Daily news - 19th October 2020

Weekly subscribe button

UK news

Drug deaths - EDM (Early Day Motion)1022: tabled on 15 October 2020

That this House is concerned that deaths related to drug poisoning registered in England and Wales rose to a record 4,393 in 2019; notes that two-thirds of drug poisonings are due to drug misuse; further notes that half of the deaths involved an opiate, although cocaine deaths are also rising at an alarming rate; recognises that the highest death rates are in areas suffering greatest deprivation; and calls on the Government to tackle the problem through immediate increased investment in treatment services, encouragement of harm reduction initiatives and expansion of opiate-overdose antidote Naloxone provision | UK Parliament, UK

Impact of low and no alcohol beers on purchases of alcohol: interrupted time series analysis of British household shopping data, 2015–2018

Even though the events were associated with significant beneficial changes, the volume of purchases of new low and no alcohol beer products and of new reformulated beer products was very small. This indicates that there are future opportunities to increase the volume of such products so as to reduce the harm done by alcohol | BMJ Open, UK

Time trends and prescribing patterns of opioid drugs in UK primary care patients with non-cancer pain: A retrospective cohort study

This study sought to (i) describe prescribing trends between 2006 and 2017, (ii) evaluate the transition of opioid dose and potency in the first 2 years from initial prescription, (iii) quantify and identify risk factors for long-term opioid use, and (iv) quantify the variation of long-term use attributed to region, practice, and prescriber, accounting for case mix and chance variation | PLOS One, UK

Reconsidering where hepatitis clinics should be sited

A UK-based project placed a dedicated full-time hepatitis C nurse inside a drug and alcohol treatment service. Patients attending the clinic discuss barriers and facilitators to hepatitis C care, including why the more typical hospital setting might be deterring people who inject drugs from accessing diagnosis and treatment | Drug and Alcohol Findings, UK

Experiences of being housed in a London hotel as part of the "Everyone in" initiative

During the spring of 2020, the UK Government implementeda ground-breaking policy initiative to provide temporary accommodation for everyone experiencing rough sleepingand a range of other forms of homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic | KCL, UK

Prevention of new infections

Hepatitis C is a preventable disease and yet the number of people acquiring new infections in the UK has not fallen. There have been dramatic improvements in accessing effective treatments, however, HCV elimination in the UK will not be achieved by simply increasing the number of patients who receive treatment | Hepatitis C Trust, UK

PHE: Pharmacists can help ‘spot signs’ of prescription drug dependence

Community pharmacists could spot and flag concerns with a patient’s GP if they suspect dependence on prescription medicines, a Public Health England (PHE) official has suggested | Chemist and Druggist, UK

COVID-19 & the impact on the drugs market

Release is setting up a network of people across the UK to provide information on what is going on in the drugs market in light of the Coronavirus | Release, UK

Treating alcoholism with MDMA - free event

Thu, 29 October 2020, 15:00 – 16:00 GMT. Dr Ben Sessa will reveal the results from his latest research MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in patients with alcohol use disorder | Drug Science, UK

How to regulate stimulants - Book launch

Join us on 22nd October at 20:00 (GMT+1) as we lay out the only realistic alternative to prohibition for stimulant drugs - a new and unique contribution to the drug policy debate | Transform, UK

Second Largest Police Force to Stop Criminalising Drug Users

West Midlands joins four other police forces to offer help rather than a criminal record to some people caught with drugs | VICE, UK

Covid in Scotland: ScotRail 'considering' alcohol ban on trains

A blanket ban on alcohol on ScotRail services could be imposed as part of Covid safety measures | BBC, UK

Two arrests in Newtownards after police seize '£100,000 of cocaine'

Suspected cocaine with a street value of £100,000 has been seized by police in greater Belfast | BBC, UK

Cannabis crop worth £1m discovered in former Coventry nightclub

Police officers find ‘sophisticated’ drug operation spread over three storeys of building | Guardian, UK

10 million illegal cigarettes seized at Harwich port

Around 10 million black market cigarettes worth almost £3million in unpaid duty have been seized by Border Force officers at the Port of Harwich | ITV, UK

Detective who busted John and Yoko lifts the lid on corrupt 1960s policing

Norman Pilcher, who made some of the decade’s biggest arrests and was jailed for perjury, says he is setting the record straight | Guardian, UK


International news

Global burden of 87 risk factors in 204 countries and territories, 1990–2019: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019

Rigorous analysis of levels and trends in exposure to leading risk factors and quantification of their effect on human health are important to identify where public health is making progress and in which cases current efforts are inadequate | Lancet, UK

Portugal's radical decision to decriminalise all drugs

In the '90s, Portugal was in the grip of a drugs crisis. The country had one of the worst rates of overdose deaths in Europe, as well as the highest rate of HIV among drug users | BBC, UK

Minimum alcohol pricing could reduce alcohol-linked deaths in Canada

Governments in Canada and elsewhere may consider implementing [minimum unit pricing] strategies to improve the health of drinkers and reduce alcohol’s burden on healthcare systems,” says Adam Sherk at the University of Victoria in Canada | New Scientist, UK

Record-breaking meth haul made in California, says DEA

The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have seized their largest-ever domestic haul of methamphetamine - more than 1,000kg (2,200 pounds) | BBC, UK

Peter Frampton: 'I was kept high. If I needed cocaine, he made sure I had it'

The singer-songwriter’s career of intense highs and devastating deceptions is explored in a revealing new memoir | Guardian, UK

Psilocybin for depression will be studied in a clinical trial at Karolinska Institutet - first time in Sweden

The first Swedish clinical trial investigating psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for depression is announced today, following approval from the Swedish Medical Products Agency and Ethical Review Authority | Osmond Labs, Sweden

Addressing the Syndemic of HIV, Hepatitis C, Overdose, and COVID-19 Among People Who Use Drugs: The Potential Roles for Decriminalization and Safe Supply

People who use drugs (PWUD) face concurrent public health emergencies from overdoses, HIV, hepatitis C, and COVID-19, leading to an unprecedented syndemic. Responses to PWUD that go beyond treatment—such as decriminalization and providing a safe supply of pharmaceutical-grade drugs—could reduce impacts of this syndemic | JSAD, USA

Prevalence of Synthetic Cannabinoid MDMB-4en-PINACA Continues to Increase in the United States and Internationally (PDF)

The objective of this public announcement is to notify public health and public safety, law enforcement, clinicians, medical examiners and coroners, laboratory personnel, drug treatment providers, and other related communities about new information surrounding the emergent synthetic cannabinoid MDMB-4en-PINACA | NPS Discovery, USA

Mexico is poised to become the biggest legal marijuana market in the world. Who will most benefit?

Mexico’s marijuana revolution is on display steps from the nation’s Senate, where for the last nine months activists have maintained a fragrant cannabis garden | LA Times, USA

WHEN THE SMOKE CLEARS: The ban on tobacco products in South Africa during COVID-19

This report details the ban on tobacco products in South Africa during the CoVID-19 pandemic. It examines the history of the illicit tobacco trade in South Africa leading up to the ban and the consequences of the decision to outlaw the sale of tobacco products. It finds that the ban magnified the size of the illicit market and introduced a host of new criminal actors to the tobacco trade | ResearchGate, USA

Addicted: How Edmonton could solve its meth problem

This is part five of a five-part series examining methamphetamine in Alberta’s capital city | Edmonton Journal, Canada

Lethbridge doctors call out UCP for 'misguiding the public' on overdose prevention

Lethbridge physicians say the provincial government’s approach to the disease of addiction is “foolish, flawed and coercive” in response to an open letter by Alberta’s minister in charge of mental health and addictions condemning an unsanctioned overdose prevention site in the southern city | Calgary Herald, Canada

Lawyers urge decriminalisation of cannabis use in Victoria

Cannabis use in Victoria should be decriminalised and regulated to minimise harm to users, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) | Lawyers Alliance, Australia

Cannabis licencing changes give researchers a fighting chance

The costs of applying for a cannabis license will change starting November 1st this year, providing relief for researchers studying cannabis Australia-wide | Pondering Pot, Australia

Warning over fentanyl-related substances

NSW Health is warning of the potential dangers of fentanyl-related substances following recent cases of serious harm in NSW | Mirage, Australia

Election results 2020: Euthanasia and cannabis referendum decisions - why we're waiting

The first glimpse of the referendum results will be in two weeks, on October 30 | NZ Herald, New Zealand


Blogs, comment and opinion

We must re-energise our response to increasing drug-related deaths

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published its annual drug misuse deaths report, which shows that there were 4,115 deaths last year due to drug poisoning. The figures show another record high in England and the seventh year in a row of increases. Now more than ever we need to re-energise our efforts in national and local government to help the most vulnerable people get the support that could save their lives | PHE blog, UK

Ian Hamilton: Drug related deaths are not spread equally in our communities 

The latest data show clearly how the route into and out of problems with drugs is heavily influenced by social circumstances, writes Ian Hamilton | BMJ Opinion, UK

Drug Deaths: Scotland’s Shame

It’s not often graphs elicit an emotional response, but this one did for me. It’s from the EMCDDA’s recent report on drugs in Europe. The map shows that the UK has high levels of drug-induced mortality compared to most of Europe. But look at the dotted blue line on the graph. That’s Scotland. Worst in Europe and possibly the world | Recovery Review blog, UK

The secret support group: 'Families are too ashamed to speak up about addiction'

So many people believe parents are somehow responsible for their children’s addictions. That’s why we get almost zero support | Guardian, UK