Feds: A popular drug from the disco era is making a deadly return

Today’s narcotics abusers may be turning to cocaine in part “because there’s been a lot of bad press about other drugs.”

By Corky Siemaszko

 

The bitter lessons about the dangers of cocaine from the disco era in the 1970s may be lost on a new generation of drug abusers.

A phenomenon known as “generational forgetting” may be one of the reasons for the deadly uptick in cocaine deaths that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported this week, experts said.

“Certain drugs seem to go in and out of style,” Daniel Raymond, deputy director of the Harm Reduction Coalition, said. “Right now we’re seeing an uptick in cocaine use, and we’re hitting that point in the cycle where we’re starting to see more fatal overdoses.”

“Absolutely, there is a generational piece to this,” said Hans Breiter, a Northwestern University psychiatry professor and one of the world’s leading experts on how cocaine stimulates the human brain.

Today’s narcotics abusers may be turning to cocaine in part “because there’s been a lot of bad press about other drugs,” Breiter said.

Just like the generation that dealt with the horrors of AIDS was followed by another that was less afraid of the scourge and thus more likely to have unprotected sex, today’s drug users aren’t afraid of cocaine like they should be, he said.

“We see this kind of forgetting in politics all the time, for example,” he said. “People resurrecting ideas like trickle-down economics, even though it’s been pretty much invalidated.”

On Thursday, the CDC reported that overdose deaths involving cocaine began rising around 2012 and jumped by more than a third between 2016 and 2017.

CDC researchers also found that almost three-quarters of the deaths involving cocaine in 2017 were among people who had also taken opioids.

But deaths involving cocaine alone also increased, said the CDC’s Lawrence Scholl, who was one of the study’s authors.

That could be because there’s more cocaine on the streets, Raymond, of the Harm Reduction Coalition, said.

“We have a greater supply of cocaine now than we did 10 years ago,” he said. “My understanding is production had fallen off in Colombia and it has been increasing again.”

Sheila Vakharia of the Drug Policy Alliance wrote in an email “there is definitely something to be said for cyclical theories of drug use because when we focus a lot of time/energy/resources on restricting the ‘drug du jour’ it opens the market for alternative drugs and encourages suppliers to diversify.”

Of late, the drug du jour wreaking havoc across America has been opioids, which have killed tens of thousands nationwide, with the addiction cutting like a scythe through states such as West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and the District of Columbia, according to the CDC.

But the Drug Enforcement Administration also reported in its National Drug Threat Assessment last year that cocaine availability has increased steadily in the United States since 2012, especially on the East Coast and in the South.

According to the CDC report, 10,131 out of the 13,942 cocaine-involved deaths (almost 73 percent) also involved an opioid.

Heroin is an opioid made from morphine. But drug dealers have been boosting profits by cutting their drugs with synthetic opioids like fentanyl, which is 25 to 50 times more powerful than heroin.

Breiter said drug addicts often get high on something known on the street as a “speedball,” which is a combination of cocaine and heroin.

“People will use heroin to blunt the severity of coming down from the high of cocaine,” he said. “It can be quite severe.”

The problem is that when the heroin is cut with an opioid, it can make this drug cocktail even more lethal, the experts said.

Vakharia said there have been reports of drug dealers cutting cocaine with opioids and “cocaine users naïve to opioids are overdosing because they have no tolerance.” But neither she nor her colleagues at Drug Policy are convinced that is the case.

“It makes little sense,” she wrote. “Why would a seller want to kill off a customer.”

Raymond agreed that he didn’t believe that fentanyl-contaminated cocaine was intentional, given the opposing effects of the two drugs.

“We’re not seeing a huge trend of cocaine intentionally mixed with opioids like fentanyl,” he said. “Why? I think that’s probably because fentanyl is very sedating, cocaine is very stimulating.” (Click to Source)

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Federal opioid pill bust reveals doctors trading pills for sex, dentists pulling good teeth

Terry DeMio, Cincinnati EnquirerPublished 5:35 p.m. ET April 19, 2019

CINCINNATI – They were medical professionals but they traded prescription pain pills for sex, prosecutors say. Others let untrained office workers examine patients, leaving a blank prescription pad at the clinic, their indictments reveal.

One dentist extracted the healthy teeth of patients as an excuse to give them painkillers, the feds say. Two of the prescribers charged in this week’s federal opioid sweep caused the deaths of five patients because of overprescribing, court papers show.

All of the 60 doctors, nurse practitioners, office staff, pharmacists and dentists charged in an Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioids Strike Force investigation face felonies for prescribing opioids when they shouldn’t.

The accusations in some of the indictments go beyond making money off people with addiction disease or acting to obtain drugs to feed their own addictions.

For example, Dr. Thomas Ballard III is accused of giving pain pills to people in exchange for sex and prescribing opioids to at least one pregnant woman, who died.

Court documents say Ballard, of Ballard Clinic-Family Practice in Jackson, Tennessee, didn’t monitor his patients for addiction as required. He also prescribed the deadly combination of opioids and benzodiazepines, a sedative, despite Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and FDA warnings. He was charged with maintaining a drug-involved premises and aiding and abetting, as well as unlawfully distributing and dispensing controlled substances.

Combining opioids and benzodiazepines, which are sedatives often prescribed for anxiety disorder or depression, is deadly. In 2016, the CDC issued new guidelines recommending that clinicians avoid prescribing the two kinds of medications together.

Ballard’s case wasn’t the only drugs-for-sex case in Jackson.

The Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force announced that they have charged 60 individuals, including 53 medical professionals, with crimes related to illegal distribution of opioids and other dangerous narcotics. Albert Cesare, acesare@enquirer.com

 

\There was also Jeffrey Young, the self-nicknamed “Rock Doc,” who actually is a nurse practitioner, accused of trading opioids for sex.

A federal grand jury indictment says that Young prescribed about a half-million hydrocodone pills, 300,000 oxycodone pills, 1,500 fentanyl patches and 600,000 benzodiazepine pills over three years. His supervisors, Dr. Alexander Alperovich and Dr. Andrew Rudin, were also indicted.

Young even had a radio show about his clinic at one point.

In Kentucky, there was an absent doctor. Dr. Mohammed A.H. Mazumder of Prestonsburg, owned Appalachian Primary Care in Prestonsburg. A federal indictment says he told his employees, who weren’t doctors, to receive patients at the clinic when he wasn’t there. The indictment says that a medical technician evaluated patients, then two receptionists called pharmacies with prescription orders for pain pills and other drugs under Mazumder’s name. The clinic billed Medicare and Medicaid, as if Mazumber had done the job.

Dr. Denver Tackett ran a dental clinic in McDowell, Kentucky. An indictment accuses him of prescribing oxycodone and hydrocodone that were not reasonable for the treatment of patient’s illness or injury. He also is accused of pulling teeth out of six patients from 2016 to 2018 who had no need for extractions, as well as submitting claims to Medicare and Medicide for procedures he did not perform.

Tanya Mentzer, an office manager at a family medicine clinic in the city of Hoover, Alabama, also faces federal charges. She had no medical education, license or medical experience, say the feds, but she is accused of distributing and dispensing controlled substances illegally to gain money.

The indictment claims that she and co-conspirators operated their business as “a pill mill, frequently providing dangerous, addictive, powerful opioid cocktails” for no medical reason. (In this indictment, the co-conspirators are unnamed.) The clinic was often open at odd hours, including after midnight, the feds say.

Also in Alabama, Dr. Celia Lloyd-Turnerof Choice Medicine Clinic near Huntsville, is accused of prescribing excessive amounts of drugs, giving patients as many as 15 pills a day and leaving blank forms to be filled out by staff when she wasn’t at the clinic. She was the sole physician at the clinic, the indictment says.

Dr. Darrell Rinert, an internist with a license to practice in Tennessee, is accused in a federal grand jury indictment of causing the deaths of four people, after prescribing them hydrocodone repeatedly from 2014-2016. An indictment claims that Rinert routinely prescribed “highly addictive opioids” including morphine sulfate, hydrocodone, oxycodone and dextroamphetamine for patients without a legitimate medical reason.

The state medical board suspended him in November 2018 through May 2019, when his license will expire.

On Friday, U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr released a statement calling the investigation “outstanding.” He added, “The opioid epidemic is the deadliest drug crisis in American history, and Appalachia has suffered the consequences more than perhaps any other region.”

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said stopping the illegal sales of opioid prescriptions is a crucial goal for President Donald Trump.

Azar also referred to the operation’s first-of-its-kind effort to get treatment to the patients left behind.

“It is also vital that Americans struggling with addiction have access to treatment and that patients who need pain treatment do not see their care disrupted, which is why federal and local public health authorities have coordinated to ensure these needs are met in the wake of this enforcement operation,” he said. (Click to Source)

More: See the full list of those indicted.

Fentanyl bust in New York finds enough to kill nearly 2 million people, DEA says

Updated 6:49 PM ET, Sat March 2, 2019

(CNN)A home in a quiet Westchester County, New York, neighborhood was hiding enough fentanyl to kill 2 million people, the US Drug Enforcement Administration said.

Federal agents found five kilograms (just over 11 pounds) of fentanyl and six kilograms (13.2 pounds) of heroin Friday when they raided a fentanyl mill operating out of a home in Ardsley, the DEA said.
Five people who were arrested during the raid are facing several drug charges.
Braulio Mata, 31; Jose Garcia, 44; and 20-year-old Yarly Mendoza-Delorbe were charged with conspiracy and drug possession. Another suspect, Ramon Aracena Alfe, 47, is facing a possession charge. The fifth person, 32-year-old Dionell Duarte Hernandez, has been charged with possession and resisting arrest, officials said.
The group began renting the home a few months ago and neighbors had noticed several vehicles coming and going, CNN affiliate News 12 Westchester reported.
“The fentanyl alone has the potency to kill nearly over two million people,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan. “I commend the men and women in the Task Force and Tactical Diversion Squad for their quick and efficient investigation into this organization and their diligence to the safety of the residents living nearby.”
Ardsley is a wealthy community about 20 miles north of New York City.
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Trump Announces Opioid Crisis a Public Health Emergency

Declaration stops short of the ‘national emergency’ designation president had assured over summer

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WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump, surrounded by addicts and their families, declared opioid addiction a “public health emergency” Thursday as he sought to accelerate a federal government response to the crisis.

“We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic,” Mr. Trump said in a 25-minute speech from the White House in which he decried the tragedy of “opioid orphans” and described opioid abuse as a “plague” that Americans must defeat.

Mr. Trump, saying his administration was already “aggressively” fighting opioid abuse, pledged to raise the subject of Chinese-made bootleg fentanyl on his November visit with President Xi Jinping. Mr. Trump also praised pharmacy benefit managers’ efforts to limit the supply of some painkillers and touted a move by the Food and Drug Administration earlier this year to urge one drug maker to pull an opioid off the market.

Reaction to the move in the states was divided somewhat along partisan lines, with Democrats questioning whether Mr. Trump’s action went far enough, especially given that it didn’t include a commitment to new funding, and Republicans praising it as forceful and necessary.

Mr. Trump also said his administration was looking at bringing lawsuits against unspecified “bad actor” companies, but it wasn’t immediately clear what steps the federal government might take in that regard. This week, Purdue Pharma L.P., which sells the opioid painkiller OxyContin, said that the U.S. attorney’s office in Connecticut was investigating the company over the drug, and that it was cooperating with the investigation. The U.S. attorney’s office in Connecticut declined to comment.

Overall, more than nine states, and dozens of cities and counties, have sued Purdue and other opioid painkiller makers, alleging that their marketing has misled the public about addiction risks. Some state and county lawsuits have also targeted distributors of the opioid drugs. Purdue and many of the other firms have denied the allegations.

Opioids such as fentanyl, heroin, oxycodone and hydrocodone killed more than 34,500 people last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and administration officials Thursday likened the death toll to that in the Vietnam War. Opioid addiction has ravaged communities throughout the country in recent years, drawing attention from officeholders of both parties, many of whom have been urging Mr. Trump to take action for some time.

The president’s declaration Thursday stopped short of the “national emergency” designation that he had said over the summer he would invoke. It was twinned with an announcement that the administration would lift a rule that effectively prevented hospitals and treatment centers from maintaining more than 16 psychiatric beds at a time.

Senior administration officials said ahead of Mr. Trump’s comments that a public-health emergency declaration would allow existing funds for unemployed workers and people with HIV and AIDS to be shifted within those programs to specifically include participants with addictions.

The declaration, which must be renewed every 90 days, carries no specific commitments for additional funding. A senior administration official said that such funding had been proposed in previous GOP-led bids to repeal and replace Democrats’ 2010 Affordable Care Act, and that the White House now hoped to see the funding in a year-end spending deal.

A White House commission on the opioid crisis led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a onetime Republican rival and subsequent backer of Mr. Trump, suggested over the summer that the president declare a national emergency, leaving open different options for what form that declaration should take.

Declaring a national emergency would have allowed federal officials to access a pool of reserve funds through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But critics of that approach worried that would draw resources from hurricane-recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and several states, and officials said a public-health emergency declaration was more fitting for a continuing crisis.

Outside the White House Thursday, Mr. Christie praised Mr. Trump’s move as an “enormous first step” and urged Congress to appropriate additional funds. His commission is due to release final recommendations next week, and Mr. Trump said he was poised to adopt many of them. (Click to Source)

Lawmaker wants to legalize use of prescription painkillers for death sentences

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A state senator in Maryland is now calling for lethal injection to be reinstated in the state for certain crimes, and he wants to use the same drugs that are already killing thousands of Americans each year to get the job done: heroin and fentanyl.

Hartford Country Republican Senator Robert G. Cassilly would like to see lethal injection used for crimes such as serial murders, murders of witnesses or law enforcement officials, murders that take place during a sex offense or hate crime, and killing two or more people in a single incident.

He expressed his intention to ask the Maryland General Assembly to restore capital punishment during the legislative session next year; it was repealed in 2013 during the administration of Governor Martin O’Malley. The last execution in the state took place back in 1993.

His comments came just five days after a Maryland business park shooting saw three deaths and two injuries. The victims had been gunned down by a co-worker at the Advanced Granite Solutions office in Edgewood. The suspect then allegedly drove to Delaware, where he shot another individual. Radee Prince is being held on $2.1 million bond. He faces life in prison without parole for several first-degree murder charges.

Cassilly said: “There’s got to be a penalty that says, ‘Look, you’ve killed; now it can actually get a whole lot worse from this [if you re-offend] because we will hold your life over your head.”

He came up with the idea of using heroin and fentanyl in order to counter an argument commonly used by lethal injection opponents – that the process is painful.

“What we’ve seen is a mix of heroin and fentanyl obviously must not be too painful,” he said, “because we see people pumped up with [the antidote] Narcan on the verge of death, probably practically dead…they turn back around and they want to do [heroin and fentanyl] again.”

Senator Cassilly’s brother is State’s Attorney Joseph Cassilly, who believes that choosing these substances for lethal injections would also send a message to the population about just how deadly a combination it is and hopefully help deter people from taking these drugs and becoming yet another tragic statistic.

Opioids inhibit respiration by blocking the brain from signaling to the body to breathe; those who take higher doses of it essentially forget how to breathe. At 100 times stronger than heroin, just a few grains of fentanyl can kill somebody, and the growing trend of heroin laced with fentanyl has been a key driver of the opioid crisis in the U.S.

Nevada already planning a lethal injection with fentanyl

Last month, Nevada announced plans of its own to use fentanyl in lethal injections. Murderer Scott Raymond Dosier is set to be injected with fentanyl, Valium, and the muscle relaxant cisatracurium, which is related to curare. The injection will take place next month in what will be the state’s first execution in more than a decade.

States that have the death penalty have been having trouble sourcing drugs for executions in recent years, prompting them to turn to new combinations. Many pharmaceutical makers are opposed to having their drugs associated with executions due to concerns about their reputation – nevermind the fact that their drugs kill countless innocent people each year.

Sources include:

NaturalNews.com

Baltimore.CBSLocal.com

Patch.com

IBTimes.co.uk

TheDailyBeast.com


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New ‘gray death’ drug can kill with a single dose, authorities warn

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A lethal new drug dubbed “gray death” by authorities that is dangerous to even touch with gloves is being eyed in overdose cases across Georgia, Alabama and Ohio. Investigators said the high-potency cocktail — which is comprised of heroin, fentanyl, the elephant tranquilizer carfentanil, and a synthetic opioid called U-47700 — can kill users with a single dose.

“Gray death is one of the scariest combinations that I have ever seen in nearly 20 years of forensic chemistry drug analysis,” Deneen Kilcrease, manager of the chemistry section at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, told The Associated Press.

A spokeswoman for the agency told the Associated Press that they’ve seen 50 overdoses cases involving gray death over the past three months. Users can inject, swallow, smoke or snort the drug, which varies in consistency and looks like a concrete mixture.

The Ohio coroner’s office told the news agency that a compound similar to gray death has been coming in for months, with at least eight samples matching the drug mixture. A user can buy the lethal cocktail for as low as $10 on the street, Forbes reported.

Law enforcement officials believe a price drop led users to switch from prescription painkillers to heroin, which is often cut with fentanyl — a drug that is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. Most alarming to officials is that users do not have a way of telling if heroin is pure or laced with other drugs before using it. The same goes for the gray death. (Click to Site)

Doctors In NJ Get Wealthy Helping Big Pharma Ignite Opioid Crisis

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Doctors In NJ Get Wealthy Helping Big Pharma Ignite Opioid Crisis

by Dawn Luger

We’ve all seen those who don’t understand just how addictive opioids are, blame the addict for his or her addiction. But now, new information is coming to light, and many doctors have raked in huge amounts of money by helping push these drugs on patients for Big Pharma while downplaying the addictive nature of the drug with intents to get more taking it.

The opioid crisis is the fault of Big Pharma and it was all done in the name of money. While many die on the streets, their friends and family assume it’s just a “cake walk” to quit, all while Congress protects lobbyists, so doctors can continue to prescribe the dangerous drugs that are making them wealthy.

The most powerful opioid ever mass-marketed was designed to ease cancer patients into death. The drug is fast acting, powerful enough to tame pain that other opioids can’t, and comes in a variety of easy delivery methods, including patches and lollipops. A dose the size of a grain of sand can kill you, and the effects of addiction are often immediate.Usage quickly becomes necessary, and withdrawal effects are slow and painful for the user.

Meet fentanyl. It’s heroin on steroids and it’s killing people in droves. None of that stopped Big Pharma and the doctors in bed with them from prescribing these drugs in terrifying quantities in the state of New Jersey. In New Jersey, you can get fentanyl after having your tonsils removed. But that isn’t all. Doctors who treat children’s colds and adult’s sore knees are prescribing it with alarming frequency,far more often than oncologists who seek to ease end-of-life cancer pain. (Click to Article)

Fentanyl-Laced Heroin Suspected in at Least 50 Recent Fatal Overdoses in Three States

Heroin laced with the synthetic opiate fentanyl is suspected in at least 50 recent fatal overdoses in three states, according to law enforcement officials. In Pennsylvania, the drug combination is suspected in at least 17 deaths. Officials in Maryland and Michigan are also investigating deaths linked to the drug mix. In Flint, Michigan, fentanyl-laced heroin is suspected in four recent overdoses.

Fentanyl is often used during surgery. Drug dealers add it to heroin to create a stronger high, ABC News reports.

People who use the drug combination “don’t know that fentanyl is in it and shoot it up and stop breathing, because they were unaware of the added punch in the narcotic,” said Ray Isackila, counselor and team leader of addiction treatment at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland. He noted fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin, and affects the central nervous system and brain. “Heroin with illicit fentanyl laced into it makes it stronger, cheaper and more desirable on the street,” he said. “People hear about this new heroin or this super strong heroin that someone is selling,” and they want it.

“There’s an odd mindset in the drug addiction world if people have overdosed on this, they think I’ve got to get some of it,” Isackila said. They say “they’ll just use a little — a dangerous drug becomes more desirable to the addict on the street.”

Click to http://www.drugfree.org/join-together/community-related/fentanyl-laced-heroin-suspected-in-at-least-50-recent-fatal-overdoses-in-three-states?utm_source=Join%20Together%20Daily&utm_campaign=a70e9c86f0-JT_Daily_News_Heroin_Overdose_Antidote&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_97f4d27738-a70e9c86f0-221343641

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