New legislation up for review in the Ohio Senate could force lawmakers to pass drug tests and be held to the same standards as those receiving public assistance.
SB 212 was created by Sen. Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) in response to the state considering drug testing welfare recipients. State senators and representatives would be subject to annual tests under the proposed guidelines, in addition to random tests under the year. Anyone who tests positive for drugs or refuses to take the test would be required to undergo substance abuse counseling. They would also be blocked from serving as committee chairs or receiving lawmaker pay until they pass a drug test.
"If we are going to be sincere in preventing individuals from obtaining public funds while also using illegal drugs, then we should start with the people who have the greatest impact on state dollars--elected officials," said Turner. "Elected officials should be held to the same level of accountability as a single mother receiving help to get back on their feet. It is only fitting that we correct this oversight to meet the highest of standards the people of Ohio expect from their lawmakers." Because the bill is not supported by Republicans and has not moved beyond committee hearings, it’s unlikely to ever be put into law.
However, politicians in other states have also tried to adopt similar measures. Last September, Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari proposed an annual mandatory test for all California legislators and statewide officeholders. But after intense criticism from his party, he insisted that his comments made during a radio interview were a joke.
Minnesota Democrats and Republicans agreed on this issue in April 2013 and agreed to be drug tested. A house majority voted 70-64 in favor, leading Rep. Duane Quam (R) to declare, “bring on the cup. I have nothing to fear.” But lawmakers in North Carolina rejected a similar proposal brought forward by Democratic state Sen. Gladys Robinson, who said that “we receive state funds…so it should not be above [sic] any of us to submit to drug screening.”
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While millions of fans enjoyed their traditional Sunday afternoon football game, representatives from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) were conducting anything but business as usual with two NFL teams.
Agents paid an unannounced visit to the San Francisco 49ers’ locker room to speak with members of its medical staff while the team was playing the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. That same day, agents conducted a spot check of the medical staff for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at a Baltimore-Washington airport shortly after their 24-7 win over the Washington Redskins.
Medical staff were asked to present documentation to the agents as to whether or not they possessed any controlled substances, as well as to confirm whether or not their doctors were allowed to practice in the home team’s state. DEA representative Rusty Payne said that the visits were part of an “ongoing investigation into violations of the [Controlled Substances Act],” and that other teams may have been visited as part of an ongoing investigation. When asked, the National Football League was unable to confirm whether or not any irregularities were found.
The checks were part of an ongoing investigation launched in the wake of a lawsuit filed in May 2014 on behalf of more than 1,200 former players, who alleged that the league, its physicians and trainers, handed out prescriptions for potent painkillers like Vicodin and Percocet to manage pain, but failed to properly disclose the medication’s long- and short-term side effects. The players have reported an array of debilitating health conditions as a result of this unchecked prescription plan, including addiction, nerve and organ damage and muscle and bone maladies.
A new study has revealed that drugs such as Celebrex and Lodine are associated with an increased risk of death within a month after a stroke.
The researchers wanted to determine whether Celebrex and Lodine, two arthritis pain relievers known as COX-2 inhibitors, affected recovery from a stroke. The Denmark study, published in the journal Neurology, examined more than 100,000 people hospitalized for a first stroke between 2004 and 2012. They found that the use of Celebrex prior to hospitalization for ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke, was associated with a 19% increase in risk of death within a month, compared to non-use of Celebrex. However, the study did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
“Much of this result came from new users of the drugs, who were 42% more likely to die from stroke than those who were not taking the drugs,” said Dr. Morten Schmidt, lead researcher and Cardiovascular Research Coordinator at Aarhus University Hospital. For those taking Lodine, an example of an older COX-2 inhibitor, the risk of death was higher at 53%.
COX-2 inhibitors have been linked to an increased risk of both heart attack and stroke in the past. In 2004, the pharmaceutical company Merck pulled Vioxx, a popular painkiller, from the market because of this association. And in 2005, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration asked Pfizer to stop selling Bextra—another drug used to treat arthritis pain, inflammation, and stiffness—for the same reason.
However, Celebrex, which is similar to these discontinued medications, remains available on the market. Dr. Ralph Sacco, Chairman of Neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said “patients at high risk for stroke should be cautious about taking such medications and should consult their physicians as to the best medications to treat inflammation and pain.”
More older women are being treated for alcoholism as old taboos about women drinking are fading. New Public Health England statistics reveal that more women are starting to drink heavily when they retire. In the last five years, there has been a 65% rise in the number of women over 60 treated for alcoholism.
This trend is attributed to a number of factors, such as being able to have alcohol delivered to the home. “I have seen many examples of alcohol being delivered to older people who are too damaged or impaired to go out and buy it themselves,” said Dr. Paul McLaren, a consultant psychiatrist with The Priory Group, which examined the data. “So they don’t even have to leave home to buy alcohol—supermarket delivery services will bring it straight to their door.” Other factors that drive retired women to drink are loneliness, boredom, and isolation.
“A common pattern is for regular drinkers, who have had their consumption constrained by the structure of working, tipping into harmful drinking in retirement,” McLaren said. “Many of the women I see are retired professionals who never had issues with alcohol in the past.”
Women over 60 now make up 9% of newly diagnosed alcoholics, which is up 6% from 2009. The number of younger women between the ages of 18 and 29 treated for alcoholism went down in the same period.
“Different groups drink in different ways—young people are more likely to binge, but older people are more likely to drink every day,” said Dr. Sarah Jarvis, a London GP and medical adviser to the Drinkaware charity. Men still account for two thirds of alcoholics, however, though experts say the gender gap is narrowing.
For older men and women, the increased health risk of drinking is a serious matter, McLaren noted. “Because older women don’t necessarily fit the stereotypes people hold about alcohol misuse, and because they often keep their drinking hidden, there just aren’t enough services out there to offer them the help they need,” McLaren said.
When provided the chance to respond to the sexual assault allegations against him in a recent NPR interview, Bill Cosby refused to answer, staying silent and shaking his head.
The actor and comic has been accused of sexual assault in the past by more than a dozen women, but the decade-old allegations resurfaced when comedian Hannibal Buress called Cosby a rapist during a stand-up routine in October and it went viral.
The latest woman to accuse Cosby is former model Janice Dickinson, who told Entertainment Tonight that he sexually assaulted her in 1982. She claimed that he gave her a glass of red wine and a pill, and she woke up the next morning to the realization that “I had been sexually assaulted by this man.”
According to Dickinson and the accounts of several other women, Cosby allegedly used incapacitating drugs to cause the women to pass out, sometimes slipping them into the women’s drinks.
In 2005, Andrea Constand, the first woman to accuse Cosby of sexual assault, said that he drugged and molested her at his home in Pennsylvania in 2004. After Constand, a second woman, Tamara Green, said that in the 1970s, Cosby gave her pills that knocked her unconscious and then groped her. In the Constand case, Green and 12 anonymous women made similar allegations against the comic. In 2006, Cosby settled the suit for an undisclosed amount of money.
That same year, Barbara Bowman, one of the women in the Constand lawsuit, told People magazine her story. However, it wasn’t until this year that it took hold after Buress’ routine went viral.
Bowman wrote in detail about how Cosby sexually assaulted her as a 17-year-old aspiring actress in 1985, after he “brainwashed" her into viewing him as a father figure. “I’m certain now that he drugged and raped me,” she wrote in a Washington Post column.
The Village Voice recently uncovered a clip of Cosby joking about slipping the aphrodisiac “Spanish Fly” into women’s drinks in his ironically-titled comedy album from 1969, It's True! It's True!
The morning after the NPR interview, Cosby’s lawyer posted a statement on his website, maintaining that “Mr. Cosby does not intend to dignify these allegations with any comment” and that “there will be no further statement from Mr. Cosby or any of his representatives.”
Listen to Cosby "joke" about Spanish Fly in 1969: