Showing posts with label drugs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label drugs. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

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

Friday, September 14, 2012

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 they are waiting to go into residential care. But then, when they go into care many are kept on them and remain on them. No-one checks to see if they still need them. Some of these individuals and their families will know about them taking them, but there is evidence some won’t." He said the use of the drugs, known as psychotropic medication, which includes anti-psychotics, was a growing concern to health officials. Dr McCowan said guidelines for the use of the medication stated they should not be used, in most cases, for more than six months. He also said previous research had shown many of the anti-psychotics being prescribed to patients were likely to be having “very little beneficial effect” and could usually be gradually stopped without side effects.

Dr Donald Lyons, chief executive officer of  Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland – an independent body set up to safeguard the interests of people considered to be mentally disordered, said: “Anti-psychotic drugs are unquestionably being overused, more so in care homes but also, to a lesser extent in hospitals. The bottom line is more needs to be done to reduce the number of these drugs being prescribed. The rates are too high...At the end of the day, patients should only ever get any drug if it is for the benefit of their health, not for any other reason, not least to keep them more manageable."
The commission said providing more adequate outside space and stimulating environments were some of the ways to help people cope. Dr Lyons added: “Yes, this costs money, money to pay for the right environment and additional care but surely that is money well spent in the long run."

Sunday, May 13, 2012

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 drowsiness and dizziness, leading to falls and loss of appetite.

 Henry Simmons, chief executive of Alzheimer Scotland, said: “The dangers of inappropriate or long-term prescribing without regular review are clear: an increase in falls due to dizziness and unsteadiness, an almost doubling of mortality rates and double the risk of stroke in people with dementia.”

Thursday, March 15, 2012

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 only gives men an extra few months but also some quality to those last few months...It is unfair for some people to access the drug and not others. Money should not be an issue."

Thursday, May 19, 2011

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 first started hearing drug users refer to Oxi in about 2005 but had probably been used as early as the late 1980s, likely being mistaken for crack cocaine. It first appeared in the tiny northwestern Brazilian state of Acre. With a population of only 732,000, Acre borders both Bolivia and Peru - two of the largest producers that import freebase cocaine paste into Brazil. Oxi is not a particularly unique drug. It is a derivative of cocaine paste, the clay-like foundation product used to make crack and refined powder cocaine. To make Oxi, chunks of freebase cocaine are soaked in gasoline. When gasoline is not available, kerosene is sometimes used. It is then mixed with limestone powder, a product used in construction. Easily attainable household solvents, like cleaning chemicals, are also sometimes added to the toxic mixture. In the final process, the rocks are dried, often simply under the sun, and then sold on the streets for consumption. According to police, with cocaine paste as the main ingredient, Oxi can be made very easily and cheaply without the need for a background in chemistry - unlike refined powder cocaine, which needs the infrastructure of a laboratory to produce, and is much more time-consuming and complicated.Because it is cheap, Oxi was initially used primarily by people from lower economic classes, the drug is often called "an Amazon drug for the poor". The average price for one rock being five Brazilian reals, which is the equivalent of about three American dollars. Sometimes, a rock of Oxi can sell for as cheap as one American dollar. The difference between Oxi and crack is that crack usually has about 40 or 50 per cent purity, but based on studies of what has been confiscated, Oxi is being made from freebase cocaine that has 80 to 90 per cent purity. It's stronger and the effects of addiction faster, and consequently it is considered a better drug by the users. The immediate effect after smoking it lasts only three to five minutes, so most users say they are always looking to get their next hit. A user can normally get five inhales on one rock, extending the total buzz from one rock to roughly 20 to 30 minutes, depending on how experienced the user is and how long the smoke is kept in their lungs. Regardless of the prowess of the user, the effects do not last long, and leave the victim searching for another hit soon after they finish. Oxi ravages internal organs, causes severe weight loss and critical brain damage. But it is highly addicting; most users who try it get hooked in the first try.
Alvaro Mendes, a researcher who helped conduct the first study of Oxi back in 2005, told Al Jazeera "In the 15 years I have been working with chemical dependency, I have never seen a drug with such a potential of destruction as Oxi.When a person starts using Oxi, on average they die within one year"

Substance abuse will last as long as capitalism itself does as people feel the stress of coping with life under the profit system. People are becoming isolated from each other with drug abuse on the increase. Will drugs be as big a menace in socialism? The problem of illegal drugs might not be so easy to solve. One prime factor, however, would immediately disappear in a socialist system – the monetary incentive to produce such drugs. We believe that socialism would fill up the gaps in people's lives making it less likely (if not completely unlikely) that they would turn to drugs to fill an empty life or escape from an intolerable one. In a socialist society, many of the causes of the drug problem will not exist and have been eradicated—the chronic alienation, isolation and loneliness created by capitalist conditions of life, plus social deprivation, poverty and dissatisfaction . Once these factors are removed, the symptoms they produce will disappear along with them. One thing is for sure that there is no solution within capitalism.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010


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 average.

Only five nations – including Afghanistan, where the majority of heroin is cultivated – recorded higher levels of abuse than here. The others were Iran, Costa Rica, Russia and Mauritius. Scotland’s ecstasy problem is a third higher than in England and Wales. The nation also tops the European table for the highest level of drug-related deaths. The British Medical Journal in 2008, estimated that around 32% of excess mortality in Scotland was due to drug abuse, with drug users 12 times more likely to die than those in the general population.

The escapism of drugs has become a feature of so many lives. Whether it’s a joint at home, or ecstasy in a nightclub, many of us use drugs to unwind or enhance our experiences. However, heroin addiction is causing countless damaged lives. There’s often a fine line between using drugs for enjoyment and using drugs to escape the pressures of society. When drugs to numb the pain of the daily rat race become the norm, then society is in serious trouble. The dispossessed youth of the inner cities and sink council housing estates are right to think there is no hope within the present system, but wrong to sit back and wallow in its excesses. Socialists say that society can be better than this.

Friday, January 25, 2008

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 .

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

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

Monday, August 27, 2007

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 money... in the current NHS, where there is far less money to spend..."

Saturday, July 07, 2007

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 rivals .Drug companies will waste resources with duplication of effort for the marketing of their own particular product and leave doctors and other health workers no wiser when the information they receive proves so partisan .

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

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 civilians at a faster rate than militant insurgents .

Why are we there , again ? To bring law and order and stability , was it ?