Published since 1884 by the Society for the Study of Addiction.
Editor-in-Chief, Robert West

We welcome suggestions and contributions from our readers. Send your material to John Witton, News and Notes Editor, Addiction, National Addiction Centre PO48, 4 Windsor Walk, London SE5 8AF. Fax +44 (0)20 7848 5966;
e-mail john.witton@kcl.ac.uk

Use of Medicinal Cannabis Products in UK

Posted 05-Nov-18

The UK Government has rescheduled certain cannabis-based products to allow their medicinal use. The regulations came into force on 1 November 2018. The rescheduling follows reviews of medicinal cannabis use by the UK’s Chief Medical Officer and then by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). Both reviews recommended that cannabis-based products for medicinal use should be moved from Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 into Schedule 2. Drugs in Schedule 1 are considered to have no medicinal value and medical cannabis use had been allowed only in exceptional circumstances and had also required a Home Office licence to be used legally. Moving cannabis-based products into Schedule 2 will mean they can be prescribed medicinally. Doctors in England have been given guidance which says cannabis-based products should be prescribed only when there is clear published evidence of their benefit and other treatment options have been exhausted. The products can be prescribed in cases of children with rare, severe forms of epilepsy; adults with vomiting or nausea caused by chemotherapy; and adults with muscle stiffness caused by multiple sclerosis. The cannabis-based products can be prescribed only by doctors listed on the specialist register of the General Medical Council. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has published guidance on the supply of unlicensed cannabis-based products for medical use. The guidance includes a checklist for pharmacies dispensing cannabis-based products and states that pharmacists “should ensure before the product is ordered and administered that the prescriber is fully aware of the unlicensed status of the product.”

Sources:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-46045487

https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/letter-guidance-on-cannabis-based-products-for-medicinal-use..pdf

https://www.pharmaceutical-journal.com/news-and-analysis/news/very-few-people-likely-to-get-prescription-for-medical-cannabis-as-it-becomes-legal-in-the-uk/20205682.article?firstPass=false

EMCDDA Guide to Overdose Prevention

Posted 05-Nov-18

The European Monitoring Centre has produced an interactive guide to preventing overdose deaths. The guide reports that over 9,000 people in Europe (the 28 European Union member states, Turkey and Norway) died from overdoses in 2016, the latest reporting year. The guide outlines the factors that increase the risk of fatal and non-fatal overdoses and then describes interventions that have been developed to prevent these overdoses, concentrating particularly on take-home naloxone.

Source:

http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/topics/pods/preventing-overdose-deaths

Canada Legalizes Cannabis

Posted 05-Nov-18

The BBC reports that on 17 October Canada became the second country after Uruguay to legalize the possession and use of recreational cannabis. Canadian provinces and municipalities were given responsibility for establishing the retail outlets for legal cannabis. Around 110 shops selling cannabis opened on 17 October, according to an Associated Press survey of the provinces and reported in The Guardian. The response by the provinces has been variable. Ontario, the most populous province, does not expect any stores to open until spring 2019. Canadians will be able to order cannabis products through websites run by provinces or private retailers and have it delivered to their homes by mail. The Canadian government has also introduced new drug-impaired driving legislation which raises the maximum penalties for drug driving offences from five years to 10. The police will have expanded powers to conduct roadside tests on drivers regardless of whether they show signs of impaired driving. The new powers also apply to drunk driving, and the requirement of “reasonable suspicion” is no longer needed before conducting a sobriety test. The government has sent information to 15 million households about the new laws and there are also public awareness campaigns.

Sources:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-45806255  

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/17/cannabis-becomes-legal-in-canada-marijuana  

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/news/2017/04/backgrounder_changestoimpaireddrivinglaws.html

FDA Action against E-cigarettes Continues

Posted 05-Nov-18

On 12 October the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) sent letters to 21 e-cigarette manufacturers requesting them to provide information to aid an FDA investigation into whether they illegally introduced more than 40 new devices and nicotine liquids to the market without receiving FDA approval. According to CNBC, British American Tobacco, Imperial Brands and Japan Tobacco are among the manufacturers that received letters. E-cigarettes introduced after 8 August 2016 needed first to undergo FDA review in order to be marketed and the FDA are checking whether new product features, formulations or flavours that were launched after this date are violating this policy. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said "Companies are on notice — the FDA will not allow the proliferation of e-cigarettes or other tobacco products potentially being marketed illegally and outside of the agency's compliance policy, and we will take swift action when companies are skirting the law."

Source:

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/10/12/fda-threatens-to-pull-new-products-from-21-e-cigarette-companies.html

US Opioid Bill Becomes Law

Posted 05-Nov-18

On 24 October the US legislature’s bipartisan bill to address the opioid crisis in the country was signed into law. According to National Public Radio, drug addiction is one of the few issues where polling shows that both Democrats and Republicans agree that it is a problem for the USA. Democrat Senator Maggie Hassan, who supported the bill, echoed the views of critics of the bill who call for more funding to tackle the crisis by saying "Experts in the field tell us that is not nearly enough." In prepared remarks at a conference on 23 October, US Health and Human Services Secretary, Alex Azar, said "We are so far from the end of the epidemic, but we are perhaps at the end of the beginning." Azar called for further efforts to expand access to medication-assisted treatment and naloxone. He also announced a new federal pilot program designed to help mothers with opioid addiction and their children.

Sources:

https://www.npr.org/2018/10/24/660205718/signing-opioid-law-trump-pledges-to-end-scourge-of-drug-addiction?t=1541155664963

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/10/23/opioid-crisis-health-secretary-932332

WHO Report on Alcohol

Posted 05-Nov-18

Alcohol was responsible for more than 5% of all deaths worldwide in 2016, according to the World Health Organization’s Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2018. The report, published every four years, provides an overview of alcohol consumption and harms, global policies and policy responses at a national level. Alcohol-use disorders are highest in wealthier nations, according to the report, with the highest prevalence in Europe. Ninety-five percent of countries have alcohol excise taxes, but fewer than half of them use other price strategies such as banning below-cost selling or volume discounts.

Source:

http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/publications/global_alcohol_report/en/

WHO Reviews the International Scheduling of Cannabis

Posted 05-Nov-18

Forbes reports that in October the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asked for public comments about the "abuse potential, actual abuse, medical usefulness, trafficking, and impact of scheduling changes on availability for medical use" of cannabis and several other substances under review by the Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) of the World Health Organization (WHO). The comments will be considered in preparing a response from the United States to the WHO regarding the abuse liability and diversion of these substances. Cannabis is currently classified in the most restrictive category of Schedule I of the United Nation’s Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, which deems cannabis to be of no medicinal value and restricts research into its potential benefits. The assessment of cannabis will be conducted by the ECDD in mid-November and the ECDD’s recommendations will be voted on at a meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in March 2019.

Source:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/tomangell/2018/10/10/trump-administration-seeks-public-comments-on-marijuana-reclassification/#6e80aa26749a

US Presents Global Drug Action Plan at UN

Posted 08-Oct-18

In September the US administration hosted an event at the 73rd session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on the “World Drug Problem.” Only delegates from UN countries that had signed a document circulated by the US, “A Global Call to Action on the World Drug Problem,” were invited to the event. The signatories to the action plan reaffirmed their commitment to the implementation of UN Conventions, as well as the “work of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) as the policymaking body of the United Nations with prime responsibility for drug control matters.” US officials called for UN member countries’ endorsement for the action plan ahead of the event, telling them it was “a final document and is not open for negotiation,” contrary to normal UN policymaking by deliberation and consensus. According to Reuters, delegates from 129 countries signed the document, including China, Mexico and Canada. But a number of other countries, including countries with, at present, cordial relations with the US, declined to sign the action plan document. Reuters reports that these countries included New Zealand and that the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, said “We have a number of challenges that are quite specific to New Zealand and the particular drugs that are present, but also on taking a health approach,” adding, “we want to do what works, and so we’re using a strong evidence base to do that.”

Sources:

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-canada-signs-on-to-us-led-renewal-of-war-on-drugs/?utm_medium=Referrer:+Social+Network+/+Media&utm_campaign=Shared+Web+Article+Links

https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/4901223/Global-Call-to-Action-on-the-World-Drug-Problem.pdf  

https://ca.reuters.com/article/topNews/idCAKCN1M41LH-OCATP

Opioid Bill Passed by US Senate

Posted 08-Oct-18

The US Senate passed bipartisan legislation aimed at tackling the US opioid epidemic, called the Support for Patients and Communities Act, on 3 October. The bill was passed after months of hearings and negotiations across various committees in the US legislature. The US House and Senate each passed bipartisan legislation; the final package passed in the Senate is a compromise resulting from those two bills. The bill passed nearly unanimously in the Senate, with only one senator voting against it. The bill takes a wide variety of actions aimed at fighting the crisis, focusing on expanding prevention, treatment and recovery programmes as well as addressing the availability of imported synthetic drugs, especially fentanyl. The bill lifts some limits on Medicaid paying for care at treatment facilities and encourages more research and development of non-opioid pain medication and pain management. The US Department of Health and Human Services is awarding more than $1 billion in grants for states, communities and organizations working to address the opioid crisis. Commentators have observed that the measures and funding announced are not enough address the opioid epidemic. In Vox, Professor Keith Humphreys said of the bill, “This reflects a fundamental disagreement between the parties over whether the government should appropriate the large sums a massive response would require,” adding, “Congress did the next best thing — which is to find agreement on as many second-tier issues as they could.” The bill awaits presidential signing off.

Sources:

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/healthcare/senate-sends-opioid-package-to-trumps-desk

https://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20180924/HR6.pdf

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/9/28/17913938/congress-opioid-epidemic-support-bill-law

South African Court Ruling Allows Personal Use of Cannabis

Posted 08-Oct-18

Reuters reports that on 18 September South Africa’s Constitutional Court ruled in favour of a case presented by four cannabis users who had faced prosecution for using the drug and decriminalized home consumption of cannabis. In its unanimous decision the Court said “the use of cannabis must be for the personal consumption of the adult.” The ruling also approved growing cannabis for personal consumption. The ruling did not specify the amount that can be used by an adult in private use. This is to be determined by the South African parliament, which is expected to amend the laws that criminalize cannabis following the court ruling.

Sources:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-safrica-cannabis/south-africas-highest-court-gives-green-light-to-private-use-of-cannabis-idUSKCN1LY1M7 

http://saflii.org/za/cases/ZACC/2018/30media.pdf

FDA Begins Campaign against Youth E-cigarette Use

Posted 08-Oct-18

In a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) statement released on 12 September, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced new measures to address underage use of flavoured e-cigarettes. Gottlieb said in the statement that “E-cigs have become an almost ubiquitous -- and dangerous -- trend among teens.” Gottlieb also warned that “The FDA won’t tolerate a whole generation of young people becoming addicted to nicotine as a tradeoff for enabling adults to have unfettered access to these same products.” The FDA told five major e-cigarette manufacturers to devise ways to address youth use of their products within 60 days or the agency could require them to stop selling flavored products. CNBC reports that later in the month Gottlieb said that the FDA was considering banning the online sale of e-cigarettes. On 19 September the FDA announced it was introducing “The Real Cost” Youth E-Cigarette Prevention Campaign, aimed at reducing electronic cigarette use among 12-17-year-olds, with warning posters in high school toilets and graphic images of damaged lungs disseminated across digital platforms and social media. On 28 September the FDA seized "thousands of pages of documents" in an unannounced inspection of the leading US e-cigarette maker JUUL's San Francisco headquarters. The FDA said the inspection "sought further documentation related to JUUL's sales and marketing practices, among other things, "building on the FDA’s request in April for company materials related to how JUUL products appeal to young people.

Sources:

https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm620185.htm

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/25/fda-weighs-ban-on-online-e-cigarette-sales-as-vaping-among-teens-rises.html

https://www.fda.gov/TobaccoProducts/PublicHealthEducation/PublicEducationCampaigns/TheRealCostCampaign/ucm620783.htm  

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/10/02/fda-seizes-documents-in-surprise-inspection-of-e-cigarette-maker-juul.html

Public Health England Collaboration with Alcohol Industry-linked Body Criticised

Posted 08-Oct-18

The decision of the UK government’s public health agency, Public Health England (PHE), to collaborate with Drinkaware, a charity funded by the alcohol industry, for a Drink Free Days campaign prompted the resignation of a PHE senior adviser, Sir Ian Gilmore, and a letter of opposition to the collaboration from over 40 public health experts. According to the BBC, the letter to the PHE said: “Industry-funded messages and social marketing campaigns should not be a substitute for publicly funded campaigns providing independent and evidence-based information.” Professor John Newton, the director of health improvement at PHE, told a national radio programme that “We have ensured that the Drinkaware campaign, which would otherwise possibly be dominated by advice from the industry, is now following our advice and is more likely to improve the health of the population than if we hadn’t got involved.” Professor Newton also said that “Drinkaware already has 10m visits a year to their website from people who drink and who want help. We see that as an opportunity to get messages out to people who are drinking.” The Guardian reported that a Drinkaware spokeswoman insisted the charity was independent and did not speak on behalf of the alcohol industry.

Sources:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-45502974

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/sep/13/public-health-england-urged-to-end-tie-up-with-alcohol-industry

Report on Global Tobacco Health Reduction

Posted 08-Oct-18

Knowledge Action Change, a private sector public health agency, has published No Fire, No Smoke: Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction. In its executive summary the report says it “maps for the first time the global, regional and national availability and use of safer nicotine products, the regulatory responses to these products, and the public health potential of tobacco harm reduction.” The report observes that “Safer Nicotine Products (SNP) deliver nicotine with a significant reduction in risk as compared to combusted tobacco products” and that “Banning these products, or subjecting them to onerous regulation or high taxation effectively deny access to potentially lifesaving products.”

Source:

https://gsthr.org/download/report/Global-State-of-Tobacco-Harm-Reduction-2018.pdf

San Francisco Safe Injecting Facility Vetoed

Posted 08-Oct-18

On 30 September the Governor of California, Jerry Brown, vetoed a bill to establish a pilot safe injecting programme in San Francisco. Brown said in his veto statement that “Fundamentally, I do not believe that enabling illegal drug use in government sponsored injection centers – with no corresponding requirement that the user undergo treatment – will reduce drug use.” He also expressed fears that San Francisco officials and health professionals could be vulnerable to federal prosecution for facilitating drug use if the programme went ahead. In the San Francisco Examiner one of the co-authors of the bill, Assemblyman Scott Wiener, said “We should not allow threats from a backward federal government [to] stop us from helping people who are dying on our streets," adding, “These sites save lives, and today's veto is definitely a lost opportunity."

Sources:

https://www.gov.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AB-186-veto-9.30.pdf

http://www.sfexaminer.com/202918-2/

Cannabis Decriminalized in Georgia

Posted 04-Sep-18

OC Media reports that the Constitutional Court of Georgia ruled in July that cannabis users will no longer face administrative sanctions such as fines. This decision follows the court’s abolishing of criminal sanctions for cannabis use in November 2017. The court said that the consumption of cannabis is “an action protected by the right to a person’s free development,” Article 16 of the country of Georgia’s constitution. According to OC Media the court said in its ruling that “punishing someone for consuming cannabis would comply with the constitution only if consumption put a third person at risk, such as consuming the drug in an educational facility, certain public spaces like in public transport, or in the presence of children.” The cultivation and selling of cannabis remain criminal offences in Georgia.

Sources:

http://oc-media.org/constitutional-court-outlaws-all-punishment-for-cannabis-consumption-in-georgia/

http://oc-media.org/georgian-church-slams-drug-legalisation/

FDA Outlines Next Moves in Tobacco and Nicotine Regulation

Posted 04-Sep-18

Writing on the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s blog, Scott Gottlieb, Commissioner of the FDA, and Mitch Zeller, Director of FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, mark the first anniversary of the FDA’s Comprehensive Plan for Tobacco and Nicotine Regulation by outlining the FDA’s planned steps toward regulation. Amongst these steps are the setting out of a framework for manufacturing practices and the development of tobacco product applications that meet legal requirements. The FDA proposes to hold a public meeting on the premarket application and review process to seek ways of improving the process and to take new administrative steps to improve the process. The FDA is also developing an e-cigarette product standard that will take into consideration issues such as the levels of toxicants and impurities in propylene glycol, glycerin, and nicotine in e-liquids.

Source:

https://blogs.fda.gov/fdavoice/index.php/2018/08/advancing-tobacco-regulation-to-protect-children-and-families-updates-and-new-initiatives-from-the-fda-on-the-anniversary-of-the-tobacco-control-act-and-fdas-comprehensive-plan-for-nicotine/

Ontario Prepares for Retail Sale of Cannabis

Posted 04-Sep-18

Following approval of cannabis legalization legislation by the Canadian senate in June, the Federal government gave the Canadian provinces and territories eight to 12 weeks after the legislation was passed to prepare for the retail sale of recreational cannabis. Ontario's Progressive Conservative government announced in August that it will allow recreational cannabis to be sold in retail stores while the province will handle online sales. According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Minister of Finance Vic Fedeli said “The government of Ontario will not be in the business of running physical cannabis stores. Instead we will work with private-sector businesses to build a safe, reliable retail system that will divert sales away from the illegal market.” The province will meet the federal government’s requirements by its introduction of a system for online sales through the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) on 17 October. This will be followed by a consultation process with the aim of introducing a private retail model by 1 April. The OCS will act as a wholesale supplier for private retailers and the government proposes to create an official Ontario Cannabis Retail Seal to help buyers identify stores where federally qualified cannabis products can be found. Legislation will be introduced to set the legal age for the purchase of cannabis at 19, ban the use of recreational cannabis in all public places and workplaces, and prohibit those under the age of 19 from possessing, consuming, or cultivating the drug.

Source:

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/pc-government-announcement-1.4783630

Indian Health Ministry Signals Opposition to E-cigarettes

Posted 04-Sep-18

The Health Ministry in India has asked Indian states to “ensure” that electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), including e-cigarettes and heat-not-burn devices, are not sold, manufactured, imported or advertised. Reuters reports that the ministry said on 28 August that the products “are a great health risk to public at large, especially to children, adolescents, pregnant women and women of reproductive age.” According to Reuters a senior health official said the government was “sending a strong message” about how such products were harmful for the public. The Delhi High Court had asked the ministry in the preceding week when it would announce regulatory measures for ENDS following the filing of public interest litigation in 2017 by a New Delhi resident for the regulation of e-cigarettes. The health ministry announcement contrasts with a statement by the minister of state for commerce and industry in the Indian parliament earlier in the month and reported by The Print that there was no proposal to ban the import of e-cigarettes. The minister said that the import of e-cigarettes had doubled in the preceding two years and were mostly imported from China. The minister added that “the available scientific evidence indicates that e-cigarettes are hazardous for an active as well as passive user and it has a serious impact on public health.” ENDS are already banned in the Indian states of Bihar, Punjab, Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Mizoram, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh, according to The Print.

Sources:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-health-tobacco/indias-health-ministry-calls-for-halting-sales-of-e-cigarettes-smoking-devices-idUSKCN1LD250

https://theprint.in/governance/modi-govt-takes-u-turn-on-e-cigarettes-says-no-plan-to-ban-import/94776/

Heroin-assisted Treatment to Be Introduced in Norway

Posted 04-Sep-18

Medical Press reports that the Norwegian government plans to introduce a heroin-assisted treatment (HAT) programme by 2020. The Norwegian Directorate for Health and Social Affairs has been given the task of devising the treatment programme, identifying patients likely to benefit from the programme, and calculating the costs of the programme. The Norwegian Health Minister, Bente Hoie, said “We hope that this will provide a solution that will give... a better quality of life to some addicts who are today out of our reach and whom current programmes do not help enough."

Source:

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-08-norway-free-heroin-drug-addicts.html

San Francisco to Explore Safe Injecting Facility Option

Posted 04-Sep-18

The California state Senate passed a measure on 21 August that would authorize San Francisco to open a facility for injecting illegal drugs. The bill had been approved by the state Assembly in June 2017. According to Epoch Times the bill’s sponsor, Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman, said “We are in the midst of an epidemic, and this bill will grant us another tool to fight it—to provide better access to services like treatment and counseling, to better protect public health and safety, and to save lives.” KPIX5 reports that the City had set up a mock injecting facility as part of a drive to encourage support for the initiative, with San Francisco Mayor London Breed attending its launch to advocate for an injecting facility. The mock facility, based on Vanouver’s safe injecting site, included curtained booths for privacy, kits for injecting, testing kits for attendee’s drugs, and needle disposal facilities and all given a City Seal of San Francisco. But in a New York Times op-ed piece published on 27 August the US Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, said that safe injection facilities were “very dangerous and would only make the opioid crisis worse,” adding that “it is a federal felony to maintain any location for the purpose of facilitating illegal drug use. Violations are punishable by up to 20 years in prison, hefty fines and foreclosure of the property used in the criminal activity.”

Sources:

https://www.theepochtimes.com/opposition-mounts-to-san-franciscos-plans-to-open-nations-first-drug-injection-center_2630672.html

https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2018/08/29/san-francisco-officials-promote-safe-injection-program/  

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/27/opinion/opioids-heroin-injection-sites.html

New Report on E-cigarettes from UK Parliamentary Committee

Posted 04-Sep-18

A report from the Science and Technology Committee of the UK House of Commons reviews the current evidence base on the harmfulness of e-cigarettes and examines current policies. The Committee concludes that e-cigarettes should not be treated in the same way as conventional cigarettes and in the report’s summary the Committee says “There should be a shift to a more risk-proportionate regulatory environment; where regulations, advertising rules and tax duties reflect the evidence of the relative harms of the various e-cigarette and tobacco products available. While an evidence-based approach is important in its own right, it also would help bring forward the behaviours that we want as a society—less smoking, and greater use and acceptance of e-cigarettes and novel tobacco products if that serves to reduce smoking rates.”

Source:

https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/science-and-technology-committee/news-parliament-2017/e-cigarettes-report-publication-17-19/

Sri Lanka Plans to Execute Drug Offenders

Posted 04-Sep-18

The Guardian reports that the Sri Lankan president, Maithripala Sirisena, told his cabinet in July that he “was ready to sign the death warrants” of repeat drug offenders, according to his spokesman Rajitha Senaratne. Sri Lanka has commuted death sentences for serious crimes to life in prison since 1976 but the Sri Lankan president said “From now on, we will hang drug offenders without commuting their death sentences.” Sri Lankan ministers said that the change in policy was prompted by the growth in drug problems in the country and its increasing use as a transhipment point for drug trafficking. There are 19 drug offenders whose death sentences had been commuted to life and The Guardian cites local media reports quoting Senaratne as saying that they would now face execution.

Source:

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/jul/11/sri-lanka-to-begin-hanging-drug-dealers-to-replicate-success-of-philippines

Smoking Banned in Paris Parks

Posted 04-Sep-18

Paris authorities are planning to ban smoking in public parks from the autumn according to The Telegraph. Laurence Goldgrab, a Paris councillor, said the ban was prompted by public hygiene and public health concerns and seeks to cut down the number of discarded cigarette ends as well as discourage smoking. A trial ban has been imposed this summer in four parks, with a plan to extend the ban to all Parisian parks within months. The city estimated that around 350 tons of cigarette butts were collected in Paris in 2017. People caught throwing cigarette ends on the ground will now receive a fine of €68 (£60).

Source:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/07/04/paris-authorities-try-stub-french-smoking-habit-public-parks/

FDA Publishes Guidance on Development of Drugs for Medication-assisted Treatment

Posted 04-Sep-18

Policy and Medicine reports that on 6 August, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released draft guidance, Opioid Use Disorder: Endpoints for Demonstrating Effectiveness of Drugs for Medication-Assisted Treatment Guidance for Industry. The guidance attempts to encourage the development of new medication-assisted treatment (MAT) drugs for the treatment of opioid use disorder and indicates a new approach by the FDA in its evaluation of such drugs. “We must consider new ways to gauge success beyond simply whether a patient in recovery has stopped using opioids, such as reducing relapse overdoses and infectious disease transmission,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. This draft guidance follows another draft guidance published by the FDA in April about drug development and trial design issues relevant to the study of depot buprenorphine products. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said “The evidence is clear: medication-assisted treatment works, and it is a key piece of defeating the drug crisis facing our country. The FDA’s new guidances have the potential to bring new medications to market that are more closely tailored to patient needs and help give Americans facing addiction a better chance at recovery.”

Sources

https://www.policymed.com/2018/08/fda-releases-draft-guidance-on-new-mat-opioid-use-disorder-treatments.html

https://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/Guidances/UCM615743.pdf

National Ban on Smoking in Public Places in Japan

Posted 06-Aug-18

In July the Japanese parliamentary upper house, the Diet, passed an amendment to the country’s Health Promotion Act 2002 banning smoking in public spaces across the country. The ban will be implemented in stages but completely in place by April 2020, and before the Tokyo Olympics start in July. The Japan Times reports that the amendment designates certain public institutions such as schools, hospitals and municipal offices as nonsmoking. Non-compliant operators and smokers will face fines of up to 500,000 yen and 300,000 yen respectively. But for some public facilities, including restaurants and bars, the amendment only prohibits indoor smoking. Additionally, even inside these spaces, smoking will be allowed in segregated, well-ventilated rooms, where no drinking or eating will be permitted. Establishments capitalized at 50 million yen or lower and with a floor space of up to 100 square metres can choose to allow smoking if they put up a sign warning their customers. Consequently, The Japan Times reports that an estimated 55 percent of restaurants and bars nationwide will be exempt from the ban. In contrast, an anti-smoking ordinance adopted by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in June is expected to make more than 80 percent of the city’s restaurants and bars smoke-free. The Japan Times observes that the amendment had met resistance from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and tobacco industry groups which had led to the amendment being weakened. According to Japan’s health ministry the measure will raise the World Health Organization’s grading of Japan’s anti-smoking efforts by one rank to the second-lowest level.

Sources:

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/07/18/national/crime-legal/japans-watered-smoking-ban-clears-diet/#.W2GorjqWyUm

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/05/31/national/science-health/japan-violating-anti-smoking-treaty-bowing-tobacco-industry-expert-says/#.W2LPuzqWyUk

Drug War Continues in Philippines

Posted 06-Aug-18

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said in his State of the Nation address in July that the anti-drug campaign, which has led to thousands of deaths in his country, would continue. President Duterte said, “Let me begin by putting it bluntly: the war against illegal drugs is far from over,” adding “It will be as relentless and chilling, if you will, as on the day it began.” Since the anti-drug campaign began in June 2016, 4,354 alleged drug users and dealers have been killed in police operations, according to the government’s figures. However, the New Straits Times reports that human rights organizations and other critics of the campaign say the true number of deaths could be three times higher. New rules governing police operations were introduced in January 2018 following public outcry about the deaths of three teenagers, including 17-year-old Kian delos Santos in August 2017, as a result of police actions. Rappler, an online news service that has been strongly critical of President Duterte and his anti-drug campaign, reports that an order issued to all police officers states that the “Rule of law shall always prevail during the conduct of anti-illegal drugs operations and respect for human rights shall always be strictly observed." Under the new rules, police operations should take place only during the day and the police should wear body cameras and be accompanied by human rights observers. Deaths have fallen since the introduction of the new rules, according to Rappler, from an average of 5 deaths per 100 anti-drug operations to one per 100.

Sources:

https://www.nst.com.my/world/2018/07/393720/philippines-duterte-pledges-unrelenting-drug-war

https://www.rappler.com/nation/207947-pnp-report-death-toll-war-on-drugs-july-sona-2018-philippines

Plain Packaging in Canada

Posted 06-Aug-18

The Canadian federal government passed the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act in May. The legislation imposes new plain and standardized packaging for cigarettes and introduces new regulations around the sale and promotion of alternative tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes. On 22 June the Canadian Health Minister, Ginette Petitpas Taylor, released new national regulations for the plain packaging, which are subject to a 75-day consultation period. Plain packaging is expected to be in operation in Canada sometime in 2019.

Sources:

http://strategyonline.ca/2018/05/11/government-to-impose-plain-packaging-on-tobacco-products/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=government-to-impose-plain-packaging-on-tobacco-products

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/news/2018/06/plain-and-standardized-appearance-for-tobacco-packaging.html

Cannabis Policy Changes in New York

Posted 06-Aug-18

Manhattan District Attorney (DA), Cyrus Vance, announced a new policy in July that will end the prosecution of cannabis possession and use in the New York borough. The initiative follows the publication of a report from the DA’s office, Marijuana, Fairness and Public Policy. Prosecutions will be made only where cannabis is being sold or “it poses a significant threat to public safety.” “Every day I ask our prosecutors to keep Manhattan safe and make our justice system more equal and fair,” Mr Vance said in a statement accompanying the announcement, adding “The needless criminalisation of pot smoking frustrates this core mission, so we are removing ourselves from the equation”. The DA’s office estimates that prosecutions for cannabis offences would drop from 5,000 cases per year to 200 per year in the borough. The new Manhattan policy follows New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement in June that from 1 September, New York City police will give summonses for those caught smoking cannabis, while still arresting those with past arrests or convictions. According to The New York Times Mayor de Blasio said that one of the goals of the new policy would be to address the sharp racial disparity in cannabis offence arrests. These moves come against a backdrop of strong signals from incumbent New York State Governor, Andrew M. Cuomo(Democrat), that his administration is considering cannabis legalization across the state. Governor Cuomo is facing competition from Cynthia Nixon, who favours cannabis legalization, in the Democrat Party primaries in his forthcoming re-election campaign.

Sources:

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/marijuana-smoke-manhattan-nyc-cannabis-weed-smoking-cyrus-vance-a8472091.html

https://www.manhattanda.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/DANY-Report-on-the-Legalization-of-Recreational-Marijuana-Final.pdf

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/19/nyregion/nypd-marijuana-arrests-new-york-city.html

Medical Use of Cannabis-based Products to Be Allowed in UK

Posted 06-Aug-18

In June the UK Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, commissioned reviews of the medical and therapeutic benefits of cannabis from the Chief Medical Advisor to the UK government, Professor Dame Sally Davies, and the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). The move followed widespread media attention given to cases involving children being denied access to cannabis oil to control epileptic seizures, most notably 12-year-old Billy Caldwell and six-year-old Alfie Dingley. In her review, Professor Dame Sally Davies concluded that there is evidence that medicinal cannabis has therapeutic benefits. In its review the ACMD recommended that such products meeting a “clear definition of what constitutes a cannabis-derived medicinal product” should be placed in Schedule 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001. Cannabis has been a Schedule 1 drug and considered to have no therapeutic value and cannot be lawfully possessed or prescribed in the UK. Following these reviews, Sajid Javid announced on 26 July that he has decided to reschedule cannabis-derived medicinal products and allow them to be prescribed. Javid said that “This will help patients with an exceptional clinical need, but is in no way a first step to the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use.” The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the Medicines and Health products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will develop a definition of what constitutes a cannabis-derived medicinal product so that they can be rescheduled and prescribed. Only products meeting this definition will be rescheduled and other forms of cannabis will not be available on prescription. Ash Soni, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, observed that moving cannabis-based medicinal products to Schedule 2 would allow “research to understand the benefits and risks.”

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jul/19/cannabis-based-medicines-should-be-allowed-say-uk-drug-advisers

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/cannabis-derived-medicinal-products-to-be-made-available-on-prescription

Supreme Court of Canada Rules against Tobacco Company in Health Data Case

Posted 06-Aug-18

CTV News reports that the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on 13 July that British Columbia (B.C.) does not have to give the tobacco company, Philip Morris International, access to detailed B.C. health databases to help the company in its defence in a damages trial. Together with the other provincial governments of Canada, B.C. is suing the tobacco company to recoup smoking-related health-care expenditures in the province. Philip Morris International had wanted access to B.C. databases which compiled individual health-care records about individuals, including details of medical services and prescription drug use. The tobacco company rejected a compromise offered by the B.C. government that would give it and other tobacco companies restricted access through an agreement with Statistics Canada. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the province’s favour, saying that the disclosure of such information is barred by a provision of the B.C. legislation protecting "health care records and documents of particular individual insured persons." A trial date of 4 November 2019 has been set in New Brunswick for the first damages trial in Canada, with other provinces still in preparatory stages.

Sources:

https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/supreme-court-affirms-privacy-protections-in-tobacco-health-data-case-1.4011875

https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/17185/index.do