Longer Looks: Kicking The Opioid Habit; The IUD Revolution; And Assisted Suicide
Each week, KHN's Shefali Luthra finds interesting reads from around the Web.
The New York Times:
An E.R. Kicks The Habit Of Opioids For Pain
Brenda Pitts sat stiffly in an emergency room cubicle, her face contorted by pain. An old shoulder injury was radiating fresh agony down to her elbow and up through her neck. She couldn’t turn her head. Her right arm had fallen slack. Fast relief was a pill away — Percocet, an opioid painkiller — but Dr. Alexis LaPietra did not want to prescribe it. The drug, she explained to Mrs. Pitts, 75, might make her constipated and foggy, and could be addictive. Would Mrs. Pitts be willing to try something different? (Jan Hoffman, 6/10)
The Daily Beast:
DEA Wants Inside Your Medical Records To Fight The War On Drugs
The DEA has claimed for years that under federal law it has the authority to access the state’s Prescription Drug Monitor Program database using only an “administrative subpoena.” These are unilaterally issued orders that do not require a showing of probable cause before a court, like what’s required to obtain a warrant. In 2012 Oregon sued the DEA to prevent it from enforcing the subpoenas to snoop around its drug registry. Two years ago a U.S. District Court found in favor of the state, ruling that prescription data is covered by the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unlawful search and seizure. (Christopher Moraff, 6/10)
Many Americans think they pay over the odds for drugs—particularly for cancer drugs. Some go so far as to suggest that other countries free-ride on their largesse, and that Americans are thus subsidising drug development, a situation which, they say, needs to be fixed by changing trade agreements. A study unveiled at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s meeting in Chicago this week looked into the matter. (6/11)
Can The IUD Revolution Come To The Bible Belt?
In the dimly lit, one-room portable building, Abril Vazquez held up a beige, bulbous model of a human tricep. The high-schoolers had pushed their desks into a circle. Vazquez invited them to pass it around. When they pressed down into the fake flesh, they could feel the rigid shape of a rod about the size of a toothpick. (Olga Khazan, 6/14)
The New Yorker:
More than half the cells in the human body are microbial, and many of them exist as biological dark matter, too; learning how they function could offer countless insights into human longevity. For decades, microbes had been a source of essential pharmaceuticals: chemotherapies, blood thinners, and drugs crucial to organ transplants. From just the one per cent of bacterial life that scientists had been able to cultivate, researchers had derived virtually every antibiotic used in modern medicine. (Raffi Khatchadourian, 6/12)
How Assisted Suicide Is Gradually Becoming Lawful In America
According to the End of Life Option Act, adult Californians of sound mind who have a terminal illness and less than six months to live are eligible to receive a prescription for a drug to bring about their deaths. The lethal dose is not quite as easy to procure as a course of antibiotics: the law requires patients to make a written request (verified by two witnesses and approved by two doctors) and to orally request the drugs twice, spaced out by at least 15 days. (6/13)
The New York Times Magazine:
What If PTSD Is More Physical Than Psychological?
In early 2012, a neuropathologist named Daniel Perl was examining a slide of human brain tissue when he saw something odd and unfamiliar in the wormlike squiggles and folds. It looked like brown dust; a distinctive pattern of tiny scars. Perl was intrigued. (Robert Worth, 6/10)