U.S. Drug Overdose Deaths Resurge to Record During the Pandemic
22 October 2020: U.S. Drug Overdose Deaths Resurge to Record During the Pandemic
Drug overdose deaths in the USA rose to a record high in 2019, after falling for the first time for 25 years in 2018. Almost 72,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2019 according to the preliminary data that was released by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this year.
Though there is currently no hard data available, there is speculation that the pandemic is complicating and worsening the surge, as 2020 looks to be even more devastating than 2019. Data collected by The New York Times saw for the first half of 2020 drug overdose deaths have risen by an average of 13 percent across America compared to last year. If this trend continues into the rest of the year, it will be the sharpest rise in annual drug deaths since 2016, when fentanyl made its way into US drug trafficking and street supply.
Increased funding toward addiction treatment, prevision and recovery services did shows signs of improving overdose deaths. Though the government has made this positive headway in the last few years in how they tackle the drug epidemic in America, this progress could be threatened by the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier in the month, Brett Giroir, the administration’s assistant secretary for health, said in a statement, “We understand that there is an extraordinary amount of work to do, especially now as we are also dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic that could markedly affect our nation’s mental health and risk of substance use.”
Several public health experts said conditions created by the pandemic could hurt the nation’s fragile progress in fighting the surge of drug deaths but noted that the overdose rate was on its way back up well before the virus arrived. “Covid just makes it a bit worse,” said Dr. Dan Ciccarone, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, who studies the opioid epidemic. “It’s a small wave riding on top of a tsunami that continues to devastate.”
Although official statistics on 2020 overdose deaths won’t be available for a long time, there is local evidence showing drug related deaths are rising into 2020.
Increase in Drug related deaths from 2019 through the first portion of 2020
Though a lot of this data precedes the coronavirus pandemic, researchers believe there are several reasons why the virus could worsen the trend.
When state lockdowns first began in March, Dr. Anna Lembke, a clinician with Stanford’s Addiction Medicine Dual Diagnosis Clinic, noticed many of her patients showing signs of improving. “Many patients described a kind of peacefulness without the constant hubbub of modern life and the constant triggers they’re exposed to,” she said.
However, in response to the virus, the US government has done something unheard-of: it relaxed rules and regulations around prescribing methadone and buprenorphine, two commonly prescribed opioid addiction treatments. Patients no longer needed to attend daily in person appointments to receive their methadone prescriptions and could instead be given 4 weeks’ worth at a time. Doctors no longer need to meet in person to prescribe buprenorphine.
This was initially celebrated as a positive change, however as the pandemic has progressed and people have remained isolated, lockdown has become harmful to people with mental health issues and drug addiction disorders.
“Social isolation has always been a huge component of drug overdose risk,” said Traci Green, an epidemiologist at Brown University who studies drug abuse and addiction. “So much of what we’ve been trying to do has been completely unravelled.”
Experts have pointed to other dangers lockdown poses such as;
- Lack of revival fall back from other users due to an increase in solo drug users
- Less emotional support as in person visits are scaled back
- Inconsistent drug strength and quality
- Supply or income disruption leading to inconsistent drug use habits and accidental overdose
Using our revolutionary Biochip Array Technology, the Evidence MultiSTAT is a fully automated benchtop analyser that enables onsite, simultaneous testing for up to 21 classical, synthetic or prescription drugs from a single sample in under 20 minutes. This quick and highly reliable technology makes it perfect for use in hospitals and medical centres, as pressure increases with the rising number of drug overdose deaths in the US.
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Seafood is one of the most important exports in India with its shrimp being a staple food in many countries worldwide. However, 2017 and 2018 saw 27 shipments of shrimp refused entry into the US by the FDA. This was followed closely in January 2019, when 26 lines were refused due to the presence of two banned antibiotics, nitrofurans and chloramphenicol.
With Indian shrimp accounting for around one third of the countries seafood exports, India has expressed its concern over the rejections. It responded by calling the tests on the products ‘too stringent’.
The global shrimp industry is estimated to be worth around $30 billion and India’s market share is estimated at 13% in value terms.
Dr. Ramraj, President of the All Indian Shrimp Hatcheries Association has stated, “some of the metabolites in shrimp and crustacean shells are known to mimic antibiotics and therefore could give false results”.
The use of antibiotics in shrimp farming in India is banned. Madhusudano Rao, Principal scientist at India’s Central Institute of Fisheries Technology has said, “All shrimp hatchery operators and shrimp farmers and advised to use only these antibiotic- free inputs during shrimp farming”.
Randox Food Diagnostics offer the most comprehensive range of ELISA and Biochip tests currently on the market, specifically designed to identify and detect the smallest traces of the most prevalent antibiotics used in seafood, including nitrofurans and chloramphenicol.
Ractopamine was first developed as a treatment for asthma but was never approved according to Consumer Reports. Research later uncovered that when added to animal feed prior to slaughter, ractopamine could increase meat leanness or weight. However, ractopamine is currently banned or resisted in over 160 nations, including Russia and all European Union countries.
Ractopamine belongs to a class of drugs known as beta-agonists. These drugs mimic the effects of adrenaline, resulting in increased protein synthesis in muscle tissue during the administration period. When looking at the long-term effects of the therapeutic use of beta-agonists, side effects include a fast heart rate, widening of blood vessels, skeletal muscle tremor, nervousness, metabolic disturbances, high blood sugar and a lower than normal potassium in the blood. It is for this reason that in Europe all beta-agonists are banned for use in livestock and for improving athletic performance according to EU council directive 96/22/EC.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provide a “Never Fed Beta Agonists” program for companies that produce livestock and beef and pork products. Companies are to meet the requirements of the program if they are to supply pork or beef to customers that require verification of marketing claims that meat is derived from animals that are free of beta agonist residues.
With over 35 years’ experience within the diagnostics industry, Randox Food Diagnostics provide the highest quality products, customer service and technical support to ensure the needs of our global customer base are met. Our dedicated research and development team have therefore created our USDA approved ELISA kit for the detection of ractopamine residues. Offering excellent limits of detection, our accurate and reliable ractopamine test is applicable on urine and tissue sample types.
To ensure compliance with regulations, Randox Food Diagnostics also provide the Growth Promoter Multiple Matrix Array. Utilising our patented Biochip Array Technology, the Growth Promoter Multiple Matrix Array detects for several growth promoters in meat, including ractopamine.
For more information on our ractopamine ELISA or Growth Promoter Multiple Matrix Array, email firstname.lastname@example.org