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.
Opioid addiction is America’s 50-state epidemic. It courses along Interstate highways in the form of cheap smuggled heroin, and flows out of “pill mill” clinics where pain medicine is handed out like candy. It has ripped through New England towns, where people overdose in the aisles of dollar stores, and it has ravaged coal country, where addicts speed-dial the sole doctor in town licensed to prescribe a medication.
Public health officials have called the current opioid epidemic the worst drug crisis in American history, killing more than 33,000 people in 2015. Overdose deaths were nearly equal to the number of deaths from car crashes. In 2015, for the first time, deaths from heroin alone surpassed gun homicides.
And there’s no sign it’s letting up, a team of New York Times reporters found as they examined the epidemic on the ground in states across the country. From New England to “safe injection” areas in the Pacific Northwest, communities are searching for a way out of a problem that can feel inescapable
Many people who misuse prescription painkillers — meaning that they use these addictive medicines in ways not recommended by their doctor — may not think they have a problem, a new federal report suggests.
After all, survey respondents said, they wanted pain relief, not to get high. Or they got the medicine from a friend or relative, not on some street corner. Or they simply didn’t believe that they had a drug problem.
AMERICANS OVER 50 are using narcotic pain pills in surprisingly high numbers, and many are becoming addicted. While media attention has focused on younger people buying illegal opioids on the black market, dependence can also start with a legitimate prescription from a doctor: A well-meant treatment for knee surgery or chronic back troubles is often the path to a deadly outcome.
Consider these numbers:
• Almost one-third of all Medicare patients — nearly 12 million people — were prescribed opioid painkillers by their physicians in 2015.
• That same year, 2.7 million Americans over age 50 abused painkillers, meaning they took them for reasons or in amounts beyond what their doctors prescribed.
• The hospitalization rate due to opioid abuse has quintupled for those 65 and older in the past two decades.
'Gray Death' is a combination of heroin, the synthetic opiates fentanyl, carfentanil, and U-47700.
CBS News (Click Link For Full Story)
NEW YORK -- For more than two years, Lance Crowder was having severe abdominal pain and vomiting, and no local doctor could figure out why. Finally, an emergency room physician in Indianapolis had an idea.
“The first question he asked was if I was taking hot showers to find relief. When he asked me that question, I basically fell into tears because I knew he had an answer,” Crowder said.
The answer was cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, or CHS. It’s caused by heavy, long-term use of various forms of marijuana. For unclear reasons, the nausea and vomiting are relieved by hot showers or baths.
“They’ll often present to the emergency department three, four, five different times before we can sort this out,” said Dr. Kennon Heard, an emergency room physician in Aurora, Colorado.
THE STATE DOESN'T YET REQUIRE MARIJUANA BUSINESSES TO CONDUCT PESTICIDE TESTING, LEADING TO A "BUYER BEWARE" MARKET.
Link to the article:
Andy Campbell Reporter, The Huffington Post
Colorado's agricultural agencies are in panic mode after several independent studies found dangerous levels of pesticides in marijuana products.
A CNN report published Wednesday found that at least one over-the-counter product tested positive for illegally high levels of the neurotoxin imidacloprid. CNN commissioned tests by an independent lab, and the report ultimately led to a recall of 2,362 pot products. A similar Denver Post study in September yielded similar findings -- some of the cannabis products tested had as much as six times the federally allowed limit on pesticides in consumable products.
If the pesticides had been found on, say, avocados, the products would have been taken off the shelves immediately. But Colorado's oversight of pesticides on marijuana has been limited, other than a handful of recalls and plant quarantines.
Colorado and other states that recently legalized marijuana are just beginning to grapple with the pesticide issue. An absence of federal regulation has left the states struggling to figure out how to pass pesticide legislation, how to enforce it and which agencies should be doing the enforcing.
MAHALA GAYLORD VIA GETTY IMAGES
Gobi Analytical is the only lab in Denver that is approved to test cannabis for pesticides. This sample of a cannabis infused edible is at the beginning of the preparation process to undergo pesticide testing.Marijuana businesses in Colorado are not required to conduct pesticide testing before products hit the shelves, nor does the state conduct random testing after the items are already on the market. The federal Environmental Protection Agency, which usually regulates pesticides, doesn't have oversight because the federal government still lists marijuana as an illegal Schedule I drug. That has led to confusion over which pesticides can be used and in what amounts, CNN notes.
The ambiguity has left marijuana businesses and growers with the burden of self-regulating by taking their own products to state-licensed labs and getting them tested for potency and pesticides. Larry Wolk, executive director of the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, called it a "buyer beware" market, in which it's up to consumers and local businesses to vet products. However, Wolk noted that multiple state agencies are working to fix the situation.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) issued an executive order earlier this month giving agencies the power to keep products off the shelves and destroy them if they contain pesticide levels above what's approved by the EPA. Before the order, those products could end up back on the market.
"When a pesticide is applied to a crop in a manner that is inconsistent with the pesticide's label, and the crop is contaminated by that pesticide, it constitutes a threat to the public safety," Hickenlooper's order states.
It's a step in the right direction, but it still doesn't require businesses to test for pesticides in the first place. Wolk said it'll still be at least six months before the state can work out pesticide labeling that would help consumers easily identify state-approved products.
The Denver Post reported that the state is also trying to pass legislation that would stop the use of illegal pesticides before they even make contact with a crop:
The state is amid rulemaking that would strictly limit the pesticides that can be used on marijuana only to those whose labels allow for unspecified crops; that can be used in greenhouses; and that are not prohibited from human consumption. Pesticides allowed in tobacco cultivation also would be approved.
In Oregon, another state that recently legalized marijuana, new rules starting next year will require marijuana products to be screened for 60 pesticides, while testing labs will have to be accredited by the state, The Oregonian reports.
January 1, 2016 / 64(50);1378-82
Rose A. Rudd, MSPH1; Noah Aleshire, JD1; Jon E. Zibbell, PhD1; R. Matthew Gladden, PhD1
On December 18, this report was posted as an MMWR Early Release on the MMWR website (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr).
The Center for Disease Control has released a report on the increased Drug and Opioid Deaths in the United States. Overdose and death from Opioid medications has sky rocketed since the year 2000, where the biggest increase seen was reported in 2014. Read the report below for more information.