Daily news -16th March 2018

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UK news

Prescription Cost Analysis, England 2017

Prescription Cost Analysis (PCA) provides details of the number of items and the net ingredient cost (NIC) of all prescriptions dispensed in the community in England. The drugs dispensed are listed by British National Formulary (BNF) therapeutic class. This publication includes data sheets for items dispensed and NIC from 2007 to 2017 at individual presentation level | NHS Digital, UK

The opioid timebomb

In a special Evening Standard investigation, DAVID COHEN delves into the overuse of prescription painkiller medication and asks: Are opioids doing us more harm than good? [Harry Shapiro of DrugWise quoted] | Evening Standard, UK

NHS accused of fuelling rise in opioid addiction

Doctors warn the NHS is fuelling an addiction crisis because of an increase in the prescribing of powerful painkillers | BBC, UK

Pharmacists ordered to do checks on care homes amid fears elderly are being harmed by drugs cocktail

Pharmacists are to carry out checks on every care home in the country amid fears that thousands of elderly people are being subjected to the 'chemical cosh' | Telegraph, UK

Help to quit goes up in smoke

There’s a potentially effective medical intervention being wheeled out to all hospitals in England this year to help patients quit that big, old killer, smoking | BMA, UK

Smoking linked with higher risk of type 2 diabetes

Smoking is associated with significantly higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to new research in China published in The Lancet Public Health | University of Oxford, UK

Additions to the Effectiveness Bank 15 March 2018

A warning about the impending “dismantling” of the English drug treatment system, one largely based on prescribing heroin substitutes. In Norway and in a US state prison system, these treatments were tested against opposing programmes intended to eliminate legal and illegal opioid use. Last is another demonstration that implementation is the Achilles’ heel of alcohol screening and brief intervention | Drug and Alcohol Findings, UK

Interventions at the intersection of heavy drinking and domestic abuse

What role does alcohol play in initiating or exacerbating controlling
and abusive behaviours in intimate relationships, and from the
individual to the population level, is there any evidence that
interventions to reduce the harms of drinking can also reduce domestic abuse? This review sheds what light research can throw on ‘hidden’ forms of alcohol-related violence | Drug and Alcohol Findings, UK

Supporting nurse mentors to reduce the barriers to implementing alcohol Interventions and Brief Advice (IBA) in primary care

This report, written by Kate Halliday and Dr Steve Brinksman for Alcohol Research UK, intends to encourage the implementation of alcohol Identification and Brief Advice (IBA) in primary care with expert support for nurse mentors | Guidelines for Nurses, UK

The terrifying rise of the social media drug: Teenagers think it's glamorous and buy it illegally for as little as 89p on Instagram and Facebook. But Xanax is powerfully addictive - and can damage young brains

Shouting, slamming doors, an inability to sit still or focus on a conversation. It might sound like typical erratic teenage behaviour, but for Louise Moore these were tell-tale signs that all was not well with her daughter, Darcy | Mail Online, UK

Supervised Drug Consumption Facilities

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make provision about supervised drug consumption facilities; to make it lawful to take controlled substances within such facilities in specified circumstances; and for connected purposes | They work for you, UK

Alcoholic Drinks: Minimum Prices

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of research published in the Lancet showing that the estimated health benefits of minimum unit pricing of alcohol would benefit those from the lowest socioeconomic group | They work for you, UK

Armed Forces: Smoking

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether he plans to monitor smoking prevalence among serving armed forces personnel and veterans; and if he will he make a statement | They work for you, UK

Drugs courts: Justice system that aims to rehabilitate

A new pilot project to introduce American-style 'drug courts' to Northern Ireland is being developed | BBC, UK

Britain’s stringent rules on medical cannabis harm patients

But the country is still a big (legal) producer of the green stuff | The Economist, UK

A Consultation on Low Alcohol Descriptors

The Food Labelling Regulations 1996 set out in law rules for how low alcohol drinks (those of 1.2% alcohol by volume, ABV, or less) may be described. These rules on the use of low alcohol descriptors aim to protect the public and inform consumers.  The regulations are due to expire on 13 December 2018 | DHSC, UK

Survey to compare UK/Australia treatment providers' attitudes about addiction and treatment

Please complete a brief survey (10 mins) - open to anyone who works in the drug and alcohol sector, in any role - to compare treatment providers' attitudes about addiction and treatment in the UK and Australia | SMMGP, UK

Cannabis and Young People: A call for contributors

Volteface is investigating how effectively UK policies around cannabis are safeguarding young people | Volte Face, UK

MCA Legacy Essay Competition

The essay title this year is, "I don’t have time to talk to my patients about alcohol". Alcohol is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality and its impact is seen in every medical specialty. What evidence is there for addressing alcohol consumption in all edical consultations? How could more frequent and more effective interventions be achieved? | MCA, UK

Ten held on suspicion of using drones to drop drugs into UK prisons

West Midlands police arrest group believed to have smuggled drugs and phones into English jails | Guardian, UK

Drugs farm found in 'secret haystack rooms' in Staffordshire

A man who hid a "highly sophisticated" cannabis farm behind stacks of hay bales in a barn has been jailed | BBC, UK

Losing the booze: five ways to drink less without missing out

Cutting down doesn’t have to be a chore. Try these simple tricks to cut alcohol consumption while maximising your pleasure | Guardian, UK


International news

FDA pushes to lower nicotine to 'minimally or non-addictive levels

The agency said 33 million young people could be prevented from becoming smokers if the plan is implemented | Guardian, UK

US opioid crisis: Seattle's battle over safe injection plan

A place where addicts can safely consume drugs under the guidance of medical professionals - a crazy idea to some, but others believe such sites can help tackle the opioid crisis | BBC, UK

Smokers at higher risk of losing their hearing, suggests study

Smokers are not just putting themselves at risk of heart disease and cancer but may also be endangering their hearing, Japanese researchers have said | Independent, UK

Blackberry modified to 'help drug cartels'

The chief executive of a company that created highly-secure smartphones allegedly used by some of the world's most notorious criminals has been indicted | BBC, UK

'Cover Buddha Tattoos And Don’t Pack E-Cigarettes': Foreign Office Releases Travel Guide On How Not To Get Arrested Abroad

'E-cigarettes are banned in Thailand and can result in a prison sentence of up to 10 years.' | Huffington Post, UK

Bar attaches alarms to its beer glasses 'because people don't see stealing them as theft'

'One of the reasons I did it is because running after someone for two euros then having a discussion in the street with somebody who had some beers, that’s not a real thing to do' | Independent, UK

Gardaí to be out in force as 54 people killed on roads over St Patrick's Day period since 2012

Officers will also be on the lookout for speeding, non-seatbelt wearing and using a mobile phone while driving | Journal, Ireland

Medicinal cannabis is safe and effective—it's time to reboot research

Medicinal cannabis is safe and effective in pain relief, and researchers are calling for the treatment to be properly established in our modern medical arsenal. A new special issue of the European Journal of Internal Medicineprovides a comprehensive overview of current evidence for the use of cannabis and derived products in medicine, and calls for more research to improve the evidence base for its use | Medical Xpress, Israel

Exclusive: Trump finalizing opioid plan that includes death penalty for dealers

The Trump administration is finalizing a long-awaited plan that it says will solve the opioid crisis, but it also calls for law enforcement measures | Politico, USA

How ER Doctors Are Fighting The Opioid Crisis

According to a recent CDC Vital Signs analysis of near real-time data from ERs, emergency department (ED) visits due to suspected opioid overdoses increased nearly 30% from the third quarter of 2016 to the third quarter of 2017, despite data from a 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health suggesting that heroin use and opioid misuse was potentially stabilizing | Forbes, USA

Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., on pivotal public health step to dramatically reduce smoking rates by lowering nicotine in combustible cigarettes to minimally or non-addictive levels

When I returned to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last year, it was immediately clear that tackling tobacco use – and cigarette smoking in particular – would be one of the most important actions I could take to advance public health | FDA, USA

E-cigarettes may be more harmful than beneficial, according to evidence-based research

A new study finds that e-cigarette use could do more harm than good by substantially increasing the number of adolescents and young adults who eventually become cigarette smokers and marginally decreasing the number of adult cigarette smokers who quit | Science Daily, USA

More U.S. teens seeing ads for E-cigarettes

A new report finds the number of American teens who view ads extolling the pleasures of e-cigarettes is on the rise | News Medical, USA

The coffee cannabis connection

It's well known that a morning cup of joe jolts you awake. But scientists have discovered coffee affects your metabolism in dozens of other ways, including your metabolism of steroids and the neurotransmitters typically linked to cannabis, reports a new study from Northwestern Medicine | EurekAlert, USA

Depression researchers stop ketamine nasal spray trial because of psychotic-like effects

Depression researchers at Black Dog Institute and University of NSW had to abort a "promising" pilot trial into the efficacy of ketamine nasal sprays after patients experienced psychotic-like effects and temporary loss of fine motor skills | SMH, Australia

Cracks in the Ice

Free smartphone app | Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use, Australia


Blogs, comment and opinion

Older people and drug & alcohol problems

Our Invisible Addicts is the slightly outdated sounding title of a new (7 March 2018) report from the Royal College of Psychiatrists into the extent of substance-related health problems amongst older people and the special services needed to deal with the complexity of such problems, which often involve “co-morbid mental and physical health problems, polypharmacy and psychosocial adversity” | Russell Webster, UK

Pulling Back the Curtain: Drugs, Human Rights and the Death Penalty

The death penalty for drug offences is one of the most significant and politically charged issues within the current global drug policy debate | Human Rights Centre blog, UK

‘Oh what a lovely war’ – on reason itself

Keeping up to date with the proceedings of the World Conference on Tobacco or Health, in Cape Town recently, I was reminded of the wonderful film, directed by Richard Attenborough - ‘Oh what a Lovely War! | NSP blog, UK

How pot-smoking became illegal in Canada

In 1923, when it became illegal to possess cannabis in Canada, very few Canadians would have heard of the drug, let alone tried it | Conversation, Canada

Moral bias skews Herald Sun ‘Burqa-clad junkie’ story

On March 10th, the Herald Sun ran a court story by Padraic Murphyabout the sentencing of 22-year-old Felicity Chafer-Smith, who – along with her 38-year-old boyfriend Clinton Phillips – embarked on three robberies over two days in Melbourne | AOD Media Watch, Australia