February 14, 2014 |
The death of Philip Seymour Hoffman last week, apparently of a heroin overdose, says a lot about the epidemic of opiate abuse gripping the United States. That epidemic, which I've spent the last year researching for a forthcoming book, is rooted in a 20-year revolution in medicine that has resulted in far wider prescribing of opiates. Narcotic painkillers are now prescribed for chronic back and knee pain, fibromyalgia, headaches, arthritis and other ailments. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, consumption of these opioids has risen 300% since 1999, making them the most prescribed class of medicines in America.
February 3, 2014 |
The death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman is bringing attention to the growing use of heroin in the U.S. as well as an alarming rise in drug-overdose deaths. The cause of death for Hoffman, found in his apartment Sunday, isn't official, but police say officers found packets of heroin near his body and a hypodermic needle in his arm. Hundreds of thousands in the U.S. are turning to the drug in increasing numbers. It's at "epidemic proportions," a Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman told the L.A. Times. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports a 102% increase in fatal overdoses from 1999 to 2010. Check out our graphic below, which shows how the availability of the drug has increased in the United States over the last several years. Follow me at @AmyTheHub
December 29, 2013 |
In 1963, the Supreme Court established a rule of evidence that is now well known to viewers of television courtroom dramas. In Brady vs. Maryland, it held that prosecutors must turn over to defense attorneys evidence favorable to the accused and "material either to guilt or punishment. " But prosecutors, including in Los Angeles, have complied grudgingly with the Brady rule. Some have ignored it altogether. Now a respected federal appeals court judge has warned of "an epidemic of Brady violations abroad in the land.
November 15, 2013 |
At the U.N. climate negotiations in Warsaw on Monday, the lead Philippine delegate, Yeb Sano, made an emotional plea: "Typhoons such as Haiyan and its impacts represent a sobering reminder to the international community that we cannot afford to procrastinate on climate action. " But was Sano's statement consistent with the science? Most of the scientists who have been asked that question in recent days have replied with dutiful statements that sound like "no. " No single event can be attributed to climate change.
October 24, 2013 |
For the last several years, Swedish music company Epidemic Sound has been building a vast library of tracks for producers to use in soundtracks on television shows and online video, amassing 20,000 pieces from more than 100 composers. Now, the company is launching in the United States through a partnership with Maker Studios, which operates some of the biggest video channels on YouTube. “We really want to be the kings of background music," Epidemic Chief Executive Oscar Höglund said.
October 15, 2013 |
Similar populations living in different regions of the United States get exposed to wildly different amounts of medical care. If that sounds like an old story, it is. It's now four decades old. But it is an important story to reflect on as we consider the path forward for our medical care system. In the late 1960s, a nephrologist trained in epidemiology was sent to Burlington, Vt., to run the state's regional medical program. The program was part of the Lyndon B. Johnson administration's effort to bring the advances of modern medicine to all parts of the nation.