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posted by martyb on Tuesday February 21 2017, @08:13AM   Printer-friendly
from the higher-availability dept.

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

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  • (Score: 3, Touché) by cafebabe on Tuesday February 21 2017, @11:07AM

    by cafebabe (894) on Tuesday February 21 2017, @11:07AM (#469653) Journal

    In the article about Heroin, Fentanyl and Carfentanil [], I noted []:-

    Through selective breeding and/or gene editing, work is advancing to make yeast which makes opioids and/or opioid precursors. I understand that progress is about two or three steps short of dihydrocodeine and something psychoactive may be achieved within five years. When (or before) that occurs, opiates will only require one or two steps beyond brewing beer or wine. What happens from there?

    Well, the yeast will get widely propagated throughout the world and the cost of a hit of heroin (or equivalent) becomes about twice as expensive as beer. Opiate addiction and overdose will then reach record levels.

    And the powerful won't care because it dovetails with organ harvesting [].

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by VLM on Tuesday February 21 2017, @01:07PM

    by VLM (445) on Tuesday February 21 2017, @01:07PM (#469662)

    Opiate addiction and overdose will then reach record levels.

    Yeah I wonder about that. I think I have access to heroin if I want it, which I don't.

    Kinda like I have infinite access to cheap alcohol, but I don't drink much (barely at all, really) so alcoholism is unlikely diagnosis for me.

    I suspect given the incredible addictiveness of that stuff that anyone susceptible will do anything to get it resulting in not much change if availability were free.

    The main cultural reaction I'd really enjoy seeing is a collapse in street crime, if an addict has to smash my car windows and break into my garage today, and in a decade yeast grown stuff is so cheap that panhandling for an hour will keep him high for weeks, I'm super stoked about that outcome. Its not as good as legalization and transferring all the "civil war on drugs" money into treatment, but at least its a positive step.

    I wonder if there's any BOINC or "folding at home" type distributed processing projects I could contribute to, because for my safety and the safety of my family I can't wait until opiates are cheaper than bottled water.

    • (Score: 2) by cafebabe on Tuesday February 21 2017, @02:03PM

      by cafebabe (894) on Tuesday February 21 2017, @02:03PM (#469672) Journal

      I'm going to be offline for a few days or more but I may return with a worrying dystopia. The outline is as follows:-

      1. Cost of alcohol continues to fall. I've had a tour of a brewery and it is scary to see 30 people make 0.5 million pints per week. The current limitation is distribution. If a brewery made 10 times the volume of beer then it wouldn't have 10 times the distribution area. It would just saturate one urban area. However, with robotic vehicles, 30 people could oversee the production of 10 million pints per week.
      2. Cost of opiates could be twice the cost of beer while having a much stronger effect. Contraband opiate yeast would lead to moonshine which risks immediate blindness *and* immediate opiate overdose.
      3. You'll see a decrease in petty crime. However, you'll see an increase in violent crime because opiate addicts won't feel any pain. They'll feel like 18 year olds in peak physical fitness even if they're really messed up from multiple, serious fights. I hope that point is self-evident to anyone who's been prescribed opiates and felt absolutely great.
      4. At a really coarse, economic level, your cost of living will increase. Life expectancy (of addicts) will decrease. Therefore, the taxable income which goes into immunization, education and training gets less return. Yes, we can harvest the spare organs but it is much more cost effective to keep them in their original bundles.

      Actually, from that description, it sounds like a zombie invasion. Act accordingly.

      • (Score: 2) by VLM on Tuesday February 21 2017, @02:43PM

        by VLM (445) on Tuesday February 21 2017, @02:43PM (#469683)

        moonshine which risks immediate blindness

        Yeah that's "reefer madness" stuff from prohibition, still around. I used to brew and being into or formerly into chemistry I dug in and its pretty interesting.

        First of all if you drink about 10000L of fruit juice relatively quickly or maybe 4 or 5 pallets of apple crates you'll die. Long before you'd get really sick from methanol poisoning.

        Its interesting that the problem is the fruit juice itself. Brewing just makes lazy adult humans drink more fruit juice, and obviously distillation concentrates it even more. Drinking six liters of hard cider a day won't give you any worse methanol poisoning than drinking six liters of plain old apple juice, its just more culturally acceptable or believable that someone lost their sight or died from alcohol consumption instead of drinking literal gallons per day of cider.

        Pectin in fruit (the same stuff that makes jam/jellies) can ferment or get enzymatically converted into methanol. Its a measurable problem.

        When you brew cider they want you to run a clarify step to filter the pectin and pulp crap out with diatom earth or high tech high pressure filters to clean it. I suppose a lazy as hell cider brewer could skip that and generate a murky looking brew that produces wicked hangovers. If you were to distill that into a brandy and drink a couple liters a day, assuming your liver didn't kill you, after a couple years long term methanol intake could be an issue. But most people would have died of liver cancer long before the methanol makes them blind. Yet, its statistics, and maybe 1 in 100 will live long enough to go blind first. In summary if you drink an insane amount of hard cider you'll die, and most will die of liver cancer and other extreme alcoholism effects but the extreme tail end will include people dying of methanol related problems. If you're not drinking enough to die its not going to be a problem.

        Real methanol poisoning DID happen but its because methanol smells alcohol-ish and temporarily gets people high, but its like claiming that Agatha Christie detective novels involve poison delivered by tea therefore tea is inherently poisonous. Or a heroin dealer trying to kill off someone could cut the stuff with rat poison therefore heroin is inherently poisonous. Nope. People die from methanol poisoning and its just simple first degree murder, nothing to do with brewing other than reefer madness level propaganda from the prohibition era. If someone wants to kill you or wants to frame a supplier for killing you, and you're drinking liquor, well, the drinking booze makes it easier. To some extent its like arguing gun control. Gun has never hurt anyone, ever, but murderers using guns is a problem. If a cop walked into a speakeasy during prohibition and ordered a screwdriver, it was quite possibly OJ and paint thinner, but thats because they wanted to kill the cop, not because brewing makes significant amounts of methanol. So yeah people have been killed by methanol poisoning, but its a very rare first degree murder problem not an industry wide production problem.

        Its a pity that separating methanol from water is as hard as separating ethanol as its "almost" a fuel source. If you get a fraction of a percent by volume from a million gallons of apple cider, that's probably enough to run in an engine to power at least part of the cider press plant. A small percentage of a hell of a lot of stuff is a modest amount.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by zeigerpuppy on Tuesday February 21 2017, @02:03PM

      by zeigerpuppy (1298) on Tuesday February 21 2017, @02:03PM (#469673)

      opiates are already very cheap, grow poppies.
      the cost is caused by keeping it illegal.
      we'll probably look back at current drug policy much as we look back at the alcohol prohibition era. A massive waste of resources and lives that does nothing but enable criminality.

  • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Tuesday February 21 2017, @07:50PM

    by DeathMonkey (1380) on Tuesday February 21 2017, @07:50PM (#469848) Journal

    Well, the yeast will get widely propagated throughout the world and the cost of a hit of heroin (or equivalent) becomes about twice as expensive as beer. Opiate addiction and overdose will then reach record levels.
    Why bother with all that nonsense? According to our president they're already cheaper than a candy bar.