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Drug Legalisation?

The Home Affairs Committee recently released a report on drugs use in Britain. After a year of research the committee concluded that "the international drugs control policy has failed to curtail consumption," and that our government should consider a major shift in policy.

In 2005 (largely based on 2003 data) the UN estimated that the illegal drug trade is worth more than $320 billion, 0.9 per cent of global GDP. According to the UN 2012 World Drug Report the total retail market for cocaine amounts to some $85 billion and the opiate market amounts to some $68 billion (figures for 2009).  According to IMF data, a nation with a net worth equivalent to that of the global drugs industry would be the 34th largest economy in the world, just above Denmark and below Venezuela. Scotland's GDP is $177 billion

The other drug problem

A study found almost half of elderly people may be kept on sedatives that make them “easier and more convenient to manage” for much longer than necessary. Research has shown people with dementia who take these drugs are at a much higher risk of stroke.

The report by Dundee University and NHS Fife, carried out over a two-year ­period in Tayside, found two in five elderly people in care homes were taking the drugs – compared to just one in six who still lived in their homes in the ­community. It also found that seven in ten people who were taking the drugs when they went into the care homes were then never reassessed to see if they still needed them.

Dr Colin McCowan, deputy director of the Health Informatics Centre at Dundee University, and one of the authors of the report, said: “Some elderly people are taking these drugs to make it easier and more convenient for people to manage them and for them to cope. Often this could start when they are living at home, on their own, and when th…

Drugging our old folk

Elderly patients in care homes across Scotland are being prescribed powerful drugs for long periods of time without proper checks on whether the medication is needed. In some cases, frail patients are being kept on multiple and potentially harmful doses for up to two decades without doctors or staff questioning whether they are necessary. Patients are often kept on a mix of drugs for health problems that may have resolved over time.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Scotland (RPSS) in a report calls for more powers for pharmacists to review patients’ medical records. Pharmacists say they are becoming “increasingly concerned” about patients’ safety.

 Drugs regularly handed out to elderly patients include anti-psychotic medicines for dementia. These are classed as high-risk because of their links to heart problems and strokes, yet some patients remain on these far longer than is required. Other drugs could be causing …

NHS rationing

What is the value of a few precious extra months of life? It's a very difficult question to answer, but if Scottish Medicines Consortium's is to be believed then, it is not worth £2.5 million.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in Scotland, with 2700 cases diagnosed every year. It kills two men every day. There are 19,000 Scottish men currently living with the disease.

Last October, Alex Salmond, the First Minister, signed up to a charter calling for better treatment for patients.

The Scottish Medicines Consortium has denied Scottish men a drug that prolongs life. It said the cost of abiraterone at £3000 a month did not justify the health benefits – even though it can extend lives by more that three months .

In a letter to the Scottish government, sufferer John Thomson writes "It is a disgraceful decision, cruel and unjust, that abiraterone is not available simply because of cost. How do you evaluate the cost of drugs against someone’s life?...This drug not onl…

An Amazon drug for the poor

There’s often a fine line between using drugs for enjoyment and using drugs to escape the pressures of society. While the drugs "problem" is not a make or break issue for socialists, it does illustrate how capitalism tends to operate in defiance of any logic, even its own. Even if you accept capitalism's own profit-oriented logic, its attitude to illegal recreational drugs still fails to make any kind of sense. From Al Capone to Afghanistan, the history of drug prohibition by capitalism continues to represent one of the most bizarrely stupid aspects of a social system never notable for its good judgment. Most of the arguments against illicit drugs are bogus, unscientific and politically oriented. Whether it’s a pint in a pub, a joint at home, or ecstasy in a nightclub, many of us use drugs to unwind or enhance our experiences. However, heroin and alcohol addiction are causing countless damaged lives. Now there is a new one.

Officials in the Amazon region of Brazil fi…

drugs

A new study has revealed Scotland has some of the worst drug abuse rates in the world, and the situation is getting worse. The international survey by the UN includes results from 200 countries, and shows greater per-head use of heroin, ecstasy and cocaine in this country than almost any other.Figures show that almost 4%of the population is regularly using the class A drug cocaine – the highest rate recorded anywhere. Around 1.5% of Scots adults inject or smoke opiates – almost three times the world average. It is estimated that there are now around 50,000 heroin and 750,000 cocaine users across Scotland.Another international study by the UN published in February this year found there were 656 drug offences per 100,000 people in Scotland. Second-placed Iran recorded 619 per 100,000. The figures, which compared drug-related crime, possession and abuse across more than 70 states, put Scotland’s drug crime rate at more than double that of England and Wales, and six times the worldwide av…

What price a life ?

A cancer patient who was forced to pay out £3,400 per fortnight for the life-saving drug cetuximab has won his battle for funding , having previously been refused the treatment on the NHS , according to the BBC .

Originally ,the Scottish Medicines Consortium said it was not cost-effective because it could only prolong life, not cure him.

Preserving life for as long as possible should be the responsibility of the NHS , the patient is quoted as saying .

Maybe so , but under capitalism , there is always a price tag and a value placed upon a person's life . Not everyone is as fortunate as this patient was .

Illegal Drugs - Indeed a business

There are about 300 major drug importers into Britain, 3,000 wholesalers and 70,000 street dealers producing a turnover of £7-8billion a year ( This constitutes approximately 33 and 41 per cent of the size of the UK tobacco and alcohol markets respectively ) , according to an internal Home Office estimate revealed today based on prison interviews with 222 convicted high-level drug dealers.

Home Office research study reveals that about three-quarters of drug dealers "attempt to grow their operations", enjoy mark-ups of 16,800% on heroin and 15,800% on cocaine, and now employ salaried staff as runners and storers.

A business just like any other

The price of a life

Certain capitalist economists accuse the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence of valueing the quality of human life too high . NICE judged "value for money" at a cost far higher than the NHS could afford.

The effectiveness of the drug, and its side-effects, are balanced with its cost to give a price per extra year of good health - called a Quality Adjusted Life Year (QALY).
In approximate terms, if the new treatment can deliver one QALY for £20,000 or less, then it is deemed cost-effective and heading for NHS approval. If the QALY costs up to £30,000, it may still be approved for NHS use by NICE.

The think tank The Kings Fund and City University, suggested that this £30,000 threshold was far too high when compared with how the rest of the NHS worked out which treatments to fund.
Some primary care trusts simply just pay £12000 in key areas such as circulatory disease per QALY .

Professor Nancy Devlin, from City University said "It's all about value for mo…

Drug Pushers

Which? surveyed 200 doctorsDrug companies are bombarding GPs with promotional materials and inducements . GPs received four visits per month on average from drug reps.
They also received five promotional mailings about new drugs a week, and inducements to attend conferences.

25% of the GPs questioned had been sponsored to attend a conference, seminar or training event in the UK in the last 12 months and 5% had been sponsored to attend an event abroad. In just one month, one GP was offered nine conference places and 13 meals, and received nine visits from drug reps, 10 letters, 21 leaflets, two patient information booklets and one training DVD. This amounted to 22 companies contacting her about 31 drugs.

Yet doctors still report a lack of information from independent sources and just only 7% trusted the information they received from drug firms.

Lets not make any bones about it - those in the pharmaceutical industry are in business to make profits and to compete with their commercial ri…

Aghanistan - Opium for the people

Despite the presence of more than 30,000 international troops , the World Drug Report says more than 90% of illegal opium (compared to 70% in 2000 and 52% a decade earlier,), comes from Afghanistan. Helmand province alone cultivates almost half the world's illegal opium.

Thomas Pietschmann, the report's author, says production in Helmand has now outstripped that of entire countries.

"The province of Helmand itself is around 70,000 hectares under cultivation, which is three times the total area under cultivation in Myanmar (Burma). So only one province, three times as important as the whole of Myanmar, the second-largest opium-producing country," Mr Pietschmann says.

Harvests have been rising significantly since the US/British overthrow of the Taliban regime five years ago and last year's rise in Afghanistan pushed global production up by a massive 43% compared to 2005 .

Meanwhile the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports U.S. and/or NATO forces are killing Afghan civili…