Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Drug news from my mailbox

I've been reading my e-mail this evening after spending today recuperating from this week end. My grandson came to visit, and two days of chasing him in the hot sun did me in. We had a good time going to the park and to Barton Springs to ride the train, but it was exhausting.

Here are some things I learned from reading my e-mail tonight:

Drug War Peace Plan
A King County Bar group is getting national attention for its plan to reform drug policy by emphasizing regulation and treatment.

It's the coalition's big-picture work that is the real first. Saying that the war on drugs has failed is not enough. The real question is: What's the alternative? That's the question that the bar's project attempted to answer in a report released in March that was the result of three years of deliberations.
Some ideas from the report:

Control would be firmly in the hands of the government, which would buy,distribute, and possibly sell drugs in accordance with a regulatory system using such measures as licensing and age restrictions.

One central proposal is that the hardest of drugs-heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine -could be distributed only to addicts at government-run medical facilities for the purpose of treatment. Those who receive these drugs might even have to obtain "a proof of dependence" through a health exam. The government would obtain its drugs not from criminal networks but from pharmaceutical companies, which are legally allowed to produce cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin substitutes like the opiate laudanum.

The report puts marijuana in a separate category requiring less control. It envisions allowing people to grow their own and possibly licensing local producers. By suggesting that marijuana might be regulated similarly to the way hard liquor is in Washington state, the report also raises the possibility of state pot stores. more


Nuevo Laredo, Mexico

OMAR PIMENTEL'S office seemed more like a secluded getaway than a police command post at the center of a drug war. Its walls were painted the blue-green color of the Caribbean Sea, and a mix of meditation music and New Age rock played on the stereo. There were no police scanners, no crime reports, no medals of honor, not a piece of clutter anywhere, except for a jar of Hershey's Kisses and a dopey-looking doll of a character from the children's movie "Monsters, Inc.," with its twiggy limbs and a frightened single eye.

There was fear in Mr. Pimentel's eyes, too, on a recent day. He is the new police chief in the new murder capital of the United States-Mexico border. The authorities report almost a killing a day in this city of 330,000 people, as rival drug gangs fight for control of the lucrative routes that run through here into Texas. Many of the dead have been police officers, most notably Mr. Pimentel's immediate predecessor, Alejandro Dominguez, who was killed in a hail of gunfire his first day on duty.

The prevailing wisdom in Mexico has long been there is almost no hope of winning the drug war as long as there is a broken justice system here and an insatiable demand for illegal narcotics in the United States. And by law, it is not a war that is Mr. Pimentel's to fight.

People here talk about brazen violence like this as if they were hit by some freak storm. Though drugs have been flowing through here for years, the traffickers had peacefully divided their routes and operated quietly on the fringes, with the unspoken blessings of the authorities. That order was broken when a rival gang tried to take over. Now the people of Nuevo Laredo sit in the cross-fire.

"People over here say we wish one of the gangs would win so that things would go back to normal," said Jack Suneson, who owns a gift shop and sits on many of Nuevo Laredo's business boards. "Going back to normal means the flow of drugs. The trafficking will not end, it will just go back underground." more

Exposed: how drugs giant pushed Vioxx painkiller

The growing furore surrounding the painkiller Vioxx could prove to be the most expensive legal action ever faced by a drugs company and raises questions about the marketing tactics used by a multibillion-pound pharmaceutical giant.

At least 300 British patients who claim to have suffered heart attacks and strokes as a result of Vioxx, as well as the relatives of others who died, are to sue the makers, Merck, for millions of pounds in the US courts. More than 4,000 sufferers from around the world have also lodged negligence claims against Merck, with experts warning that the company faces a " potentially unlimited" flood of cases that could cost it more than $50bn (£28bn).

Merck is accused of deliberately withholding information about the potentially fatal side-effects of Vioxx from regulators on both sides of the Atlantic and misleading doctors about the risks of the drug in its desire to rush its product on to the market. Evidence given to congressional hearings in the US has also revealed how sales representatives employed by Merck were told to dodge questions about the side-effects. more


Post a Comment

<< Home