Articles Posted in Addiction

magicshrooms-150x150Voters in the nation’s capital joined with peers across the country to nudge forward a further reconsideration of mind-affecting substances popularized in the Sixties but made illicit thereafter.

Support ran strong for a District of Columbia ballot initiative directing local law enforcement to make among its lowest priorities the prosecution of those who use or sell certain hallucinogenic plants and fungi — aka magic mushrooms and psilocybin, the Washington Post reported.

Those substances also appeared to be headed to legalization in an Oregon vote, which also would “decriminalize the possession of all illegal drugs,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

buildingpurdue-300x200Christmas arrived before Halloween for a notorious Big Pharma firm. Federal prosecutors effectively gave its family founders and its executives gilded skates, so they can slide away for now from major criminal charges and severe financial penalties for their part in fostering the opioid abuse and drug overdose crisis that has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans and cost the nation more than $1 trillion.

The devil is in the details in the announced settlement by the U.S. Justice Department with Purdue Pharmaceutical, the maker of the powerful painkiller OxyContin.

Federal prosecutors painted a picture of their planned deal with Purdue as an historic, $8.3 billion knock-out for a company that critics say played a major role in the opioid crisis, with the firm creating a template for hyping falsehoods about the safety and effectiveness of prescription painkillers. As the Washington Post reported, the first glance at the multibillion-dollar Purdue settlement seems tough:

oxylabel-300x180So, who doesn’t daydream a little about money? Maybe even big money. Just imagine a scenario where, if you could put up $3,000, you could keep $13,000, or if you forked over $30,000, and walked away with $130,000? So how great would it be if you paid $3 billion but could stuff $13 billion into your pockets?

What a deal! Of course, it depends on whose perspective you look at it from.

Federal prosecutors and a bankruptcy court may give a plutocratic family that deal, along with a hard-to-imagine get-out-of-jail free card, news organizations report.

crackdownushealthscams-300x200With the Covid-19 pandemic ensuring that even more dollars are flooding into health care than ever, nefarious parties — including doctors, nurses, and other licensed professionals — have targeted ordinary Americans and the federal government in big-time scams. U.S. prosecutors have punched back with a nationwide fraud crackdown.

They announced that they have charged 345 individuals for “submitting more than $6 billion in false and fraudulent claims to federal health care programs and private insurers, including more than $4.5 billion connected to telemedicine, more than $845 million connected to substance abuse treatment facilities, or ‘sober homes,’ and more than $806 million connected to other health care fraud and illegal opioid distribution schemes across the country.”

The biggest part of the federal busts targeted bunko crimes in telemedicine, the medical care option that burgeoned in popularity as patients fearful of infection with the novel coronavirus sought distanced treatment.

benzos-300x180Signs abound that the coronavirus pandemic has really stressed out Americans. Dentists say they are seeing a surge in patients needing care for jaw-clenching and teeth grinding. Doctors report treating increased numbers of patients who have shed abnormal amounts of hair due to fear and anxiety about getting sick with Covid-19, losing a job as part of the disease’s economic shocks, or losing friends or loved ones to illness.

But there also is an increasingly worrisome way to deal with the mental health challenges of the coronavirus: prescription drugs, specifically the class of medications known as benzodiazepines. “Benzos,” as they commonly are known, are widely “prescribed for anxiety, insomnia, seizures, panic disorders and other health problems,” the New York Times reported.

“They are also often given before certain medical procedures. They slow brain activity, causing sedation or calming effects. The drugs are enormously popular. In 2019, according to the agency, roughly 92 million prescriptions for benzodiazepines — such as the highly prescribed Xanax, Klonopin and Ativan — were dispensed in the United States.”

abusedrugs-300x200The Covid-19 pandemic has complicated the already difficult efforts to combat substance abuse: New reports affirm how opioid abuse and drug overdoses are soaring, and vaping, while showing favorable declines for the first time in years, also may be creating a hard-core group of nicotine-addicted young people.

With powerful painkillers, the Wall Street Journal reported:

“Counties in states spanning the country, from Washington to Arizona and Florida, are reporting rising drug fatalities this year … This follows a likely record number of deadly overdoses in the U.S. last year, with more than 72,000 people killed, according to federal projections.”

purduelogo-300x92For those trying to clean up the costly harms that Big Pharma inflicts on Americans, the how-to details not only matter, they can be confounding. For evidence, just ask federal court officials trying to unravel part of the finances of the opioid and overdose crisis, or the Trump Administration’s soggy efforts to deal with skyrocketing prescription drug prices and scary medication shortages.

The latest bedeviling development in the long crackdown on destructive and highly potent prescription painkillers involves Purdue Pharma, the maker of the addictive drug OxyContin, and the U.S. Justice Department.

For months now, courts in New York and Cleveland have sought to negotiate a “global settlement” of thousands of lawsuits, consolidated first in a federal court in Ohio, and claiming that states, counties, cities, Indian tribes, and others have suffered costly harm due to the opioid abuse and overdose crisis.

drugcrisisjulyodwoes-300x219With the novel coronavirus crushing the economy and helping to fuel joblessness, individuals’ isolation, and increasing hopelessness and despair among the already troubled, the opioid drug abuse and overdose crisis again is worsening — and fast.

As the Washington Post reported of what had been one of the nation’s leading public health nightmares before the Covid-19 pandemic:

“In Roanoke County, Va., police have responded to twice as many fatal overdoses in recent months as in all of last year. In Kentucky, which just celebrated its first decline in overdose deaths after five years of crisis, many towns are experiencing an abrupt reversal in the numbers. Nationwide, federal and local officials are reporting alarming spikes in drug overdoses — a hidden epidemic within the coronavirus pandemic.

ammo-300x191As Americans have hunkered down to safeguard themselves from Covid-19 infection, too many people also have stocked their homes with potentially harmful items — and the nation soon may be reckoning with the health consequences.

Will consumers come to regret that officials, locality by locality, deemed “essential” and chose to keep open marijuana shops, gun dealers, and liquor stores? Will doctors rue their decision to support patients, understandably unnerved by the pandemic, with a spike in prescriptions of potent and problematic anti-anxiety drugs?

Experts are sounding the alarms — with reasons worth wide public reminder.

droz-150x150 drdrew-150x150DrPhil-150x150Even as countless health care workers put themselves at risk and display courage, professionalism, and compassion in caring for Covid-19 patients, a growing collection of colleagues are showering themselves in shame, showing that the credential M.D. may stand for master of dubiousness or Ph.D. is  someone whose nonsense is piled high and deep.

As the folks at the HealthNewsReview.org warned a “desperate public,” too ready to embrace self-promoting doctors and others because they are hungry for purported expertise as a pandemic sweeps the globe:

“Beware these red flags: partisan and hyperbolic language and hawking of unproven treatments that seem too good to be true. Seek solid advice from longtime public health institutions: the [federal Centers of Disease Control and Prevention] and the World Health Organization. Understand that because this disease is novel, information is rapidly changing and often tenuous – uncertainties that can be exploited for fame and fortune.”

Patrick Malone & Associates, P.C. listed in Best Lawyers Rated by Super Lawyers Patrick A. Malone
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