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Opioid Epidemic: A Painkiller Into an Addictive Drug

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After more than ten years, the opioid usage has reached peaking levels and has not declined. It’s caused 42,000 deaths in 2016, clearly showing that the U.S. drug epidemic is not in control.

Researchers found that older patients suffering from chronic pain depend on this “prescription,” but it is a highly dangerous medication. Opioids are a class of illegal drug heroin that provides pain relief, but doctors often prescribe an excessive amount that makes it more life-threatening for the patient. This medication offers a feeling of pleasure but is risky since it leads to addiction, decreases the heart rate, and eventually may lead to death due to overdose. This may be in fact one of the deadliest, most potent drug overdose epidemic in U.S. history.

Medicare patients have greater access to opioid medication compared to privately insured patients. This increased the risk of overdose by four times, and many insurance groups are reluctant to cover the cost of integrative pain treatment of opioids. The insurance policies contribute to the reasons why opioid regulation is failing.

When Will This Outbreak End?

To slowly diminish the national epidemic, federal prosecutors have found that the drug wholesale distributor is Amerisource Bergen. Serious lawsuits are suddenly being pressed upon them, and the FDA is spending millions of dollars to diminish the pharmaceutical companies such as these. Many other manufacturers and distributors such as Mekesson and Cardinal Health are in the process of subpoena as well. They control 85% of the U.S. drug market, and their “suspicious reports have started since 2012.  

More and more states are joining the nation’s outcry of the opioid epidemic. Many hospitals are beginning to alter their approaches for prescribing this drug as a treatment. For example, Chicago is using enhanced recovery after surgery to help patients with pain management in the hospitals. New York takes a different road and swapped marijuana to help with opioid withdrawal. Despite the unfortunate outbreak, we can let out a sigh of relief that companies, hospitals, political lawmakers are all stepping in to alleviate the large situation.

 

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Covid-19

Biotech Company based in Washington Advances COVID-19 Treatment Trials

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Companies across the globe are working on finding treatments for COVID-19 patients, and the latest is from CytoDyn Inc. The Washington-based biotech has developed a possible COVID-19 treatment and is one step closer to nationwide distribution if clinical trials are successful.

CytoDyn Inc. announced Monday that it made an exclusive deal with the pharmaceutical company American Regent to distribute its latest product, leronlimab, by approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

Leronlimab is currently under review by the FDA as a treatment for HIV. The drug is an antibody that attaches itself to specific immune cell receptors HIV agents. Studies from CytoDyn indicated it could be effective in slowing the speed of inflammatory molecules production.

The effects of COVID-19 can cause lung complications in patients that can lead to various respiratory illnesses. CytoDyn hopes to be used soon to treat a potentially fatal condition called Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome caused by inflammation in the lungs, as seen in several COVID-19 patients. The company announced last month it had recruited 75 patients for a Phase 2 trial studying leronlimab’s effects on COVID-19 patients with mild to moderate symptoms.

According to CytoDyn, results from 390 COVID-19 patients’ clinical trials should be complete by the end of July. The most common side effects of leronlimab in HIV trials were diarrhea, headaches, and high blood pressure, based on a National Institute for Health report. 

The World Health Organization reported there are 19 potential candidates for a COVID-19 vaccine as of July 6. 

Other forms of treatment for COVID-19 patients are still being reviewed for their efficiency from antiviral drugs to ventilators depending on the severity of symptoms in patients. 

Sources: 

  1. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/03/07/how-pharma-companies-are-fighting-against-covid-19/
  2. https://www.cytodyn.com/newsroom/press-releases/detail/446/cytodyns-leronlimab-prevents-transmission-of-shiv-in
  3. https://www.thecentersquare.com/washington/washington-based-biotech-company-advances-covid-19-treatment-trials/article_874c8308-bfb8-11ea-aefd-cba60d46adc0.html
  4. https://www.americanregent.com/
  5. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/05/14/how-does-covid-19-affect-the-lungs/
  6. https://aidsinfo.nih.gov/drugs/423/leronlimab/0/patient
  7. https://www.who.int/publications/m/item/draft-landscape-of-covid-19-candidate-vaccines
  8. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/what-coronavirus-does-to-the-lungs
  9. https://www.who.int/publications/m/item/draft-landscape-of-covid-19-candidate-vaccines
  10. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/04/22/st-joseph-hospital-testing-remdesivir-on-coronavirus-patients/

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Covid-19

California Places Orange County on Coronavirus Watch List

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Monday, state health officials placed Orange County on a watch list along with other counties at risk possibly facing new lockdown orders. According to the analysis, California’s Dept. of Public Health cited outbreaks at assisted living facilities, memory care facilities, and other communal homes in Orange County as key drivers behind the rise in positive coronavirus tests and an upturn in hospitalizations.

Orange County leaders have an action plan they can follow created by the state health department to help slow the disease and avoid renewed lockdown orders. 

There are 19 counties in California including Orange County that have been added to the state’s monitoring list. This closely tracks metrics such as rates of new 100,000 residents, averages of positive tests, and new hospitalizations

In recent weeks, the spread of coronavirus in Orange County has moved closer to surpassing key criteria outlined by the state to identify troubled counties. Monday, June 29, the county reached 108.9 coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents, surpassing the state’s threshold of 100. The rate of positive tests, 9.2% on Monday, exceeding the state’s limit of 8%. Orange County initially surpassed the state’s testing positivity limit on Friday with 8.5%.

According to Health Care Agency data, there are currently 485 people with COVID-19 in Orange County hospitals, a 66% increase since June 1, when local hospitals had 292 COVID-19 patients. Orange County could face renewed lockdowns that could again limit non-essential businesses’ operations if the rise in hospitalization and other metrics are not reversed. 

Before resorting to these measures in the county, state health officials want local leaders to work on a multi-part plan to tamp down the county’s infection rate. Recommended methods include raising public messaging about the importance of social distancing, small to no gatherings, and wearing face masks in public.

State health officials want Orange County to provide more coronavirus testing sites and take more active steps to educate skilled nursing facilities and communities with high case rates on infection control practices and the proper use of protective equipment. Marc Meulman, chief of operations of the Health Care Agency’s Public Health Services, said the agency worked with the state in drafting the action steps. However, no state resources will be dedicated to implementing them.

Bernadette Boden-Albala, dean of UC Irvine’s public health program and an expert in social epidemiology, stated early in the pandemic Orange County residents did an excellent job heeding public health slowing the virus’s spread. Boden-Albala added the urgent issue now is coronavirus-related hospitalizations are increasing while patients with other conditions are starting to return to hospitals. On Wednesday, June 24, Orange County’s hospitals were 65% full, according to an Orange County Emergency Medical Services report

Sources: 

  1. https://www.ocregister.com/2020/06/29/state-puts-orange-county-on-coronavirus-watch-list/
  2. https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/CountyMonitoringDataStep2.aspx
  3. https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/COVID19CountyDataTable.aspx
  4. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/03/21/coronavirus-update-california-issued-statewide-stay-at-home-order/
  5. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/06/20/gov-newsom-issues-new-face-mask-order-for-californians/
  6. https://www.ochealthinfo.com/about/admin/contacts
  7. https://directory.uci.edu/people/bbodenal
  8. https://www.healthdisasteroc.org/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?BlobID=116352

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Covid-19

Breathalyzer Can Detect COVID-19 in Seconds

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Diagnostic tests used to detect the virus that causes COVID-19 usually involve a deep nasal swab to obtain enough fluid samples. After the sample is collected, it is then transferred to a laboratory machine for processing with the results usually available hours or even days after. There are five-minute tests on the market, but those still require an expensive machine at each testing site.

Researchers at Ohio State University have developed a breathalyzer that can detect metabolites related to a COVID-19 infection within fifteen seconds. This technology could be utilized for mass screenings of travelers at airports, those attending large public events, and any facility taking precautions in preventing infections

Link to Source

Perena Gouma, the lead developer of the new device, announced that breath analysis is not a technique widely used in the medical field yet, so it’s considered early-stage work. She stated the team has a sensor device that can detect oxide and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in breath and can be used to tell you about the onset of an infectious disease

The new breathalyzer can screen two other metabolites along with nitric oxide that are related to COVID-19. Since the device indicated the metabolite concentrations, it may also help with disease monitoring to assess progression. The new device relies on new nanomaterials that can trap and measure the relevant gases being analyzed.

Link to Source

The technology required for the device is inexpensive to manufacture, and anyone can perform a test using the breathalyzer. After the test is complete, the results are displayed on the device within fifteen seconds and do not need any interpretation. 

Gouma stated that researchers are working on making these devices hand-held monitors that will be widely distributed and inexpensive. She added that the technology evolved from the sensors used for monitoring gases in an automotive exhaust

Link to Source

Sources:

  1. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/05/07/new-crispr-test-for-covid-19-could-be-a-simple-at-home-diagnostic-test-according-to-scientists/
  2. https://www.medgadget.com/2020/06/breathalyzer-to-detect-covid-19-in-seconds.html
  3. https://news.osu.edu/ohio-state-researchers-testing-breathalyzer-to-detect-covid-19/
  4. https://www.lung.org/clean-air/at-home/indoor-air-pollutants/volatile-organic-compounds

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