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The Opioid Epidemic in America and Pain

The Opioid Epidemic

In December, 2016, Thomas Frieden, MD, Chief of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), reported that in year 2015 the drug overdose death toll in America was the highest on record (1). More than 52,000 people died from a drug overdose; 33,000 of these deaths involved a prescription or illicit opioid.  Dr. Frieden said that this situation was made worse by the wide availability of easily available illegal opioids, such as heroin, fentanyl, and other illicit synthetic opioids.  He indicated that control of this problem would be difficult.

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Is Alzheimer’s Disease Preventable?

Alzheimer’s disease is a very large, extremely costly, growing epidemic that affects older individuals.   The average per-person Medicaid spending for seniors with Alzheimer disease and other dementias is 19 times higher than the average per-person Medicaid spending for all other seniors. If no changes are made, Alzheimer’s disease will cost an estimated $1.2 trillion (in today’s dollars) in 2050. Costs to Medicare and Medicaid will increase nearly 500 percent.

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Lowly Aspirin Versus NSAID Challengers

Introduction

In 1982, the Nobel Prize in Medicine was granted jointly to Sune Bergstrom, Bengt Samuelsson, and Sir John Vane, which, in essence, explained the mechanism for the analgesic effect of aspirin.

The Nobel Summary pointed out that prostaglandins and related substances constitute part of a new biological system formed from unsaturated fatty acids, primarily arachidonic acid.  It further noted that the Nobel Laureates had made fundamental contributions to the elucidation of the significance of this new biological system in which aspirin was shown to block the synthesis of the prostaglandins.

“Thanks to this important discovery [of] the mode of action of aspirin, the most frequently used drug all over the world, was clarified. It also provided the prostaglandin researchers with a useful tool in their analyses of the role of these compounds in various biological processes”(1).  Thus began a new chapter in the century-old saga of aspirin.

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