As More Drug-Dependent Babies Are Born, Hospitals Feel The Strain
A study finds that the problem has grown quickly and is especially true for rural facilities. Other news stories related to the drug epidemic report on a change in ER doctors' prescribing habits, Philadelphia's spike in overdoses, a controversial gene test for addiction risk and the kratom debate.
The New York Times:
Rise In Infant Drug Dependence Is Felt Most In Rural Areas
As the opioid epidemic sweeps through rural America, an ever-greater number of drug-dependent newborns are straining hospital neonatal units and draining precious medical resources. The problem has grown more quickly than realized and shows no signs of abating, researchers reported on Monday. (Saint Louis, 12/12)
Emergency Department Physicians Work To Cut Back On Prescribing Addictive Pills
When Dr. Alan Gora treats those in the grips of the heroin epidemic in the emergency department, he's reminded that much of the damage he sees there stems from a time when physicians freely prescribed pain pills. Now, doctors know the pills feed heroin addiction and have led to skyrocketing overdose deaths, and Gora thinks twice about handing out pills. (Viviano, 12/13)
The Philadelphia Inquirer/Philly.com:
35 Dead In Philly Overdose Spike Were Mostly White Males
The 35 people who are thought to have died of drug overdoses in just five days this month ranged in age from 19 to 66, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health said Monday. Sixty-nine percent of the victims were male and 60 percent were non-Hispanic whites. Emergency departments around the city reported treating a spike in nonfatal overdoses over the same period, although the increase — 171 from Dec. 1 to 5— was not as extreme as the death count suspected by the Medical Examiner's Office. (Sapatkin, 12/12)
Dubious Gene Test For Addiction Risk Exploits Loophole And Opioid Fears
When the federal government reversed course last month, deciding not to regulate many genetic tests, one big winner was Proove Biosciences, a Southern California company that markets an unproven “opioid risk” test. Proove claims its test can predict, with 93 percent accuracy, which patients will become addicted to or misuse prescribed opioid pain pills. That’s been an irresistible sales pitch for many physicians, who struggle to treat pain patients compassionately but fear adding to the national epidemic of opioid addiction. The Irvine, Calif., company has recruited 400 doctors, who have used the test to guide their treatment of more than 100,000 patients in the last five years. (Piller, 12/13)
Is Kratom A Deadly Drug Or A Life-Saving Medicine?
Kratom gained popularity in the U.S. over the past decade or so, as its availability spread online and in head shops. Two or 3 grams of powdered extract steeped in hot water or whipped into a smoothie offers a mild, coffee-like buzz; doses double or triple that size can induce a euphoria that eases pain without some of the hazardous side effects of prescription analgesics. Preliminary survey data gathered recently by Oliver Grundmann, a pharmaceutical sciences professor at the University of Florida, found that American users are mostly male (57 percent), white (89 percent), educated (82 percent with some college), and employed (72 percent). More than 54 percent are 31 to 50 years old, and 47 percent earn at least $75,000 a year. (Gruley, 12/12)