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Concept: Drugs


The U.S. opioid epidemic is continuing, and drug overdose deaths nearly tripled during 1999-2014. Among 47,055 drug overdose deaths that occurred in 2014 in the United States, 28,647 (60.9%) involved an opioid (1). Illicit opioids are contributing to the increase in opioid overdose deaths (2,3). In an effort to target prevention strategies to address the rapidly changing epidemic, CDC examined overall drug overdose death rates during 2010-2015 and opioid overdose death rates during 2014-2015 by subcategories (natural/semisynthetic opioids, methadone, heroin, and synthetic opioids other than methadone).* Rates were stratified by demographics, region, and by 28 states with high quality reporting on death certificates of specific drugs involved in overdose deaths. During 2015, drug overdoses accounted for 52,404 U.S. deaths, including 33,091 (63.1%) that involved an opioid. There has been progress in preventing methadone deaths, and death rates declined by 9.1%. However, rates of deaths involving other opioids, specifically heroin and synthetic opioids other than methadone (likely driven primarily by illicitly manufactured fentanyl) (2,3), increased sharply overall and across many states. A multifaceted, collaborative public health and law enforcement approach is urgently needed. Response efforts include implementing the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain (4), improving access to and use of prescription drug monitoring programs, enhancing naloxone distribution and other harm reduction approaches, increasing opioid use disorder treatment capacity, improving linkage into treatment, and supporting law enforcement strategies to reduce the illicit opioid supply.

Concepts: United States, Drugs, Opioid, Morphine, Heroin, Naloxone, Drug overdose, Opioid overdose


During 1999‒2015, 568,699 persons died from drug overdoses in the United States.* Drug overdose deaths in the United States increased 11.4% from 2014 to 2015 resulting in 52,404 deaths in 2015, including 33,091 (63.1%) that involved an opioid. The largest rate increases from 2014 to 2015 occurred among deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone (synthetic opioids) (72.2%) (1). Because of demographic and geographic variations in overdose deaths involving different drugs (2,3),†CDC examined age-adjusted death rates for overdoses involving all opioids, opioid subcategories (i.e., prescription opioids, heroin, and synthetic opioids),§cocaine, and psychostimulants with abuse potential (psychostimulants) by demographics, urbanization levels, and in 31 states and the District of Columbia (DC). There were 63,632 drug overdose deaths in 2016; 42,249 (66.4%) involved an opioid.¶From 2015 to 2016, deaths increased across all drug categories examined. The largest overall rate increases occurred among deaths involving cocaine (52.4%) and synthetic opioids (100%), likely driven by illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF) (2,3). Increases were observed across demographics, urbanization levels, and states and DC. The opioid overdose epidemic in the United States continues to worsen. A multifaceted approach, with faster and more comprehensive surveillance, is needed to track emerging threats to prevent and respond to the overdose epidemic through naloxone availability, safe prescribing practices, harm-reduction services, linkage into treatment, and more collaboration between public health and public safety agencies.

Concepts: Demography, Drugs, Opioid, Morphine, Drug addiction, Heroin, Naloxone, Drug overdose


The US Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act requires results from clinical trials of Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs to be posted at within 1 y after trial completion. We compared the timing and completeness of results of drug trials posted at and published in journals.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Clinical trial, Drug,, Drugs, Food and Drug Administration


We investigated flexible liposomes as a potential oral drug delivery system. However, enhanced membrane fluidity and structural deformability may necessitate liposomal surface modification when facing the harsh environment of the gastrointestinal tract. In the present study, silica-coated flexible liposomes loaded with curcumin (CUR-SLs) having poor water solubility as a model drug were prepared by a thin-film method with homogenization, followed by the formation of a silica shell by the sol-gel process. We systematically investigated the physical properties, drug release behavior, pharmacodynamics, and bioavailability of CUR-SLs. CUR-SLs had a mean diameter of 157 nm and a polydispersity index of 0.14, while the apparent entrapment efficiency was 90.62%. Compared with curcumin-loaded flexible liposomes (CUR-FLs) without silica-coatings, CUR-SLs had significantly higher stability against artificial gastric fluid and showed more sustained drug release in artificial intestinal fluid as determined by in vitro release assays. The bioavailability of CUR-SLs and CUR-FLs was 7.76- and 2.35-fold higher, respectively, than that of curcumin suspensions. Silica coating markedly improved the stability of flexible liposomes, and CUR-SLs exhibited a 3.31-fold increase in bioavailability compared with CUR-FLs, indicating that silica-coated flexible liposomes may be employed as a potential carrier to deliver drugs with poor water solubility via the oral route with improved bioavailability.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Sol-gel, Drugs, Membrane biology, Medicinal chemistry, Pharmacokinetics, Biopharmaceutics Classification System, Digestion


In this work, a steroidal gelator containing an imine bond was synthesized, and its gelation behavior as well as a sensitivity of its gels towards acids was investigated. It was shown that the gels were acid-responsive, and that the gelator molecules could be prepared either by a conventional synthesis or directly in situ during the gel forming process. The gels prepared by both methods were studied and it was found that they had very similar macro- and microscopic properties. Furthermore, the possibility to use the gels as carriers for aromatic drugs such as 5-chloro-8-hydroxyquinoline, pyrazinecarboxamide, and antipyrine was investigated and the prepared two-component gels were studied with regard to their potential applications in drug delivery, particularly in a pH-controlled drug release.

Concepts: Colloid, Drugs, Gel, Gels, Aerogel


Drug checking is a harm reduction strategy which allows users to check the content and purity of illicit drugs. Although drug checking has been trialled internationally, with demonstrated value as a harm reduction and health promotion strategy, the use of such services in Australia remains a contentious issue. This study aimed to investigate the proportion and patterns of illicit drug use among young people, their attitudes towards drug checking at festivals and the potential impact of drug checking on intended drug use behaviour.

Concepts: Drug, Drugs, Drug addiction, Heroin, Illegal drug trade, Harm reduction, Illicit drug use in Australia, Festival


This review provides the first comprehensive overview of the use of both nanoparticles and nanofibers for topical drug delivery. Researchers have explored the use of nanotechnology, specifically nanoparticles and nanofibers, as drug delivery systems for topical and transdermal applications. This approach employs increased drug concentration in the carrier, in order to increase drug flux into and through the skin. Both nanoparticles and nanofibers can be used to deliver hydrophobic and hydrophilic drugs and are capable of controlled release for a prolonged period of time. The examples presented provide significant evidence that this area of research has - and will continue to have - a profound impact on both clinical outcomes and the development of new products.

Concepts: Time, Pharmacology, Drug, Chemical properties, Nanomaterials, Drugs, Topical, Route of administration


Ocular drug delivery has seen several advances in the past few decades, with respect to new drugs, improved formulations, targeted delivery, as well as exploration of new routes of drug administration. New materials have been explored for encasing existing drugs, which can enhance treatment by increasing bioavailability, decreasing toxicity, providing better tissue adherence, targeted delivery as well as increased duration of action. The challenges and requirements are different for the anterior and posterior ocular segments. This review summarizes the recent advances in sustained ocular therapy, both to the anterior and posterior segments, which have been made possible, thanks to nanotechnology. We also discuss the distribution and fate of these nanocarriers themselves, postadministration, as well as clearance from ocular tissues.

Concepts: Better, Pharmacology, Monotonic function, Drug, Drugs, Eye, Tissue


Canada’s universal health care system does not include universal coverage of prescription drugs. We sought to estimate the effects of adding universal public coverage of an essential medicines list to existing public drug plans in Canada.

Concepts: Health care, Pharmacology, Health economics, Medicine, Universal health care, Drug, Illness, Drugs


The use of medical cannabis is increasing, most commonly for pain, anxiety and depression. Emerging data suggest that use and abuse of prescription drugs may be decreasing in states where medical cannabis is legal. The aim of this study was to survey cannabis users to determine whether they had intentionally substituted cannabis for prescription drugs.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Drugs, Suffering