Prescribing addictive opioids is OK — prescribing treatment for that addiction ain’t OK

Almost 1 million U.S. physicians can write a prescription for opioid painkillers such as Vicodin and OxyContin — one pathway to opioid addiction. But, because of regulatory hurdles and other factors, fewer than 32,000 doctors are permitted to prescribe buprenorphine, a medication to treat such addiction.

That is a statistic worth thinking about since opioid painkillers and heroin contributed to the deaths of nearly 30,000 Americans in 2014, triple the number in 2000. Perhaps many of these lives could have been saved with buprenorphine…

Taking buprenorphine or methadone, alongside counseling, is the most effective approach to opioid addiction treatment. Because the drugs relieve patients’ cravings for heroin or narcotic painkillers, patients taking them can focus more on recovery and less on getting high. When taken properly, the drugs can help addicted patients and their families get their lives back to normal while reducing the risk of fatal overdose, crime and their societal costs.

But the need for these treatments far outstrips available supply. Less than half of the 2.5 million Americans who could benefit from medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction receive it.

Expanding the use of methadone will be difficult. Methadone is provided only in dedicated clinics, which patients must visit daily. But many communities resist clinics because they attract patients with addictions, a highly stigmatized population.

Work by Christopher Jones, a pharmacist and public health researcher, showed that the number of patients treated at them has barely increased in more than a decade. Most methadone clinics operate at or near capacity, and some have waiting lists…

Since 2000, buprenorphine can be prescribed by qualified doctors to a limited number of patients to take at home. Buprenorphine use has expanded as a result, but availability is limited by regulation. Doctors may prescribe it only after taking an eight-hour course and applying for a special license. No such hurdles are required for prescribing any opioid painkillers…

“Increasing availability of medication-assisted treatment will require far more than just allowing doctors to prescribe buprenorphine to more patients,” Dr. Bradley Stein said. “Fostering greater ability and willingness among doctors to effectively manage the growing numbers of addicted patients is an uphill battle.”

So, we are to believe doctors can’t be bothered dealing with addicts – even though many of those addicts got their start down that primrose path with the aid of a physician. How about requiring the pharmaceutical companies making a bunch of dollar$ from the production of opioids to kick in a percentage to sell physicians on treatment as hard as they did getting them to prescribe opioids?

Gay equality beats Confederate homophobes: SCOTUS > Alabama Supreme Court

AFP/Paul Richards

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned an Alabama court order that had prohibited a lesbian from having contact with the three children she adopted and helped raise in neighboring Georgia while in a long-term relationship with their biological mother.

The ruling, without published dissent, reinforces gay rights less than a year after the court legalized same-sex marriage across the country. The justices didn’t hear arguments in the case, instead summarily reversing the Alabama Supreme Court.

The woman, identified only as V.L., has been battling the children’s biological mother, known as E.L. in court papers. The two women lived as a couple for 17 years in Alabama before gay marriage was legal in the state. V.L. adopted the children in 2007 after the pair set up a second residence in Georgia. The children were conceived by insemination from an anonymous donor.

The couple split up in 2011, and V.L. later sued in Alabama state court, accusing E.L. of denying her access to the children, one now 13 and 11-year-old twins. The case made its way to the Alabama Supreme Court, which refused to recognize the Georgia adoption decree.

V.L. said the Alabama Supreme Court violated the Constitution’s full-faith-and-credit clause, which requires recognition of court judgments made in another state. She was backed by a court-appointed guardian who is representing the children’s interests.

The Alabama court said blah, blah, blah…

The Supreme Court in December blocked the Alabama court order from taking effect while the justices considered whether to take up the dispute.

Homophobes and all the other flavors of bigot popular in right-wing America will use all means available to the unjust and self-righteous to prevent progress. Judicial, social, economic or otherwise. Anything the class of cretin endemic to Confederate America, South or North, can come up with to deny love and family to Americans who don’t suit their archaic morality will be tried until they run out of venues.

Some bigots really do think their ideology is immortal.

FBI attack on Apple will accelerate development of government-proof devices

Reuters/Carlo Allegri

The legal showdown between Apple and U.S. law enforcement over encryption, no matter the outcome, will likely accelerate tech company efforts to engineer safeguards against government intrusion, tech industry executives say.

Already, an emerging industry is marketing super-secure phones and mobile applications…

If Apple loses the court case, the legal precedent could give the U.S. government broad authority to order companies to assist in breaking into encrypted products.

But even a government victory could have unintended consequences for law enforcement, potentially prompting a wave of investment by U.S. tech companies in security systems that even their own engineers can’t access, said Jonathan Zittrain, co-founder of…Berkman Center for Internet & Society…

The fast-growing online storage provider Box has already made it a priority to give customers sole custody of data, said Joel De la Garza, chief information security officer at the company. The intent is to make it impossible for the company to access its customers’ data – even under a government order, he said.

Our goal is to achieve a `zero-knowledge’ state for the company, he said, “where our customers have total control over their data…”

In the more than two years since former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden revealed widespread spying via U.S. companies, a handful of companies have released secure phones…that trumpet security as a prime selling point…

Those businesses could surge if the Apple fight drags on…The fight between Apple and the government could give such security efforts a new urgency.

Keep on rocking in the Free World.