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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Bain Capital Buys Massachusetts Methadone Clinics

100 Dollars
Since the late ‘80’s private substance abuse treatment has become a big business; and like all big businesses they attract the attention of even bigger businesses. The private equity firm Bain Capital, owner of a number of methadone clinics in the United States, after acquiring the treatment conglomerate CRC Health, has been buying up treatment facilities across the country for over a decade. Despite an interesting track record with some named treatment facilities which included some untimely patient deaths in recent years, Bain recently purchased the largest chain of substance treatment facilities (methadone clinics) in Massachusetts, The Boston Globe reports.

Habit OPCO Inc., which has 13 methadone clinics in Massachusetts, was purchased through CRC Health, the nation’s largest provider of substance abuse treatment and behavioral health services, for $58 million. No matter which way an addict turns for help, their money will undoubtedly find its way into Bain Capital’s pockets. Many health experts feel that as the price of substance abuse treatment goes up, the quality of care goes down; huge firms like Bain Capital have no concern about patient welfare and success, they only appear to care about the bill being paid on time.

“The problem I find with some of the for-profit clinics is the absolute minimum required by law becomes the absolute maximum they’re willing to do for their patients,” says Dr. Kevin P. Hill, director of the Substance Abuse Consultation Service at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts.

The addiction treatment industry is worth $7.7 billion, growing at a rate of about 2 percent annually, according to the newspaper article. Methadone treatment at Habit OPCO costs patients $135 a week. The $540 a month gives patients liquid methadone and access to healthcare professionals. Habit OPCO accepts private insurance, Medicaid, and cash.

Profits are not their main goal, according to Habit OPCO and CRC staff members. “Frankly, the way to make a lot of money in this particular business is to do it badly,” CRC’s Deputy Chief Clinical Officer for CRC Health Deni Carise said. “We’re just not going to do that.” Unfortunately, Carise’s promises fall on deaf ears when countless respected members of the treatment community are aware of CRC’s track record to date.
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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Government Report On E-Cigarettes

E-cigarette regulations are moving at a snail's pace and many health experts in the field are worried that a lack of response may encourage young people to develop unhealthy views about the devices. A new government report shows that young people are being targeted by the makers of E-cigarettes, according to The New York Times.

Health experts have mixed opinions about E-cigarettes, some believe they are a healthier alternative to tobacco and could help people quit, while others believe that E-cigarettes will encourage young people to start smoking regular cigarettes.

An investigation, overseen by 11 Democratic members of the U.S. House and Senate, has shown that makers of E-cigarettes are giving out free samples at music and sporting events, they are also advertising over the radio and television during programs aimed at young people, according to the report. Lawmakers hope that the new report will encourage the FDA, forcing the agency to pass regulations more quickly.

Eight major e-cigarette companies took a survey for the government report. Every one of them had given away free samples, and six said they had sponsored events. As many as 348 events featured free samples and sponsorship in 2012 and 2013, according to the report.

The government report into e-cigarettes was led by Representative Henry Waxman of California with Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, Waxman said in a news release, “E-cigarette makers are starting to prey on kids, just like the big tobacco companies. With over a million youth now using e-cigarettes, FDA needs to act without further delay to stop the companies from marketing their addictive products to children.”
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Friday, April 11, 2014

Substance Abuse Gender Differences

Adult men were twice as likely as women to seek treatment for a substance use disorder in 2011, according to a new government report. While there could be a number of discrepancies for the difference, the findings showed that 1.2 million men, and 609,000 females, entered treatment that year.

The report was conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). While the rate of substance abuse was about the same among teens 12 to 17, at 7 percent, the substance of choice was different. In fact, teenage boys abused more marijuana and teenage girls abused more alcohol.

In the 18 to 24 age group the substance of choice changed, SAMHSA’s report found that twenty-two percent of women said marijuana was their primary substance of abuse, compared with 3 percent of men. When it came to prescription drugs, women 65 and older were almost three times as likely as men to abuse narcotic painkillers.

“This report provides insight into how age and gender relate to substance abuse, SAMHSA Chief Medical Officer Elinore McCance-Katz said in a news release. “SAMHSA believes that health care professionals can use this information in designing programs that are better tailored to effectively meet the treatment needs of both genders.”

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Opiate Overdose Deaths Easily Prevented

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Opiate overdose deaths can be easily prevented by administering the drug naloxone. Many lives have been saved in states that allow the drug to be obtained by addicts and their loved ones; and a number of more lives will be saved because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a handheld naloxone delivery system called Evizio, which contains a single dose of the opioid overdose antidote, The New York Times reports.

Current forms of naloxone are available in syringe form and the injection blocks the ability of opiates and opioids to attach to brain cells, preventing an overdose from being fatal. The new system resembles an EpiPen, used to stop allergic reactions to food and bee stings. Evzio was designed to make it easier for friends or relatives to save the life of a person who has overdosed. When the device is turned on, it will give verbal instructions about how to use it.

“This is a big deal, and I hope it gets wide attention,” said Dr. Carl R. Sullivan III, Director of the Addictions Program at West Virginia University. “It’s pretty simple: Having these things in the hands of people around drug addicts just makes sense because you’re going to prevent unnecessary mortality.”

The FDA published a news release, encouraging family members or caregivers to become acquainted with Evzio beforehand. “Family members or caregivers should also become familiar with the steps for using Evzio and practice with the trainer device, which is included along with the delivery device, before it is needed,” the FDA advises. Some overdoses may involve several doses of Evzio because the opioids may last longer than the naloxone, understanding the device beforehand is crucial for those who are expected to use Evzio.

Evzio is expected to be available this summer.
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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Emergency Room Doctors Narcotic Headache Treatment

English: National Naval Medical Center, Bethes...
People often seek a doctor's help for headaches at emergency rooms around the country. What's surprising is that emergency room doctors typically will prescribe narcotic pain medications in such cases, against the advice of a number of medical groups, according to a new study.

The groups, including the American College of Emergency Physicians and the American Academy of Neurology, say narcotics should not be the first drugs that doctors turn to for headache remedies, HealthDay reports.


The report found that between 2001 and 2010, there was no increase in ER prescriptions for non-narcotic pain relievers such as acetaminophen or triptans (drugs used to treat migraines) for headache patients, but there was a 65 percent increase in emergency room doctors prescribing narcotic medications for headaches. One might assume that the most common narcotic prescribed for headaches would be Vicodin (hydrocodone), but that assumption would be incorrect. Doctors most commonly will prescribe Dilaudid (hydromorphone) and OxyContin (oxycodone) for headaches, two powerful highly addictive opioid medications.

“These findings are particularly concerning given the magnitude of increase in [narcotic painkiller] prescribing compared to the other non-addictive medications, whose use remained the same or declined,” lead investigator Dr. Maryann Mazer-Amirshahi of George Washington University said in a news release.

Dr. Jeanmarie Perrone of the University of Pennsylvania, study co-researcher, pointed out that there may be a number of factors contributing to the increase in opioid use for headaches, such as:
  • Regulatory Requirements
  • Increased Focus on Pain Management
  • Patient Satisfaction

The findings were presented at the American College of Medical Toxicology annual meeting.

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