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A Single-Dose ‘Polypill’ Found To Be A Life Saving Drug

A three-in-one drug combo was recently found and it helps those who have a history of heart attacks find a new way to stay healthy. 

In a recent clinical study led by Dr. Valentin Fuster, director of Mount Sinai in New York City, he studied roughly 2,499 patients across seven European countries. 

These patients have had a history of type 1 myocardial infarction within the last six months or were over the age of 75 or had a minimum age of 65 with at least one high risk faster.

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A handful of the patients were given the polypill that had aspirin, ramipril and atorvastatin while the other received typical care. The groups were followed over the next three years.

Typically after a patient suffers a heart attack, they are prescribed three different drugs. These usually are aspirin, ramipril or another drug for blood pressure and a cholesterol-lowering drug. 

However, usually less than 50% of patients take their prescriptions as they are prescribed by the doctor. 

“Although most patients initially adhere to treatment after an acute event such as an infarction [tissue death], adherence drops off after the first few months. Our goal was to have an impact right from the start, and most of the patients in the study began taking a simple polypill in the first week after having a heart attack” 

“The results were, frankly, very exciting,” said Fuster. 

After the study, the outcome was overwhelmingly positive. The results found that there was 24% reduction in heart disease or other heart problems.

The new drug also helped reveal that it helped cut the high risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 33%. 

“The SECURE study findings suggest that the polypill could become an integral element of strategies to prevent recurrent cardiovascular events in patients who have had a heart attack. By simplifying treatment and improving adherence, this approach has the potential to reduce the risk of recurrent cardiovascular disease and death on a global scale,” said Fuster. 

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According to UPI, the polypill that has been used within the study still hasn’t been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. However, Fuster believes that the positive results from the study could be submitted with an effort to hopefully gain approval.

“Combination pills are easier for the physician and for the patient, and the data is pretty clear – it translates into benefit,” said Dr. Thomas Wang, chair of the department of internal medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center. 

The combination of the drugs, in this all in one pill, seems to help lead to the improvements and the patients well being, people may be more likely to stay on top of their medications to help them improve their health which is a win win.

Snapchat Fights Drug Dealing With Automated Drug Detection System On App 

Snapchat announced that they will be making a greater effort to combat drug dealing on the platform. The announcement is partially due to the increased amount of drug-related deaths among US high school and college-aged students. 

Snapchat announced that they have adopted improved automated drug detection systems as well as enhancing partnerships with law enforcement. The app will also now have a portal that can be used for educating users on the dangers of drugs. 

“Our position on this has always been clear: we have absolutely zero tolerance for drug dealing on Snapchat. We have a unique opportunity to use our voice, technology and resources to help address this scourge, which threatens the lives of our community members.”

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The increased security efforts come after the CDC warned of a major spike of drug overdoses in 2021, mainly driven by fentanyl; a cheap synthetic opioid that’s 100 times more potent than heroin, and is often mixed with counterfeit pills that young people buy through social media. 

In 2020 fentanyl fatalities rose by 32% when compared to 2019; more than 93,000 deaths. Individuals aged 24 or younger have seen a 50% increase in drug deaths as well.

“Every drug you try now is a game of Russian roulette,” Shabbir Safdar, director of the Partnership for Safe Medicines, a non-profit fighting pharmaceutical counterfeits, said

A recent study from the Tech Transparency Project (TTP) found that pills labeled as Oxycontin, Percocet, Xanax or Adderall are readily available on platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, and Craigslist. 

Within the past year Snapchat claims it has increased its proactive detection of drug sales by 390%; increasing security efforts by 50% within the last quarter alone. When Snapchat’s systems detect drug dealing activity on the app the account is automatically banned and the creator is blocked from creating new accounts on the platform. 

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The company has also increased their partnerships with law enforcement and improved on response times to law enforcement inquiries by 85% within the past year. 

Snapchat said it is “working with experts to continually update the list of slang and drug-related terms blocked from search results on Snapchat. Other platforms should also take measures to put a stop to the massive rise in online drug dealing. This is not just a Snapchat problem,” said Christine Elgersma, a senior editor at children’s safety non-profit Common Sense Media.

At a 2021 congressional hearing, Instagram executive Adam Mosseri had to answer questions regarding drug dealing on social media.

“Why are children’s accounts even allowed to search for drug content to begin with, much less allowed to do so in a way that leads them to a drug dealer in two clicks?” asked the Republican senator Mike Lee of Utah.

“Accounts selling drugs or any other regulated goods are not allowed on the platform. The app uses technology to proactively take down a huge number of drug-related posts, Mosseri responded.

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Gun Violence is On the Rise in Toronto

Canada is well-known for having much lower rates of gun violence than the United States, thanks to tighter gun control laws among other factors. However, in the past several years, the city of Toronto has seen more gun violence than ever before, according to Toronto police. Last year, 760 people were shot in the city, and 44 of these people died from their wounds, which is triple the number of shooting victims in 2014. Understandably, city officials are concerned by these statistics, and are scrambling to determine what caused the massive spike in gun violence and how best to address it. 

Multiple theories have been proposed to explain the recent surge. Canada does not have the equivalent of the American second amendment in its constitution, making it much easier for the government to enact laws restricting access to firearms. Between 2006 and 2015, the country’s Conservative Party controlled the government, and during that time the government dismantled a national gun registry, which until 2012 required gun owners to sign a list indicating that they owned a firearm. After the dismantling of this registry, the country underwent a spike in imports of firearms from the U.S., letting nearly 2 million guns into the country. The Conservative government made it much easier to import restricted weapons, like semi-automatic rifles and handguns, meaning that there are not only many more guns in the country but that they are more dangerous as well.

According to Wendy Cukier, the head of the Toronto-based Coalition for Gun Control, when gun control laws were strengthened in Canada a reduction of incidents of gun violence—particularly suicideoccurred, and when the Conservative government dismantled these restrictions, gun violence rose again. The removal of the national gun registry coincided with a 40% increase in rates of gun violence throughout the country, according to Canada’s government statistics agency.

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Others blame rising economic inequality for the recent violence. Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders has blamed the gun violence on gang activity, which he thinks is on the rise due to the city’s growing numbers of poor people, who are most likely to be involved in the illegal drug trade. While Toronto is currently a very economically successful city, much of the city’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of very few, leaving much of the city’s population without the opportunities afforded to middle- and upper-class citizens of the country. People with fewer life opportunities are more likely to resort to drugs or gang activity, creating a drain on the society at large.

While the liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was recently re-elected, the Trudeau government has failed to institute gun control measures for fear of alienating rural citizens who are more likely to be gun owners. However, given the severity of the increase in gun violence across the nation, this is likely to change soon. In fact, the Trudeau government plans to introduce legislation next year for a ban on military-style assault rifles and a plan to buy assault rifles back from cooperating gun owners. As a parliament containing a majority of liberal members was recently elected, such a law is likely to pass fairly quickly.

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Ketamine Studied as Treatment for Alcoholism

Ketamine is a powerful drug with a number of medical applications. While it is sometimes taken recreationally for its sedative and hallucinatory properties, it has also been used as a surgical anesthetic, particularly during the Vietnam War. It can also provide pain relief, and is even being used in the treatment of severe depression. Now, recent research shows that the drug may also be useful for treating alcohol addiction by disrupting positive memories associated with drinking in patients.

Drug addiction is a serious illness, and while alcohol is a legal drug, the effects of alcoholism are devastating, causing psychological and physical problems and leading in some cases to death. Alcohol is also a notoriously difficult drug to quit, as the drug causes physical dependency as well as withdrawal symptoms upon cessation. As such, there exists significant interest in exploring pharmacological aids that can help with alcoholism, and ketamine has emerged as an unlikely candidate.

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The theory for how ketamine can help with alcoholism has to do with the role memory plays in perpetuating addiction. One of the most difficult things for people who are looking to free themselves from drug addiction to navigate is the numerous positive memories they have built up in association with the drug over time, and how these memories inform their decision making. Ketamine is well-known for causing memory loss, and this is the effect that doctors hope will soon be widespread in treating alcoholism.

The research in question involved the use of anesthetic ketamine to deliberately dismantle positive associations people had with alcohol. In the study, heavy drinkers who used ketamine under the direction of the researchers “reduced their alcohol consumption for at least 9 months,” a promising development for the long-term treatment of alcoholism. While ketamine is not a drug that is fully understood, scientists have determined that the drug blocks NMDA receptors in the brain, which are instrumental in allowing the brain to form and restabilize memories.

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In the study, the treatment was targeted to only disrupt positive memories associated with alcohol use. Volunteers were initially presented with images of alcoholic beverages and then prompted to drink a beer. On their next visit, these volunteers were shown the images again, but instead of drinking alcohol received a high dose of intravenous ketamine. The researchers wanted to surprise the volunteers in order to allow the brain to re-write some of the memories associated with alcohol, using ketamine to break the brain’s association between alcohol and rewarding feelings. This group of volunteers was tested against a control group, who received a placebo instead of ketamine, and a third group who were shown pictures of orange juice instead of beer.

After ten days, the group who were shown images of beer and then given ketamine reported a significant decrease in their urge to drink a beer, while the other two groups showed little change. In the following days and months, all three groups reduced their drinking, but the first group showed the most significant reduction in alcohol consumption. After nine months, they had cut their weekly beer intake approximately in half, while the control groups saw a reduction of 35%.

While the results are impressive, the subject needs more research to determine whether the effects can be replicated and exactly how ketamine works in the brain to change memories. The study did not involve brain imaging data, and as such, scientists don’t know exactly what happened to the volunteers’ memories. Also, as ketamine is not completely understood, it’s not clear if there are other effects of the drug that affect alcohol consumption. However, given these promising early results and the relatively good safety record of ketamine use, this recent study provides a good foundation for further research.

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Nootropics: Scientific Breakthrough or Snake Oil?

It sounds like a concept straight out of a science fiction film: pills or drinks that improve your brain’s ability to focus, concentrate, remember, and learn, improving your capacity for productivity. For centuries, people have sold products that claim to offer these and other benefits, and nearly all of them are now widely understood to cause a placebo effect at best and harmful side effects at worst. But nootropics, marketed by brands such as Trubrain and Neurohacker, differ from these products as their manufacturers claim that their formulations are derived from the cutting edge of neuroscience. That being said, consumers should exercise care when selecting a drug or supplement, particularly ones that were not prescribed by a doctor for treatment of a medical condition. As such, it’s a good idea to do some research before investing money and potentially your health into a cognitive-enhancing supplement.

As the category of nootropics, which simply refers to substances that may improve cognitive function, is a broad one, it is useful to understand the differences between various drugs and supplements that fall under this category. You may be surprised to learn that caffeine, which most people consume every day, is considered a nootropic, as are Adderall and Ritalin, prescription drugs used to treat ADHD and other mental illnesses. As such, some nootropics are clearly quite safe while others can be very dangerous when used improperly. While many nootropics are only legally available with a prescription, most reputable doctors won’t write a prescription for a drug to improve a patient’s cognitive ability if they have no underlying illness. Modafinil, for instance, is a prescription drug used to treat narcolepsy which is thought by nootropics enthusiasts to improve executive functioning, attention and memory, and has been shown to have mild efficacy in these areas, though more research needs to be done to determine whether taking modafinil is safe in the long term.

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Other nootropics are available off-the-shelf or online without a prescription, and while these products are more likely to be safe, their effectiveness has not been demonstrated to the degree of scientific rigor necessary to satisfy the medical community. These products tend to feature a blend of widely available supplements, like taurine, l-theanine, and l-tyrosine, and claim to “fuel cognition while supporting long-term brain health,” in the case of Neurohacker’s Qualia Mind product. Oftentimes, these nootropic blends will include caffeine and a wide range of vitamins in addition to ingredients derived from herbs like ashwagandha and ginkgo biloba. While the marketing associated with popular nootropics sounds enticing, it’s worth noting that because they are classified as supplements rather than as drugs, most commonly available nootropics are not approved by the FDA, and as such the manufacturer’s claims are not legally held to a high scientific standard. 

Most people are probably best off sticking to caffeine as their performance-enhancing drug of choice

In fact, some studies show that many common nootropics are not effective whatsoever. A 2015 meta-analysis found that actual mental performance was not improved when taking many popular nootropics, particularly in healthy people, and another study found that nootropics could even cause psychological damage, especially in people who have some form of mental illness or who are taking certain prescription drugs which can interact with nootropics destructively. As a result of an overall lack of scientific support, most doctors will not recommend their patients try nootropics, and instead point to other things that could improve mental performance. Having a good, balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising have all been shown to improve various aspects of life, including cognitive performance, and as such anyone considering trying nootropics should first evaluate whether they can improve these areas of their life instead.

Given the general lack of strong scientific support for nootropics, their recent explosion in popularity seems surprising. One possible explanation for this is the placebo effect, which causes people who expect a particular result from a drug to believe they are experiencing this result. Given the highly subjective nature of the experiences in question, the placebo effect could be particularly potent among nootropics proponents, as all of the changes one expects to observe from nootropics are mental, not physical. Another explanation is that some nootropics do in fact work, but science has yet to catch up with the results. In any case, it’s always a good idea to talk to a doctor before introducing changes that could affect your health. Most people are probably best off sticking to caffeine as their performance-enhancing drug of choice and making sure they are living a healthy lifestyle.