Mobile app for detecting opioid overdose

Second Chance is a smartphone app developed by University of Washington engineers to detect an opioid overdose. The researchers tested the app at a public supervised injection facility in Vancouver, Canada with encouraging results. From Science News:

Second Chance, described online January 9 in Science Translational Medicine, converts a smartphone’s speaker and microphone into a sonar system that works within about a meter of a user’s body. When the app is running, the phone continuously emits sound waves at frequencies too high to hear, which bounce off a user’s chest. Tracking when these echoes reach the phone allows the app to detect two possible signs of an impending overdose: slow breathing or no breathing at all...

For real-world use, the researchers envision the app notifying a user if it detects breathing problems and sending for help only if the user doesn’t respond to that notification, says study coauthor and computer scientist Shyam Gollakota. The scientists still need to ensure that this setup could reliably alert emergency contacts or medical personnel in time to resuscitate a person.

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Drug-sniffing doggo OD'd at EDM cruise ship checkpoint, given Narcan, will be OK

Jake the police dog was screening passengers boarding the Norwegian Epic cruise ship for the Holy Ship! EDM festival on the ocean. Jake alerted his police officer companion that he smelled something suspicious and then became visibly sick.

"(The dog) started having some problems with balance and had some type of seizure incident of some sort, was showing effects of having inhaled some substance," Tod Goodyear, a Sheriff's Office spokesman, told WFTV. "They administered the Narcan and got (the dog) to the vet as quick as they could."

They gave him Narcan as a precaution as they didn't know what caused the illness.

Meanwhile, police searched the passenger and found "a sedative and other prescription drugs, as well as an amphetamine and Ecstasy," according to WFLA.

It isn't clear what Jake ingested, when, or how. Most importantly though, Jake is expected to make a full recovery. Read the rest

Public watched opioid addict detox on big screens in Greenwich Village

The film above documents "Treatment Box," a one-day installation in New York City's Greenwich Village over the summer where passers-by could watch 26-year-old Rebekkah suffer through the horrors of painkiller and heroin withdrawal. Anti-addiction organization The Truth orchestrated the recording and public showing of Rebekkah's five-day experience that was edited into a single long-form video. After the detox, Rebekkah entered a treatment facility for treatment at no cost to her. From Ad Age:

The scenes of her shaky limbs, nausea, vomiting and insomnia played out on a three-dimensional installation at Astor Place in New York City in June. Passersby stopped to watch a life-size Rebekkah in her room, often huddled in bed, wracked with pain. Interspersed are short interviews where she explains that she was prescribed opioids when she was 14, after injuring her ankle during cheerleading practice. Addiction quickly followed, and two months later, she tried heroin. “I feel like I’m coming back from the dead,” she says on Day 3 of detox...

Before beginning the campaign, the organizations met with a medical ethicist to determine whether the project should move forward, and the treatment protocols were reviewed by Phoenix House, a national addiction treatment program.

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Four Thieves Vinegar Collective: DIY epipens were just the start, now it's home bioreactors to thwart Big Pharma's price-gouging

When last we met the Four Thieves Vinegar collective -- a group of anarchist scientists who combine free/open chemistry with open source hardware in response to shkrelic gouging by pharma companies -- they were announcing the epipencil, a $30 DIY alternative to the Epipen, Mylan's poster-child for price-gouging and profiteering on human misery. Read the rest

Incentives matter: after back surgery, a routine urine test resulted in a $17,800 bill the patient was expected to pay

At a followup visit a year after Elizabeth Moreno had a disk removed to successfully treat her crippling pain, her doctor asked her to leave a urine sample; a few months later, Sunset Labs LLC of Houston sent her a bill for $17,800. Read the rest

Doping doggies caught after Iditarod race

If we can’t even trust our friendly four-legged athletes to not use performance enhancing drugs, which athletes can we trust?

The committee responsible for overseeing the 45th Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race found multiple dogs from the same team tested positive for the opioid pain relieving drug tramadol – one of Iditarod's banned substances – six hours after the race ended in March, according to NPR. This is the first such case of a doping scandal for the Iditarod since testing for banned substances began in 1994.

The dogs face extreme temperatures and difficult obstacles during their 1000 mile trek through Alaska, which can tempt Mushers to increase their dogs abilities for hefty prize packages.

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A deep dive into kratom, the herb that helps with opioid withdrawal

Kratom (previously) is a widely used herb that has been very effective in treating opioid withdrawal and other chronic, hard-to-treat conditions -- it also became very controversial this year because the DEA decided, without evidence, to class it as a dangerous drug, and then changed its mind (unprecedented!) after a mass-scale petition that included interventions from members of Congress. Read the rest

Meth, Hitler and the Reich: the true, untold story of the Nazis' dependence on coke, meth and oxy

Novelist Norman Ohler became fascinated with the Third Reich's reliance on opiods and methamphetamines when DJ Alexander Kramer mentioned it to him in passing; he set out to write a novel, but in Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich he produced what historian and authority on the Third Reich Ian Kershaw called "a serious piece of scholarship." Read the rest