American Big Pharma and the US opioid epidemic…

With such focus on Covid19, the US opioid pandemic has largely been ignored in the UK yet continues to destroy lives, devastate families and fracture communities and it worsened rather than lessened as Covid19 ravaged the US. The US Centre for Disease Control published provisional data recently showing that 2020 was a record year for drug overdose deaths with 93,331, up 29% from a year earlier. 500,000 deaths between 1999 and 2019 need to be explained so cities, states, counties …

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The tricky decision of whether or not to take Statins…

I came to statin treatment in a bizarre way.  I went to my bank to arrange a loan and having agreed to the amount the bank asked for additional life cover.   The life assurance company, in view of my advancing years (I was 48), required a medical and everything came back tip-top except my cholesterol level that weighed in at a handsome yet shocking 9.2 (average is 5.2).   I was put on a statin and a decision on the life …

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Prescription drugs – The Opium of the People?

Publication of the statistics on General Pharmaceutical Services in N. Ireland is not I suspect a much-anticipated annual event and this might go some way to explain the lack of media attention when the report was released last week except for a brief overview in the Irish News. The report provides the facts and figures on the medicines we used, misused and abused last year and, for me at least, it makes for interesting if not depressing reading. It would …

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Prescription drug deaths. Do we not care because most of the victims are poor?

This week’s BBC Spotlight on prescription drug addiction made for grim viewing. We have covered prescription drug abuse before but when you see the faces of the victims and their distraught families it really brings the scale of the issue home to you. There was the mother who can look out her bedroom window and see the grave of her son. The father who was just numb with grief. The mother who had converted her living room into a mini …

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Prescription Medicines in the Dock – Who is to blame for the increasing drug deaths in our society?

Ireland bucks the UK trend in drug overdose deaths; here they are more likely to result from “prescription medicines” than “illegal drugs”. Coroners locally implicate; tramadol, oxycodone or fentanyl in overdose more frequently than in England, Scotland or Wales where deaths are mainly linked to; heroin or cocaine. One implication is that prescription medicines are more readily available and, extending this logic, doctors and pharmacists are in some way involved; if we did our jobs better drug deaths would be …

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An insight into the latest drugs crisis in Belfast…

I attended a community meeting called to address the local “Drug Crisis”. My invitation to join the panel was at short notice but I accepted; I am the local pharmacist and I am a concerned citizen. The last time this problem got out of hand I ended up with the point of a Bowie knife up my nose. The stimulus for the meeting was the weekend deaths of two local young men from drug overdose. A 27 year old was …

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