Illegal drug use continues to be a major threat to community health and safety. We used international drug surveillance databases to assess the relationship between multiple long-term estimates of illegal drug price and purity.
In March and October 2015, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and CDC, respectively, issued nationwide alerts identifying illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF) as a threat to public health and safety (1,2). IMF is unlawfully produced fentanyl, obtained through illicit drug markets, includes fentanyl analogs, and is commonly mixed with or sold as heroin (1,3,4). Starting in 2013, the production and distribution of IMF increased to unprecedented levels, fueled by increases in the global supply, processing, and distribution of fentanyl and fentanyl-precursor chemicals by criminal organizations (3). Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 50-100 times more potent than morphine (2).* Multiple states have reported increases in fentanyl-involved overdose (poisoning) deaths (fentanyl deaths) (2). This report examined the number of drug products obtained by law enforcement that tested positive for fentanyl (fentanyl submissions) and synthetic opioid-involved deaths other than methadone (synthetic opioid deaths), which include fentanyl deaths and deaths involving other synthetic opioids (e.g., tramadol). Fentanyl deaths are not reported separately in national data. Analyses also were conducted on data from 27 states(†) with consistent death certificate reporting of the drugs involved in overdoses. Nationally, the number of fentanyl submissions and synthetic opioid deaths increased by 426% and 79%, respectively, during 2013-2014; among the 27 analyzed states, fentanyl submission increases were strongly correlated with increases in synthetic opioid deaths. Changes in fentanyl submissions and synthetic opioid deaths were not correlated with changes in fentanyl prescribing rates, and increases in fentanyl submissions and synthetic opioid deaths were primarily concentrated in eight states (high-burden states). Reports from six of the eight high-burden states indicated that fentanyl-involved overdose deaths were primarily driving increases in synthetic opioid deaths. Increases in synthetic opioid deaths among high-burden states disproportionately involved persons aged 15-44 years and males, a pattern consistent with previously documented IMF-involved deaths (5). These findings, combined with the approximate doubling in fentanyl submissions during 2014-2015 (from 5,343 to 13,882) (6), underscore the urgent need for a collaborative public health and law enforcement response.
The US Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act requires results from clinical trials of Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs to be posted at ClinicalTrials.gov within 1 y after trial completion. We compared the timing and completeness of results of drug trials posted at ClinicalTrials.gov and published in journals.
To describe the incidence of recorded mental illness and challenging behaviour in people with intellectual disability in UK primary care and to explore the prescription of psychotropic drugs in this group.
Preliminary estimates of U.S. drug overdose deaths exceeded 60,000 in 2016 and were partially driven by a fivefold increase in overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids (excluding methadone), from 3,105 in 2013 to approximately 20,000 in 2016 (1,2). Illicitly manufactured fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50-100 times more potent than morphine, is primarily responsible for this rapid increase (3,4). In addition, fentanyl analogs such as acetylfentanyl, furanylfentanyl, and carfentanil are being detected increasingly in overdose deaths (5,6) and the illicit opioid drug supply (7). Carfentanil is estimated to be 10,000 times more potent than morphine (8). Estimates of the potency of acetylfentanyl and furanylfentanyl vary but suggest that they are less potent than fentanyl (9). Estimates of relative potency have some uncertainty because illicit fentanyl analog potency has not been evaluated in humans. This report describes opioid overdose deaths during July-December 2016 that tested positive for fentanyl, fentanyl analogs, or U-47700, an illicit synthetic opioid, in 10 states participating in CDC’s Enhanced State Opioid Overdose Surveillance (ESOOS) program.* Fentanyl analogs are similar in chemical structure to fentanyl but not routinely detected because specialized toxicology testing is required. Fentanyl was detected in at least half of opioid overdose deaths in seven of 10 states, and 57% of fentanyl-involved deaths also tested positive for other illicit drugs, such as heroin. Fentanyl analogs were present in >10% of opioid overdose deaths in four states, with carfentanil, furanylfentanyl, and acetylfentanyl identified most frequently. Expanded surveillance for opioid overdoses, including testing for fentanyl and fentanyl analogs, assists in tracking the rapidly changing illicit opioid market and informing innovative interventions designed to reduce opioid overdose deaths.
The purpose of the study was to compare utilization of conventional psychotropic drugs among patients seeking care for anxiety and depression disorders (ADDs) from general practitioners (GPs) who strictly prescribe conventional medicines (GP-CM), regularly prescribe homeopathy in a mixed practice (GP-Mx), or are certified homeopathic GPs (GP-Ho).
Background The 340B Drug Pricing Program entitles qualifying hospitals to discounts on outpatient drugs, increasing the profitability of drug administration. By tying the program eligibility of hospitals to their Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) adjustment percentage, which reflects the proportion of hospitalized patients who are low-income, the program is intended to expand resources for underserved populations but provides no direct incentives for hospitals to use financial gains to enhance care for low-income patients. Methods We used Medicare claims and a regression-discontinuity design, taking advantage of the threshold for program eligibility among general acute care hospitals (DSH percentage, >11.75%), to isolate the effects of the program on hospital-physician consolidation (i.e., acquisition of physician practices or employment of physicians by hospitals) and on the outpatient administration of parenteral drugs by hospital-owned facilities in three specialties in which parenteral drugs are frequently used. For low-income patients, we also assessed the effects of the program on the provision of care by hospitals and on mortality. Results Hospital eligibility for the 340B Program was associated with 2.3 more hematologist-oncologists practicing in facilities owned by the hospital, or 230% more hematologist-oncologists than expected in the absence of the program (P=0.02), and with 0.9 (or 900%) more ophthalmologists per hospital (P=0.08) and 0.1 (or 33%) more rheumatologists per hospital (P=0.84). Program eligibility was associated with significantly higher numbers of parenteral drug claims billed by hospitals for Medicare patients in hematology-oncology (90% higher, P=0.001) and ophthalmology (177% higher, P=0.03) but not rheumatology (77% higher, P=0.12). Program eligibility was associated with lower proportions of low-income patients in hematology-oncology and ophthalmology and with no significant differences in hospital provision of safety-net or inpatient care for low-income groups or in mortality among low-income residents of the hospitals' local service areas. Conclusions The 340B Program has been associated with hospital-physician consolidation in hematology-oncology and with more hospital-based administration of parenteral drugs in hematology-oncology and ophthalmology. Financial gains for hospitals have not been associated with clear evidence of expanded care or lower mortality among low-income patients. (Funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and others.).
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules are often forged in crisis. After the 1937 sulfanilamide disaster that killed more than 100 people, Congress passed the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), requiring drugs to be safe and properly labeled. In 1962, a requirement was introduced for proof of drug efficacy through “adequate and well-controlled investigations,” partly in response to the thalidomide tragedy. Rules protecting human-research subjects owe a debt to Tuskegee and Nuremberg. Sometimes it takes a disaster to spur the adoption of appropriate regulation. Today, compounding pharmacies are at the center of a controversy after a rare outbreak of . . .
Illegal drugs exacerbate global social challenges such as substance addiction, mental health issues and violent crime. Police and customs officials often rely on specially-trained sniffer dogs, which act as sensitive biological detectors to find concealed illegal drugs. However, the dog “alert” is no longer sufficient evidence to allow a search without a warrant or additional probable cause because cannabis has been legalized in two US states and is decriminalized in many others. Retraining dogs to recognize a narrower spectrum of drugs is difficult and training new dogs is time consuming, yet there are no analytical devices with the portability and sensitivity necessary to detect substance-specific chemical signatures. This means there is currently no substitute for sniffer dogs. Here we describe an insect screening procedure showing that the western honeybee (Apis mellifera) can sense volatiles associated with pure samples of heroin and cocaine. We developed a portable electroantennographic device for the on-site measurement of volatile perception by these insects, and found a positive correlation between honeybee antennal responses and the concentration of specific drugs in test samples. Furthermore, we tested the ability of honeybees to learn the scent of heroin and trained them to show a reliable behavioral response in the presence of a highly-diluted scent of pure heroin. Trained honeybees could therefore be used to complement or replace the role of sniffer dogs as part of an automated drug detection system. Insects are highly sensitive to volatile compounds and provide an untapped resource for the development of biosensors. Automated conditioning as presented in this study could be developed as a platform for the practical detection of illicit drugs using insect-based sensors.
Open source drug discovery offers potential for developing new and inexpensive drugs to combat diseases that disproportionally affect the poor. The concept borrows two principle aspects from open source computing (i.e., collaboration and open access) and applies them to pharmaceutical innovation. By opening a project to external contributors, its research capacity may increase significantly. To date there are only a handful of open source R&D projects focusing on neglected diseases. We wanted to learn from these first movers, their successes and failures, in order to generate a better understanding of how a much-discussed theoretical concept works in practice and may be implemented.