Category Archives: Real Drug Stories

Health & Wellness Real Drug Stories

Sprout Pharmaceuticals Trying Again with “Female Viagra”

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female health

Even though it’s been rejected twice, Sprout Pharmaceuticals is giving their female libido booster another shot at approval by the Food and Drug Administration.

Aided by a recent lobbying blitz by politicians, women’s groups and consumer advocates, Sprout Pharmaceuticals said recently it is refiling its application for the drug, flibanserin, adding new information requested by the FDA about how the drug affects driving ability.

The FDA most recently rejected the drug after nearly 10% of women in company trials reported sleepiness as a side effect.

If approved, the pill would be the first drug for women who report a lack of libido. But, it has already faced an uphill battle to get FDA approval because of lackluster effectiveness and side effects including fatigue, dizziness and nausea.

However, the recent lobbying efforts led by groups sponsored by Sprout and other drugmakers have begun publicizing the lack of a “female Viagra” as a women’s rights issue.

“Women deserve equal treatment when it comes to sex,” states an online petition to the FDA organized by the group Even the Score. The petition garnered almost 25,000 supporters.

The FDA first rejected flibanserin in 2010 after a panel of expert advisers unanimously voted against the drug, saying its benefits did not outweigh its risks. The drug’s initial developer, Boehringer Ingelheim, abandoned work on the drug in 2011 and sold it to Sprout.

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Real Drug Stories

Comedian Takes on Big Tobacco

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Jeff the diseased lung

Comedian John Oliver, host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight, is taking on one of the largest tobacco companies in the world, Philip Morris International.

On his show, Oliver outlined how tobacco companies, including Philip Morris, have sued governments around the world for implementing packaging restrictions and taking other measures to help quell smoking among their citizens.

The comedian also introduced what he hopes will become the new mascot for Marlboro, one of Philip Morris’ most famous brands. Oliver wants Jeff the Diseased Lung in a Cowboy Hat to be the new face of the brand and he invited the brand to adopt the ready-made mascot for its own purposes.

He also invited people to tweet photos of Jeff with the hashtag #JeffWeCan and to upload pictures of Jeff onto Google+ and tag them with “Marlboro.”

You can see Oliver’s attack on big tobacco companies here.

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Addiction Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

US Schools Switch Focus of Anti-Drug Programs to Prescription Drugs

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school closings

Anti-drug programs in United States schools are switching things up, focusing more on prescription drugs than illicit drugs and focusing more on the science of addiction than outright scare tactics.

One such program, Narcotics Overdose Prevention and Education (NOPE) offers high school and middle school students education about prescription opiate painkillers. Developers of the programs emphasize the of use studies and interactive computer programs and focus on the science of addiction and how that affects the teens who abuse these drugs.

testcountry bannerHowever, it still does employ some of those old-fashioned scare tactics, although rooted in reality rather than the ridiculous fried eggs of the past. One tactic is to play a real 911 call for students from a mother who has just discovered her son’s body. His ashes sit in an urn for the students to look at as they listen to the call recording.

NOPE instructors also teach students how to recognize the symptoms of a drug overdose and emphasize the importance of quickly seeking medical attention for overdose victims. The programs also work to teach teens that prescription drugs are not safe to use other than under a doctor’s orders.

The Heroin Prevention Education program, meanwhile, uses interactive software based on the life of a recovering teen heroin addict who began abusing opioid painkillers after having his wisdom teeth removed and gradually started abusing heroin intravenously.




Real Drug Stories

Top Doc in the US Says Marijuana May Have Medical Uses

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medical marijuana

US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy recently said “marijuana can be helpful” for some medical conditions and symptoms.

“We have to see what the science tells us about the efficacy of marijuana,” Vivek told CBS News. “We have some preliminary data showing that for certain medical conditions and symptoms, that marijuana can be helpful. I think that we have to use that data to drive policy-making. I’m very interested to see where that data takes us.”

Marijuana legalization and medical marijuana advocates were quick to jump on the Surgeon General’s comments.

“Dr. Murthy’s comments add to a growing consensus in the medical community that marijuana can help people suffering from  painful conditions,” said Tom Angell, head of the pro-legalization Marijuana Majority. “It’s crazy that federal law still considers marijuana a schedule 1 drug, a category that’s supposed to be reserved for substances with no medical value. In light of these comments from his top medical adviser, the president should direct the attorney general to immediately begin the process of rescheduling marijuana.”

However, rescheduling marijuana is a bit of a catch-22 situation. In order for it to be rescheduled, it must have large-scale clinical trials to back up the claims that it is medically useful. But, because it’s currently a schedule 1 drug — the same as heroin — the Drug Enforcement Administration limits the supply of marijuana for research. To obtain it for studies, researchers must get their studies approved by the Department of Health and Human Services, FDA, and DEA.

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Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

E-Joints Marry E-Cigarettes and Marijuana

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Photo courtesy of JuJu Joints

You knew this one had to be coming: e-joints.

A device called a JuJu Joint, marries the vaporizing ability of an e-cigarette, or vaporizer, and cannabis oil, which contains the psychoactive ingredient THC, to create an e-joint. But, JuJu Joints also have their own twist. Rather than being reusable, they are disposable. You just take it out of the package and take a hit from it and that’s it. There is no smell or smoke. They come loaded with 150 hits preinstalled and when they’re used up, you just toss it in the trash.

Since their introduction in April, 75,000 JuJu Joints have been sold in Washington State, where marijuana is recreationally and medically legal. The maker says another 500,000 will be sold in 2015 and there are plans to expand to Colorado and Oregon, where recreational use is legal, and to Nevada, where it is decriminalized.

“I wanted to eliminate every hassle that has to do with smoking marijuana,” inventor and co-founder of JuJu Joints, Rick Stevens, said. Stevens, 62, co-founded the company with Marcus Charles, a Seattle entrepreneur. “I wanted it to be discreet and easy for people to handle. There’s no odor, matches or mess.”

However, many addiction researchers fear that e-cigarettes will pave the way to reliance on actual cigarettes, especially in teenagers. Added to that is how some studies have found that THC adversely affects the developing brain and you can see how e-joints could have some people really worried.

Health & Wellness Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

New Study Finds Most Frequent Reason for Calling Poison Centers are Prescription Drugs

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emergency room visits due to synthetic marijuanaPoisonings from prescription drugs are the leading cause of injury death in the United States, according to National Poison Control Center data from 2012.

Also topping the list was poisonings from “bath salts,” synthetic marijuana and laundry detergent pods. The paper was published online in Annals of Emergency Medicine.

“The poison center system can provide real-time advice and collect data regarding a variety of poisonings, including those that may be new or unfamiliar to emergency physicians,” said lead study author Richard Dart, MD, PhD, of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center in Denver, CO. “Emergency physicians are continually challenged by the emergence of new types of poisonings, which lately include illicit street drugs as well as laundry detergent pods. The National Poison Data System (NPDS) plays an integral role in helping EMS and emergency departments respond to these dangerous substances.”

In 2012, poison centers nationwide recorded 2.2 million human poison exposures. Eighty-three percent of poisonings that ended in death in 2012 were linked to a pharmaceutical product, most commonly opioid painkillers. The total number of prescription opioid exposures by children more than doubled between 2002 and 2012 from 2,591 to 5,541.

The family of designer drugs such as “bath salts” (a type of amphetamine), “plant food,” synthetic marijuana and others continue to poison users severely enough that they require emergency medical treatment. Although bath salts exposures peaked in 2011, new illicit drugs sold to consumers continue to be monitored by poison control centers.

“Poisoning continues to be a significant cause of injury and death in the United States,” said Dr. Dart. “The near real-time responsiveness of NPDS helps emergency physicians respond to new poisoning threats, while also assisting patients who call for help to know when they need the ER and when they can manage things safely at home.”

Real Drug Stories

Top 10 Drug Stories of 2014 in TestCountry Blog

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The year 2014 has provided a huge opportunity to discuss a wide range of drug-related topics ranging from prescription drugs to medical marijuana. As we prepare for the turn of the year, join us as we look back at the top drug stories in the TestCountry blog for the past year:

  1. New Mexico Man Allegedely Rapes Baby to Death While High on Synthetic Marijuana
  2. Ambien Replaces Roofies As New Date Rape Drug
  3. Multiple Sclerosis Treatment: Another Breakthrough For Medical Marijuana?
  4. Indiana Considering Decriminalizing Small Amounts of Marijuana, Tennessee Thinks About Legalizing Medical Marijuana
  5. Middle Age Drinking Leads To Faster Mental Degradation In Men
  6. Colorado Employers Allegedly Discriminating Against Marijuana Users
  7. Vape Pens Help Hide Marijuana Usage
  8. Teens with Mental Illness More Likely to Become Pregnant
  9. Doctors Aim to Study Marijuana More, Ask Feds to Make it Easier
  10. Drug Tests that Avoid Testing for Marijuana Gaining Popularity

2014 was a big year for discussing marijuana and its different angles. With more states starting to embrace marijuana in their systems, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that topics on marijuana will continue to heat up in 2015.

Health & Wellness Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Boston University Publishes Alcohol Stats to Curb Student Binge Drinking

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alcohol misuseIn a bid to cut down on student binge drinking, Boston University’s online newspaper is publishing weekly statistics about how many students had been hospitalized for alcohol-related issues the previous week.

BU Today displays the numbers on its first page, with bold graphics, including:

  • students transported to the hospital,
  • students who received citations from campus police for alcohol related infractions,
  • students placed in protective custody.

Publishing the numbers is part of a program to raise awareness about the effects of alcohol abuse and to decrease this type of behavior. This initiative began in 2011 when approximately 250 students were hospitalized for alcohol related problems at the university and alcohol abuse caused multiple problems at other Boston area schools.

“The reality,” says Leah Barison, a Wellness & Prevention Services counselor at Student Health Services (SHS), “is that one in three BU students chooses not to drink. And among those who do drink, two out of three do so responsibly. For the most part, people are not massively overdoing it, but they tend to think that others are doing it more.”

Each year an estimated 1,825 college students die from alcohol related causes. An estimated 97,000 are victims of alcohol related assault or date rape. More than 100,000 students have reported they were too intoxicated to recall if they consented to a sexual encounter. 599,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 receive unintentional injuries while under the influence of alcohol.


Health & Wellness Real Drug Stories

Survey Shows Troubling Trend Among Connecticut Youth

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Photo courtesy of Grenco Science

Photo courtesy of Grenco Science

A new survey funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Center for Tobacco Products reveals that some youths who haven’t tried regular cigarettes have already tried e-cigarettes or plan to try them.

The survey was conducted in four Connecticut high schools and two middle schools and it found that one in four high school students and 3.5% of middle school students have tried an e-cigarette. Among the students who said they had not used e-cigarettes, 26% of these youths said they might try them in the future.

The study was published Dec. 9 in Nicotine and Tobacco Research.

“We were surprised so many kids were using these products,” study lead author Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, said. Krishnan-Sarin is an associate professor of psychiatry at Yale University. “The other thing which both surprised and worried me is that adolescents who have never smoked cigarettes are initiating use of e-cigarettes.”

Real Drug Stories

Uruguay’s Marijuana Policy Dodges Bullet to Stay on Track

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marijuana legalization alaska oregon district of columbiaA presidential run-off election in Uruguay on Sunday threatened to derail the country’s progressive marijuana policy. But, Frente Amplio candidate Tabaré Vázquez beat opposition candidate Luis Alberto Lacalle Pou by 53.6% to 41.1%.

Vázquez has promised to continue implementing marijuana regulation that sees the drug legalized, regulated and taxed by the federal government. Lacalle Pou, on the other hand, had said that if he were to become president, he would repeal major parts of the law, including government-regulated sales to adults.

“Sunday’s presidential election result safeguards Uruguay’s historic marijuana legalization” said Hannah Hetzer, Policy Manager of the Americas at the Drug Policy Alliance. “The Uruguayan people determinedly chose the presidential candidate who will continue the country’s progressive policies, including the roll out of the world’s first national legally regulated marijuana market.”

On December 10, 2013, the Uruguayan parliament approved legislation making their country the first in the world to legally regulate the production, distribution and sale of marijuana for adults.

Since then, the government has been rolling out the implementation of the law, which allows for domestic cultivation of six plants per household, cannabis social clubs, and licensed sales to adult residents in pharmacies.