15 Percent of Teens and Young Adults Prescribed Opioids During ER Visit

Almost 15 percent of teens and young adults are prescribed opioids during an emergency room visit, according to a new study.

In contrast, 3 percent of teens and young adults seen in an outpatient clinic receive an opioid prescription, NBC News reports.

“Adolescents and young adults are such a high-risk population for opioid misuse and future addiction,” said study author Joel Hudgins, M.D., of the Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. “We found the rates of opioid prescriptions were pretty high, at 15 percent, which is right in line with adult data.”

Full story at drugfree.org

Synthetic CBD may be a safe treatment for seizures

A nonintoxicating form of cannabidiol that chemists can make from inexpensive noncannabis ingredients can treat seizures just as effectively as herbal cannabidiol, according to recent research in rats.

The chemical structure of the synthetic cannabidiol (CBD), which has the name 8,9-dihydrocannabidiol (H2CBD), is similar to that of the CBD that occurs naturally in the plant Cannabis sativa.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) and the University of Reading in the United Kingdom have shown that H2CBD can be just as effective as cannabis-derived CBD in treating rats with chemically-induced seizures.

Full story at Medical News Today

Use Of Buprenorphine To Treat Opioid Addiction Proliferates In California

Buprenorphine, a relative newcomer in the treatment of opioid addiction, is growing in popularity among California doctors as regulatory changes, physician training and other initiatives make the medication more widely accessible.

The rate of Medi-Cal enrollees who received buprenorphine nearly quadrupled from the end of 2014 to the third quarter of 2018, according to data released by Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program. The rate for methadone — an older and more commonly used drug — was almost unchanged from the end of 2014 through the last quarter of 2017, the most recent period for which data are available.

Buprenorphine and methadone are both opioids. Both reduce cravings for heroin and synthetic opioids while minimizing withdrawal symptoms. But buprenorphine is less potent and less likely to result in fatal overdoses than methadone. California doctors have more flexibility in prescribing it than with methadone or naltrexone, another medication used to treat addiction.

Full story at Kaiser Health News

NIH Solicits Research into Vaccines to Protect against Opioid Use

Opiate and opioid drugs killed 70,000 Americans1 in 2017, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the latest grim note in a still growing addiction crisis and demanding a wide public health response. In May 2017, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, wrote that it was time for “all scientific hands on deck,” and highlighted the need to invest in new technologies beyond the standard toolset for reversing opioid drug overdoses and treating addiction.2

NIH has now announced new resources for research into one such alternate approach to combatting the opioid epidemic, immunotherapy.

A March 20 solicitation from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases3(NIAID), announced the division’s search for outside researchers interested in developing vaccines to protect against heroin and the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl, with goal of awarding multiple groups contracts, according to Kentner Singleton, PhD, program officer in the basic immunology branch of NIAID. He expects to announce the awards by August 2020. “Once we make the awards, we can facilitate collaborations between all the different groups so we can leverage the strength of one group to minimize the weakness of another group, so that we can have a cohesive consortium of investigators all working towards the same goal in unison and in parallel,” he says. “At the end of the day, the goal is to have a product that is brought into clinical trials.”

Full story at Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

Facebook Launches Initiative to Encourage Discussion on Opioid Dependency

Facebook is collaborating with Partnership for Drug-Free Kids + Center on Addiction to launch an initiative to encourage people to discuss their experiences with opioid dependency.

The “Stop Opioid Silence” (SOS) campaign is designed to reduce stigmas surrounding opioid addiction. The campaign highlights the stories of 12 people’s journey with opioid addiction, either through their own experiences or those of a loved one. They discuss what led them to addiction and how they recovered.

Elements of the campaign, which is slated to run for two months, will be shared on Facebook and Instagram. It will also be shared through ads on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger from Partnership for Drug-Free Kids + Center on Addiction.

Full story at drugfree.org