In 2003 Eric Gagne was the most dominate pitcher in baseball. In 82 innings that year, the Dodgers' corpulent closer struck out 137 batters while giving up just 11 earned runs. Statistically, Gagne was more than human. That's partially because he was on human growth hormone, as he admitted several years ago. But as Gagne reveals in a his new book, Game Over: The Story of Eric Gagne, he was in good company in the Dodger clubhouse. "I would say that 80% of the Dodgers players were consuming them," Gagne writes in the book. That's a much higher percentage of juiced-up players than others have proposed. There's also reason to believe that the Dodgers were using less than other teams: after all, they haven't made it to the World Series since 1988.
New regulations will make it tougher for people with multiple DUI convictions to get their licenses back in New York. Under current law, drivers convicted of multiple alcohol- or drug-related offenses only lose their licenses permanently if they also have two convictions involving accidents that caused injury or death. But under the new rules, the DMV will be able to deny a license reinstatement request if someone has five or more alcohol- or drug-related driving convictions—or three convictions plus another serious driving offense within the past 25 years. They can also require that a breathalyzer-like device be installed in the driver's car. “We are saying enough is enough to those who have chronically abused their driving privileges and threatened the safety of other drivers, passengers and pedestrians,” says Governor Andrew Cuomo. According to the DMV, more than 300 people are killed and over 6,000 are injured each year on New York highways by alcohol-related crashes—and 25% of those crashes involve a driver with three or more drunk driving convictions. The new rules will impact a lot of New Yorkers: state data suggests that over 50,000 drivers with valid or suspended licenses have three or more alcohol-related convictions in their lifetimes.
While many New Yorkers approve of the plan, some argue the new regulations don't go far enough. Frank Harris, of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), says that focusing on license revocations is a “1990s solution” that doesn’t necessarily work, as studies have shown that up to 75% of convicted drunk drivers still drive with a suspended license. MADD would also like to see more done to crack down on first and second-time offenders. Still, Harris does credit Cuomo for addressing the issue.
Need proof of the damaging effects of cocaine? Look no further than the face of British millionaire James Brown. Brown was such a success as a property developer that he was able to retire to Portugal at the age of 36. Nine years later, his nose collapsed from excessive cocaine use and he's been sentenced to five years in prison, after a haul of the drug worth over $286,000 was found hidden in the air vents and folding roof of his luxury Bentley. Police also discovered a cache of illegal weapons and ammunition in his hotel room. In retirement, the London native's cocaine habit led to heart problems, as well as the severe deformity of his nose, caused by the drug eating away at the cartilage of his septum. It also led to extreme paranoia about his personal safety—hence the acquirement of the illegal guns. Brown's attorney John Hipkin says the money for his drug use came from "legitimate means" but clarified that "he'll never return to that form of lifestyle again."
Ever wondered where drugs go once they've been seized by police? In Bogotá, they may end up going to addicts in treatment—at least that's what the city's mayor Gustavo Petro is gunning for with a new proposal that narcotics seized by police in raids would be given to residents of his proposed drug treatment centers. Petro's plan to reduce drug-related crime is to construct centers where drug addicts can consume illegal drugs that have passed laboratory tests to meet specific standards—provided that the addicts have a medical prescription and meet a strict set of criteria. The patients would simultaneously receive addiction treatment. However, Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos calls the idea "irresponsible" and the director of the national police has said it isn't up to Petro to decide where the drugs end up. "The police can't give away the drugs. The police seize the drugs and give them to the judicial authorities, in this case the Prosecutor General," said the police director. Santos' comments are in notably sharp contrast to his approval last Friday for Petro's plan to prescribe illicit drugs to addicts in Bogota. "We will create physical spaces in the most violent zones of the city where the drug addicts, mostly youth, can get away from being illegal and dependent on the criminal gangs," said Petro. Santos ratified a law last month that called drug addiction a public health issue rather than a crime; Colombia decriminalized the possession of small amounts of cocaine and pot earlier this year.
- DUI Tragedy Forces Russian Road Safety Rethink [Huffington Post]
- Panel Reminds Doctors to Screen for Alcohol Misuse [New York Times]
- Study: Marijuana Prevents Spread of Cancer [Salon]
- Guatemalan President Urges Drug Legalization [Washington Post]
- Overcoming Addiction: Fix Executive Editor Anna David [Whole Living]
- College Student Almost Dies After 'Alcohol Enema' at Frat Party [Daily Mail]
- Hits From the Bong: The 30 Most Commercially Successful Pot Songs [SPIN]
- Staten Island Borough Prez Calls Lady Gaga "a Slut" For Smoking Pot [NY Daily News]
Reckitt Benckiser—the British company that manufactures Suboxone—is taking its tablet formulation of the drug off the US market, it announced today. Reckitt says it notified the FDA last week of its plans to withdraw the pills, “due to increasing concerns with pediatric exposure.” Its announcement links the decision to a report the company received 10 days ago from the US Poison Control Centers that found Suboxone tablets—which are dispensed in bottles with child-proof caps, like most other prescription pills—were about eight times likelier to fall into kids' hands than the company's Suboxone films, which come in individual sealed envelopes. It’s unclear exactly how many pediatric exposures are involved, as the announcement cites only rates of exposure. Reckitt has yet to respond to The Fix's request for a copy of the report.
Reckitt’s global medical director, Tim Baxter, MD, told The Fix last month that the company knows of just four cases of children dying due to the accidental ingestion of Suboxone tablets. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Drug Abuse Warning Network reports that, in 2009 (the most recent year with available data), buprenorphine products in general were involved in 1.3% of ER visits. Suboxone contains buprenorphine, which is used in short-term detox and longer-term medication assisted therapy. Its partial-agonist action makes it much less likely to cause fatal respiratory depression than full agonists—including popular painkillers like oxycodone and hydrocodone—which commonly come in pill form, not individually wrapped doses. Reckitt’s decision to pull the tablets coincides with imminent plans to introduce its new, patented higher-dose films—and comes in the wake of Reckitt losing its patent on the pills. The company notified shareholders last year that it could lose more than 80% of profits from Suboxone tablets if a cheaper generic alternative emerges. But a spokesman denies that this is the reason for the newly-announced decision.