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By Jan Hoffman An association between weed and the dead turns out to have been established long before the 1960s and far beyond a certain ur-band’s stomping grounds in San Francisco. Researchers have identified strains of cannabis burned in mortuary rituals as early as 500 B.C., deep in the Pamir mountains in western China, according to a new study published Wednesday. The residue had chemical signatures indicating high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the plant’s most psychoactive, or mood-altering, compound. You think the Grateful Dead were the first to wonder “what in the world ever became of sweet Jane?” That CBD gummies to assuage the anxious are anything new? That puffs of elevated consciousness started with Rocky Mountain highs? Nah. “Modern perspectives on cannabis vary tremendously cross-culturally, but it is clear that the plant has a long history of human use, medicinally, ritually and recreationally over countless millennia,” said Robert Spengler, an archaeobotanist at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, who worked on the study. Cannabis stems and seeds had previously been found at a handful of burial sites around Eurasia, but the evidence at the Pamir cemetery, verified by advanced scientific technology, shows an even more direct connection between the plant and early ritual. The new findings expand the geographical range of cannabis use within the broader Central Asian region, said Mark Merlin, a professor of botany at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, who did not work on the research. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 26326 - Posted: 06.14.2019

By Lenny Bernstein Five years ago, a study of death certificate data attracted notice for suggesting that states that passed medical marijuana laws saw 25 percent fewer opioid overdose deaths on average than states that barred medical cannabis. The authors were careful to point out that this finding was only a correlation, an intriguing hint at something that needed further exploration. There was no way to establish whether the availability of medical cannabis in some states protected against overdosing on harder drugs, even if some people used marijuana for pain. Nevertheless, the cannabis industry took up the study to help win passage of medical cannabis laws in more states, even as medical experts expressed skepticism. In a 2018 report, for example, Maryland’s medical marijuana commission found “no credible scientific evidence” that marijuana could treat opioid addiction. Now comes a study from Stanford University School of Medicine showing that when researchers looked at a longer period of time, states that introduced medical marijuana actually had 23 percent more deaths from opioid overdoses. The new work appears to be a cautionary tale about inferring cause and effect — wanting research to show something it can’t because the nation is in the grip of a deadly opioid epidemic or because there is money to be made by offering possible solutions. The nation’s opioid crisis, now more than two decades old, has taken more than 400,000 lives, according to government data. “A lot of people interpreted the first study as causal because it’s congenial to their goals,” said Chelsea L. Shover, a postdoctoral fellow in psychiatry who was part of the Stanford research team. “It did not say that one is causing the other.” © 1996-2019 The Washington Post

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 26321 - Posted: 06.11.2019

By Jon Morgenstern The nation’s growing addiction crisis has amplified the urgent and long-standing need for integrating research into substance abuse treatment and recovery process. While there has been an increase in research activity focused on addiction issues, the challenge is that it often takes a decade or more before important clinical findings can be implemented into real-world care delivery. How can the industry address this problem and make continuous quality improvement a cornerstone of substance abuse treatment? I believe we need to create addiction treatment learning laboratories that are embedded into, and coexist with, treatment and recovery centers. The goal of this approach is to accelerate the translation of basic science discoveries into actionable treatment methodologies that can be shared with and help advance the work of addiction professionals nationwide. While research has generated evidence of treatment efficacy in highly controlled settings, there is limited understanding of how to apply this knowledge in ongoing care regimens. For example, most programs offer a variety of different treatments, but there is no research on the impact of these multicomponent programs or how to tailor care to the unique problems of individual patients. © 2019 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 26301 - Posted: 06.05.2019

By Robert D. McFadden Dr. James S. Ketchum, an Army psychiatrist who in the 1960s conducted experiments with LSD and other powerful hallucinogens using volunteer soldiers as test subjects in secret research on chemical agents that might incapacitate the minds of battlefield adversaries, died on May 27 at his home in Peoria, Ariz. He was 87. His wife, Judy Ketchum, confirmed the death on Monday, adding that the cause had not been determined. Decades before a convention eventually signed by more than 190 nations outlawed chemical weapons, Dr. Ketchum argued that recreational drugs favored by the counterculture could be used humanely to befuddle small units of enemy troops, and that a psychedelic “cloud of confusion” could stupefy whole battlefield regiments more ethically than the lethal explosions and flying steel of conventional weapons. For nearly a decade he spearheaded these studies at Edgewood Arsenal, a secluded Army chemical weapons center on Chesapeake Bay near Baltimore, where thousands of soldiers were drugged. Some could be found mumbling as they pondered nonexistent objects, or picking obsessively at bedclothes, or walking about in dreamlike deliriums. Asked to perform reasoning tests, some subjects could not stop laughing. It sometimes took days for the effects to wear off, and even then, Dr. Ketchum wrote in a self-published memoir, many displayed irrational aggressions and fears. He built padded rooms to minimize injuries, but occasionally one would escape. Some soldiers smashed furniture or menaced others, imagining they were running from hordes of rats or killers. “The idea of chemical weapons is still preferable to me, depending on how they are used, as a way of neutralizing an enemy,” Dr. Ketchum told The New York Times in an interview for this obituary in 2016, a half-century after his groundbreaking experiments. “They are still more humane than conventional weapons currently being used, if the public can ever get over its psychological block of being afraid of chemical weapons.” © 2019 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 26294 - Posted: 06.04.2019

Coffee lovers who drink up to 25 cups a day can rest assured the drink is not bad for their heart, scientists say. Some previous studies have suggested that coffee stiffens arteries, putting pressure on the heart and increasing the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke, with drinkers warned to cut down their consumption. But a new study of more than 8,000 people across the UK found that drinking five cups a day, and even up to 25, was no worse for the arteries than drinking less than a cup a day. The research, part-funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), is being presented at the British Cardiovascular Society conference in Manchester. Get Society Weekly: our newsletter for public service professionals Read more Experts from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) divided 8,412 people into three groups for the study. The first group was of those who drink less than one cup of coffee a day, the second was of those who drink between one and three cups a day, and the third was those who drink more than three. Some people in the latter group drank up to 25 cups a day, although the average number for people in this group was five cups a day. Researchers found that even those drinking up to 25 cups of coffee a day were no more likely to have stiffening of arteries than those who drank less than one cup a day.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 26288 - Posted: 06.03.2019

By Veronique Greenwood After a long hike on a hot day, few things are more rewarding than a tall, frosty glass of water. The rush of pleasure that comes with a drink might feel like a sign from your body that you’ve done the right thing, a reward for remedying your dehydration. But that pleasing sensation isn’t actually linked to your real need for a drink. In a study published Wednesday in the journal Neuron, a group of scientists who have studied how thirst works in the bodies of mammals report that the neural systems related to the feeling of reward work independently of those involved in monitoring water intake. Staying hydrated is high on most organisms’ list of priorities. Mammals have multiple ways of tracking the water they’ve consumed, a subject Yuki Oka, a neuroscientist at the California Institute of Technology, has long studied in mice. The mechanisms in other mammals, including humans, may be similar. One method he and colleagues explored in earlier research involves the gulping motion made by the throat as liquid is swallowed. That gulping sends a message to the brain that water has been consumed, quieting the neurons that generate the urge to drink. But that happens regardless of whether the substance gulped was water or oil, suggesting that the act of gulping only briefly convinces your brain that your thirst is quenched. The body also tracks the presence of water in the gut, and when it becomes clear that water is not arriving, thirst returns. Dr. Oka and colleagues report in their latest study that injecting water directly into the stomachs of mice did quench thirst, albeit after a longer lag. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 26287 - Posted: 06.01.2019

By Jonathan Ore, Dawna Dingwall & Dr. Brian Goldman In his youth, Dayton Wilson was a free spirit, an aspiring rap artist with a burgeoning talent at playing the electric guitar. That all changed in September 2016, when a fentanyl overdose left him with brain damage. Wilson's speech and balance were most greatly affected after the overdose. His movements are as slow and deliberate as the way he talks. His vocabulary remains intact, but he speaks as though a recording of his voice is being played at half-speed. Today it takes the 24-year-old a few moments to find the words he wants to say. "Sometimes it's too loud. Sometimes I can't find an opportune moment to try to say [the right word]," Wilson said in an interview with White Coat, Black Art. His hands often involuntarily clench into fists. He's likely permanently lost the dexterity that allowed him to play the guitar. While most news headlines centre on the thousands of deaths that have resulted from opioid-related overdoses, advocates say those who survive, like Wilson, are largely forgotten, even as they're left struggling to deal with the life-changing aftermath. "The death numbers are what's reported and people, I think, get the impression that you have a drug overdose, you get naloxone and you survive. Or you do not get naloxone … and you die," said Dr. Delbert Dorscheid, a critical care physician at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver. ©2018 CBC/Radio-Canada

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 26286 - Posted: 06.01.2019

By Sheila Kaplan LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Alex Carll was presenting his research about the impact of e-cigarette smoke on mouse hearts at an American Heart Association conference when a man from Juul Labs approached him and started asking questions. “He seemed genuinely concerned about the health implications of Juul,” said Dr. Carll, who recalled meeting the e-cigarette company’s medical liaison, Jeff Vaughan, in November as he stood by a poster of his research findings. “He said they were looking for people to collaborate with and that they could offer up to $200,000.” As a 37-year-old assistant professor of physiology at the University of Louisville medical school, with his eyes on his own research lab, Dr. Carll was tempted. “Two hundred thousand is a lot, just for supplies and equipment,” Dr. Carll said. “That would get me off the ground and running.” Wary of hurting his reputation, however, Dr. Carll turned Juul down. That scenario is playing out at medical conferences and universities across the country, as the company aggressively recruits scientists to prove to the Food and Drug Administration, and to the public, that “juuling” offers more public health benefit than risk. If it fails to submit proper evidence by 2022, the agency could halt all sales. Company representatives have been stalking e-cigarette researchers at conferences, blitzing speakers with emails and phone calls to ask for meetings and slides, and offering tantalizing amounts of money for academics. But rejections like Dr. Carll’s have created a troubling cycle for Juul, whose popular vaping products have contributed to what health officials have called an epidemic of e-cigarette use and nicotine addiction among teenagers. Because many researchers have spurned the company’s lucrative offers, Juul has had to rely on scientists with tobacco industry ties — further damaging the company’s credibility and making it even tougher to attract independent investigators. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 26277 - Posted: 05.29.2019

By Jan Hoffman Opening statements in the country’s first trial over whether a pharmaceutical company is liable for the opioid crisis began as a battle between fire and ice: Lawyers for Oklahoma, a state brought to its knees by addiction and overdose deaths, heatedly accused Johnson & Johnson of creating a deadly demand for the drugs, while the company coolly responded that it had acted responsibly and lawfully in its quest to offer relief to chronic pain patients. The trial, heard by a judge without a jury but livestreamed to the public, is being closely watched not only by those affected by prescription opioid addiction, but also by lawyers in almost 1,900 similar federal and state cases nationwide. Two other defendants who manufacture opioids settled with Oklahoma — Purdue Pharma will pay $270 million, Teva Pharmaceuticals, $85 million — leaving only J & J on trial. The state directly confronted what many legal experts have predicted will be the highest hurdle in the case: connecting one manufacturer of opioids to the cascading harms wrought by the entire industry. J & J pushed back hard, arguing that the state itself looked the other way as its own drug review board and prescription monitoring program for years neglected to swoop down on sources of diverted opioids. In addition, it said, Oklahoma could not tie any death directly to the company’s products — Duragesic, a fentanyl patch, and Nucynta, an opioid pill it no longer makes. “You hear about pill mills,” said Larry D. Ottaway, the lead counsel for a J & J subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals. “You don’t hear about patch mills.” Indeed both sides introduced what are sure to be their signature earworms, themes that will be echoed throughout the trial, estimated to take about two months. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 8: General Principles of Sensory Processing, Touch, and Pain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 5: The Sensorimotor System
Link ID: 26275 - Posted: 05.29.2019

By Emily Willingham As anyone who’s dealt with substance addiction can tell you, breaking the physical intimacy with the drug isn’t always the most challenging part of treatment. People trying to avoid resurrecting their addiction also must grapple with reminders of it: the sights, sounds and people who were part of their addictive behaviors. These cues can trigger a craving for the drug, creating anxiety that steers them straight back into addiction for relief. The opioid epidemic in the United States has taken more than 300,000 lives, and support for people working to keep these drugs out of their orbit has become crucial. Methadone and buprenorphine, the current medical treatment options, help break the physical craving for opioids by targeting the same pathways that opioids use. Although these drugs can ease physical need, they don’t quiet the anxiety that environmental cues can trigger, leaving open a door to addiction reentry. The cannabis compound cannabidiol (CBD), a nonpsychoactive component of cannabis, might be the key to keeping that door locked. Researchers report that among people with opioid addiction, CBD dampens cue-triggered cravings and anxiety, along with reducing stress hormone levels and heart rate. The results were published May 21 in the American Journal of Psychiatry. “These findings provide support for an effect of cannabidiol on this process,” says Kathryn McHugh, assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School’s Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse, who was not involved in the study. However, she cautions, the results are preliminary, and behavioral therapies are also quite effective at dimming the signal from cues. © 2019 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 26260 - Posted: 05.22.2019

Alison Abbott Pharmacologists gave mescaline a fair trial. In the early and mid-twentieth century, it seemed more than plausible that the fashionable hallucinogen could be tamed into a therapeutic agent. After all, it had profound effects on the human body, and had been used for centuries in parts of the Americas as a gateway to ceremonial spiritual experience. But this psychoactive alkaloid never found its clinical indication, as science writer Mike Jay explains in Mescaline, his anthropological and medical history. In the 1950s, the attention of biomedical researchers abruptly switched to a newly synthesized molecule with similar hallucinogenic properties but fewer physical side effects: lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD. First synthesized by Swiss scientist Albert Hofmann in 1938, LSD went on to become a recreational drug of choice in the 1960s hippy era. And, like mescaline, it teased psychiatrists without delivering a cure. Jay traces the chronology of mescaline use. The alkaloid is found in the fast-growing San Pedro cactus (Echinopsis pachanoi) that towers above the mountainous desert scrub of the Andes, and the slow-growing, ground-hugging peyote cactus (Lophophora williamsii) native to Mexico and the southwestern United States. Archaeological evidence suggests that the use of these cacti in rites of long-vanished cultures goes back at least 5,000 years. © 2019 Springer Nature Publishing AG

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 26255 - Posted: 05.21.2019

By Kim Tingley Humans have been drinking fermented concoctions since the beginning of recorded time. But despite that long relationship with alcohol, we still don’t know what exactly the molecule does to our brains to create a feeling of intoxication. Likewise, though the health harms of heavy drinking are fairly obvious, scientists have struggled to identify what negative impacts lesser volumes may lead to. Last September, the prestigious peer-reviewed British medical journal The Lancet published a study that is thought to be the most comprehensive global analysis of the risks of alcohol consumption. Its conclusion, which the media widely reported, sounded unequivocal: “The safest level of drinking is none.” Sorting through the latest research on how to optimize your well-being is a constant and confounding feature of modern life. A scientific study becomes a press release becomes a news alert, shedding context at each stage. Often, it’s a steady stream of resulting headlines that seem to contradict one another, which makes it easy to justify ignoring them. “There’s so much information on chocolate, coffee, alcohol,” says Nicholas Steneck, a former consultant to the Office of Research Integrity for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “You basically believe what you want to believe unless people are dropping dead all over the place.” Scientific studies are written primarily for other scientists. But to make informed decisions, members of the general public have to engage with them, too. Does our current method of doing so — study by study, conclusion by conclusion — make us more informed as readers or simply more mistrustful? As Steneck asks: “If we turn our back on all research results, how do we make decisions? How do you know what research to trust?” It’s a question this new monthly column aims to explore: What can, and can’t, studies tell us when it comes to our health? © 2019 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 26240 - Posted: 05.17.2019

By MOISES VELASQUEZ-MANOFF When Catherine Jacobson first heard about the promise of cannabis, she was at wits’ end. Her 3-year-old son, Ben, had suffered from epileptic seizures since he was 3 months old, a result of a brain malformation called polymicrogyria. Over the years, Jacobson and her husband, Aaron, have tried giving him at least 16 different drugs, but none provided lasting relief. They lived with the grim prognosis that their son — whose cognitive abilities never advanced beyond those of a 1-year-old — would likely continue to endure seizures until the cumulative brain injuries led to his death. In early 2012, when Jacobson learned about cannabis at a conference organized by the Epilepsy Therapy Project, she felt a flicker of hope. The meeting, in downtown San Francisco, was unlike others she had attended, which were usually geared toward lab scientists and not directly focused on helping patients. This gathering aimed to get new treatments into patients’ hands as quickly as possible. Attendees weren’t just scientists and people from the pharmaceutical industry. They also included, on one day of the event, families of patients with epilepsy. The tip came from a father named Jason David, with whom Jacobson began talking by chance outside a presentation hall. He wasn’t a presenter or even very interested in the goings-on at the conference. He had mostly lost faith in conventional medicine during his own family’s ordeal. But he claimed to have successfully treated his son’s seizures with a cannabis extract, and now he was trying to spread the word to anyone who would listen. The idea to try cannabis extract came to David after he found out that the federal government held a patent on cannabidiol, a molecule derived from the cannabis plant that is commonly referred to as CBD. Unlike the better-known marijuana molecule delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, CBD isn’t psychoactive; it doesn’t get users high. But in the late 1990s, scientists at the National Institutes of Health discovered that it could produce remarkable medicinal effects. In test tubes, the molecule shielded neurons from oxidative stress, a damaging process common in many neurological disorders, including epilepsy.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Link ID: 26236 - Posted: 05.15.2019

Esther Honig Denver voters narrowly approved a grassroots ballot initiative to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms, commonly referred to as psychedelic mushrooms. What appeared to be a failed effort on the evening of Tuesday's referendum made an unexpected comeback the following afternoon, when Denver election officials released the final count. It showed a slim majority of 50.56% voted in favor of ordinance 301. The action doesn't legalize psilocybin mushrooms, but effectively bars the city from criminally prosecuting or arresting adults 21 or older who possess them. In the ballot language, adults can even grow the fungus for personal use and be considered a low priority for Denver police. The changes could take effect as soon as next year. What happened in Denver may be the start of a much larger movement, which seeks safe access to psilocybin for its purported medicinal value. Supporters point to research, suggesting psilocybin is not addictive and causes few ER visits compared to other illegal drugs. Ongoing medical research shows it could be a groundbreaking medicine for treatment-resistant depression and to help curb nicotine addiction. In Iowa, a Republican lawmaker recently proposed two bills to remove the drug from the state's list of controlled substances. And in Oregon and California, campaigns are working to get similar issues on the ballot for the 2020 elections. © 2019 npr

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 26219 - Posted: 05.09.2019

Bruce Bower A leather bag stuffed with ritual items, found high in the Andes Mountains, has yielded rare clues to South American shamans’ hallucinatory visions around 1,000 years ago. One artifact in the radiocarbon-dated bag, a pouch stitched out of three fox snouts, contains chemical traces of five mind-altering substances obtained from at least three plants, say bioarchaeologist Melanie Miller of the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand and her colleagues. Chemical residues include two primary ingredients of ayahuasca, a vision-inducing concoction still used by ritual specialists in native South American communities, the scientists report online the week of May 6 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Cocaine residue suggests that the fox pouch also held coca leaves. The researchers found the ancient ritual bundle in a Bolivian rock-shelter called Cueva del Chileno. Along with the fox pouch, the leather bag contained two carved wooden tablets used for snorting, or snuffing, powdered substances, a carved snuffing tube, a pair of llama-bone spatulas, a woven band thought to be a headband and two dried plant fragments tied to wool and fiber strings. Objects in the bag show influences of an ancient Andean society called Tiwanaku (SN Online: 8/24/15), the researchers say. As in many ancient Andean and Amazonian cultures, Tiwanaku shamans entered altered mental and physical states to communicate with revered ancestors and supernatural beings. |© Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2019

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 26211 - Posted: 05.07.2019

By Gabrielle Emanuel and Katie Thomas BOSTON — A federal jury on Thursday found the top executives of Insys Therapeutics, a company that sold a fentanyl-based painkiller, guilty of racketeering charges in a rare criminal prosecution that blamed corporate officials for contributing to the nation’s opioid epidemic. The jury, after deliberating for 15 days, issued guilty verdicts against the company’s founder, the onetime billionaire John Kapoor, and four former executives, finding they had conspired to fuel sales of its highly potent drug, Subsys, by not only bribing doctors to prescribe their product but also by misleading insurers about patients’ need for the drug. The verdict against Insys executives is a sign of the accelerating effort to hold pharmaceutical and drug distribution companies and their executives and owners accountable in ways commensurate with the devastation wrought by the prescription opioid crisis. More than 200,000 people have overdosed on such drugs in the past two decades. Federal authorities last month for the first time filed felony drug trafficking charges against a major pharmaceutical distributor, Rochester Drug Cooperative, and two former executives, accusing them of shipping tens of millions of oxycodone pills and fentanyl products to pharmacies that were distributing drugs illegally. And the state attorneys general of Massachusetts and New York have recently sued not just Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, but also members of the Sackler family who own the company — and who have largely escaped personal legal penalties for the company’s role in the epidemic, culpability they deny. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 8: General Principles of Sensory Processing, Touch, and Pain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 5: The Sensorimotor System
Link ID: 26209 - Posted: 05.04.2019

Sara Reardon The cannabis that’s used for research in the United States is genetically different to the stuff people are smoking, says a recent study1. The finding suggests that research investigating the plant’s biological effects might not completely replicate the experience of people using commercially available strains ― something researchers have long suspected. Scientists studying cannabis in the United States must source it from the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi in University. The facility holds the only licence from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to grow and distribute cannabis for research purposes, and it has a contract with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to give researchers access to its products. Critics have long complained that NIDA’s pot is weaker than strains typically sold in dispensaries in states where the drug is now legal, or available on the street. The agency’s strongest variety contains more than 10% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive chemical responsible for marijuana’s ‘high’. Some street varieties contain more than 20% THC. The DEA, which licenses labs to buy and study illegal drugs, announced in 2016 that it would allow other institutions to apply for permission to grow marijuana for research. According to news reports, dozens of applications have since been submitted. But the DEA hasn’t yet approved any of them, leaving scientists to source research strains from NIDA. © 2019 Springer Nature Publishing AG

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 26201 - Posted: 05.03.2019

By Sheila Kaplan WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that it would permit the sale of IQOS, a “heat not burn” tobacco device made by Philip Morris International, in the United States. While the agency stopped short of declaring that the device was safer than traditional cigarettes, the F.D.A. did say the heated tobacco-stick system could help people to quit smoking. Philip Morris has waited two years for the agency to clear IQOS (pronounced EYE-kose), a penlike electronic device that comes with a sleek battery pack resembling a cigarette case. The product includes an electronically controlled heating blade that warms a tobacco stick and releases a vapor with the taste of tobacco but fewer harmful chemicals than cigarette smoke. It differs from e-cigarettes already on the market because it contains tobacco rather than liquid nicotine. But IQOS still delivers an amount of nicotine that’s similar to traditional cigarettes. “The F.D.A.’s decision to authorize IQOS in the U.S. is an important step forward for the approximately 40 million American men and women who smoke,” said André Calantzopoulos, the chief executive of Philip Morris International. “Some will quit. Most won’t, and for them IQOS offers a smoke-free alternative to continued smoking.” Howard A. Willard III, chief executive of Altria, which will distribute the product in this country, said the company planned to begin sales of IQOS in Atlanta. A few years ago, the F.D.A.’s decision would have been a clear win for both Philip Morris and Altria. But IQOS products will now have to compete with the extremely popular devices sold by the vaping giant Juul Labs, in which Altria has a 35 percent stake. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 26189 - Posted: 05.01.2019

April Dembosky Amelia and her roommate had been awake for two days straight. They decided to spray-paint the bathroom hot pink. After that, they laid into building and rebuilding the pens for the nine pit bull puppies they were raising in their two-bedroom apartment. Then the itching started. It felt like pin pricks under the skin of her hands. Amelia was convinced she had scabies, skin lice. She spent hours in front of the mirror checking her skin, picking at her face. She even got a health team to come test the apartment. All they found were a few dust mites. "At first, with meth, I remember thinking, 'What's the big deal?' " says Amelia, who asked that we not reveal her last name to protect her family's privacy. "But when you look at how crazy things got, everything was so out of control. Clearly, it is a big deal." While public health officials have focused on the opioid epidemic in recent years, another epidemic has been brewing quietly, but vigorously, behind the scenes. Methamphetamine use is surging in parts of the U.S., particularly the West, leaving first responders and addiction treatment providers struggling to handle a rising need. Across the country, overdose deaths involving methamphetamine doubled from 2010 to 2014. Admissions to treatment facilities for meth are up 17%. Hospitalizations related to meth jumped by about 245% from 2008 to 2015. And throughout the West and Midwest, 70% of local law enforcement agencies say meth is their biggest drug threat. © 2019 npr

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 26188 - Posted: 05.01.2019

By Sheila Kaplan COLUMBIA, S.C. — For months, Juul Labs has had a clear, unwavering message for officials in Washington: The e-cigarette giant is committed to doing all it can to keep its hugely popular vaping products away from teenagers. But here in Columbia, the South Carolina capital, and in statehouses and city halls across the country, a vast, new army of Juul lobbyists is aggressively pushing measures that undermine that pledge. The company’s 80-plus lobbyists in 50 states are fighting proposals to ban flavored e-cigarette pods, which are big draws for teenagers; pushing legislation that includes provisions denying local governments the right to adopt strict vaping controls; and working to make sure that bills to discourage youth vaping do not have stringent enforcement measures. Though Juul supports numerous state bills that would raise the legal age for buying vaping and tobacco products to 21, some of those bills contain minimal sanctions for retailers. Others fine only the clerks and not the owners for violations. “Juul is attempting to rehabilitate its public image by posing as a public health advocate while working behind the scenes to weaken or defeat tobacco control proposals and prevent communities from even considering policies to curb tobacco use,” said Nancy Brown, chief executive of the American Heart Association, whose network of lobbyists has parried with e-cigarette and tobacco industries in many states this year. In a statement, Juul said, “We are as committed as ever to combating youth usage but don’t take our word for it — look at our actions.” The company cited its action plan, unveiled in November, which included shutting down its social media accounts, discontinuing sales of many flavored pods in retail stores and strengthening its online age verification systems. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 26178 - Posted: 04.29.2019