Archive for the ‘drugs’ Category

Recalling Ciudad Juarez and the dead in the US-Mexico border drug war

March 9, 2009

I could just imagine Ciudad Juarez, a border city of Mexico close to El Paso, Texas which had become a killing field of warring drug lords in the area. I was there when the warm dusty place South of the border was still peaceful, about two decades ago.

“Nearly 40 percent of the dead last year tested positive for cocaine or marijuana. About 20 percent were never claimed by their families, many out of fear. Cardboard boxes with bloodstained cowboy boots, cell phones and bulletproof vests are stacked to the ceiling in the crime lab…Ciudad Juarez, a city of 1.3 million across the border from El Paso, Texas, has a modern, estimated $15 million morgue and crime lab thanks to international support after another notorious spate of killings — the Women of Juarez. More than 400 women have been raped, strangled and dumped in the desert since 1993.”—-Yahoo News/ AP (03/08/09, Watson, J)

It’s appalling to know Ciudad Juarez which brings memories of cities in the Philippines has become a perilous place to be. The Mexicans living there whom I met were very friendly. As a group, they share many character traits of Filipinos. I feel sorry they are now in harms way as criminality surges in the area.

The rivalry for narcotics peddlers in the drug corridor had been fierce. Last year more than 6,290 died in drug-related killings which gripped both Mexicans and Americans living where gangs and their members operate.

Eight weeks after the start of 2009, a record number—-more than 1,000 people were mercilessly murdered, making the peace and order situation in the area worse. The morgues had been swamped with bodies of murdered victims, many with signs of foul play.

The Mexican army is being asked to help contain the spate of violence which makes even the morgue workers afraid. US students and tourists planning to travel in trouble-spots in Mexico are being warned of the dangerous situation.(Photo Credit: Hobby-Photographs) =0=

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US-Mexican drug bust yields 750 suspects, $59 million worth of drugs & weapons

February 26, 2009

Affirming the gravity of the drug wars in Mexico, federal agents from the United States have rounded up 750 suspected members of narcotics cartels from south of the border. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) picked up more than 50 drug gang members in separate overnight raids in California, Minnesota, Washington DC, and various US cities.

The arrests were mainly Sinaloa cartel members who were linked to the bloody drug wars over controls of narcotics smuggling routes in Mexico and USA. In a international law enforcement operation which spanned for about 2 years in Mexico, USA and Canada, had earlier snared 700 notorious law-breakers in the crime wave. $59 million worth of drugs and weapons, $12,000 kg. of cocaine, 1200 kg. of methampethamines, more than 1,300 ecstasy pills and 160 weapons were recovered.

“The department (US State) warns of the increased border violence and advises revelers to several destinations, including Matamoros and Nuevo Progresso, popular destinations for spring breakers on South Padre Island, Texas, to ‘exercise commonsense precautions such as visiting only the well-traveled business and tourism areas of border towns during daylight and early-evening hours.’“ —AOL News/ AP (02/25/09, Barrett, D)

Attorney General Eric Holder says the illegal narcotics trade, kidnappings, and murders have crossed over into the US territory. The problem can be minimized if the ban to sell assault weapons which are used in turf wars of drug kingpins is reinstituted.

About 6,000 people died in drug-related violence last year. American law enforcers laud Mexican president Felipe Calderon’s on-going campaign against narcotics cartels which exert influence over corrupt government officials.

Because of the dangers brought about by illegal drugs, money laundering, and narctics traffic, the US State Department has issued warnings of violence, kidnappings, and murders to prospective American travelers. This advisory is extended to an estimated 100,000 US students who’re planning to come to Mexico in the coming spring break. Private individuals have to take responsibility to counter the drug problems in their community. (Photo Credit: Aziritt) =0=

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Narcotics war in US-Mexican border worsens

February 12, 2009

After 6,000 people died in drug related murders in Mexico last year, the slayings have no signs of stopping. Mexican police discovered five bullet-riddled vehicles on February 11, 2009 in a wave of killings that brought new fatalities, a result of gang violence escalating South of the border. Drug lords have become bolder to instill fear and challenge the government of President Felipe Calderon in his effort to curb the narcotics trafficking, drug cartels, kidnappings, and vendetta murders.

About 80 miles south of the border from El Paso, Texas, in Villa Ahumada, a small village of 1,500 people, fresh violence erupted. Last year, the town was virtually overrun by savage drug gangs last year when two consecutive police chiefs and two officers were murdered. For fear for their lives, the remaining 20 members of the police force quit their jobs. The Mexican military had to take over.

On Tuesday, February 10, 2009, nine individuals were kidnapped and six of them were believed to have been executed. A shoot-out which rescued three people resulted to the bloody death of seven gunmen and one police officer. —–Yahoo.News.com / AP (02/11/09, Watson, J)

Many citizens have died senselessly in the crossfire of gang violence. The rise in criminality is a cause of concern for United States and Mexico whose shared Southern border has been a favorite conduit of narcotics trade and serves as entry point for illegal aliens in North America.

With the slump of the economy in the United States, many Mexicans have lost their jobs and turned into drug trade and abductions for ransom. The dollar remittance of expatriate Mexicans which shore up their country’s economy has slowed.

It is said that if the warring drug kingpins learn to get along, by joining forces, they have the strength to trash President Calderon’s administration. Drug lords and their minions have increasing influence in Mexican society; their nefarious activities have crossed over the USA. There is real danger of chaos which can distabilize and bring down the government. (Photo Credit: Guachito Caletano; MashGet x 2) =0=

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"Random Drug Testing" during school enrollment

February 5, 2009

To find a result that does not have a “deterministic pattern” is one reason why tests are done on a random basis. Randomness entails lack of order and predictability. If random drug testing in Manila will be done during the enrollment period as suggested by Manila Police District head Roberto Rosales, the result of the tests could be skewed. Accuracy and reliability might be compromised.

By knowing that the test will conducted on a specified time (i.e during enrollment,) high school and college students expecting the lab exam can change their drug behavior to coincide with the test and therefore lend bias to the result. Without the element of surprise, those who opt against being caught using illicit drugs can skip a few days or weeks of the drug so they can get a negative result.

If Police officer Rosales will propose enrollment drug testing to Mayor Alfredo Lim, both men must be told of this potential test bias. Otherwise, the effort and money to be spent in this activity may only go to waste. (Photo Credit: Reynolds/ Sweetwarrior)=0=

RELATED BLOG: “DOH’s plan to spend P90 million for random drug testing” Posted by mesiamd at 1/30/2009

Olympic swimming star Michael Phelps apologizes for smoking marijuana

February 3, 2009

Michael Phelps, most admired Olympic swimmer with 8 gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Games apologized for being caught smoking marijuana. The popular 23 year old with multi-million product endorsements on his sleeve had a picture by a British newspaper showing him inhaling pot. The incident allegedly occurred in a party at the University of South Carolina in November last year, prompting South Carolina’s sheriff’s office to investigate for criminal wrong-doing.

“I’m 23 years old, and despite the successes I have had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner that people have come to expect from me,” he said. “For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public — it will not happen again.”—CNN.com/crime (02/03/09)

Many said his quick apology was appropriate for damage control. In 2004, pleading guilty to driving while intoxicated (DUI,) Phelps was sentenced to 18 months probation for which he also apologized.

Role models like him run the danger of alienating fans and product sponsors if similar incidents occur in the future. The marijuana incident reveals the error-proneness of the young sports celebrity who supports the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, a group which aims to rid competitive sports of prohibited drugs. More infractions by personalities like Phelps make the public wonder if social decorum has been so compromised in the present generation. (Photo Credit Alexandre Battibugli) =0=

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DOH’s plan to spend P90 million for random drug testing

January 30, 2009


The Department of Health (DOH) plans to spend P90 million on random drug testing for high school and college students. Supposedly, the money is earmarked to develop manpower and laboratory resources for the test which is expected to give teeth to the fight against drugs in the country.

On the basis of trying to find out the prevalence of drug abuse the Commission of Higher Education (CHED,) DOH and its secretary Dr. Francisco Duque believe the testing is justified. They chorused it is needed in setting up strategies in controlling the problem as Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo steps up her campaign against illegal drugs.

According to Inquirer (01/29/09 Pazzibugan, D,) the test will be done in the next 7 to 9 months on 87,000 students from 8,750 high schools and 2,000 colleges nationwide. Based on past random drug testing, about 0.8% of 8,670 high school students and 0.5% of 7,499 college students tested positive for drugs. Notably, those who tested positive (majority use marijuana) aren’t a lot compared to many Filipinos who are sick and in need of urgent medical attention.

Does it mean that the government is willing to spend P1,034.48 for every student in order to track down about 696 students, the 0.8% who are expected to be positive in the test? If they find out who are positive, do the authorities have additional money to “treat & rehabilitate” them? Will the money for drug testing be better used for other serious health problems that involve a larger number of people who may need more medical attention—-i.e. tuberculosis, malaria, dengue? Or can funds be used to improve the facilities of schools?

Why is testing being planned for the teachers and not for other professionals? Why doesn’t the government directly run after the drug dealers? How come only the students and teachers are being singled out to undergo the test? Why can’t they not include the regular workers, unemployed, drivers, military personnel etc.? What are the safeguards that medical information culled from the testing will be handled confidentially and not be used or abused for other purpose? Isn’t privacy violated and civil liberties invaded when this testing is done?

The above questions may help in deciding if the controversial drug testing plan is worthwhile to pursue. At this time of economic crisis, wise spending can go a long way in helping the neediest. If a law on drug testing is to be applied fairly, it must cover the entire population and not single out a particular group. Organizations like the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) have valid reasons to oppose the rationale and legality of this plan. (Photo Credit: Mooosh; Suntoksabwan; Latin Snake) =0=

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Mexican narcotics gangland: 5,376 murders in 2008

December 9, 2008

If terrorism which alarms the Indians in Mumbai and Pakistanis in Islamabad, half around the world, the Mexicans are worried about the escalation of narcotics-related deaths. Organized slaying south of the border of the United States has doubled since the start of the year. Illegal drug dealers have been fighting for narcotics dominance in their location.

Mexican law enforcement has also been hit by the biggest corruption scandal in a decade in recent months, as more than a dozen high-ranking officials in police and prosecutors’ offices have been detained or charged for allegedly passing information to the cartels.”—AP (12/08/08, Castillo, Ed)

Compared to the 2,477 slayings of last year, the number of drug related deaths in 2008 rose to 117 percent, a total of 5,376 murders. The number is more than 1.5x than the casualty of the terror of 911. The brutal killings in Mexico were results of long-standing quarrels involving trade routes, street sales, and leadership in the narcotics cartel.

The wave of beheadings, mutilations, and shootings prompted the US government to release $197 million, part of the $400 million assistance to support Mexico’s police and soldiers in a cooperative campaign against narco-terrorism.

According to reports, the rise in murders coincides with the split of the Beltran-Leyva gang this year from the dominant cartel headed by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman igniting fightings between competing factions. Moreover, the weakening of the US economy has left many jobless Mexicans lured to the drug business.

A sharp decline in border crossings from Mexico is noted as few jobs for laborers, mainly in agriculture and service jobs, are available. Rising unemployment fuels the illegal drug trade and crime.(Photo Credit: 3.bp.blogspot.com)=0=

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Import ban of 30+ generic drugs from India & melamine-contaminated milk from China

September 17, 2008

More than thirty (30) drugs which include acyclovir, cirprofloxacin and simvastatin, manufactured in two Ranbaxy Laboratories (Dewas and Poenta Sahib plants) in India will not be permitted into the US. Without asking for recall of drugs already on the shelf, the Food Drug Administration (FDA,) the decision is based on the lack of compliance to safety and manufacturing standards by the Indian drug company.

The Food Drug Administration says no report of harm has been so far reported.

List of Drugs with Stop Order

acyclovir, cefprozil, cefuroxime axetil, cephalexin, ciprofloxacin HCl, clarithromycin, fenofibrate, fluconazole, fosinopril sodium, fosinopril sodium and hydrochlorothiazide, gabapentin, glimepiride, isotrentinoin, lamivudine, loratadine OTC, metformin HCl, nefazodone HCl, nitrofurantoin, nitrofurantoin and macrocystalline, ofloxacin, pravastatin sodium, ranitidine, simvastatin, terazozin HCl, valacyclovir HCl, and zidovudine (PEPFAR).” Medical News Today (09/16/08, Agus, Z, MD)

In a similar vein, in a growing scare after imported milk laced with melamine, a chemical substance used to “increase protein content” of milk has been reported to have killed undetermined number of babies and sickened at least 1,253 babies in China. It’s the same chemical that killed pet dogs in USA and Europe afte being fed imported Chinese milk reported earlier.

Melamine, an industrial chemical used to make plastics such as plates and saucers, is known to cause urinary malfunction, stones and failure of the kidneys when ingested.

Toxic History of China’s Products

— Half of all dangerous goods seized in Europe in 2007 came from China
— Last year China found two companies guilty of intentionally exporting contaminated pet food
— US authorities last year gave warning that monkfish imported from China may be puffer fish, containing a potentially deadly toxin
— In 2005 Sudan 1, a carcinogenic food colouring, was found in Chinese branches of KFC
— In January a survey found almost two thirds of Chinese people were worried about food safety
Sources: European Commission, Times archives /TimesOnline(09/15/08)/ChinaDaily/Reuters

Produced by Sanlu, China’s biggest milk power-maker halted its milk production. Ninetten (19) people were arrested in connection with the scandal of greed and lack of concern for people’s lives. The investigation of the scandal was delayed by a ban of news of this nature during the Beijing Olympics.

These two reports have practical implications in the Philippines who partly rely on India for its imports of medicines. They have more resonance with the passage of the Cheap Drug Legislation of 2008 signed into law of Pres. Gloria M. Macapagal. China also sells products to the Philippines which need tighter watch for adulteration and toxic contamination. =0=

UPDATE: On September 25, 2008, the PDI reported that 2 million kilos of milk was imported by the Philippines from China from Jan. to Aug. 2008. As the scandal of the melamine-contaminated milk widens worldwide, about 53,000 children, mostly in China, have been reported to have been sickened and several babies died. The DOH is monitoring hospitals for reports of children getting sick as result of ingesting milk and milk products.
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For safety, FDA monitors 20 drugs in the market

September 8, 2008

A 2007 federal law requires the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to disclose reports from doctors, patients, hospitals, nurses and pharmaceutical companies problems surrounding a particular drug—from simple drug labelling concerns to serious side effects. The list doesn’t automatically imply that the drugs are unsafe and patients don’t necessarily have to stop their medications.

Product Name:
Active Ingredient (Trade)
or Product Class—————————-Potential Serious Risk/New Safety Info.

Arginine Hydrochloride Injection (R-Gene 10)—-Pediatric overdose due to labeling
Desflurane (Suprane)—————————-Cardiac arrest (heart stops working)
Duloxetine (Cymbalta)—————————Urinary retention
Etravirine (Intelence)—————————–Hemarthrosis (blood in a joint)
Fluorouracil Cream (Carac)
and Ketoconazole Cream (Kuric)—————Adverse events due to name confusion
Heparin ————————————-anaphylactic-type allergic reactions

Icodextrin (Extraneal)—————————Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
Insulin U-500 (Humulin R)———————-Dosing confusion
Ivermectin (Stromectol) and Warfarin———Drug interaction
Lapatinib (Tykerb)——————————-Hepatotoxicity (liver toxicity)
Lenalidomide (Revlimid)————————–Stevens-Johnson syndrome
Natalizumab (Tysabri)—————————-Skin melanomas (deadly skin cancer)

Nitroglycerin (Nitrostat)————————–Overdose due to labeling confusion
Octreotide Acetate Depot (Sandostatin LAR)—-Ileus (bowels not moving)
Oxycodone Hydrochloride
Controlled-Release (OxyContin)——————-Drug misuse, abuse, and overdose
Perflutren Lipid Microsphere (Definity)———-Cardiopulmonary reactions
Phenytoin Injection (Dilantin)———————-Purple glove syndrome
Quetiapine (Seroquel)——————————Overdose due to labeling confusion
Tebivudine (Tyzeka)———————————Peripheral neuropathy
Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) Blockers———-Pediatric cancers

For the first time, a quarterly report covering January 1 to March 31 2008 is issued scrutinizing certain medicines for their safety. Once the result of the drug evaluation is out, whether the drug has adverse effects or is confirmed safe, it will be reported in the Adverse Event Reporting System (ARES)to alert the public. Part of a drug safety initiative, the report evaluates the seriousness of a side-effect or if there is something unknown for a particular medicine which can pose a health problem. Source: WebHealthNews (09/05/08, DeNoon, DJ/Chang,L)=0=

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Supreme Court Courage Needed

Intelligence can be inherited, education can be bought, expertise can be trained but courage is one thing that cannot be taught. And it is courage that is utterly lacking in our Supreme Court for a long time now. It a virtue Senators Diokno and Joker Arroyo had in abundance.”—MyTy, Philippines

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