Posts tagged with "public health"

Kaelen Felix illustrates OxyCotin for 360 Magazine

Opioid Crisis Takes a Turn with Death of Founder

By: Elle Grant

The opioid epidemic is one of the great public health crises facing the United States today. Over the past two decades, the crisis has ebbed and flowed in different moments, but overall deaths, especially amongst younger people, have increased at an alarming rate. One of the most distinct drugs at the root of the problem is OxyContin from the company Purdue Pharma, a substance now known to be distinctly addictive and dangerous.

OxyContin, also known on the street as killers, OC, Oxy, poor man’s heroin or Oxycotton, is dangerous particularly due to its most active ingredient; “a 12-hour, time-released form of oxycodone, a synthetic form of morphine that is found in common painkillers like Percodan and Percocet.” Alarmingly, OxyContin can have as much as ten times the amount of oxycodone as an average Percodan or Percocet. Approved by the FDA in 1995, the National Institute on Drug Abuse asserts the “chronic use of drugs such as OxyContin can lead to physical dependence and severe withdrawal symptoms if use is stopped, including insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps, and involuntary leg movements. Large doses can cause severe, potentially fatal, respiratory depression.” Intended to be taken orally, many patients and addicts chose to inject or snort the pills (after being modified) to quicken and heighten the effects. Oxycodone is intensely addictive, requiring more frequent and stronger doses as the body becomes dependent.

Efforts were being made to hold OxyContin owners and Purdue Pharma executives accountable for their actions. Thousands of lawsuits had been filed against the Sackler family, one of America’s wealthiest with an estimated combined net worth of about $13 billion. One of the main pillars of the family was Jonathan Sackler, son of one of the three Sackler brothers that transformed the small drug company Purdue Frederick into a hugely profitable pharmaceutical firm. Sackler passed away on the June 30 due to cancer, complicating many of the lawsuits as he was often named a defendant. Other members of his family have been named other defendants, depending on the case.

The famed OxyContin pill launched in the mid-1990s and was continually and thoroughly promoted by the Connecticut based family. The members of the family are charged with the accusation that “eight people in a single family made the choices that caused much of the US opioid epidemic” due to an unethical, irresponsible, and often illegal scheme. Furthermore, “the actions of the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma included sharing studies that they knew were misleading, claiming that this was an effective, long-term treatment that didn’t give rise to risks of addiction,” Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser told reporters at a news conference last year. “Those claims were verifiably false and ignored expert warnings. And they even undermined studies suggesting that there were addictive effects.”

Purdue as a company as well as the Sackler family deny any wrongdoing. Currently, Purdue seeks bankruptcy protection in order to counteract nearly 3,000 lawsuits that attribute blame to Purdue for beginning the opioid crisis. A Department of Justice criminal investigation is ongoing, relating to this process.

The opioid crisis, an epidemic that has spanned from 1999 to the present, has killed almost 500,000 individuals, potentially more. This count includes those that have died from an overdose involving an opioid, including both prescription and illicit opioids. Said epidemic can be characterized in three waves. The first beginning with the rise of prescribed opioids in the 1990s, including “natural and semi-synthetic opioids and methadone.” The second wave is marked by an increase of overdose deaths specifically related to heroin. The third commenced in 2013, with alarmingly stark increases in overdose deaths due to synthetic opioids, especially those “involving illicitly manufactured fentanyl” Unfortunately, “the market for illicitly manufactured fentanyl continues to change and it can be found in combination with heroin, counterfeit pills, and cocaine.”

Many Americans are unaware of the impact of the opioid crisis, or the fact that it is becoming increasingly, not decreasingly relevant to society. Yet, there are signs of positive change. Overall opioid-involved death rates decreased by 2% from 2017 to 2018, with sharper drops in prescription and heroin-involved deaths. Yet the increase in synthetic opioid-involved death rates increased by 10%, proving more work must be done to protect Americans. Currently, the Center for Disease Control combats this epidemic by monitoring trends, advancing research, equipping states with resources, supporting providers, partnering with public safety officials, and increasing public awareness.

Apart from crooked doctors, big pharmaceuticals, especially Jonathan Sackler, the Sackler family, and Purdue Pharma have received a majority of the blame for the epidemic. Jonathan Sackler’s death marks the death of who many see as a villain, but before justice was served in the American court system.

The opioid crisis, two decades in, has captivated the American imagination through film and media, as many crises often due. Netflix in particular has made efforts to document the crisis, including with the true crime series The Pharmacist and the limited series The Business of Drugs. Coming to Netflix next month is the long-awaited Hillbilly Elegy, starring Glenn Close and Amy Adams, both nominated for six Academy Awards each. The film lends a careful eye towards Appalachia, an area ravaged by the opioid epidemic, and features Adams in the role of a struggling addict. The film has already generated major Oscar buzz and will certainly bring further attention to a crucial issue.

Addiction is an incredibly difficult disease to combat. If you or a love one is struggling, please consider contacting the national hotline.

banging gavel illustration

Georgia Governor Sues Atlanta Mayor

By Eamonn Burke

Amidst a large spike in Covid-19 cases across the United States, the governor of Georgia has sued the mayor of Atlanta, a hotspot for the virus. The lawsuit, filed yesterday, is filed against the mayor for mandating strict health measures, meaning masks. Governor Brian Kemp (R) claims that the mayor’s “disastrous policies threaten the lives and livelihood of our citizens.” Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D), accepted the decision, saying “We’ll see him in court.” She also suggested that the governor had crossed a line with this challenge.

This comes as Georgia’s cases and deaths are rising, reaching numbers that the state has not yet seen since the pandemic began. It is evidence of a growing political polarization surrounding masks and other Covid-related health measures. Governor Kemp claims legal authority to set state-wide measures, while Mayor Bottoms defends her actions as following the course recommended by health experts.

The two also disagree on re-opening measures, as Kemp opened Georgia before any other state, when even President Trump thought it was “too soon.” Mayor Bottoms, however, is pushing for Georgia to return to phase one of re-opening. Kemp dismissed it as a “recommendation”, and extended his own executive order to overrule any local mandates for masks.

“While we all agree that wearing a mask is effective, I’m confident that Georgians don’t need a mandate to do the right thing,” the governor said at a news conference yesterday.

politics, business, red, tie, blue

Politics Hindering Public Health

Partisan divisions about the pandemic are negatively affecting public health and economic recovery, according to experts at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. Christopher Kulesza, research analyst for the Child Health Policy program, and Quianta Moore, fellow in child health policy at the institute, are available to talk to the news media about the intersection of politics and public health.

“Public health should not be a political issue,” they wrote in a recent Baker Institute blog post. “The division between the public across party lines is hinderingour progress as a nation to restore the health and vitality of our country and its residents. We must set aside political ideologies and follow data, evidence and science.”

Polling between Republicans and Democrats conducted since March has documented a partisan divide in response to the pandemic, according to the authors. For instance, a recent Pew Research poll showed that most Americans are wearing masks, but rates differ by individual party identification – half of Republicans said they wear a mask most or all of the time compared to 76% of Democrats.

The authors argue there is overwhelming evidence now, as opposed to the beginning of the year, that masks can be highly effective at reducing the spread of COVID-19. Yet “there is still a wide gap between recent medical research findings on COVID-19 and public opinion.”

State and federal leaders on both sides have become more open to public mask requirements, according to the authors. However, “none of the Southern or Western governors have publicly considered instating a lockdown similar to that which brought the New York City epidemic under control.”

Kulesza and Moore argue it is more critical now than at any time during the pandemic to set aside partisanship and to direct policy using an evidence-based approach.

“State and local policy officials may need to make decisions that are unpopular with their respective voter base to ensure a safe return to work,” they wrote. “If they do not, we risk prolonging the pandemic and further delaying our economic recovery and experiencing a greater loss of life.”

Mina Tocalini, 360 Magazine, COVID-19

Climate Crisis × COVID-19

In a new interview, Dr. Roland Kupers, author of A Climate Policy Revolution, discusses the ways the pandemic helps the Climate Crisis

During Covid-19, the world was able to see the impact a lockdown can have on our environment. Since quarantine, people no longer drove to work, school, nor any other locations. Despite the tragedies of the pandemic, one positive can be found in research showing that carbon monoxide levels were reduced by nearly 50%, compared to levels in the same period last year. In addition, emissions of the planet-heating gas CO2 also fell sharply.

Roland Kupers is an advisor on Complexity, Resilience and Energy Transition and the author of the book A Climate Policy Revolution – What the Science of Complexity Reveals about Saving Our Planet. Kupers and C.M. Rubin, founder of CMRubinWorld, discuss 10 ways the pandemic helped to fight the climate crisis.

From psychology we know that it takes 3-6 weeks for new tastes to remain. Our new pandemic habits of less travel, video meetings and valuing cleaner air just might stick,” says Kupers.

Read all 10 ways the pandemic is bettering the climate change here.

Alison Christensen, illustrations, pandemic, 360 MAGAZINE

Mask Wearing Risks

A New York City doctor is available to discuss the long-term health impacts of wearing a N95 or similar mask to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus. While studies have shown that masks cause dizziness caused by restricting oxygen flow, Dr. Stephen T. Greenberg, M.D., has also issued a warning about serious, permanent damage to the face, nose, jawline, and skin, caused byincreased pressure from mask wearing. Ranging from infections and allergic reactions to permanent, premature wrinkling of the skin on the face, a mask worn improperly or for long-periods of time can cause adverse health conditions for the wearer.

While these conditions may once have been industry-specific, impacting those who must wear a mask in the workplace, Dr. Greenberg can discuss the more widespread occurrences of these conditions caused by requirements of Americans to wear a mask while in public. The doctor can discuss treatment, prevention, and additional concerns at greater length.

Dr. Stephen T. Greenberg, M.D., F.A.C.S. is a nationally renowned cosmetic plastic surgeon with practices in New York, the Hamptons, and Boca Raton. Ivy-League educated with degrees and training at Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and New York Hospital-Cornell University Medical Center, Greenberg is the author of A Little Nip, A Little Tuck. Greenberg has been featured in the New York Times, Cosmopolitan, FOX News, and Harper’s Bazaar.

KBO Player Interview

As the U.S. grapples with how to bring back professional sports amidst a pandemic, one nation serves as a model: South Korea, where the wildly popular Korean Baseball Organization returned earlier this month. Correspondent Jon Frankel interviews current and former KBO players and public health expert about the country’s remarkable turnaround and what it could mean for Major League Baseball and American sports in general.

For up-to-the-minute updates about REAL SPORTS, follow on Twitter at @RealSportsHBO or join the conversation using #RealSports, and on HBO.com/realsports and facebook.com/realsports.

Rapidly detecting invisible dangers to food

When food is recalled due to contamination from bacteria such as salmonella, one may wonder how a tainted product ended up on store shelves. New technology being developed at the University of Missouri could give retailers and regulators an earlier warning on dangers in food, improving public health and giving consumers peace of mind.

The biosensor provides a rapid way for producers to know if this invisible danger is present in both raw and ready-to-eat food before it reaches the store. Annually, more than 48 million people get sick from foodborne illnesses in America, such as salmonella, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Current tests used to determine positive cases of salmonella — for instance culturing samples and extracting DNA to detect pathogens — are accurate but may take anywhere from one to five days to produce results,” said Mahmoud Almasri, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the MU College of Engineering. “With this new device, we can produce results in just a few hours.”

In this study, researchers focused on poultry products, such as chicken and turkey. The biosensor uses a specific fluid that is mixed with the food to detect the presence of bacteria, such as salmonella, along a food production line in both raw and ready-to-eat food. That way, producers can know within a few hours — typically the length of a worker’s shift — if their products are safe to send out for sale to consumers. The researchers believe their device will enhance a food production plant’s operational efficiency and decrease cost.

“Raw and processed food could potentially contain various levels of bacteria,” said Shuping Zhang, professor and director of the Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine. “Our device will help control and verify that food products are safe for consumers to eat and hopefully decrease the amount of food recalls that happen.”

Researchers said the next step would be testing the biosensor in a commercial setting. Almasri said he believes people in the food processing industry would welcome this device to help make food safer.

The study, “A microfluidic based biosensor for rapid detection of Salmonella in food products,” was published in PLOS ONE, one of the world’s leading peer-reviewed journals focused on science and medicine. Other authors include Ibrahem Jasim, Zhenyu Shen, Lu Zhao at MU; and Majed Dweik at Lincoln University. Funding was provided by a partnership between MU, the Coulter Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agencies.

This study details the latest findings for this interdisciplinary team of researchers who have developed multiple biosensors and published results of their previous findings in Scientific Reports, Biosensors and Bioelectronics and Electrophoresis.

Majority of Adults Stressed by Mass Shootings

ONE-THIRD OF U.S. ADULTS SAY FEAR OF MASS SHOOTINGS PREVENTS THEM FROM GOING TO CERTAIN PLACES OR EVENTS

Hispanic adults more than twice as likely as white non-Hispanics to say they experience mass shooting-related stress often or constantly

A large majority of adults in the United States are stressed by mass shootings, and a third of U.S. adults say that fear of mass shootings stops them from going to certain places and events, according to a new survey on stress and mass shootings by the American Psychological Association. “It’s clear that mass shootings are taking a toll on our mental health, and we should be particularly concerned that they are affecting the way many of us are living our daily lives,” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, APA’s chief executive officer. “The more these events happen in places where people can see themselves frequenting, the greater the mental health impact will be. We don’t have to experience these events directly for them to affect us. Simply hearing about them can have an emotional impact, and this can have negative repercussions for our mental and physical health.”

To better understand the impact of mass shootings on stress and health in the aftermath of the recent tragic El Paso and Dayton shootings, APA commissioned the nationally representative survey. It was conducted online by The Harris Poll between Aug. 8 and 12 among 2,017 adults ages 18 and older who reside in the U.S. The survey found that more than three-quarters of adults (79%) in the U.S. say they experience stress as a result of the possibility of a mass shooting. Additionally, many adults report that they are changing their behavior due to fear of mass shootings. Nearly one in three adults (32%) feel they cannot go anywhere without worrying about being a victim of a mass shooting, while just about the same number (33%) say fear prevents them from going to certain places or events. Nearly one-quarter (24%) of adults report changing how they live their lives because of fear of a mass shooting.

When asked which places they are stressed about the possibility of a mass shooting occurring, adults most commonly say a public event (53%), mall (50%), school or university (42%) or movie theater (38%), with only one in five (21%) saying they never experience stress as a result of the possibility of a mass shooting. “Mass shootings are a public health issue, and we need to take a comprehensive public health approach to understand and devise lasting policy solutions,” Evans said. “It is important that people and policymakers realize that this is not an insurmountable issue; it is something we have the power to change.”

Hispanic adults (32%) are more likely than white non-Hispanic adults (15%) to say they experience stress often or constantly related to the possibility of a mass shooting. Hispanic adults and African American adults also are more likely than white non-Hispanic adults to say they do not know how to cope with the stress they feel as a result of mass shootings (44% of Hispanic adults and 43% of African American adults vs. 30% of white adults). Black adults are more likely to feel that they or someone they know will be a victim of a mass shooting (60% compared with 41% of white adults and 50% of Hispanic adults). Women report feeling stressed more often than men about the possibility of a shooting (85% vs. 71%), and parents of children under the age of 18 are nearly twice as likely as those without children under 18 to say they experience stress often or constantly because of the possibility of a mass shooting (28% vs.16%). Further, 62% of parents say they “live in fear that their children will be victims of a mass shooting”.

Lacking Self-Discipline?

5 Ways To Develop It And Reach Your Goals

Americans are known to overeat, abuse credit cards, marinate for hours in social media, and break New Year’s resolutions before the end of January. Self-discipline doesn’t seem to be a national strength.

And achieving self-discipline – and the success that can come with it – may never have been harder than it is in this instant-gratification age, says Dr. Rob Carter III.

“Self-discipline is an undervalued trait in a modern society that wants everything now,” says Carter, co-author with his wife, Dr. Kirti Salwe Carter, of The Morning Mind: Use Your Brain to Master Your Day and Supercharge Your Life (www.themorningmind.com). “Self-discipline is the ability to motivate and coordinate our efforts to improve our quality of life, but unfortunately most people are not taught it.

“It is, however, a skill that everyone can learn. Self-discipline is the skill that will allow you to reach any goal you set.”

Carter offers five ways to develop self-discipline:

Be aware of your resistance. Resistance, Carter says, is the biggest obstacle to developing self-discipline, and it often comes in the form of discouraging internal self-talk such as, “I can’t do it” or “Why should I have to change?” “The next time you embark on a new project that causes resistance,” Carter says, “fight it by asserting or writing down your intended goal and the benefits it will bring.”

Plan for every outcome. Plans go awry when people let excuses get in the way. “An example is having a goal of running in the morning for 30 minutes, but you have bailouts such as it’s raining, cold, or you don’t feel like it,” Carter says. “Developing self-discipline is recognizing and planning for these self-created obstacles and actively choosing to work through them. So when you set a goal to achieve, have chart in place listing “Even ifs.” List the potential obstacles to achieving your goal and counter each one with a promise to yourself that you’ll achieve your goal even if these challenges arise.”

Prepare to give something up in order to gain. Carter suggests compiling a list of the pros and cons of sacrificing for a certain goal. “To reach your goal, Carter says, “you will more than likely have to impose certain limitations on yourself in order to gain something. These limitations could be less free time, socializing, money or television. The upside is that seeing the rewards of the sacrifice on the pros list will keep you motivated and disciplined.”

Reward yourself with self-compensation. “Rewards are an incredibly powerful tool for motivating yourself to reach your goals,” Carter says. “Consider them the carrot on the stick. Have a reward in place for when you achieve a goal or part of a goal, and make sure it’s appropriate.”

Break your goal down into manageable steps. “If you break your goal down into bite-sized steps,” Carter says, “you’re much more likely to stay disciplined enough to complete every sub-goal. Each step accomplished gives you an encouraging boost. Consider using SMART goals — specific, measurable, attractive, realistic, timed. This makes the goal more definitive and puts the steps in tangible action.”

“Self-discipline includes structured planning, organization, delayed gratification, and the willingness to step outside your comfort zone,” Carter says. “These things can appear scary, but don’t worry, you’re not alone. And once you take the first step, you have ventured onto a beautiful path that offers many rewards.”

About Dr. Rob Carter III and Dr. Kirti Salwe Carter

Dr. Rob Carter III and Dr. Kirti Salwe Carter are co-authors of The Morning Mind: Use Your Brain to Master Your Day and Supercharge Your Life(www.themorningmind.com). Rob Carter is a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army, an expert in human performance and physiology, and has academic appointments in emergency medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, in public health and health sciences at Los Angeles Pacific University, and in nutrition at the University of Maryland, University College. He holds a PhD in biomedical sciences and medical physiology and an MPH in chronic disease epidemiology.

Kirti Carter was born in Pune, India, and received her medical education in India, where she practiced as an intensive-care physician before moving to Texas to complete postgraduate training in public health. She is a Fellow of the American Institute of Stress (FAIS), has more than 18 years of experience in meditation and breathing techniques, and has been facilitating wellness seminars for the past decade.