Prescription weight-loss medication helps with opiate addiction recovery, study confirms

Researchers from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have confirmed that a prescription weight-loss pill decreases the urge to use opiates such as oxycodone.

In a study published in ACS Chemical Neuroscience, the researchers led by UTMB scientist Kathryn Cunningham found that the drug, lorcaserin, reduced the use and craving for the opioid oxycodone in preclinical studies. Cunningham is director of UTMB’s Center for Addiction Research and a professor in the department of Pharmacology and Toxicology.

Opiate abuse is a major public health problem and according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of deaths from prescription opiate overdose in America has quadrupled since 1999. High relapse rates and too few people remaining in treatment programs long enough for it to really benefit them continues to pose major challenges in treatment for the misuse of prescription opiates such as oxycodone and illegal opiates such as heroin.

Full story of prescription weight loss medication and opiate addiction recovery at Science Daily

Heroin Tops the List of Drugs Most Frequently Involved in Overdose Deaths

Heroin was the drug most often involved in overdose deaths between 2010 and 2014, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other drugs commonly involved in overdoses included oxycodone, methadone, morphine, morphine, hydrocodone, fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamine, alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium).

More than 47,000 people in the United States died from drug overdoses in 2014, up from more than 38,000 in 2010.

Full story of heroin most involved in overdoses at drugfree.org

Nasal Spray Version of Naloxone Approved to Treat Opioid Overdoses

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday approved a nasal spray version of the opioid overdose antidote naloxone (Narcan). Until now, the only approved version of naloxone was injectable, The New York Times reports.

The company that makes the spray, Adapt Pharma, said it will offer the spray at a discount to emergency workers, police and firefighters.

Naloxone is used to reverse overdoses of opioids including prescription medications such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and morphine, as well as heroin. The FDA noted in a press release that if naloxone is administered quickly, it can counter the effects of an opioid overdose, usually within two minutes.

Full story of nasal spray version of Naloxone at drugfree.org

Study: Use of Opioid Painkillers in Pregnancy Increases Risks to Baby

A new study finds a woman’s use of prescription opioids during pregnancy increases the risk her baby will be born small or early. Such use also raises the chance the baby will go through painful drug withdrawal, known as neonatal abstinence syndrome, HealthDay reports.

The study of more than 112,000 pregnant women in Tennessee found almost 28 percent used at least one prescription opioid, such as hydrocodone or oxycodone. The risks to the baby increased if a woman also smoked or took antidepressants, the researchers report in Pediatrics.

Of the babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome, 65 percent had mothers that legally filled prescriptions for opioid pain relievers.

Full story of opioid abuse and pregnancy at drugfree.org

Some Experts Say Naloxone Alone Isn’t Enough to Address Opioid Addiction Crisis

As more states expand access to the opioid overdose antidote naloxone, some experts say more is needed to address the opioid addiction crisis, USA Today reports. Opioids include heroin as well as prescription drugs such as oxycodone.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 30 states and the District of Columbia have implemented a law or developed a pilot program allowing naloxone to be administered by professional or lay persons. In some states, such as Ohio, people who administer naloxone must have specific training. Other states, such as Colorado, encourage education about overdoses and naloxone, but do not have training requirements.

Eric Fulcher, an emergency room physician at Sts. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, told the newspaper he generally supports wider access to naloxone. He is concerned, however, that new laws that expand naloxone access “totally ignore” the overall problem of addiction, and may signal an underlying acceptance of intravenous heroin use. “Politicians will feel like they’ve dealt with the problem,” he said.

Full story of naloxone and opioid addiction at drugfree.org