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Tag: drugs

It’s getting harder to fetch this stick

quicksand

(Today’s post has nothing to do with dogs. This happens on rare occasion when I become so steamed about some non-dog issue that I must vent — today in the form of a fable.)

You are hiking down a remote jungle trail in some country where there is quicksand — that legendary kind of quicksand from which there is no escape — when you come across a woman who is hip deep and sinking slowly.

“Oh thank God,” she says when she sees you.

She looks familiar. You smile and ask her name.

“Heather Bresch,” she says.

It takes a moment to register. “Heather Bresch? The CEO of Mylan, the pharmaceutical company that makes the EpiPen?”

“Yes,” she says as she struggles against the quicksand and sinks a little deeper. “I’m vacationing in this country, and I left my luxury villa to take a little walk and this happened. I need help.”

“Clearly you do,” you say. “I’m happy to provide assistance.”

“If you could get that fallen tree limb over there and pass it to me, I think I could pull myself out,” she says, sinking up to the waist as she points.

You walk over and pick up one end of it. “This one?” you say.

“Yes,” she says. “Hurry please.”

You begin sliding the tree limb in her direction.

“This one is $10 million,” you say.

She laughs uncomfortably. “Please, hurry,” she says.

“I’m serious,” you say.

“That’s ridiculous,” she says. “It’s just a tree limb.”

epi“And the EpiPen is just a stick with, or so I’ve read, $1 worth of medicine in it — yet your company has raised the price of it to $300.”

“The EpiPen save lives,” she says.

“So might this stick, if used as directed,” you respond.

Up to her chest in quicksand, she promises to give you the money when she gets out, but you tell her you need it up front.

She struggles to dig into her pockets, causing her to sink up to her neck. As she pulls cash out of her pockets and flings it in your direction, she explains that the six-fold increase in the price of EpiPens was necessary.

“Mylan has spent millions on research and development of the product,” she says. “You can’t expect us to pay for all that ourselves.”

“Oh, so you invented Epinephrine?”

“Well, no, but we’ve spent a lot of money perfecting our sophisticated self-delivery system — in which you plunge a needle in your own leg and push down on the stopper, administering a pre-measured, life-saving dosage.”

“And if people just measured their own, and used an old fashioned syringe, what would be the actual cost?” you ask.

“Oh, maybe about $2.29, but that’s not the point. The point is much effort and significant expense went into creating that delivery system — things like shipping and handling and lobbying and designer white lab coats, all part of our noble effort to keep people from dying from allergic reactions to bee stings and such.”

She throws a final fistful of cash out of the quicksand. “There,” she says, “that’s $10 million. Now please slide that stick to me.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” you say. “The $10 million price was five minutes ago. It has gone up since then – to $20 million.”

“That’s more than I make in a year,” she protests.

bresch“Well, only 1 million more,” you point out. “The only thing that has climbed more quickly than the cost of EpiPens is your salary.”

“We are not talking about my salary,” she says. “Now, please, the stick. Anyone can hand someone a stick. It costs nothing.”

“Bear in mind,” you say, as the quicksand rises to her mouth, “you are not so much paying for the stick as you are paying for the delivery system. Just look at me as a monopoly providing a needed service. And the cool part is I just stumbled upon my monopoly. I didn’t need help from my senator-father, or to spend millions lobbying for it.”

You watch as the quicksand covers her nose, and then her eyes.

As the top of her head disappears, you plunge the stick into the muck. She grabs on and hauls herself out. Though coughing and exhausted, she manages a laugh, and you are pretty sure you hear her call you a “sucker.”

She crawls about picking up her money as you walk away — but not before noticing an anaconda is slithering up to her from behind, and an alligator is creeping towards her from the river, and a swarm of Zika-carrying mosquitoes is headed her way.

You are not worried about her. She is where she belongs:

With all the other predators.

Dog found high on meth gets new home


Bubba, a Jack Russell terrier-Chihuahua mix found high on methamphetamine in a seedy California hotel room four months ago, is headed to a new home.

No sooner was he pronounced healthy, drug free and available for adoption Wednesday than a couple walked into Orange County Animal Care and adopted the seven-month-old dog.

The couple, who had been following his story, asked not to be identified, though they did allow a photo to be taken of the new happy family.

Bubba had been at the shelter since March after being rescued by animal control officers from a drug-infested motel room in Tustin. He was only eight weeks old at the time.

Tests later show he had ingested methamphetamine and heroin.

His owner, Joshua West, 40, of Mission Viejo, was arrested on an outstanding warrant and suspicion of possession of methamphetamine, heroin and drug paraphernalia and booked into Orange County Jail.

Another southern California man was arrested last week after his Chihuahua, named Jack Sparrow, was found to have ingested methamphetamine.

After months of treatment, Bubba’s test results came back clear for the first time, prompting the shelter to put him up for adoption, according to Jennifer Hawkins, shelter director and chief veterinarian.

“They were a really nice couple and told us that Bubba would have a sister,” Katie Ingram, assistant director of OC Animal Care, told the Orange County Register. “Bubba bonded with them immediately.”

“It made it more meaningful that they were able to help him out because of his rough start in life,” Ingram added. “We were happy they are home quite a bit. It’s what he deserves.”

(Top photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register; bottom photo courtesy of Orange County Animal Care)

Chihuahua on meth gets some help

jacksparrowWhen a veterinarian told a California dog owner that his suspicions were accurate, and his pet had indeed ingested methamphetamine, the owner turned down further treatment for the 10-year-old Chihuahua and left with his dog.

Given the dog, named Jack Sparrow, was in danger of dying, the vet contacted animal control, and the dog was seized from his owner to get the treatment he needed.

Police in Fontana said in a press release that Isaiah Nathaniel Sais walked into the Inland Valley Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Center in Upland on July 5.

saisSais, 21, told the vet he suspected Jack Sparrow had ingested methamphetamine after finding it in his house.

A urine test confirmed that to be the case, but when vets informed Sais of that, and of the treatment needed, he walked out with his dog.

Because doctors had observed Jack suffering from convulsions and seizures and felt Jack’s life was in jeopardy, they called Fontana Animal Services, which sent officers to the home of Sais.

They seized the dog from the owner after observing he was still convulsing and living in neglectful conditions.

“There was the smell of urine in his fur and his nails were over-grown,” Jaime Simmons, of Fontana Animal Services, told KTLA.

Officers suspected Jack may have been kept indoors for months.

Jack was taken back to the vet’s office, where he continues to recover, and is expected to be transferred into a temporary foster home in the next few days.

The case was immediately submitted to the San Bernardino Animal Cruelty Task Force and an arrest warrant issued for the owner.

Sais was being held at the West Valley Detention Center in San Bernardino on a felony animal cruelty charge.

New gel promises to make the 4th of July a less anxiety-filled time for dogs

sileo

A new medication that claims to soothe dogs who are frightened by loud noises, such as fireworks and thunderstorms, will be available to veterinarians in the U.S. within a week — in plenty of time to help make the 4th of July less traumatic.

Sileo (not a very serious sounding name, is it?) comes in a gel form and is the first prescription medicine for treating anxiety over loud noises in canines– a widespread problem that leads to property destruction, running away and life-threatening injuries.

Its U.S. maker, Zoetis of Florham Park, New Jersey, says Sileo (pronounced SILL-lee-oh) works by blocking norepinephrine, a brain chemical similar to adrenaline that pumps up anxiety.

It is applied to a dog’s gums via a pre-filled, needle-less syringe.

Zoetis says the medication will give owners of the estimated third of the 70 million dogs in the U.S. who have problems with loud noises an alternative to human anti-anxiety pills, like Xanax, that sedate dogs for many hours.

Sileo takes effect within 30 minutes to an hour.

The pre-filled applicator costs $30, and contains enough for two doses for a dog of 80 to 100 pounds, four doses for a 40-pound dog, or six doses for a small dog.

Dogs can be re-dosed every two hours, up to five times during each noise event, Zoetis said in a press release.

Zoetis has exclusive rights to distribute Sileo in the U.S. under an agreement with the medication’s developer, Orion Corp. of Finland.

In testing on 182 pet beagles conducted on New Year’s Eve, 75 percent of their owners rated its effect good or excellent. Side effects were rare and minor, the company says.

(Photo: Provided by Zoetis)

Woman used — and abused — her dog to score painkillers for herself, police say

pereiraA Kentucky woman has admitted to police that she injured her dog repeatedly to feed her own addiction to painkillers.

Police arrested Heather Pereira, of Elizabethtown, during a visit to her veterinarian’s office and charged her with three counts of animal torture and obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. She was being held this week at the Hardin County Detention Center on a $5,000 bond.

It was the veterinarian’s office that contacted authorities after Pereira brought her dog in three times in three months for treatment of lacerations. Each time, Pereira asked for the powerful pain medication Tramadol for the dog, a golden retriever.

“Typically, as veterinarians, we see the best of people, people rescuing unwanted pets, people rescuing pets that have been hit on the street,” veterinarian Dr. Chad Bailey with Elizabethtown Animal Hospital said in an interview with WLKY. “Something like this is definitely uncharted territory,” Bailey said.

Pereira, 23, brought her dog to the hospital twice in October for treatment of mulitiple lacerations. On Dec. 4, the dog returned with more cuts and vets suspected, based on “the cleanliness of the cuts,” that they were inflicted with a razor, possibly intentionally.

Police were called and began an investigation, during which Pereira confessed she was injuring the dog to obtain pain medications.

“It was determined she was actually taking them and using those medications for herself instead of for the dog,” said Elizabethtown Police Sgt. Timothy Cleary.

At one point, police said, Pereira told vets she needed more painkillers for the dog because her child had flushed them down the toilet.

Pereira doesn’t have any children.

The dog has been removed from her home and placed in foster care. She’s going by a new name — Alice.

“She’s a great dog, wagging her tail, and, you know, I’m sure the dog has already forgiven, that’s just what dogs do. They love us unconditionally, and she’s a great dog and doing fine,” Bailey said.

A drug to make your dog live longer?

antiaging

Two University of Washington scientists think it might be possible to slow the aging process in canines and are launching a pilot study with 30 dogs to see if the drug rapamycin significantly extends their lifespans.

The researchers, using $200,000 in seed money from the University of Washington, plan to use pets, not laboratory animals, for the initial study, and recruit volunteer dogs — or at least dogs whose owners volunteer them — for larger scale studies in the future.

Daniel Promislow, an evolutionary geneticist, and Matthew Kaeberlein, a molecular biologist, say the study is aimed at determining whether rapamycin could lead to longer lives for dogs — as studies have shown is the case when it’s used on yeast, fruit flies, worms and mice.

“We’re not talking about doubling the healthy life spans of pets,” said Kaeberlein. “But at a minimum I would predict that you would get a 10 to 15 percent increase in average life span, and I think bigger effects are possible.”

In the pilot study, 30 large, middle-aged dogs will be involved — half receiving low doses of rapamycin, half receiving placebos.

The researchers say that subsequent studies will seek to enroll pet dogs from across the country.

Kaeberlein and Promislow hosted a meeting in Seattle last week where experts from across the country discussed the drug rapamycin and its possible effects on the health and longevity of dogs, the Seattle Times reported.

Currently used along with other medications to prevent rejection in organ-transplant patients, rapamycin has been called a promising anti-aging drug — though there have been no studies involving humans.

But almost 50 laboratory studies have shown that the compound can delay the onset of some diseases and degenerative processes and restore vigor to elderly animals, extending life spans by 9 to 40 percent.

Rapamycin functions, in part, by inactivating a protein that promotes cell growth. As a result, cells grow more slowly, which retards the spread of cancer.

Promislow, who has two elderly dogs of his own, noted that even if the drug doesn’t increase the life span of dogs, it could serve to keep them healthy longer. “We’re trying to understand why some dogs age better than others, and help all dogs age in a better way,” he said.

The drug has been shown to have serious side effects, including poor wound healing and an increased risk of diabetes, when used at the high doses required for organ transplant patients.

But the low doses used in anti-aging research with mice and other lab animals cause few side effects.

There have been no large-scale human trials. Studying how the drug affects dogs — who suffer many of the same old-age ailments as their masters — makes it possible to explore the possible benefits of rapamycin both more quickly and at a lesser cost.

If it does turn out to be a sort of  fountain of youth — for dogs, humans, or both — the potential profits would be enormous.

“I think it’s worth a go, not just from what it can teach us about humans, but for the sake of the animals themselves,” said University of Alabama Biology Department Chairman Steven Austad, an expert in aging research who is not involved in the project. “It may not work in dogs, but if it did, boy, it’s going to be huge.”

According to the Seattle Times article, drug companies aren’t very interested in rapamycin because it’s no longer under patent.

But the researchers are hoping dog lovers, dog-food companies and some foundations might be willing to contribute to further research.

They’ve set up a website, dogagingproject.com,where people can donate and sign their dogs up to take part in the research.

“Given how I feel about my pets, I see this as a unique project where there’s a real potential for citizen science,” Kaeberlein said. “I think it would be great if pet owners who are really interested in improving the health of their animals would help fund this work.”

(Photos: UW scientists Matt Kaeberlein, with his dog Dobby, and Dan Promislow, with his dog Frisbee; by Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)

Why a real dog should have played McGruff

mcgruff2

A Houston man who once portrayed McGruff the Crime Dog has been sentenced to more than 16 years in prison on drugs and weapons charges.

John R. Morales was sentenced to federal prison last week for charges related to his 2011 arrest.

Police who raided Morales’ residence then seized 1,000 marijuana plants and 9,000 rounds of ammunition for 27 weapons — including a shotgun, pistols, rifles, and a military grenade launcher, according to court documents obtained by NBC.

What does all this prove? If you want mascot who is pure, ethical and beyond reproach, choose a real dog. They are far less likely to get arrested, far less likely to cause a scandal, and far less likely to cave in to temptation, unless they are of the bacon variety.

This wasn’t the first time the choice of a human to play McGruff has come back to bite law enforcement. There was an incident in Phoenix in 1998 when a prison trusty police assigned to play the role removed his head and was recognized by parents in the audience as a convicted child molester.

Morales wore the McGruff costume for the Harris County Sheriff’s Association in the late 1990s. Fox News reported.

mcgruffThe human-like, trench coat-wearing dog was created by the global advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi through the Ad Council for the National Crime Prevention Council to increase crime awareness among children.

He appeared on television in animated form, and in public appearances he was portrayed by actors wearing the giant dog head and costume.

He urged young people to “take a bite out of crime.”

Morales, after his McGruff gig, was stopped in 2011 by police in Galveston for speeding, and marijuana was detected in his car trunk. Authorities said that, in addition to marijuana plants, they found a clipboard with diagrams of two indoor pot farms in his car.

That led officers to a stash of 1,000 marijuana plants and the weapons.

And who was it that first detected the marijuana in the car? A real police dog.