Friday Links

  1. Building a better painkiller.

    In 1915, for example, Roche introduced a drug called Pantopon, which was also made from the opium poppy. It was said to be less addictive than morphine because it contained multiple compounds from the plant, which was supposed to be safer because it was more “natural.” It wasn’t.


    In fact, the basis for the initial claim about OxyContin’s reduced addiction potential wasn’t actually wrong: The drug was a long-acting medication that was delivered slowly and steadily to the brain.

    Unfortunately, recreational users almost immediately figured out how to defeat its time-release mechanism by crushing the pills, which then delivered a quick, massive dose when snorted, eaten, or injected.


    The current version of OxyContin [..] contains substances that turn it into a gel if people try to dissolve it, which makes the drug almost impossible to get into a syringe. The tablets are also far more difficult to grind up small enough to defeat the time-release mechanism by snorting or swallowing a crushed pill.

(It is opportune to point out that persisten pain is a major health problem and we should be careful about taking needed medication away from people who suffer. Radley Balko has a good series on this).

2. Scientists may feel that the science is settled, but perhaps we should teach the controversy


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