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Fentanyl Is Now the Leading Cause of All Overdose Deaths

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We’re in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic in the U.S., and the synthetic opioid fentanyl has now surpassed heroin and oxycodone as the leading cause of overdose deaths. In 2016, fentanyl was involved in nearly 30 percent of drug overdose deaths, accounting for more than 18,300 deaths that year.1 It’s a sharp rise from 2011, when the drug was involved in just 4 percent of such deaths.

In 2011, oxycodone, the active drug in prescription painkillers such as Percodan and Percocet, was responsible for the most overdose deaths. The title then transitioned to heroin from 2012 to 2015,2 and now fentanyl.

The rate of drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl doubled each year from 2013 through 2016, from 0.6 per 100,000 in 2013 to 5.9 in 2016, according to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics.3

“Fentanyl is so deadly in the geographic regions where it’s been flooding in, deaths soared like we’ve never seen before,” Dr. Andrew Kolodny, cofounder of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, told CNN.4

What Makes Fentanyl so Deadly?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that’s up to 100 times stronger than morphine. Originally developed as a pharmaceutical drug for the treatment of cancer pain (typically administered in the form of a patch on the skin), fentanyl soon became a drug of choice for abuse.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies fentanyl as a Schedule II substance, which means it has a high potential for abuse, and abuse may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.5 According to the DEA:6

“Fentanyl is added to heroin to increase its potency, or be disguised as highly potent heroin. Many users believe that they are purchasing heroin and actually don’t know that they are purchasing fentanyl — which often results in overdose deaths. Clandestinely-produced fentanyl is primarily manufactured in Mexico.”

Fentanyl has a number of street names, ranging from China White and Apace to Great Bear and He-Man, but the ones that are the most fitting are Poison and Murder 8. When fentanyl is ingested, it produces a sense of well-being or euphoria that reduces anxiety and aggression.

The high is intense, but it’s also only temporary, giving way to drowsiness, trouble concentrating and apathy. If too much is taken, fentanyl can also lead to slowed respiration, reduced blood pressure, nausea, fainting, seizures, coma and death.

“As the dose is increased,” the DEA notes, “both the pain relief and the harmful effects become more pronounced. Some of these preparations are so potent that a single dose can be lethal to an inexperienced user. However, except in cases of extreme intoxication, there is no loss of motor coordination or slurred speech.”7

Psychological and Physical Dependence Are Common With Fentanyl Use

Because of fentanyl’s potency, it’s easy to quickly become dependent. A person who’s physically dependent on fentanyl will experience withdrawal symptoms when drug use is discontinued. At first, this may be in the form of a runny nose and sweating, but it will progress into irritability, cravings for the drug, depression, increased heart rate and blood pressure, chills, flushing and excessive sweating.8

As for psychological dependence, this can continue even after the physical need for the drug has passed, and may cause the person to think about using the drug and have trouble coping with daily activities without it.9

Both prescription and “black market” fentanyl are problematic. Prescription varieties, which exist in tablet, nasal spray, patch, injectable and lozenge formulations, may be obtained by patients, physicians or pharmacists distributing them, as well as via theft or fraudulent prescriptions.

Illegally produced fentanyl can also be found, typically in powder or tablet formulations and sometimes in combination with heroin. Fentanyl has also been identified in counterfeit pills meant to mimic oxycodone.

According to the DEA, data from the National Forensic Laboratory Information System reveals increasing reports on both pharmaceutical and illegal fentanyl by federal, state and local forensic laboratories in the U.S., increasing from 5,400 reports in 2014 to more than 14,600 in 2015.10 The rise in fentanyl usage is a sign that the opioid epidemic may get worse before it gets better.

As Dr. Harshal Kirane, director of addiction services at Staten Island University Hospital in New York City, said in a news release, “It represents an evolution of the opioid crises in which patterns have shifted to a much more potent drug, putting users at a greater risk of overdose and death.”11

Are Doctors Prescribing Fentanyl for Everyday Pain?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved fentanyl for treating breakthrough pain in cancer patients — a type of severe pain that occurs despite the patient being treated with other painkillers. Yet, in a complaint filed by the U.S. government, it’s alleged that Insys, which manufactures Subsys, a fentanyl under-the-tongue spray, focused its marketing campaign on treating pain in general.

The complaint is the result of an investigation into five whistleblower cases filed by former Insys sales representatives as well as workers of a pharmacy benefits manager that processed insurance claims for Subsys.12

Subsys was approved in 2012 and approached sales of $500 million just three years later. This dramatic rise in sales was not happenstance but a carefully orchestrated marketing ploy of a highly addictive drug.

In May 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it was intervening in the five whistleblower lawsuits, which accuse Insys of paying illegal kickbacks and defrauding federal health programs in the marketing of Subsys.

The complaint further reveals some of the tactics Subsys used to get doctors to write more prescriptions. Among them, a pain specialist from Florida was taken to a strip club and a shooting range by Insys executives.

Medicare has paid more than $3 million for Subsys prescriptions from this one doctor, since 2012. In another case, sales reps offered another Florida pain specialist a full-time job for his girlfriend, if he could increase his prescriptions of Subsys. He wrote prescriptions for 60 units over the course of just two days, and his girlfriend received the job a month or two later.

Meanwhile, while the drug was only supposed to be used for cancer patients, Insys sales reps frequently promoted the drug for off-label uses to doctors without cancer patients, for treating chronic pain ranging from back pain to headaches. In fact, up to 90 percent of Subsys prescriptions are for off-label uses,13 even though the potential for deadly overdose is high.

Stat News reported on one such death — 32-year-old Sara Fuller, who was prescribed the Subsys to treat pain from car accidents and fibromyalgia. A year later, she died from a drug overdose, with a toxicology screen showing a lethal level of fentanyl in her blood.14

Is Your Doctor Paid by Opioid Makers?

Many are not aware that doctors receive payments from pharmaceutical companies, even those marketing dangerous opioid drugs. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health15 used the online Open Payments Program from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to reveal opioid-related payments to physicians between August 2013 and December 2015.

More than 375,000 nonresearch opioid-related payments were made to more than 68,000 physicians, totaling more than $46 million. This amounts to 1 in 12 U.S. physicians receiving money from drug companies producing prescription opioids. The top 1 percent of physicians received nearly 83 percent of the payments, and fentanyl was associated with the highest payments.

You can also use Open Payments to search and find out what (if any) payments your doctor has received from the pharmaceutical industry, along with the nature of the payments.

Are Opioids Necessary for Pain Relief?

A case could be argued for giving fentanyl to a terminally ill cancer patient near the end of his life. That case gets much harder to support, however, when the patient is dealing with moderate or even severe pain from other causes, such as backache or fractures or other injury, as the risks are just too high.

What’s more, such drugs may not even be necessary to provide adequate relief. Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) suggests, for instance, that less risky opioid-free options may work just as well.16

The study evaluated the effects of four different combinations of pain relievers — three with different opioids and one opioid-free option composed of ibuprofen (i.e., Advil) and acetaminophen (i.e., Tylenol) — on people with moderate to severe pain in an extremity, due to bone fractures, shoulder dislocation and other injuries.

The patients had an average pain score of 8.7 (on a scale of zero to 10) when they arrived. Two hours later, after receiving one of the pain-relief combinations, their pain levels decreased similarly, regardless of which drug-combo they received. Specifically, pain scores fell by: 17

  • 4.3 in the ibuprofen and acetaminophen group
  • 4.4 in the oxycodone and acetaminophen group
  • 3.5 in the hydrocodone and acetaminophen group
  • 3.9 in the codeine and acetaminophen group

“For patients presenting to the ED with acute extremity pain, there were no statistically significant or clinically important differences in pain reduction at two hours among single-dose treatment with ibuprofen and acetaminophen or with three different opioid and acetaminophen combination analgesics,” the researchers concluded.18

Think Carefully Before Taking Opioids for Pain

According to the CDC, the number of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. has never been higher. From 1999 to 2016, 197,000 people have died from overdoses related to prescription opioids alone.19 It’s not uncommon for a person to start taking an opioid due to an injury, only to become dependent on the drug.

Then, when their prescription runs out and their doctor won’t prescribe anymore, they turn to the black market and may soon start taking heroin, fentanyl or a combination of the two.

Tolerance is also a common side effect of opioids, which means if you take such drugs for a chronic condition, like back pain, you might need to take more and more of the drug to get the same pain relief over time — which also puts you at risk of overdose. If you’re in pain, it can make you feel desperate for relief, but think carefully before resorting to opioids.

Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are generally safer options than opioids, but even these come with risks, which is why I recommend exhausting nondrug options for pain relief first.

Chiropractic adjustments,20 massage and acupuncture21 are examples of therapies that can get to the root of your pain, whereas tweaking your diet can also lead to relief from chronic pain conditions. There are even topical options, such as capsaicin cream, which is made from hot peppers, that are proven to decrease pain without the use of drugs.22

The opioid overdose epidemic has gotten so bad that even the CDC recommends talking to your doctor about ways to manage pain that don’t involve prescription opioids, and admits that some of the natural options below “may actually work better and have fewer risks and side effects”:23

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy “ … to modify physical, behavioral and emotional triggers of pain and stress”
  • Exercise therapy, including physical therapy
  • Exercise and weight loss
  • Other therapies such as acupuncture and massage

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Bill Gates: Third Shot May Be Needed to Combat Coronavirus Variants

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With more than 40 million Americans having received at least the first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, a third dose may be needed to prevent the spread of new variants of the disease, Bill Gates told CBS News Tuesday.

Gates’ comments come amid growing concern that the current vaccines are not effective against the more contagious Brazilian and South African variants.

Pfizer and Moderna have stated that their vaccines are 95% and 99% effective, respectively, against the initial strain of COVID. However, some scientists have questioned those statements. Additionally, the World Health Organization and vaccine companies have conceded that the vaccines do not prevent people from being infected with COVID or from transmitting it, but are only effective at reducing symptoms.

Gates told CBS Evening News:

“The discussion now is do we just need to get a super high coverage of the current vaccine, or do we need a third dose that’s just the same, or do we need a modified vaccine?”

U.S. vaccine companies are looking at making modifications, which Gates refers to as “tuning.”

People who have had two shots may need to get a third shot and people who have not yet been vaccinated would need the modified vaccine, explained Gates. When asked whether the coronavirus vaccine would be similar to the flu vaccine, which requires yearly boosters, Gates couldn’t rule that out. Until the virus is eradicated from all humans, Gates said, additional shots may be needed in the future.

AstraZeneca in particular has a challenge with the variant,” Gates explained. “And the other two, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax, are slightly less effective, but still effective enough that we absolutely should get them out as fast as we can while we study this idea of tuning the vaccine.”

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is funding the studies being conducted in Brazil and South Africa, CBS News said. The foundation has also invested in the AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and the Novavax vaccines, which are being tested against new variants. Once the AstraZeneca vaccine is approved, the Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative or GAVI, founded by Gates, will distribute it globally.

“Gates continues to move the goalposts,” said Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., chairman and chief legal counsel of Children’s Health Defense. “Meanwhile the strategies he and others have promoted are obliterating the global economy, demolishing the middle class, making the rich richer and censoring vaccine safety advocates, like me.”

Kennedy said that the exclusive focus on vaccines has prevented the kind of progress required to actually address and recover from the pandemic:

“From the pandemic’s outset, clear-headed people familiar with the challenges inherent in the vaccine model have understood that the path out of crisis would require multiple steps. Those steps would need to include the development and/or identification of therapeutic drugs, the sharing of information among doctors to hone improved treatment models that reduce infection mortality rates below those for flu, and the kind of broad-spectrum long-term herd immunity that protects against mutant strains and that only derives from natural infection.”

Instead, Gates and vaccine makers are proposing a lifetime of boosters, supporting insufficient testing to determine safety and failing to address the inadequate monitoring of vaccine injuries, Kennedy said.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Children’s Health Defense.

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Young nurse suffers from hemorrhage and brain swelling after second dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine

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(Natural News) A 28-year-old healthcare worker from the Swedish American Hospital, in Beloit, Wisconsin was recently admitted to the ICU just five days after receiving a second dose of Pfizer’s experimental mRNA vaccine. The previously healthy young woman was pronounced brain dead after cerebral angiography confirmed a severe hemorrhage stroke in her brain stem.

Her family members confirmed that she was “breaking out in rashes” after the vaccine. She also suffered from sudden migraine headaches, and got “sick” after taking the second dose of the vaccine. At the very end, she lost the ability to speak and went unconscious. The migraines, nausea, and loss of speech were all symptoms of a brain bleed and brain swelling, something her family did not understand at the time, and something nobody would expect after vaccination.

While on life support, neurologists used angiography to image the damage inside the brain. They found a subarachnoid hemorrhage, whereas a bulging blood vessel burst in the brain, bleeding out in the space between the brain and the tissue covering the brain. The ensuing swelling cut off oxygen to the brain and caused brain death. On February 10, 2021, Sarah reportedly had “no brain activity.” Some of the woman’s organs are now being procured, so they can be donated to other people around the world.

Doctors warn FDA about COVID vaccines causing autoimmune attacks in the heart and brain

Experimental COVID-19 vaccines may cause inflammation along the cardiovascular system, leading to heart attack and/or stroke. This serious issue was brought forth to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by Dr. J. Patrick Whelan, M.D., Ph.D. and further confirmed by cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Hooman Noorchashm, M.D., Ph.D. The two doctors warned that a recently-infected patient who is subject to COVID-19 vaccination is likely to suffer from autoimmune attacks along the ACE-2 receptors present in the heart, and in the microvasculature of the brain, liver and kidney. If viral antigens are present in the tissues of recipients at the time of vaccination, the vaccine-augmented immune response will turn the immune system against those tissues, causing inflammation that can lead to blood clot formation.

This severe adverse event is likely cause of death for the elderly who are vaccinated despite recently being infected. There is no adequate screening process to ensure that this autoimmune attack doesn’t occur. The elderly are not the only people vulnerable to vaccine injury and death. Pfizer’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine could be the main cause behind the sudden death of Sarah Sickles, a 28-year-old nurse from Wisconsin. The Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System has captured five permanent disabilities in Wisconsin, 58 ER visits, and eleven deaths in just one month. This is the first case in Wisconsin of someone under 44 years of age suffering from severe COVID-19 vaccine side effects and death. There are now more than 1,170 deaths recorded in the U.S. related to the experimental mRNA vaccines, a reality that the FDA and CDC continue to ignore.

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Powering hypersonic weapons: US armed forces eyeing dangerous 5G tech

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(Natural News) Much of the conversation surrounding the benefits of 5G is geared toward the consumer side of the technology. People will be able to download videos at lightning speed and will be more connected than ever, proponents claim, although there are serious questions regarding its safety. However, some of the most important 5G applications are not civil at all – the technology will be used extensively in the military domain.

Some of its military uses are outlined in the Defense Applications of 5G Network Technology report, which was published by the Defense Science Board. This federal committee gives scientific advice to the Pentagon. Their report states: “The emergence of 5G technology, now commercially available, offers the Department of Defense the opportunity to take advantage, at minimal cost, of the benefits of this system for its own operational requirements.”

The 5G commercial network that is being built by private companies right now can be used by the American military for a much lower cost than if the network had been set up exclusively for military purposes.

Military experts expect the 5G system to play a pivotal role in using hypersonic weapons. For example, it can be used for new missiles that bear nuclear warheads and travel at speeds superior to Mach 5. These hypersonic weapons, which travel at five times the speed of sound and move a mile per second, will be flying at high altitudes on unpredictable flight paths, making them as hard to guide as they will be to intercept.

Huge quantities of data need to be gathered and transmitted in a very short period in order to maneuver these warheads on variable trajectories and allow them to change direction in milliseconds to avoid interceptor missiles.

5G for defense

This type of technology is also needed to activate defenses should we be attacked by a weapon of this type; 5G automatic systems could theoretically handle decisions that humans won’t have enough time to make on their own. Military bases and even cities will have less than a minute to react to incoming hypersonic missiles, and 5G will make it easier to process real time data on trajectories for decision-making.

There are also important uses of this technology in combat. 5G’s ability to simultaneously link millions of transceivers will undoubtedly facilitate communication among military personnel and allow them to transmit photos, maps and other vital information about operations in progress at dizzying speeds to improve situational awareness.

The military can also take advantage of the high-frequency and short-wavelength millimeter wave spectrum used by 5G. Its short range means that it is well suited for smart military bases and command posts because the signal will not propagate too far, making it less likely that enemies will be able to detect it.

When it comes to special forces and secret services, the benefits of 5G are numerous. Its speed and connectivity will allow espionage systems to reach unprecedented levels of efficiency. It will also make drones more dangerous by allowing them to identify and target people using facial recognition and other methods.

Like all technology, 5G will also make us highly vulnerable. The network itself could become an attractive target for cyber-attacks and other acts of war being carried out with cutting-edge weaponry. In fact, the 5G network is already viewed as critical infrastructure and is being carefully protected before it is even fully built.

While the focus on 5G’s dangers to human health and the environment is absolutely warranted, it is also important not to lose sight of the military implications of 5G. After all, it is not just the United States that is developing this technology for military purposes; our enemies, like China and other countries, are also making great strides in this realm.

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