The American style “war on drugs” undoubtably ruins more lives than it saves (all while militarizing North American police forces), yet some people think that punishing drug users is sound policy. Research is continually adding more evidence that approaching drug consumption as a health issue and not a criminal one improves the lives of users and of non-users.
In Vancouver, a 15 year long study has concluded that safe injection programs like Insite make the city a better place. Drug users are safer and so too is the surrounding community.
In 1996, almost 40 per cent of drug users reported sharing needles, but by 2011, that had dropped to 1.7 per cent. About 25 per cent of Vancouver’s drug users are HIV positive, and about 90 per cent suffer from Hepatitis C.
The overall health of drug users had improved and more people were accessing addictions treatment, jumping from 12 per cent on methadone treatment in 1996 to 54.5 per cent since 2008, statistics showed.
“This is probably the city with the most aggressive harm reduction approach, yet we’re seeing declining rates of drug use within this community,” Kerr said.
Hopefully local politicians in Toronto (the mayor is an alleged crack user after all) will support calls for a pilot test of age injection sites.
India continues to pave the way for providing cheaper generic drugs for its citizens compared to other nations which have a heavy patent system. Previously India has produced drugs for 97% less than ‘normal’ costs as well as committing to the development of generic drugs. Looking out for their citizen’s wellbeing has got them in trouble with a Swiss pharmaceutical company though.
The company took the government to court and after seven years of legal battles the court sided with the government’s goal of providing affordable health care.
Healthcare activists have called on the government to make medicines cheaper in a country where many patented drugs are too costly for most people, 40 percent of whom earn less than $1.25 a day, and where patented drugs account for under 10 percent of total drug sales.
“This appears to be the best outcome for patients in developing countries as fewer patents will be granted on existing medicines,” said Leena Menghaney, Medecins Sans Frontieres’ Access Campaign manager for India.
Over 16,000 patients in India use Glivec, the vast majority of whom receive it free of charge, Novartis says. By contrast, generic Glivec is used by more than 300,000 patients, according to industry reports.
“It’s a victory for patients who take these medicines and also for the government,” said M. Adinarayana, company secretary at Natco Pharma.
Read more here.
India has announced that they will be using a specialized law to produce generic anti-cancer drugs. This will lower the price of these drugs by 97% and increase the efficiency of health care delivery in the country. It’ll also make the poor better able to survive certain cancers because treatment will be more affordable.
In the first-ever case of compulsory licencing approval, the Indian Patent Office on Monday cleared the application of Hyderabad’s Natco Pharma to sell generic drug Nexavar, used for renal and liver cancer, at Rs 8,880 (around $175) for a 120-capsule pack for a month’s therapy. Bayer offers it for over Rs 2.8 lakh (roughly $5,500) per 120 capsule. The order provides hope for patients who cannot afford these drugs.
The approval paves the way for the launch of Natco’s drug in the market, a company official told TOI, adding that it will pay a 6% royalty on net sales every quarter to Bayer. The licence will be valid till such time the drug’s patent is valid, i.e. 2020. As per the CL (compulsory licence) order, Natco is also committed to donating free supplies of the medicines to 600 patients each year.
Read more at the Times of India.
Insite is a safe injection site for drug users which has had proven health benefits for individuals and the community. Through their work Insite has been able to help many addicts stay safe and secure while consuming drugs, this is in stark contrast to doing drugs on the streets which is way more dangerous.
In the past, Insite had to defend itself against the British Columbia Supreme Court and won, and today Insite won in the Supreme Court of Canada. This is a blow to the anti-safety, anti-drug, pro-prison campaign of the ruling Progressive Conservative Party of Canada and will hopefully mark a turning point in how Canadians support drug addicts.
This is a huge victory for results-based and preventative health care and for people who are unfortunately addicted to drugs.
If Insite wasn’t allowed to operate it would prevent injection drug users from accessing the health services offered at the facility, threatening their health and their lives, the ruling said. Withdrawing the exemption would even undermine the purpose of the federal drug law, which includes public health and safety, the court said.
Health groups, including the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Public Health Association, also applauded the decision.
The Supreme Court said that if the health minister, currently Leona Aglukkaq, receives applications for more exemptions, she must continue to exercise her discretion and aim to strike a balance between Charter rights and protecting public health and safety.
Read more coverage and see the full court report at the CBC.
Remember don’t consume dangerous drugs!
Researchers have noted that people like to get high and post video of themselves doing drugs. As a result some researchers are looking at YouTube videos to understand what salvia does to the brain and body. Strange, I know, but apparently these people sharing their drug trips can help us understand a little more about pharmacology.
They created a systematic coding scheme which researchers used when watching the videos. This allowed them both to categorise the effects and check that each viewer was agreeing on what they saw.
After watching 34 videos, each of which was selected to show an entire trip from the initial hit to when the effects wore off, the team categorised the effects into five main groups:
(1) hypo-movement (e.g. slumping into a slouched position, limp hands, facial muscles slack or relaxed and falling down), (2) hyper-movement (e.g. uncontrolled laughter, restlessness, touching or rubbing the face without apparent reason or thought), (3) emotional effects included being visibly excited or afraid, (4) speech effects (unable to make sense, problems with diction, problems with fluency, inability to speak, and having problems recalling words) and finally (5) heating effects related to being hot or heated (e.g. flushed, or user makes a statement about being hot or sweating).
Read the rest at Mind Hacks.