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posted by martyb on Sunday June 12 2016, @10:10PM   Printer-friendly
from the Hooked-on-Profits? dept.

The recent uptick in heroin and opioid addiction along with new laws are making addiction treatment an attractive target for investors:

Every crisis presents an opportunity, as the saying goes. And when it comes to opioid addiction, investors and businesses are seeing a big opportunity in addiction treatment. Places like [Gosnold on Cape Cod] are being gobbled up by private equity companies and publicly-traded chains looking to do what is known in Wall Street jargon as a roll-up play. They take a fragmented industry, buy up the bits and pieces and consolidate them into big, branded companies where they hope to make a profit by streamlining and cutting costs.

One company that advises investors listed 27 transactions in which private equity firms or public companies bought or invested in addiction treatment centers and other so-called behavioral health companies in 2014 and 2015 alone. Acadia Healthcare is one national chain that has been on a shopping spree. In 2010 it had only six facilities, but today it has 587 across the country and in the United Kingdom.

What's driving the growth? The opioid addiction crisis is boosting demand for treatment and two relatively recent laws are making it easier to get insurers to pay for it. The Mental Health Parity Act of 2008 requires insurers to cover mental health care as they would cover physical health care. "Mental health parity was the beginning. We saw a big benefit. And then the Affordable Care Act was very positive for our industry," says Joey Jacobs, Acadia's CEO. He spoke at an investor conference last month.

Marketplace has an article about how data and new databases are being used to track and prevent addiction. It cites the following report from Health Affairs:

Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs Are Associated With Sustained Reductions In Opioid Prescribing By Physicians (DOI: 10.1377/hlthaff.2015.1673)


Original Submission

Related Stories

One Upside to Opioid Overdoses: More Organ Donors 21 comments

More organs have become available for transplant in British Columbia, Canada, due to a rise in drug overdoses:

After a brutal year where more than 900 people died of drug overdoses in British Columbia, doctors are pointing to one morbid upside. It might sound like something out of a dystopian horror comic, where drug users are wiped out and harvested for organs. New stats released by the health agency responsible for organ transplants show that's not exactly a far-off nightmare anymore. Health officials have noticed a significant uptick in organ donor deaths, and say that fentanyl is likely playing a role. According to BC Transplant, the number of organ donors in the first weeks of 2017 has doubled over this time last year, from 10 to 20. That's resulted in 59 transplants, up from 37 organs over the same period in 2016.

[...] "We started tracking the connection between fentanyl and organ donation more closely at the start of 2017, and fentanyl has been a contributing factor in about a quarter of our donors so far this year." BC Transplant's statement cautions against drawing conclusions based on a small amount of recent data. But long term trends show the proportion of organ donors dying from overdose has gone up steadily over many years. Back in 2013, 7.5 percent of organ donors tested positive for drugs. In 2016, that number rose to 22.7 percent.

Previously: Opioid Addiction is Big Business
Obama Administration Expands Access to Suboxone Treatment
DEA Welcomes Kratom to the Schedule I List Beginning September 30
Heroin, Fentanyl? Meh: Carfentanil is the Latest Killer Opioid
The Calm Before the Kratom Ban


Original Submission

Senate Investigators Google Their Way to $766 Million of Fentanyl 66 comments

With Google, Bitcoins, and USPS, Feds realize it's stupid easy to buy fentanyl

A congressional report released Wednesday lays out just how easy it is for Americans to buy the deadly opioid fentanyl from Chinese suppliers online and have it shipped to them via the government's own postal service. The report also lays out just how difficult the practice will be to stop.

After Googling phrases such as "fentanyl for sale," Senate investigators followed up with just six of the online sellers they found. This eventually led them to 500 financial transaction records, accounting for about $766 million worth of fentanyl entering the country and at least seven traceable overdose deaths.

[...] "Thanks to our bipartisan investigation, we now know the depth to which drug traffickers exploit our mail system to ship fentanyl and other synthetic drugs into the United States," Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio said in a statement. "The federal government can, and must, act to shore up our defenses against this deadly drug and help save lives."

Related: Opioid Addiction is Big Business
Heroin, Fentanyl? Meh: Carfentanil is the Latest Killer Opioid
Tip for Darknet Drug Lords: Don't Wear Latex Gloves to the Post Office
Cop Brushes Fentanyl Off Uniform, Overdoses
Congress Reacts to Reports that a 2016 Law Hindered DEA's Ability to go after Opioid Distributors
Opioid Crisis Official; Insys Therapeutics Billionaire Founder Charged; Walgreens Stocks Narcan


Original Submission

120 Pounds (54 kg) of Fentanyl Seized in Nebraska 35 comments

Record US fentanyl bust 'enough to kill 26 million people'

Nearly 120lbs (54kg) of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic painkiller, has been seized by police in Nebraska - one of the largest busts in US history.

The drugs, seized last month, could kill over 26 million people, according to estimates by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Police found the fentanyl in a fake compartment of a lorry. The driver and a passenger were arrested.

[...] It was the largest seizure of fentanyl in state history, Nebraska State Patrol said in a Twitter post on Thursday.

[...] Just 2mg of fentanyl - or a few grains of table salt - is a lethal dosage for most people, and even exposure can cause a fatal reaction, according to the DEA.

Another estimate: they could make 260 million people pain-free for a day.

Bonus story:

Mussels test positive for opioids in Seattle's Puget Sound

Scientists at the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife have found that mussels in Seattle's waters are testing positive for opioids. The finding suggests "a lot of people" are taking oxycodone in the Puget Sound, researchers say.

Also at the Puget Sound Institute.

Related: Opioid Addiction is Big Business
Heroin, Fentanyl? Meh: Carfentanil is the Latest Killer Opioid
Cop Brushes Fentanyl Off Uniform, Overdoses
Opioid Crisis Official; Insys Therapeutics Billionaire Founder Charged; Walgreens Stocks Narcan
U.S. Life Expectancy Continues to Decline Due to Opioid Crisis
Senate Investigators Google Their Way to $766 Million of Fentanyl
"Synthetic Opioids" Now Kill More People than Prescription Opioids in the U.S.
British Medical Journal Calls for Legalizing All Drugs


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 12 2016, @10:18PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 12 2016, @10:18PM (#358912)

    Oh sure. Obamacare is great for profit. For the people who remain uninsured, nothing Changed. Thanks for nothing, Obama.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by takyon on Sunday June 12 2016, @10:41PM

      by takyon (881) Subscriber Badge <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Sunday June 12 2016, @10:41PM (#358933) Journal

      It's not a surprise that the Affordable Care Act allows some companies to benefit at the expense of others.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 13 2016, @12:32AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 13 2016, @12:32AM (#358990)

        Closed; not fixing - works as intended.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 13 2016, @04:32AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 13 2016, @04:32AM (#359154)

          wontfix
          feature-not-a-bug
          closed

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 12 2016, @11:32PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 12 2016, @11:32PM (#358955)

      Are the financial types that are doing these "roll-ups" the same ones that contract to run prisons?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 13 2016, @04:07AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 13 2016, @04:07AM (#359127)

      If capitalists are finding new ways of making profits, they must be exploiting a bad system!

      Is that you, Bernie?

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 12 2016, @11:12PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 12 2016, @11:12PM (#358945)

    HIPAA doesn't apply to search engines. Bing "black tar danvers ma" and your insurance rate may go through the roof before you're addicted.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 13 2016, @12:13AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 13 2016, @12:13AM (#358975)

    Even without the addiction issue, opioids are very very bad. With perfectly legitimate use, they tend to kill people because they suppress breathing. The people most in need of opioids are those with the most risk of death, and opioids push them over the edge.

    Oh, you're nearly dead from a car crash, so let's suppress your breathing! WTF, this shit is horrible.

    It's not as if we don't have alternatives. Depending on need, we have everything from plain aspirin to exotic stuff like Ziconotide.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by butthurt on Monday June 13 2016, @12:37AM

      by butthurt (6141) on Monday June 13 2016, @12:37AM (#358996) Journal

      Ask your doctor about ziconotide! Side effects may include dizziness, nausea, confusion, nystagmus, headache, weakness, hypertonia, ataxia, abnormal vision, anorexia, somnolence, unsteadiness on feet, vertigo, urinary retention, pruritis, increased sweating, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, asthenia, fever, rigors, sinusitis, muscle spasms, myalgia, insomnia, anxiety, amnesia, nystagmus, tremor, memory impairment, induced psychiatric disorders, auditory and visual hallucinations, thoughts of suicide, acute renal failure, atrial fibrilation, cardiovascular accident, sepsis, new or worsening depression, paranoia, disorientation, meningitis, seizures and explosive ennui.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by sjames on Monday June 13 2016, @03:19AM

      by sjames (2882) on Monday June 13 2016, @03:19AM (#359101) Journal

      Actually, they're not bad at all when used judiciously. If you're nearly dead from a car crash, you're likely on a respirator. Part of the problem is patients getting cut off cold turkey to please the DEA. Ziconotide btw, must be injected directly into the spine. I can see it's value in some cases but I'll bet most people would rather take their chance with opioids where feasible.

      For people in chronic pain, addiction isn't as much of a problem as tolerance and wind up(it's not like they can stop taking whatever painkiller they're on anyway).

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by GungnirSniper on Monday June 13 2016, @06:53AM

      by GungnirSniper (1671) on Monday June 13 2016, @06:53AM (#359205) Journal

      You've young and don't have chronic pain, nor have ever broken a bone. Aspirin barely does a damn thing, and even ibuprofen can barely take a dent out of pain when it alleviates swelling. The lowering of breaths does not happen without massive abuse or an already-near-death patient.

      To prevent alleviation of pain is immoral and a greater sin than allowing people to knowingly risk themselves to avoid it.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 13 2016, @04:00PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 13 2016, @04:00PM (#359401)

        I broke a finger and a foot. I didn't get shit for either. I kept hopping around with the broken foot, then got a camwalker boot and went about my business almost like normal.

        I'm over 40 now. My joints hurt. My teeth hurt. My cracked heels hurt. My butthole hurts. My muscles often hurt. My drug usage: aspirin about once per year, normally when I'm sick.

        Maybe putting up with pain runs in my family. My grandma had temporal arteriasis, which is some horrible inflamation of blood vescles in the brain, and really bad twisted and deformed feet. She never complained. My dad had his rib cage sawed open and his heart valve replaced, was up and walking the next day, demanded to be off the opioids after a day or two, and was out of the hospital in less than a week. (4 days if I remember right)

        Try not be be a wuss, OK? That's how you end up a druggie.

        • (Score: 3, Funny) by https on Monday June 13 2016, @06:23PM

          by https (5248) on Monday June 13 2016, @06:23PM (#359505)

          You are a fucking idiot. The human body heals faster and better when relaxed than when tense, you wuss.

          --
          Offended and laughing about it.
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 13 2016, @08:49PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 13 2016, @08:49PM (#359603)

            I guess heroin addicts must be in great health.

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Dunbal on Monday June 13 2016, @12:31AM

    by Dunbal (3515) on Monday June 13 2016, @12:31AM (#358989)

    A private "addiction treatment center" has absolutely zero incentive on actually getting you off the addictive drugs and plenty of incentive to keep you on them.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 13 2016, @12:36AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 13 2016, @12:36AM (#358994)

    Opioid should be reserved for dying patient. Amphetamines are generally more effective to manage chronic pain when there is no inflammation (I learned that in a footnote in the Canadian vyvanse monography and tested it on my wife), cannabis is as effective when there is inflammation (see patent US6630507 secondary claims) and NDMA agonist like ephenidine, ketamine or tiletamine are stronger for acute pain. The fact that opioïdes are still preferentially used for pain management reeks of hypocrisy and ignorance

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 13 2016, @12:39AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 13 2016, @12:39AM (#358997)

      Or maybe malice and rent seeking

  • (Score: 2) by aristarchus on Monday June 13 2016, @01:03AM

    by aristarchus (2645) Subscriber Badge on Monday June 13 2016, @01:03AM (#359009) Journal

    Hmm, where have I heard this before? A product that locks the consumer in, offers a free trial version, relentlessly pressures the consumer with ads based on fear of death, and pop-ups with no way to refuse? No, not systemd, something much more insidious. What was it called?

    --
    #freearistarchus!!!
    • (Score: 2) by Hyperturtle on Monday June 13 2016, @01:26AM

      by Hyperturtle (2824) Subscriber Badge on Monday June 13 2016, @01:26AM (#359019)

      Those that ignore history (in the search for profits) are doomed to repeat it. I believe you are looking for the historical precedent called "The Opium Wars." Perhaps they did not have ads as you discuss, but the whole opium trade was rigged against ignorant consumers.

      Except now, insurance pays for it with a veil of legality--up until the patient is cut off, of course. That's when the most obvious problems start for a user. I find it hard to believe there are so many people that don't remember this stuff in social studied at school, or whatever their world history was called. Even the ancient Greeks respected opium -- and the harm it could cause. Imperialism depended on it to fund itself many centuries later.

      They say that if you smoke three pipes a day, you are an addict. Today, it is more like here is a 10 day supply, come back if you are still in pain. It takes about that long to habituate on some of these painkillers...

      It doesn't help that the industry was very well rewarded for solving the pain problem. Drug dealers are not much different... insurance, trial doses.. the first one is free... both are very still true tenets for subscription sales and the consumer, and the pharmaceutical and medical industries.

      Those doomed to repeat it weren't the drug dealers, but the consumers. Just like then, the the real pain was felt by the lay person -- not the industry.

      • (Score: 2) by aristarchus on Monday June 13 2016, @08:04AM

        by aristarchus (2645) Subscriber Badge on Monday June 13 2016, @08:04AM (#359239) Journal

        I was going for Windows 10. Oh, well, wars against English drug lords is almost the same.

        --
        #freearistarchus!!!
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 13 2016, @03:34PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 13 2016, @03:34PM (#359388)

          I agree! Opiates... are the opiates of the masses, but to keep them under control when they are not addicted, we have windows 10. The first year is free!

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 13 2016, @04:01AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 13 2016, @04:01AM (#359121)

    But is this being pushed through the mass media because the war on some drugs profiteers need a new purpose, now that marijuana is becoming legal?

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday June 13 2016, @04:13AM

      by takyon (881) Subscriber Badge <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Monday June 13 2016, @04:13AM (#359134) Journal

      The way I understand it, addictions to prescription opiates are on the rise, and when you run out of ways to get the prescriptions, you turn to stuff like heroin and fentanyl. Heroin in particular is very cheap compared to the prescription opiates. Heroin has been a schedule I drug since 1970. Fentanyl is only schedule II.

      I don't think there's anything new about heroin, cocaine, etc. being targets of the Drug War. What's new is that a relatively safe and massively overscheduled drug is coming off the list (slowly).

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 13 2016, @05:29PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 13 2016, @05:29PM (#359463)

      I was thinking the same thing. Big pharma isn't going to win either way. People who have access to it often prefer cannabis flower for controlling pain instead of whatever concoctions big pharma makes from opium. The method of action is different, too. With cannabis flower, the pain doesn't become numb. It becomes manageable instead of debilitating.

      For puritans, though, this is a massive travesty, and they need to focus their efforts elsewhere. Such as the Narrative I've seen where the puritans are trying to convince everyone that the same benefits as cannabis flower can be had simply with talk therapy.

      I've often suspected that people like Mr. "I only use aspirin once a year" up there have overactive endocannabinoid systems.