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Why Overdose Deaths Have Increased



The American crackdown at the medicine that kicked off the trendy opioid overdose epidemic—prescription opioids—in large part succeeded. According to information launched via the American Medical Association (AMA) on Sept. 8, opioid prescriptions have dropped in each and every state over the past decade, plummeting just about 50% nationally.

The effort to forestall overdose deaths, then again, is an abject failure. Annual opioid overdose deaths greater than tripled between 2010 and 2020, in step with federal data. Drug overdose deaths over a 12-month length surpassed 100,000 for the primary time in April 2021, with about 75% of the ones deaths involving opioids.

Many components contributed to this, however the basic downside is that the evolution of the drug marketplace outpaced efforts to prevent drug overdoses. “The prices of these drugs have never been cheaper. And the potency of these drugs has never been higher,” says Dr. Daniel Ciccarone, a professor who researches the opioid disaster on the University of California-San Francisco.

If prescription drugs have been the primary wave of the opioid epidemic, the second one wave began within the past due 2000s, amid rising consciousness of the dangers posed via prescription opioids, in step with Ciccarone. As states and the government carried out techniques like prescription monitoring, well being care staff impulsively decreased the collection of opioid prescriptions they issued so as to give protection to their sufferers—and their scientific licenses. However, this fast reversal intended that many sufferers have been abruptly bring to an end from prescription opioids. They gained insufficient assist really fizzling out opioid drugs or dealing with lingering ache, and lots of became to the unlawful drug marketplace, together with heroin, says Nabarun Dasgupta, who research opioid overdose and substance use dysfunction on the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Many folks proceed to be left at the back of, he says: “There are a lot of abandoned people who were on pain medications, who cannot get access to adequate pain management anymore, and are therefore, increasingly, turning to the street. We hear those stories every day.”

In the past due 2010s, then again, the U.S. seemed to succeed in a turning level: overdose deaths appeared to stage off nationally, even declining in states reminiscent of Minnesota, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, following competitive prevention efforts. A variety of new techniques had proliferated, together with public schooling, expanded get admission to to drugs for opioid use dysfunction, like buprenorphine, and naloxone distribution techniques, which can have ended in the decline in deaths, says Thomas Stopka, an affiliate professor of public well being and group drugs at Tufts University School of Medicine. The decline may additionally be as a consequence of the rise and fall of carfentanil—an opioid more potent than fentanyl—within the past due 2000s, says Ciccarone.

Through this era, the illicit drug marketplace persisted to shift. First, there was once the emergence of the factitious opioid fentanyl, which in its criminal shape is frequently used to alleviate ache all over and after surgical procedures, however at the illicit marketplace is valued as it’s affordable to fabricate, simple to transport, and ends up in a top that’s extra tough (however shorter lasting) than heroin. The drug production business additionally was extra fractured following crackdowns on poppy cultivation and fentanyl production, says Dasgupta, with a large number of the manufacturing transferring to Mexico, the place there have been extra “little manufacturers who have less interest in quality control, and are trying to make a fast buck.”

Fentanyl and its analogs (chemically identical medicine), which first emerged at the East Coast and regularly moved West, additionally performed a significant function in emerging deaths. The efficiency of various diversifications can range dramatically, which makes it tricky for drug customers to keep an eye on their dosage. This turns into a fair larger risk when elements are blended in combination.

The drug provide and drug use additionally was riskier. Fentanyl has increasingly more been used along stimulants like methamphetamine and cocaine. By the time elements are bought, they’ve frequently been mixed with different medicine. Many mavens, together with Ciccarone, say it’s now not transparent if that is intentional. The consequence, then again, is that many drug customers, or even drug dealers, do not know what’s within the medicine they’re purchasing. This is especially unhealthy as it approach customers can’t regulate the extent they eat to their person opioid tolerance. People who aren’t common opioid customers and haven’t constructed up tolerance may additionally by accident use the drug. Plus, along with fentanyl and its analogs, medicine would possibly comprise a lot of different chemical substances, together with the animal tranquilizer xylazine and novel psychoactive elements just like the opioid nitazine.

The COVID-19 pandemic made the situation even worse. Some mavens have argued that the drug provide was much more corrupted over the last few years, as drug vendors liked elements that have been stronger via quantity. The pandemic also cut many people off from their social protection internet, careers, and odd lives, exacerbating the psychological well being problems and emotions that play into substance use dysfunction. “Humans got hurt,” Ciccarone says. “We got isolated, we got afraid. Our social networks got damaged, our safety nets got damaged. And that just leads to more deaths.”

Going ahead, the AMA and mavens on drug use argue that the important thing will likely be to boost obstacles fighting folks from having access to therapies for substance use dysfunction, together with drugs for opioid use dysfunction like buprenorphine. It can also be the most important to amplify get admission to to gear that save lives, together with the overdose reversal medicine naloxone (also known as Narcan), syringe exchanges, and fentanyl check strips.

Saving lives would require a significant funding of each monetary sources and public consideration, says Ciccarone. While overdose deaths will move up and down, he says, the criteria that force many of us to drug use—trauma and struggling—aren’t going away. “There’s no magic bullets,” he says. “You need bold, steady, Marshall-plan level attention to the drug consumption problem in America.”

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Women and Bone Health Basics



A lady’s menace of fracturing her hip from osteoporosis is the same as her menace of breast, uterine and ovarian most cancers — blended. And part of all girls within the United States who’re over age 50 will wreck a bone on account of osteoporosis, a situation that happens when your bone high quality declines and bone weakens.

Osteoporosis could make it really easy in your bones to wreck that even on a regular basis actions akin to stretching, twisting, bending too a long way backward or ahead, coughing, or bumping into one thing generally is a risk. This can also be severe as a result of broken hips can lead to a shorter lifespan, and damaged spines may cause an lack of ability to get up instantly, paralysis or, once in a while even dying.

One in five girls over age 50 will expand the bone situation of their lifetime, so HealthyWomen not too long ago performed a survey of one,072 girls between the ages of 35 and 64 to evaluate consciousness of the illness in addition to wisdom of screening for and prevention of this not unusual situation.

As with such a lot of sicknesses, consciousness and prevention are key to higher results relating to osteoporosis, but our survey printed that just one in 4 of our respondents have been curious about their bone well being.

DEXA scan — a measure of bone well being

Dual power X-ray absorptiometry, known as a DEXA or DXA scan, measures bone mineral density (BMD) and is beneficial for everybody above age 65. However, healthcare suppliers (HCPs) would possibly counsel a DEXA scan previous if they have got a explanation why to suspect or wish to rule out osteoporosis or osteopenia, which is when an individual has diminished BMD but it surely’s now not low sufficient to be osteoporosis. Common scenarios the place an HCP may order a scan at any age come with:

  • A circle of relatives member with bone well being problems
  • A contemporary bone wreck
  • Use of medications connected to bone well being problems
  • Another analysis, such as cancer, that would compromise bone well being

Since our respondents have been underneath the age of 65, it’s now not unexpected that 81% of them didn’t know their bone density rating. Of those that did know, the bulk have been respondents who’re curious about osteoporosis or osteopenia, together with girls who’re taking drugs for both situation.

Of our respondents who have been identified with breast most cancers and suggested that they have been in danger for osteopenia or osteoporosis, 65% hadn’t had a DEXA scan prior to now two years regardless of their greater menace.

Eshani Agrawal, 28, is an instance of somebody who has had a DEXA scan at a tender age on account of being in a high-risk class. She has ulcerative colitis, a illness of the colon, and has taken drugs to battle flare-ups that once in a while impact bone well being. “Since I was at a relatively high dose, the doctor asked me to get a DEXA scan,” she stated. “It appears that there may have been some damage done.” She defined that she’s pissed off that her bone well being may well be suffering from drugs and wonders if some teeth sensitivity may additionally be hooked up.

Donna Leslie, 65, has been in search of bone well being problems since she used to be 50 as a result of her older sister and mom each have osteoporosis. When Leslie’s mom used to be in her 50s, she rolled her ankle and broke it. Aware of her mom’s historical past, Leslie were given a DEXA scan at 53 to offer her scientific group a baseline quantity so they might observe her BMD over the years. The scan confirmed she already had osteopenia. Her HCP informed her to get extra calcium in her vitamin however didn’t take another motion. At 62, she had any other scan and discovered her rating had dropped to -2.5, a score that indicates osteoporosis. Her HCPs then started aggressively treating her situation, prescribing annual infusions which, a couple of years later, have resulted in an build up in bone mass.

Only one in 4 girls have been warned of conceivable bone loss

Just as Agrawal skilled bone well being problems as an aspect impact from drugs for different stipulations, Anna*, 69, used to be identified with osteopenia after a DEXA scan printed low BMD rankings in each hips. She have been taking a hair-loss drugs that she hadn’t been informed may just impact bone well being. Anna’s now not on my own in her marvel — the HealthyWomen survey printed one in 4 girls who have been identified with breast most cancers weren’t suggested via their HCPs that some medicines, akin to sure most cancers treatments, in addition to most cancers itself, would possibly put their bone well being in danger.

Anna used to be additionally stunned via her low BMD as a result of she used to be obese, and she’d at all times concept osteopenia and osteoporosis are stipulations that underweight or standard weight girls expand, which isn’t essentially true. Both she and Leslie have since discovered that workout can gradual the development of the illness and now stroll ceaselessly, amongst different measures akin to consuming calcium-rich meals and maintaining with HCP follow-up visits.

Unfortunately, our survey taught us that, regardless of osteoporosis being a not unusual situation amongst girls, many aren’t conscious about the prevention and treatment strategies they may be able to take to chase away the illness. It’s necessary for each and every lady to know the way they may be able to stay their bones wholesome and to be informed extra about bone well being. Be certain to speak for your HCP about your explicit menace.

*Anna isn’t her actual identify.

This useful resource used to be created with make stronger from Amgen.

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What We Know So Far About BA.2.75.2, the ‘Most Resistant’ Variant to Date



Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, well being officers have warned that the largest barrier to controlling the virus could be its talent to mutate into ever extra infectious and perilous bureaucracy.

The newest model elevating alarms is an rising subvariant of Omicron known as BA.2.75.2. It’s already received the talent to evade the immunity equipped by means of present vaccines and will’t be neutralized by means of a lot of the antiviral drug therapies to be had. So some distance, the pressure has been reported in 47 nations and in 39 U.S. states, the place it nonetheless accounts for lower than 1% of COVID-19 circumstances.

Here’s what we all know thus far about BA.2.75.2.

Where did BA.2.75.2 come from?

BA.2.75.2, as its nomenclature suggests, emerged from the BA.2.75 subvariant. It’s rising temporarily, in particular in India—despite the fact that BA.2.75.2 accounts for most effective 0.5% of circumstances thus far round the global. Because it stocks many similarities with the current subvariant, the World Health Organization has now not designated BA.2.75.2 as a brand new variant however singled it out as an “Omicron subvariant under monitoring,” which means that that well being officers will have to prioritize monitoring circumstances so as to confidently save you surges in infections. Some mavens have unofficially began calling it Centaurus, after a Twitter user gave it that nickname.

Why BA.2.75.2 is being concerned public well being officers

BA.2.75.2 has picked up 3 further mutations from BA.2.75, two of that are the place the virus binds to human cells so as to infect them.

According to one study by means of Swedish researchers printed Sept. 16 as preprint—which means the analysis has now not but been peer-reviewed—those aberrations are serving to BA.2.75.2 evade all of the lately to be had antibody therapies approved by means of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration with the exception of for one: bebtelovimab. Made by means of Lilly, this monoclonal antibody remedy is given as an IV infusion to folks with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 signs who’re at top possibility of progressing to extra critical illness. But as a result of the drug goals just a explicit portion of the virus’ spike protein, there’s no ensure that the virus gained’t expand mutations to evade it, too.

On Sept. 7 in the New England Journal of Medicine, Japanese scientists reported quite extra encouraging findings of their assessments of BA.2.75 towards to be had therapies. They too discovered that bebtelovimab may neutralize the variant, and in addition reported that a few of the first antiviral therapies evolved—remdesivir and molnupiravir—in addition to the newest one, Paxlovid, additionally stay efficient.

But resistance is a function of BA.2.75.2, which is why well being officers are involved. The Swedish scientists additionally reported that virus-fighting antibody ranges from blood donors, a few of whom have been vaccinated or not too long ago inflamed with SARS-CoV-2, have been five-fold decrease towards BA.2.75.2 than towards the lately dominant Omicron variant, BA.5. They additionally discovered that BA.2.75.2 used to be resistant to the antiviral aggregate treatment Evusheld. Taken in combination, the scientists concluded, this variant “effectively evades the current [antibody] immunity in the population” and “represent[s] the most resistant variant characterized to date.”

How neatly do vaccines paintings towards BA.2.75.2?

Right now, the image is incomplete. Human research of the latest COVID-19 booster shot—which goals two different Omicron subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5—have now not been completed but, and it’s now not transparent how efficient they’ll be towards BA.2.75.2, both. But there are hints from research involving the unique vaccine about what sort of coverage folks may be expecting if the variant turns into extra in style.

David Montefiori, a viral immunologist at Duke University Medical Center who oversees checking out of Moderna’s mRNA vaccine’s effectiveness towards new variants, is now finding out how blood samples from folks immunized with Moderna’s vaccine rise up towards BA.2.75.2. In previous research towards BA.2.75, the effects have been encouraging. In a correspondence printed in the New England Journal of Medicine on Sept. 9, he and his staff reported that whilst ranges of virus-fighting antibodies towards BA.2.75 have been greater than 4 instances not up to ranges towards the unique virus amongst folks vaccinated with Moderna’s shot, they remained efficient. However, BA.2.75.2’s 3 further mutations “could potentially make the virus less sensitive to neutralization,” he says, “but we have to test it and find out.” Results from the ones ongoing research, funded by means of each Moderna and the National Institutes of Health, are anticipated in October.

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I Wish I’d Known About the Shingles Vaccine Sooner



As advised to Nicole Audrey Spector

I used to be late for a holiday. Working 5 to 6 days per week for 15 months immediately as a public well being nurse responding to the wishes of Covid-19 sufferers used to be the maximum satisfying paintings of my profession. But it used to be additionally aggravating. Even I — any individual who feels her very best at her busiest — will have to admit that my task used to be intense.

And then you definitely upload caregiving for my mom, elevating a teen, keeping up a robust and glad marriage and it used to be simply … so much.

Hawaii, we determined. We would take a circle of relatives holiday to Hawaii.

The day sooner than we had been scheduled to depart, I spotted a crimson blemish on my brow. Great, I concept, a pimple. Exactly what I wanted on my first getaway since Covid-19 close down trip: a large fats zit.

I had simply gotten my eyebrows accomplished, so I figured I used to be having a unusual response to that and concept not anything extra of it till I used to be on the airplane, the place I spotted the intended pimple used to be in reality puffing up and spreading over my left eyelid. Over the process the flight it worsened, and I resorted to placing my husband’s sun shades on to hide it.

By the time I were given off the airplane, I had a full-fledged breakout far and wide the left facet of my face. The blemishes had been blistering through then, they usually had been painful. My face used to be infected. I seemed like a prizefighter after a beating.

My husband, a dentist, took a excellent have a look at me and mentioned, “I think you have shingles.”

Shingles? That used to be absurd. Shingles, I believed, handiest affected aged other people — and I used to be handiest 53 years outdated. Plus, shingles handiest struck the facets and/or again of the frame, proper? Not the face!

As quickly as we were given off the airplane in Hawaii, we went to an pressing care middle, the place I realized that certainly, I did have shingles. I used to be surprised.

Because shingles is a viral infection that may be contagious in the blistering section, and since my left eye — quickly swollen close — used to be probably in peril, I used to be admitted to the health facility in an instant. I spent the remainder of our eight-day shuttle there, receiving ache drugs and antiviral drugs thru an IV. I used to be scared a lot of the time, fearful that I may just lose my left eye or have harm to my imaginative and prescient. Fortunately, the ones issues didn’t occur.

Once the blisters scabbed up, my medical doctors determined I used to be excellent to move and we went immediately to the airport to go again house. I by no means even opened my baggage. This indisputably hadn’t been the holiday of my desires, however I have to mention that I won superb hospital therapy and really feel extraordinarily lucky to have had get admission to to it.

Since the rash gave the impression to be therapeutic, I used to be anticipating to be again to customary inside of an issue of days — or weeks. But that wasn’t the case. For 9 months after my preliminary an infection, my face used to be crimson and aggravated, with the scabbed-off blisters deeply dug in and darkish. My left eye used to be nonetheless a bit of puffy and droopy. Perhaps worst of all, I had a gnawing pain in the most sensible of my head like I used to be dressed in a crown of thorns.

I’m no longer a useless particular person, however I’ve at all times had transparent pores and skin and used to be lovely glad about that. But now I used to be embarrassed to turn my face on video calls, and since my pores and skin used to be nonetheless infected, I didn’t need to placed on make-up and probably irritate anything else.

Now, greater than a 12 months after coming down with shingles, my pores and skin has most commonly cleared up, however there may be scarring on my brow. And, despite the fact that others say they don’t see it, I realize that my left eye nonetheless droops ever so moderately.

To assume this all will have been averted through the shingles vaccine — which is recommended by the CDC for people 50 and over — infuriates me. Shingles isn’t normally proven in advertisements and different media I’ve noticed as affecting any individual underneath the age of 65 or so, and I had no concept that I used to be a candidate for the vaccine, let by myself that it used to be really useful for other people my age. As some distance as I may just recall, my medical doctors had by no means discussed it.

Though any person who has had chickenpox can get shingles later in existence (each are led to through the varicella-zoster virus), a little analysis has discovered that there’s a link between shingles and stress in other people 50 and over. Had running so onerous all day each day whilst taking care of my circle of relatives precipitated my shingles an infection? It used to be slightly conceivable.

I may just spend the remainder of my existence indignant that I didn’t obtain the vaccine in time to forestall my case of shingles, however as a substitute, I’ve taken motion through converting how I reside. A herbal overachiever, I now significantly believe what I can and will’t tackle. I say no to other people incessantly now — one thing I at all times struggled with in the previous.

So a lot of my grownup existence has been about caring for people, be it my mom, my daughter, my husband and even strangers in my position as a nurse. These days, I take time for myself. I meditate each and every morning and am extra conscious of what I devour. I don’t devour a large number of chocolates, but if I do, I savor them as hard-earned treats for myself.

I by no means concept I’d be an recommend for a vaccine, however now I to find myself spreading consciousness about shingles at each and every alternative I get, and am additionally a part of a find out about on shingles. I need other people to be informed what I used to be by no means taught and, expectantly, take the protected and broadly to be had measure to give protection to themselves.

Through self-care and advocacy, I have realized to include my pores and skin as it’s. I not consider dressed in make-up to hide it. I love myself the method I am.

This useful resource used to be created with give a boost to from Merck.

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