We’ve written a fair amount about the menace of illicit labs in China and elsewhere, producing potent and lethal synthetic opioids, like fentanyl and its analogs, often marketed over the darknet. Illicitly produced synthetic drugs now account for fully half the opioid overdose deaths in this country. Drug policy analyst Robert DuPont has warned us that “the global illegal market is switching from agricultural products to purely synthetic drugs,” and that this fact is driving the future of the epidemic.
But what we’d frankly not known was that some of these illicit labs abroad are actually operating so openly that a couple Bloomberg journalists could go visit the owner of two of them at his home in Wuhan and casually inform him, to his apparent surprise, that he’d been indicted last September as a drug kingpin in Gulfport, Miss. We’d also not realized that China would react to all this by expressing offense that the US had “unilaterally” indicted one of its nationals and by arguing that the defendant had not violated any Chinese law—notwithstanding that he allegedly exported 22 drugs, including four fentanyl analogs, into the US, where they are banned. Continue reading “News Roundup: May 24, 2018”→
eDarkTrends, an interdisciplinary academic group, monitors the introduction of new synthetic opioids into global illicit drug markets via “cryptomarkets” on the so-called darknet.
eDarkTrends noticed five new synthetic opioids being offered for sale during just a two-week stretch from March 20 to April 3, 2018.
Synthetic opioids—including fentanyl, its analogs, and still more exotic drugs like U47700 and its analogs—accounted for 46 percent of opioid overdose deaths, and 31 percent of all drug overdose deaths in 2016.
In Ohio, where eDarkTrends is based, fentanyl and related drugs accounted for 58.2 percent of all unintentional drug overdose deaths.
At one level, the federal government is working with unprecedented dedication to curb the opioid crisis. The House Energy and Commerce Committee has now advanced 57 opioid-related bills (expected to reach the full House in June) while at least two Senate committees are marking up successor legislation to the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016. Yet yesterday, at a House hearing to reauthorize the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the Trump Administration declined an invitation (see 35:45) to send the acting director (or any other representative) to participate. A National Drug Control Strategy, due in February, has not yet been submitted. One member of theWhite House Commission on Combating Opioid Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis has, in retrospect, denounced its work as a “sham.” Appropriations remains insufficient to meet demands, and the future shape of Medicaid—which undergirds addiction treatment—remains a question mark. Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), The Hill reports, is working on another repeal-and-replace bill for the Affordable Care Act. Continue reading “News Roundup: May 18, 2018”→
In America, a baby is born with opioid withdrawal symptoms every 15 minutes. The focus of this issue of the newsletter are two complementary articles exploring, from different angles, the subject of pregnant mothers with addiction. The first, in the New York Times Magazine, by Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jennifer Egan, provides a harrowing but sympathetic view from inside the chemically-hijacked minds of these mothers—who would be considered criminals in some states. The second, by KHN, discusses the conflicting results of research on the impact of opioid withdrawal at birth, or neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), on later child development. Continue reading “News Roundup: May 11, 2018”→
In Part 2 of an interview, addiction psychiatrist Adam Bisaga discusses his new book, Overcoming Opioid Addiction.
“Clearly there are patients that have some serious pain syndromes that respond well to painkillers. … Then you have patients who have many problems, [who] got put on painkillers [and use them] as a way of coping with all the other problems in life.”
“It’s not easy to tell, even for experts, but certainly for … primary care providers” when patients on prescription opioids are “doing well” and when they are not. “That’s an assumption that got us into trouble with the epidemic.”
Regarding ibogaine and kratom: “People with addiction have a propensity for magic thinking.”
In the US addiction is seen as a “more nonmedical kind of problem, a social problem, a moral problem,” than in Western Europe.
In a two-part Q&A, addiction psychiatrist Adam Bisaga talks about his new book, Overcoming Opioid Addiction.
In Part 1, Bisaga argues why it has now become unethical to refer patients to most opioid treatment facilities in the US.
“This is the most lethal of all psychiatric disorders.”
“Up to two percent of [opioid use disorder] patients every year will die—one in 50. … So if you’re using for 10 years, your chance of dying is about one in five.”
“Right now, more than 50% of patients would not have a place to go for treatment, and many of those places that take patients do not offer effective treatment. Would that be acceptable for any other disorder?”