Testing It Up

AI Proposed to Help Cut Down on Opiate Drug Addiction

A clinical trial to test whether monitoring from artificial intelligence can help reduce opiate dependency is about to get underway. smartphone health

Getting over addiction to opiates often requires addicts to adhere to medication therapy, but patients sometimes don’t take their medication or take it incorrectly or, worst of all, they sell it to others. This means, obviously, that recovering addicts don’t benefit from this medication therapy as much as they should.

That’s where AiCure comes in.

The company has created an app using advanced facial recognition and motion-sensing technology that can detect, in real time, whether a person is taking their medication as prescribed without the need for human supervision. Patients who take incorrect doses or do not use the software are automatically flagged for immediate follow-up.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has provided $1 million in funding to assess whether patients using the AiCure platform are more adherent to their medication therapy and whether adoption of the system can improve treatment duration and reduce the risk of relapse.

The trial is being carried out with the Cincinnati Addiction Research Center (CinARC) at the University of Cincinnati and includes a total of 130 participants over the course of 12 months.

Preliminary results of the trial are expected to be published in August 2015.

 

November 24, 2014 at 9:45 am Comments (0)

Ontario Moves to Treat E-Cigarettes the Same as Traditional Cigarettes

The Canadian province of Ontario is making moves that would essentially make e-cigarettes the same as traditional tobacco cigarettes.e-cigarette

The province wants to:

  • regulate the sale of electronic cigarettes,
  • make it illegal to sell them to youth,
  • make it illegal to use them in restaurants and public buildings,
  • outlaw vapor lounges, where people use vaporizers similar to e-cigarettes to smoke nicotine vapor, and
  • ban all flavoured tobacco products, including menthol.

In another health-related measure, the government wants to mandate calorie counts on restaurant menus.

The Liberal government says it will also reintroduce legislation to ban all flavoured tobacco products, many of which are designed to appeal to teens, and will expand the prohibition to include menthol cigarettes.

The industry will have up to two years to phase out the menthol smokes, which the government claims are favored by young people, which is why the long-time flavor is under the gun.

November 24, 2014 at 9:24 am Comments (0)

New Survey Finds Stimulant Abuse “Normal” for College Kids

A new survey entitled Under Pressure: College Students and the Abuse of Rx Stimulants and released by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids confirms that the abuse of prescription stimulants is becoming normalized among current college students and other young adults.drug abuse among students

It found that 1 in 5 college students (20%) report abusing prescription stimulants at least once in their lifetime, compared to 1 in 7 non-students (15%).

Among young adults between the ages of 18 to 25, 1 in 6 (17%) has abused a prescription stimulant at least once in their lifetime. Young adults are most likely to abuse the prescribed stimulants Adderall (60%), Ritalin (20%) and Vyvanse (14%), which are all prescribed for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

The reasons college students and other young adults cite for abusing these Rx medications are for functional reasons:

  • 50% report abusing Rx stimulants to study or improve academic performance
  • 41% say they misuse or abuse them to stay awake
  • 24% misuse or abuse Rx stimulants to improve work performance at a job

Among current college students specifically:

  • 44% say they abuse Rx stimulants in order to study and improve academic performance
  • 31% say they abuse in order to stay awake
  • 21% report abusing Rx stimulants in order to improve work performance at their jobs
  • 27% who report abuse of Rx stimulants also hold full-time jobs, in addition to attending school compared to just 12% of those who do not abuse Rx stimulants

Perhaps most worrying of all, the research shows college students perceive tangible rewards after they’ve abused Rx stimulants. 64% who report abusing Rx stimulants indicate that doing so helped them obtain a higher grade, improve work performance or gain a competitive edge.

“Students need help in learning how to manage their busy lifestyles effectively,” said Dr. Josh Hersh, Staff Psychiatrist at Miami University. “Learning time management strategies such as ‘block scheduling’ and ‘syllabus tracking’ can help prevent ‘cramming’ – the main reason people look to stimulants at whatever the price. In addition, teaching students with ADHD who are prescribed stimulants about how to properly care for their medication will help address misuse and prevent these drugs from getting into the hands of students who might abuse the meds.”

November 21, 2014 at 12:54 pm Comments (0)

Prescribed Medication Not Taken By Patients, Intervention Necessary

A new study recently shed light into the truth that prescriptions do not guarantee better health outcomes of the patients receiving them.

take prescription medicineAccording to a study by a team of researchers at Canada’s McMaster University, patients do not take the medications prescribed to them based on the intended dosage. Amidst widespread news about prescription drug abuse and how some people are circumventing medical laws to procure prescription medicines, the study suggests that some patients are not even taking the medicine issued to them.

Study lead author Robby Nieuwlaat said that previous studies have delved into this issue but interventions and recommendations are few and far between. “The studies varied so much in terms of their design and their results that it would have been misleading to try to come up with general conclusions,” said Nieuwlaat in a news item.

The study looked into more than 180 trials from past researches to check if the approaches to ensure correct administration of prescription drugs was followed by patients. The team’s results showed that while previous studies had the best of intentions, it was difficult to determine the effectiveness of each. Many of them were deemed “unreliable and inconsistent” in terms of proof of effectiveness. The studies covered a wide range of diseases and were “measured using wide-range methods”, which complicated the data review even more.

“We need more advanced methods for researching ways to improve medicine adherence, including better interventions, better ways of measuring adherence and studies that include sufficient patients to draw conclusions on clinically important effects,” the research team said. All in all, less than 10 percent of the 182 trials produced high-quality approaches.

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November 20, 2014 at 8:09 pm Comments (0)

Health Benefits of Moderate Alcohol Intake Require Specific Genotype

We’ve all heard the belief that one glass of wine a day can pump up our cardiovascular health, but a new study indicates that this benefit is enjoyed by only a fraction of the population.

drinking alcoholA team of researchers from Sweden’s Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg studied the advantage of moderate alcohol consumption on decreasing the risk of coronary heart disease. Results of their study showed that in order for the benefits of alcohol to take effect, the person needs to possess CETP TaqIB (rs708272) polymorphism, a specific genotype of the cholesteryl ester transfer protein.

The study involved more than 600 patients below 75 years of age and diagnosed with myocardial infarction. The respondents were asked about their drinking habits, particularly the amount and frequency of alcohol intake over a variety of different alcoholic beverages. They were also tested for the presence of the CETP TaqIB genotype and whether they possessed the genotype’s B1 or B2 allele.

Results revealed that people with the B2 allele of the genotype exhibited a lower risk of coronary heart disease, and the result was more significant on people who enjoyed moderate alcohol consumption. However, the researchers said that not everyone has this B2 genotype. Academy Professor Emeritus Prof. Dag Thelle said in a news item that “moderate drinking has a protective effect among only 15% of the general population.” He added that further research must be conducted to strengthen the results of the study. “Assuming that we are able to describe these mechanisms, it may be a simple matter one day to perform genetic testing and determine whether someone belongs to the lucky 15%.”

November 15, 2014 at 7:22 pm Comments (0)

Massachusetts Town Could be First to Ban All Tobacco Sales

Massachusetts town Westminster is contemplating banning the sale of all tobacco products. tobacco taxes

A draft of the proposed ban has been posted on the town’s website and would prohibit sales of products containing tobacco or nicotine, including cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and electronic cigarettes.

Tobacco use is already prohibited in all Massachusetts workplaces, including restaurants and bars. It is illegal to sell tobacco products to minors in the state, and some communities have gone as far as banning smoking in public parks.

Westminster has a population of about 7,400 and sits about 25 miles north of Worcester.

“This sends a clear message to residents that this is a bad product,” said D.J. Wilson, director of the municipal association’s tobacco control program. He pointed out that a ban may not stop adults from driving to another town to buy cigarettes, but may be effective in curbing smoking in younger people, who are unable to drive.

But owners of the seven stores licensed to sell tobacco in the community said it is unfair to ban sales of a legal product and they worry that their financial losses will be considerable.

“Where do you draw the line, a candy ban because it causes diabetes? Are we going to ban bacon because it causes [high] cholesterol? It seems like a slippery slope,” said Brian Vincent, owner of Vincent’s Country Store.

What do you think about banning the sale of all tobacco products? Is this good or bad?

November 10, 2014 at 8:38 am Comments (0)

Alex Rodriguez Found Way To Beat Urine Test During PED Scandal

It’s probably old news for some, but the seemingly tricky technique that professional baseball player Alex Rodriguez used to beat tests for performance-enhancing drugs (PED) has escaped medical practitioners and other people invested in the scandal. This time, a recent report shed light on how A-Rod was able to succeed in this matter.

alex rodriguez linked to biogenesis performance enhancing drugs scandalThe Yankees A-lister circumvented a possible positive result by cheating his way through the urine test. His secret? Discard the beginning and end of the urine stream and collect just the mid-stream. This was a tip given to him by Anthony Bosch, the shady doctor and owner of Biogenesis of America, the company behind the controversial drugs.

Here’s a snippet of what was reported in the Miami Herald:

According to Rodriguez, “Bosch advised him to only use mid-stream urine for MLB drug testing. Bosch told Rodriguez not to use the beginning or the end urine stream.”

It worked. During the American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers, Rodriguez was called to take a drug test. He passed. The Yankees were swept in the series.

In addition, while A-Rod publicly and categorically denied his usage of banned substances to enhance his performance, he admitted in a private conference room in the presence of federal drug enforcers and prosecutors that he purchased PEDs from Biogenesis. He was granted immunity from being prosecuted because of his confession. The baseball player’s private meeting with DEA took place on January 29.

November 5, 2014 at 9:11 pm Comments (0)

Employees’ Opioid Use Wreaking Havoc with Companies

Abuse of prescription painkillers and heroin among employees is leading to lower productivity and higher turnover for companies where abuse is rampant, according to The Wall Street Journal.drug testing

Employers in Allen County, Ohio say up to a whopping 70% of job applicants are failing drug tests, according to Jed Metzger, President of the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce. Employees in the greater Cincinnati area have tested positive for opioids after being involved in accidents, ranging from damaging property with heavy equipment to crashing company vehicles.

In addition to higher accident rates, employee opioid use can contribute to increased theft and absenteeism in the workplace, Trey Grayson, President of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, said.

Although between 2003 and 2013, overall drug use among U.S. workers declined 18%, it actually rose for certain opioids, including Dilaudid and Vicodin, according to Quest Diagnostics numbers.

Companies are combatting employee opioid use by expanding drug testing, introducing zero-tolerance drug use policies and adding employee-assistance programs for workers who need addiction treatment.

October 14, 2014 at 8:53 am Comments (0)

New Drug Shows Promise in Fight Against Addiction

A new drug has been developed that could potentially help people kick their drug addictions. cocaine addiction

Developed by Dr. Stanley Glick, former head of the Department of Neuropharmacology and Neuroscience at Albany Medical College, 18-methoxycoronaridine (18-MC) has been successful in getting rats who are hooked on cocaine to completely stop craving the drug.

It has a similar effect on animals addicted to methamphetamine, morphine, alcohol, and nicotine and even seems to work with sugar, indicating potential as an obesity treatment.

“We hope it’s a paradigm shift in the way substance abuse is treated,” Steve Hurst, CEO of Savant HWP, which produces 18-MC, said. “But we’re still trying to figure out if it’s OK to give to people in doses that are safe enough to replicate what we see in animal models.”

18-MC works by blocking the pleasurable effects of cocaine and other substances by “dampening the response” to dopamine.

18-MC has its roots in ibogaine, a bitter white powder derived from the roots of a plant indigenous to the rainforests of Central Africa. Ibogaine is a potent hallucinogen used to induce spiritual visions during tribal ceremonies. Although side effects of ibogaine include nausea and intense hallucinations, Glick and other researchers have managed to formulate a strain of the drug that has the ability to block cravings while not producing any of the side effects.

The drug is ready to start human trials, but because ibogaine is a Schedule I drug in the United States and few pharmaceutical companies are interested in anti-addiction medicine, it has faced a lot of hurdles in its development.

October 14, 2014 at 8:37 am Comments (0)

Binge Drinking Causes Protein Changes that Increase Risk of Liver Diseases

Several studies have already spotlighted excessive alcohol consumption as a leading cause of liver damage, but a new study reveals that binge drinking makes the damage worse.

binge drinking u.s. liver damageAccording to a study by researchers at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, binge drinking causes changes in protein structures in the liver, leading to a higher risk of liver diseases. Study lead author Shivendra Shukla said that heavy episodic drinking heightens the damage that long-term alcoholism is already doing to the liver.

The study proponents discovered that binge drinking causes changes in the DNA structure not related to heredity or genetics. The “epigenetic” changes are experienced by protein DNA organizers — or histones — that become messed up because of the abnormal rise in alcohol toxicity. “Binge drinking is an environmental trigger that negatively affects histones by altering the correct binding of DNA. The result is unnecessary replication in the copied structure. This initially causes inflammation and damage to the cells as they form, but it is also eventually the cause of more serious diseases such as cirrhosis and cancer,” Shukla said in a news item.

Shukla adds that the changes in histones are not limited to the liver. “Binge drinking can create an inflammatory response in the liver that is like a cluster bomb, sending out various damaging signals to other organ systems in the body. If those organs are working at a lower level of function, then a whole host of physiological processes are affected as a consequence of binge drinking,” the lead author expressed.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers binge drinking as a very costly health issue. In 2011, the cost of binge drinking in the U.S. was estimated at $223 billion annually, primarily due to health care expenses and decrease in productivity at work.

October 12, 2014 at 12:00 am Comments (0)

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