Archives for Opioids

Addiction

Now the Tough Part

The forces of nature appear intent on reversing mankind’s progress toward better health.   An example is the ever-increasing resistance of bacteria to antibiotics.  A timeline of the existence of humans and bacteria shows that bacteria have been around for a very long time--- much longer than mammals, and much, much longer than humans.  In fact by the dawn mankind, bacteria had been thriving, relatively uninhibited, for over 2 billion years.

Modern humans have been around for 40,000-200,000 years or so, depending on...
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Buprenorphine

A Lesson in Side Effects Using Buprenorphine

We can now leave naloxone out of the discussion, and focus on the side effects of Suboxone that are caused by buprenorphine.

Side effects are symptoms caused by a given medication that are not part of the therapeutic benefit of that medication.  Whether a symptom is a side effect depends on the reason for taking the medication.  For example, decreased intestinal motility is the desired effect of opioids...
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Addiction

Brain Surgery for Opioid Dependence

Today I read about the stereotactic brain surgery used to treat opioid dependence in China over the past ten years.   The procedure is relatively straightforward; the patient’s skull is clamped in place while small holes are drilled, guided by computerized, 3-dimensional maps of the brain.  Probes are inserted deeply through brain tissue to the nucleus accumbens, where electric current destroys varying amounts of brain tissue.   Patients are...
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Addiction

Be Heard– Raise the Cap!

People who read this blog are aware of the shortage of physicians who can prescribe buprenorphine to treat people addicted to pain pills, even as an epidemic of addiction to heroin and pain pills devastates the heartland of the country.  In order to prescribe buprenorphine, physicians take a short course and obtain special certification.  To obtain certification, physicians must promise to treat no more than 30 patients at one time, a number that...
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Buprenorphine

Side Effects II

In my last post, I wrote about the work-up of a patient who experiences symptoms similar to opioid withdrawal that start about an hour after each dose of Suboxone.  We decided that the symptoms were signs of withdrawal— reduced activity of mu-opioid pathways—and that the symptoms were triggered by taking a daily dose of Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone).

Note that I wrote that the symptoms seemed to be caused by reduced mu activity, ...
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Buprenorphine

Side Effect Work-Up

I struggle with the length of my posts. I shoot for 1000 words—an amount of reading that most people can knock off in a typical trip to the bathroom--- but I find it difficult to limit posts to that size. So as I have done in the past, I will break this post into a couple of sections. In the first, I’ll lay the groundwork for investigating symptoms of withdrawal in...
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History

I Told You So

The FDA recently released a Drug Safety Announcement regarding the use of codeine in young children after tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy surgery for obstructive sleep apnea.  I was somewhat surprised to see a safety announcement on a medication that has been in use for decades, but the release underscores our improved knowledge of drug metabolism, and the broadening demographics of the United States.

Codeine has little activity at opioid receptors.  The analgesic effects of codeine...
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Addiction

(Un)Intended Consequences

A couple weeks ago the manufacturer of Suboxone, Reckitt-Benckiser, filed a Citizens Petition with the FDA, announcing a voluntary recall of one of the company’s signature products, Suboxone Tablets.  Suboxone was sold in tablet form for almost ten years, and the patent ran out on Suboxone Tablets last year.  A couple years ago the same company began making Suboxone Film; a rapidly-dissolving form of the medication that comes with each dose individually packaged.

Suboxone...
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Addiction

Enough Pain Regulations?

I’ve described the ongoing debate over the use of opioids to treat chronic pain.  To catch new readers up to speed, the country is in the midst of an epidemic of deaths due to overdose on pain medications or heroin.  The epidemic is evident to anyone who spends even a few minutes searching the internet using the keywords ‘overdose deaths.’   Another increasing phenomenon is the prosecution of physicians whose patients have died from...
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General

Compassion or Murder?

I subscribe to Google news alerts for the phrase 'overdose deaths.'  Google Alerts are a great way to follow any topic; subscribers receive headlines from newspapers and web sites for certain keywords from around the world. One thing that has become clear from my subscription is that there is no shortage of stories about deaths from opioids! Every day I see one article after the next, as news reporters notice the loss of...
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