Nation’s Largest Pharmacy to Limit Opioids; Doctors Concerned

BY JIM SALTER

ASSOCIATED PRESS

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The nation’s largest pharmacy benefit manager will soon limit the number and strength of opioid drugs prescribed to first-time users as part of a wide-ranging effort to curb an epidemic affecting millions of Americans.

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Feds to Study Curbing Opioid Epidemic with Medical Pot

The underbelly of the capitalist beast that is the United States government is working to get to the bottom of the claims that have surfaced over the past couple of years, suggesting that medical marijuana is effective at reducing opioid consumption in adults suffering from chronic pain.

It was revealed last week that the National Institutes of Health recently awarded a $3.8 million grant to the scientific minds at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System to conduct a five-year investigation to determine whether cannabis medicine could be used as an alternative to prescription painkillers.

This is the first time Uncle Sam has ever coughed up a single cent to delve deeper into an increasing body of evidence pointing to cannabis as the trapdoor out of the opioid epidemic.

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How Marijuana Can Help Treat Addictions to Opioids, Other Rx Drugs and Alcohol

Photo by Javier Hasse. 

This article was originally published on Benzinga, and adapted exclusively for HIGH TIMES.

People often talk about marijuana as an alternative to opioids and as a treatment for numerous addictions like alcohol and tobacco. But, like most praises (and condemnations) of weed, these claims are frequently based on hearsay rather than on actual science or quantitative evidence.

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Trump to Declare Opioid Crisis a ‘National Emergency’

BY JILL COVIN AND JONATHAN LEMIRE

ASSOCIATED PRESS

BEDMINSTER, N.J. (AP) — President Donald Trump said Thursday that he will officially declare the opioid crisis a “national emergency” and pledged to ramp up government efforts to combat the epidemic.

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New Hampshire is Latest State to Sue OxyContin Manufacturer

BY HOLLY RAMER

ASSOCIATED PRESS

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The attorney general’s office sued Purdue Pharma on Tuesday, alleging that the drug manufacturer has continued its deceptive marketing of OxyContin in a state that has been called the “ground zero” of the opioid epidemic.

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Pot Matters: Opioid Deaths Continue to Increase

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reports that deaths from drug overdoses continue to increase, from 16.7 per 100,000 in the third quarter of 2015 to 19.9 in the third quarter of 2016. Roughly 60 percent of these deaths are from opioids (mostly fentanyl and heroin).

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which contains the NCHS, estimates a total of 52,404 fatal overdoses in 2015. Data obtained from state agencies by the New York Times indicates there will be over 59,000 overdose deaths reported for 2016.

The death rate from overdoses had already increased from 12.3 per 100,000 in 2010 to 16.3 per 100,000 in 2015. The Washington Post reported on a study from a University of Virginia professor, suggesting that death rates for 2014 may be 24 percent greater than reported totals, indicating a far worse opioid problem than presented by the CDC data.

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Underground Safe Haven for Heroin Injection Has Been Operating in the U.S. for Years

None were known to exist in the United States until a recent report in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, wherein two researchers disclosed that they’d been evaluating an underground safe injection site that has been operating in the U.S. since 2014.

As a condition of their research, they did not disclose the location, which is not sanctioned and therefore illegal. They also did not name the social service agency running it.

While the researchers supplied little data, according to Time magazine, their main finding was that no one died while injecting at the site; although, there were two overdoses, immediately reversed by staff members with naloxone, also known by its brand name Narcan.

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Report: Doctors Who Graduated from Harvard Prescribe Fewer Opioids

Physicians who studied medicine at Ivy League schools are less likely to prescribe opioid medications, according to a new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

A couple of economists from Princeton University have determined that doctors who graduated from some of the leading universities in the United States, specifically Harvard Medical School, are prescribing somewhere around three times fewer opioid painkillers than their counterparts hailing from a less prestigious alma-mater.

The research shows that doctors trained at Harvard wrote an average of 180 prescriptions for opioids every year, while physicians who graduated from lower ranked medical programs wrote 550 scripts annually during the same timeframe.

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Why Do Wisconsin Republicans Want You to Overdose on Heroin and Die?

If it weren’t for Obamacare and the ongoing slow-motion disaster movie that is the Republican Party’s attempt to fulfill Donald Trump’s campaign promise and repeal it, Ron Johnson would be just another anonymous self-funded, Tea Party-backed Republican backbencher.

Instead, the former plastics company CEO and senior U.S. senator from Wisconsin is becoming a household name, a voice of reason in the storm of chaos—or, more accurately, by lieu of being a moderate Republican in a swing state, he is like Chance the Gardener: suddenly important, entirely by accident, and completely out of his depth.

Here he is pontificating on CNN during an extended one-on-one with Jake Tapper, stopping short of endorsing radical new limits on legal immigration, while pushing nonetheless for letting people into the country based on “merit.” Earlier in the summer, he took “principled” stands, like the time Johnson joined a chorus led by Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, asking to “negotiate” on dooming their fellow Americans to death by neglect, or when he stood with John McCain and Lindsey Graham to denounce Mitch McConnell’s last-ditch “skinny repeal,” shortly before voting for it.

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