In an emailed statement, Michael Ullmann, executive vice president and general counsel of Johnson & Johnson, said: “We recognize the opioid crisis is a tremendously complex public health issue, and we have deep sympathy for everyone affected. This settlement will directly support state and local efforts to make meaningful progress in addressing the opioid crisis in the United States.”
In a joint statement, the three distributors said: “While the companies strongly dispute the allegations made in these lawsuits, they believe the proposed settlement agreement and settlement process it establishes are important steps toward achieving broad resolution of governmental opioid claims and delivering meaningful relief to communities across the United States.” The distributors, which by law are supposed to monitor quantities of prescription drug shipments, have been accused of turning a blind eye for two decades while pharmacies across the country ordered millions of pills for their communities.
Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/21/heal ... ement.html
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Schizophrenia linked to marijuana use disorder is on the rise, study finds.
The proportion of schizophrenia cases linked with problematic use of marijuana has increased over the past 25 years, according to a new study from Denmark.
In 1995, 2% of schizophrenia diagnoses in the country were associated with cannabis use disorder. In 2000, it increased to around 4%. Since 2010, that figure increased to 8%, the study found.
"I think it is highly important to use both our study and other studies to highlight and emphasize that cannabis use is not harmless," said Carsten Hjorthøj, an associate professor at the Copenhagen Research Center for Mental Health and an author of the study published in the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry, via email.
"There is, unfortunately, evidence to suggest that cannabis is increasingly seen as a somewhat harmless substance. This is unfortunate, since we see links with schizophrenia, poorer cognitive function, substance use disorders, etc," Hjorthøj wrote.
And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future
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The Untold Story of Purdue Pharma’s Cozy Relationship With the American Medical Association
by Julia Lurie
August 5, 2021
https://www.motherjones.com/politics/20 ... ic-health/
(Mother Jones) The American Medical Association’s new training on pain management arrived in the midst of a burgeoning crisis. It was September 2007, and doctors were prescribing enough opioid painkillers each year for every American adult to have a bottle of the addictive pills. Overdoses were at a historic high and showed no signs of slowing down. Just four months earlier, executives at Purdue Pharma had pleaded guilty to felony charges for misleading regulators and physicians about the dangers of OxyContin.
In light of this news, one might have expected the AMA—the prestigious organization that bills itself as the “unified voice” of America’s doctors dedicated to “the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health”—to bring attention to the crisis in its newly updated continuing education course on how to treat pain.
Instead, the 12-module training suggested that doctors were still too tentative about prescribing narcotics. “The effectiveness of opioid therapy may be undermined by misconceptions about their risks, particularly risks associated with abuse and addiction,” read materials from one session. The class included ideas like “pseudoaddiction,” referring to when pain patients seem “inappropriately drug seeking,” but aren’t truly addicted—rather, they just needed more pills.
For young children who were unable to verbalize their pain, materials encouraged prescribers to use the “Poker Chip Tool”: lay out four poker chips in front of a child, explain that the chips are “pieces of hurt,” and ask how many pieces of hurt the child has. The course instructs, “Do not give children an option for zero hurt.”
Thousands of physicians took the course, which was first released in 2003 and updated periodically over the next decade.