This Week's News in Substance Use: 5/18/18

SUD news 5/18

FDA Approves First Non-Opioid to Treat Withdrawal Symptoms , NBC News

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration expedited approval of Lucemyra to help combat the U.S. opioid epidemic. Two-thirds of drug overdose deaths in 2016 involved opioids, mostly fentanyl, heroin and prescription painkillers.

“The pill was approved to treat adults for up to two weeks for common withdrawal symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain and agitation. It is not an addiction medicine but can be part of a longer-term treatment plan, according to the FDA.”

Bill Aims to Stop Shipping of Opioids Through U.S. Mail , The Washington Times

“The House Ways and Means Committee advanced legislation Wednesday to require shippers sending packages into the U.S. to provide more data on what’s being sent — part of an effort in Congress to close down a major pipeline delivering illegal synthetic opioids across the country.

“The bipartisan bill says the U.S. Postal Service must collect and share data with customs inspectors on 70 percent of packages by the end of this year, and must cover 95 percent of packages by the end of 2022.

“Private carriers, like FedEx, already submit electronic data on foreign parcels before they arrive at U.S. ports, yet only a portion of foreign posts provide that information to the U.S. mail system. Customs agents say the data is a key tool in targeting suspicious packages that may contain fentanyl, which is far more powerful than heroin and can kill in tiny amounts.”

Med Students to Congress: Help Us Be the Generation to Solve the Opioid Crisis , WBUR

“Heart attacks and opioid overdoses are both acute exacerbations of chronic medical illnesses and are seen daily in emergency departments across the nation. While every medical student graduates with the preparation needed to treat heart disease, fewer than 6 percent of physicians in the U.S. are trained and certified to prescribe buprenorphine, a medication that has been scientifically proven to halve the overdose death risk for patients with opioid addiction.

Among the several medications that can be used to treat opioid use disorder, buprenorphine is highly effective and can be prescribed in a doctor’s office, making it a critical part of evidence-based addiction treatment and recovery.”

Opioid Overdoses Are Rising Faster Among Latinos Than Whites or Blacks. Why? The Washington Post

“Opioid overdose deaths among Latinos are surging nationwide as well. While the overall death toll is still higher for whites, it’s increasing faster for Latinos and blacks, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Latino fatalities increased 52.5 percent from 2014 to 2016, compared with 45.8 percent for whites. (Statisticians say Hispanic overdose counts are typically underestimated.) The most substantial hike was among blacks: 83.9 percent.

"The data portray a changing face of the opioid epidemic.

"'What we thought initially, that this was a problem among non-Hispanic whites, is not quite accurate,' said Robert Anderson, mortality statistics branch chief at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. 'If you go back into the data, you can see the increases over time in all of these groups, but we tended to focus on the non-Hispanic whites because the rates were so much higher.'"

Why We Won’t Miss Opioids , Scientific American

“Changing practice isn't easy, even in the face of a crisis. The amount of opioids prescribed in the U.S. fell by 18 percent between 2010 and 2015—not nearly enough—and the number of pills per script actually rose! Krebs is a firm supporter of using opioids for acute surgical pain or for easing the agony of dying, but there has never been good evidence for deploying them against chronic pain. And yet colleagues told her it would be ‘unethical’ to withhold the drugs from patients in her study. Patients may also balk. Some told Tu, ‘The only thing that works is Vicodin.’

“I know how that is. Last year I was stunned when my periodontist presented me with a script for 800-milligram tablets of ibuprofen following surgery in which she sliced tissue from my palate and stitched it to my gums. ‘Is this all I need?’ I mumbled incredulously through the novocaine. ‘You'll be fine,’ she told me. And indeed, I was.”

Sen. Tammy Baldwin: Why I'm Ready to Talk About My Mother's Struggles with Opioid Addiction , Glamour

“When you’re in the middle of this silent anguish, as I know, and these issues are not even talked about outside the nuclear family, as a child or as a parent, you don’t necessarily know where to go for help. You’re battling with insurance companies or with law enforcement; you want to advocate for a child or a relative to get proper mental health treatment as well as addiction treatment. Often, if that treatment doesn’t work the first time, you can’t get approved a second time or a third time. Many families tell me that they can’t get help at all. And despite all we know, addiction is still viewed as a lack of willpower, instead of as an illness. That has to change. The experience of each person in a situation like this is different, but what a lot of people who care for these individuals have in common is how isolated they feel. All I can say is this epidemic hits close to home for me and for millions more.”

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