New Rhode Island Laws Aim to Combat Opioid Epidemic

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Gov. Gina Raimondo has signed three bills into law aimed at combating Rhode Island’s opioid epidemic.

The legislation allows law enforcement access to an electronic database of prescription painkillers without a warrant; requires health care professionals to discuss the risks of addiction with patients when writing opioid prescriptions; and expands the type of pharmaceuticals that can be prescribed using electronic prescriptions, while ensuring patient privacy.

The state Department of Health said that mandating electronic prescriptions will reduce pharmacy errors and also the likelihood for fraudulent prescriptions because paper prescription pads have sometimes been stolen to obtain the drugs illegally.

Read more at High Times

Officials: 10-Year-Old Boy Among Youngest Victims of Opioid Crisis

MIAMI (AP) — Prosecutors in Florida believe a 10-year-old boy who died with the painkiller fentanyl in his system is among the state’s youngest victims of the opioid crisis.

Preliminary toxicology tests show Alton Banks had fentanyl in his system when he collapsed and died at his home on June 23, the Miami Herald reported . Health officials say fentanyl and other synthetic forms of the drug are so powerful that just a speck breathed in or absorbed through the skin can be fatal.

That’s what investigators believe happened to Alton.

Read more at High Times

FDA Forces More Opioid Manufacturers to Educate Physicians

As part of the federal governments desperate plan to put a leash on the opioid crisis, responsible for turning a large majority of the United States population into a legion of pill-popping junkies, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced a plan that will force more painkiller producers to provide training for the health care community.

According to a report from CNN, the FDA has expanded its training requirements beyond the makers of extended-release opioids to include those pharmaceutical companies in the businesses of manufacturing “short-acting” pain medications. The new rule will force these companies to train physicians, nurses and pharmacists on how to properly assess a patient’s need for a narcotic painkiller and even when to offer alternative treatments.

The agency said it was updating its policy since 90 percent of the 200 million opioids prescribed in this country are for short-acting medications, like oxycodone and hydrocodone.

Read more at High Times

Opioid Prescriptions Drop for the First Time Since Beginning of Crisis

Here is some good news, sort of, within the context of the terrible news that our country is mired in the worst opioid epidemic in U.S. history.

The number of prescriptions for opioids written by health-care providers declined between 2012 and 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC announced that prescriptions for highly addictive painkillers such as oxycodone dropped 13.1 percent over the three-year period, from 81.2 per 100 people to 70.6.

Read more at High Times

18 Milwaukee Deaths Blamed on Fentanyl Derivative This Year



MILWAUKEE (AP) — Eighteen people in Milwaukee have died of overdoses this year involving a fentanyl derivative that’s so potent it can require higher doses of an opioid antidote to counteract it, the county medical examiner’s office has said.

Read more at High Times

Indiana Adding 5 Sites for Opioid Addiction Treatment

GREENWOOD, Ind. (AP) — State officials are adding five treatment centers around Indiana for people dealing with addictions to pain-killing opioid drugs.

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration announced Wednesday that the new sites will join 14 existing centers across the state providing medication-assisted treatment to help patients overcome addictions.

The new sites will be in Greenwood, Fort Wayne, Terre Haute, Lafayette and Bloomington. The agency says the new locations are expected to be offering treatments within a year.

Read more at High Times

Big Pharma Legal Battles Reminiscent of Lawsuits against Tobacco Industry

As we have often reported, there is a wave of litigation by state attorneys against opioid manufacturers and distributors, such as OxyContin billionaire owners of Purdue Pharma—often referred to as singlehandedly causing the current opioid crisis in the country.

Some U.S. state attorneys general, as well as in Canada, have filed class action lawsuits against these opioid pushing companies—again, mostly Purdue Pharma—over the hazards of their products, misleading information that accompanies them and even for allowing their addictive meds to knowingly be sold on the black market.

National Public Radio likened these cases to the way individual U.S. states sued the tobacco industry in the 1990s.

Read more at High Times

Are Drug Overdoses This Generation’s AIDS Crisis?

A public health researcher recently told a reporter about a 29-year-old man who said that half of his West Virginia high school class was dead—mostly from opioid and heroine overdoses.

This is not an uncommon story. I’ve heard the same, all to often, in my home state of Ohio.

“We are moving beyond an epidemic. I would call it a crisis,” Dr. Daniel Ciccarone, a San Francisco-based public health researcher told the Guardian.  

Read more at High Times

Study: Patients Report Substituting Cannabis For Opioids, Other Pain Medications

Pain patients report successfully substituting cannabis for opioids and other analgesics, according to data published online in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.

Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley and Kent State University in Ohio assessed survey data from a cohort of 2,897 self-identified medical cannabis patients.

Among those who acknowledged having used opioid-based pain medication within the past six months, 97 percent agreed that they were able to decrease their opiate intake with cannabis. Moreover, 92 percent of respondents said that cannabis possessed fewer adverse side-effects than opioids. Eighty percent of respondents said that the use of medical cannabis alone provided greater symptom management than did their use of opioids.

Read more at NORML