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ROC Weekly News Bites
Opioid Overdoses Cost US Economy $1T Per Year, Ketamine Use Increasing for At-Home Care, and Alcoholic Liver Diseases on the Rise
Here is a recap of some of the top industry-related news stories of the week:
Opioid overdose deaths cost U.S. economy $1 trillion a year, study finds
Opioid overdose deaths cost the U.S. economy $1 trillion a year, according to the U.S. Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking. This amount poses a threat to the economy, public health and safety, and national security.
“In terms of loss of life and damage to the economy, illicit synthetic opioids have the effect of a slow-motion weapon of mass destruction in pill form,” the report said.
The panel came up with the estimate based on a White House Council of Economic Advisors’ 2018 report that determined the cost of overdose fatalities amounted to $696 billion a year at a time when the death toll was about two thirds of today’s rate.
Synthetic opioid overdose deaths continue to increase across the U.S. and “show no signs of abating,” the report says.
The U.S. Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking is a bipartisan panel made up of representatives from government agencies like the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, along with lawmakers from the House and Senate.
Once-taboo ketamine booms for US at-home mental care
Americans are paying for ketamine to be shipped to them for at-home mental health treatments that are being called both a breakthrough and a gamble.
Since the pandemic, there has been an easing of prescription rules that helped fuel an increase in telemedicine offerings of ketamine.
Yet long-term, large-scale studies of ketamine’s medical impact are limited, leaving some experts concerned that an unregulated online boom could result in mishaps or a regulatory crackdown.
“This has to be rolled out slowly,” said Boris Heifets, a Stanford University assistant professor of anesthesiology. “The risk is that we are scaling the fix but not the solution, which is a much more integrated approach to mental health.”
Recent years have seen an increase in clinics offering in-person intravenous ketamine treatments for depression, anxiety or chronic pain, though regulations and practices vary across American states.
An increasing number of companies, some already doing in-clinic treatments, began offering to evaluate clients online and to send the drugs for home use to approved candidates.
CEO of Nue Life, Juan Pablo Cappello, says that they have helped over 3000 patients so far and claims the potential for abuse is low. He noted clients are instructed to have an adult “babysitter” watch over them for the roughly 90 minutes the drug experience lasts, and he reasoned that people simply looking for ketamine could get it cheaper on the street.
Clients of the service, which costs $1,250 for a package providing six ketamine experiences, are encouraged but not obligated to couple it with therapy.
Alcoholic liver diseases on the rise as alcohol sales skyrocket
Since the start of the pandemic, the purchase of alcoholic beverages has been skyrocketing. Doctors like Vicky Bakhos-Webb have noticed an increase in patients suffering from problems with their liver or even developing alcoholic hepatitis.
Dr. Bakhos-Webb believes people are suffering from alcoholic hepatitis because of the effects and struggles many are facing in the presence of a pandemic.
"During the pandemic a lot of people and patients either lost their jobs or were working from home so their day-to-day routine changed and a lot of them started seeking help with alcohol and managing depression, anxiety, sleep disorders and fixing it the wrong way through drinking alcohol instead of seeking help through different aspects," Bakhos-Webb said.
Symptoms to watch for may be nausea, loss of appetite, and fever. "Other signs and symptoms that we see patients can have is jaundice or yellowish skin, swelling of abdomen, certain veins; verrucous veins," Bakhos-Webb said.
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