All posts by Shawn

Prosecutor: Drug maker pushed OxyContin despite danger signs

By ALANNA DURKIN RICHER and GEOFF MULVIHILL, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Jan 16, 2019

BOSTON — A member of the family that owns OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma told people at the prescription opioid painkiller’s launch party in the 1990s that it would be “followed by a blizzard of prescriptions that will bury the competition,” according to court documents filed Tuesday.

The details were made public in a case brought by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey that accuses Purdue Pharma, its executives and members of the Sackler family of deceiving patients and doctors about the risks of opioids and pushing prescribers to keep patients on the drug longer. The documents provide information about former Purdue Pharma President Richard Sackler’s role in overseeing sales of OxyContin that hasn’t been public before.

The drug and the closely held Connecticut company that sells it are at the center of a lawsuit in Massachusetts and hundreds of others across the country in which government entities are trying to find the drug industry responsible for an opioid crisis that killed 72,000 Americans in 2017. The Massachusetts litigation is separate from some 1,500 federal lawsuits filed by governments being overseen by a judge in Cleveland.

But the company documents at the heart of the Massachusetts allegations are also part of the evidence exchanged in those cases. While the Massachusetts filing describes their contents, the documents themselves have not been made public, at the company’s request.

According to the filing, Richard Sackler, then senior vice president responsible for sales, told the audience at the launch party to imagine a series of natural disasters: an earthquake, volcanic eruption, hurricane and blizzard.

“The launch of OxyContin Tablets will be followed by a blizzard of prescriptions that will bury the competition. The prescription blizzard will be so deep, dense, and white,” he said, according to the documents.

“Over the next twenty years, the Sacklers made Richard’s boast come true,” lawyers in the attorney general’s office wrote. “They created a manmade disaster. Their blizzard of dangerous prescriptions buried children and parents and grandparents across Massachusetts, and the burials continue,” they wrote.

The complaint says the Sackler family, which includes major donors to museums including the Smithsonian Institution, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Tate Modern in London, was long aware its drug was dangerous and addictive but pushed more sales anyway.

A memo among family members in 2008 warned of a “dangerous concentration of risk” for the family, the complaint says. Years earlier, Richard Sackler wrote in an email that the company would have to “hammer on the abusers in every way possible,” describing them as “the culprits and the problem.”

Joanne Peterson, who runs a Massachusetts-based support network for the family members of people addicted to drugs, said Sackler’s comments show a “blatant disregard for human life.”

“He certainly hammered them six feet under,” Peterson said. “I’ve been to more funerals than I can count in the last 15 years.”

Purdue Pharma accused the attorney general’s office of cherry-picking from millions of emails and documents to create “biased and inaccurate characterizations” of the company and its executives. The company said in a statement said it will “aggressively defend against these misleading allegations.”

The company also stresses that its drug is approved by federal regulators and prescribed by doctors; that it accounts for a small portion of opioids sold in the U.S.; and that illicit drugs including heroin and street fentanyl are causing most overdose deaths.

“In a rush to vilify a single manufacturer whose medicines represent less than two percent of opioid pain prescriptions rather than doing the hard work of trying to solve a complex public health crisis, the complaint distorts critical facts and cynically conflates prescription opioid medications with illegal heroin and fentanyl,” Purdue Pharma said.

Messages seeking comment were left with a spokeswoman for the Sackler family.

Massachusetts is the first state to personally name the company’s executives in a complaint. It names 16 current and former executives and board members, including CEO Craig Landau, Richard Sackler and other members of the Sackler family.

A suit filed by the New York County of Suffolk also names members of the family. A lawyer who filed that suit, Paul Hanly, said he expects the family to be named in further suits.

Last year, Purdue halted efforts to market OxyContin to doctors.

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Mulvihill reported from New Jersey. Follow Alanna Durkin Richer at http://www.twitter.com/aedurkinricher and Geoff Mulvihill at http://www.twitter.com/geoffmulvihill

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Doctors Prescribing Exercise Over Medication

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Doctors treating chronic health problems increasingly are urging patients to think of physical activity as their new drug.

BOSTON (AP) — When Dr. Michelle Johnson scribbles out prescriptions, the next stop for many of her patients is the gym, not the pharmacy.

Doctors treating chronic health problems increasingly are prescribing exercise for their patients — and encouraging them to think of physical activity as their new medication.

In one such program run by a health center in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood, primary care physicians, internists and psychologists prescribe access to a gym for $10 a month, including free child care, classes and kids programs. Providing affordable gym access for patients ensures compliance, said Gibbs Saunders of Healthworks Community Fitness, a nonprofit gym in Dorchester that has partnered with several health care providers to help low-income residents fill their exercise prescriptions.

Executives at the Whittier Street Health Center say low-cost access to a gym is important, since many residents’ income is low and 70 percent of those they treat suffer from chronic problems such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and depression.

Life expectancy in Roxbury is 59 years — well below the national average of 78.8 years.

“Exercise is not a new medicine. It’s really an old medicine,” said Johnson, who prescribes exercise to patients at the Roxbury-based health center. “But you know, I think we’re now coming to the point of understanding how important it is.”

Monisha Long, who is morbidly obese and suffers from hypertension, got a doctor’s prescription for exercise and says she’s gotten visible and dramatic results after more than two years of regular workouts.

“I lost well over 150 pounds, and I’ve been keeping it off for the past couple of years,” she said after working out on an elliptical machine at Healthworks.

And Long cites other, less-visible benefits.

“I’m more energized,” she said. “As far as my energy, I feel like I’m stronger. I feel like I’m less tired. I feel like I can do almost anything now.”

People who are physically active tend to live longer and are at lower risk of heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, depression and some cancers, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention. Yet fewer than one in four American adults exercises enough to reap those benefits, the agency says.

Dr. Edward Phillips, a Boston physician, is so sold on exercise he pedals on a stationary bike that’s integrated into his office desk. Phillips said exercise is “like taking a little bit of Prozac — an antidepressant — and a little bit of Ritalin, which is a stimulant.”

“Our bodies are meant to move,” he said. “Integrating movement into our day allows the system to work optimally. Part of the system that needs to work is our brain, and includes sleep, mood, cognition, ability to concentrate.”

A prescription for exercise is a bargain, said Stephanie Dennis, who works out on a treadmill to stay fit.

“$10 a month is what? $2 a week, $2-$2.50 a week,” she said. “A lot of people pay that every day for coffee. It’s not a big sacrifice for something that you get big rewards from.”

What is Meditation? The Science of How it Makes us Happier.

1Assignment 

1.  5 notes from the first movie.

2. Take 5 notes from the reading to prove that Meditation is making people happier.

3. Practice the Meditation (watch the So Hum Meditation below).  Explain how it makes you feel afterward in 1 paragraph or more.

________________

Begin Reading Here: 

A quiet explosion of new research indicating that meditation can physically change the brain in astonishing ways has started to push into mainstream.

Several studies suggest that these changes through meditation can make you happier, less stressed — even nicer to other people. It can help you control your eating habits and even reduce chronic pain, all the while without taking prescription medication.

Meditation is an intimate and intense exercise that can be done solo or in a group, and one study showed that 20 million Americans say they practice meditation. It has been used to help treat addictions, to clear psoriasis and even to treat men with impotence.

The U.S. Marines are testing meditation to see if it makes more focused, effective warriors. Corporate executives at Google, General Mills, Target and Aetna Insurance, as well as students in some of the nation’s classrooms have used meditation.

Various celebrities also are known meditators, including shock jock Howard Stern, actors Richard Gere, Goldie Hawn and Heather Graham, and Rivers Cuomo, the lead singer of the band Weezer.

In one study, a research team from Massachusetts General Hospital looked at the brain scans of 16 people before and after they participated in an eight-week course in mindfulness meditation. The study, published in the January issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, concluded that after completing the course, parts of the participants’ brains associated with compassion and self-awareness grew, and parts associated with stress shrank.

READ: Meditation 101: Tips for Beginners

Recently, the Dalai Lama granted permission for his monks, who are master mediators, to have their brains studied at the University of Wisconsin, one of the most high-tech brain labs in the world.

Richie Davidson, a PhD at the university, and his colleagues, led the study and said they were amazed by what they found in the monks’ brain activity read-outs. During meditation, electroencephalogram patterns increased and remains higher than the initial baseline taken from a non-meditative state.

But you don’t have to be a monk to benefit from meditation, which is now gaining acceptance in the field of medicine.

Physicians have increasingly started prescribing meditation instead of pills to benefit their patients. A Harvard Medical School report released in May found that more than 6 million Americans had been recommended meditation and other mind-body therapies by conventional health care providers.

Perhaps the most mind-bending potential benefit of meditation is that it will actually make practitioners nicer. Chuck Raison, a professor at Emory University, conducted a meditation study in which he hooked up microphones to participants who had been taught basic meditation and those who hadn’t. He then recorded them at random over a period of time. Raison found that these newly-trained mediators used less harsh language than people who had no meditation experience.

“They were more empathic with people,” Raison said. “They were spending more time with other people. They laugh more, you know, all those things. They didn’t use the word ‘I’ as much. They use the word ‘we’ more.”

However, even the Dalai Lama admitted that meditation is not the silver bullet cure-all for every ailment or emotion.

“Occasionally, [I] lose my temper,” he said. “If someone is never lose temper then perhaps that may come from outer space, real strange.”

The Dalai Lama also cautioned that meditation takes patience, so new mediators should not expect immediate results.

“The enlightenment not depend on rank,” he said, laughing. “It depends on practice.”

Some scientists believe that in a generation, Americans will see meditation as being as essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle as diet and exercise.

Click to Play Movies: 

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Speech: The Power of Community + Exercise to beat addiction

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Assignment:  prepare a short speech for the class by answering the following questions:

1.  Write down one note you took from the research on using community and exercise to beat addiction by completing this sentence:  “In the video, “Transcending Addiction and Redefining Recovery,” Dr. ________ said, “___________________________________________.”

2.   I can relate to this because …

Essay Topics + Model Essay

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  1.  What are your three favorite flavors of ice cream? 10/16/18 (See Model Essay below)
  2.  What are your three favorite days of the year? 10/22/18
  3.  In your opinion, what are the three best parts of life? 10/24/18
  4.  What classes in high school have you disliked the most? 10/25/18
  5.  Practice Writing a hook.  Click this link to watch the video: Click Here to Watch 10/29/18
  6.  What do you think is better for students, big schools or small schools, and why?
  7.   Do you think social media is a good thing or bad thing for teenagers? 10/31/18
  8.  Do you think the age limit to drive should be Sixteen, eighteen, or twenty-one? 11/5/18
  9. Why is it so hard to be patient? 11/7/18
  10. Do you think Marijuana should be legal or illegal? 11/13/18
  11. What are the benefits of exercise? 11/26/18
  12. Why do you love your cell phone? 12/3/18
  13. Can happiness make you smarter, get sick less, and make you more successful? 12/5/18
  14. What do you wish could happen RIGHT NOW?! 12/10/18
  15. You can actually become addicted to your cell phone?  Explain how to your classmates in this essay. 12/12/18
  16. What does your ideal lifestyle look like in 10 years? Discuss where you’ll live, what you’re house or apartment will look like, and where your house will be, in an ideal situation.  12/17/18
  17. What did you learn in this class? 12/18/18

Model Essay

Exercise is Good for the Brain

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WebMD.com Feature

Anyone with a brain exercises these days, but did you know exercise can return the favor and train your brain? Not only is exercise smart for your heart and weight, but it can make you smarter and better at what you do.

“I like to say that exercise is like taking a little Prozac or a little Ritalin at just the right moment,” says John J. Ratey, MD, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of A User’s Guide to the Brain. “Exercise is really for the brain, not the body. It affects mood, vitality, alertness, and feelings of well-being.”

Stephen C. Putnam, MEd, took up canoeing in a serious way to combat the symptoms of adult ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Then he wrote a book, titled Nature’s Ritalin for the Marathon Mind, about the benefits of exercise on troublesome brain disorders such as ADHD, a neurological/behavioral condition resulting in hyperactivity and the inability to focus on tasks.

Putnam cites studies of children who ran around for 15 to 45 minutes before class and cut their ants-in-the-pants behavior by half when they got to class. As with most exercise, the effects were relatively lasting — smoothing out behavior two to four hours after the exercise.

Putnam also points to some preliminary animal research that suggests that exercise can cause new stem cells to grow, refreshing the brain and other body parts. According to Ratey, exercise also stimulates nerve growth factors. “I call it Miracle-Gro for the brain,” he says.

 How Exercise Trains the Brain

Christin Anderson, MS, wellness and fitness coordinator of the University of San Francisco, explains that exercise affects many sites within the nervous system and sets off pleasure chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine that make us feel calm, happy, and euphoric.

In other words, if you don’t want to wait for those good feelings to come by accident (if they do), you can bring them on by exercising.

“When one exercises,” Anderson says, “you can think more clearly, perform better, and your morale is better. This is pure science — stimulate your nervous system and function at a higher level.”

Effects of Exercise on Depression

Almost everyone has heard of the “fog of war,” but the “fog of living” is depression. “Depression affects memory and effectiveness (not to mention the ability to get up, get dressed, and function),” Anderson says. “If you can control your physiology, you can relax, focus, and remember.”

In a study reported in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness in 2001, 80 young male and female volunteers were tested for mood and then did aerobics for an hour. Of the 80, 52 were depressed before the exercise. That group was the most likely to benefit, reporting a reduction in anger, fatigue, and tension. They also felt more vigorous after the workout.

Effects of Exercise on Depression continued…

A well-known study was done at Duke University involving 150 people 50 or older who had been diagnosed with depression. They were divided into three groups and given either exercise as a treatment for four months, the antidepressant drug Zoloft, or a combination of the two.

At the end of the four months, all three groups felt better. But the researchers didn’t leave it there. They checked again in six months, and the exercise group had relapsed at significantly lower rates than the Zoloft or combination groups. In fact, the scientists felt that giving the Zoloft along with the exercise undermined the effects of the exercise, saying the combination group might have preferred to feel they had worked for their improvement rather than having to take a pill.

This doesn’t mean, the researcher said, that exercise is a cureall for every case of depression. Seeking out the study showed motivation, and motivation can be hard to come by when you’re depressed.

Bipolar disorder also does not seem to respond as well to exercise. On the other hand, anxiety disorders sometimes respond even more quickly.

 If You Want to Try Exercise as a Brain Trainer

Single bouts of exercise can reduce anxiety for several hours afterward, although there may be a lag time before the good feeling sets in if exercise is too intense (good news for those who find fanatical, prolonged, “check your pulse” exercise unappealing).

Therefore, low to moderate forms of exercise are recommended for brain training. Ratey recommends 8 to 12 minutes a day of sweating and breathing-hard exercise (60% of maximum heart rate) for brain training.

Anderson says a minimum would be 30 minutes of moderate exercise, walking, hiking, or swimming, three times a week. Half an hour to an hour, four to five times a week would be even better. For those who want to be REALLY on the ball, 90 minutes five to six times a week would not be out of line, she says.

Anderson recommends two sessions a day for this purpose, rather than one big heaving workout. “Swim for 20 minutes in the morning, then walk at night,” she advises. “Right after hard, intense exercise, you may not be as acute. Overtraining can set off enzymes that can lead to fatigue, which is the enemy of alertness.”

Anderson also says the type of exercise you select depends on your personality. It may be the opposite of what you’d expect. “If you’re a 32-year-old male, work 70 hours a week, play ball twice on the weekend and jog daily,” she says, “you may need to do some yoga to improve your mental acuity.” Some coaches, she points, out actually have to get people to relax to find their “edge.” Meditation can also be a great complement to exercise, she adds. Then: “Do what you enjoy. That’s important.” (If you are reading this within 5 minutes of when we began this assignment, please come to my desk right now, quietly, for extra credit!  Do not tell anyone around you that you’re reading this or you will loose your extra credit.  If you come up to my desk right now, congratulations!). 

“You want to ready your brain for learning,” Ratey says. For that to happen, all the chemicals must “jog” into place.

Star Lawrence is a medical journalist based in the Phoenix area.

Writing an Introduction for an Essay

Writing an Intro:
1. Write a Hook : capture the readers attention
Watch this video to understand ho write a hook:

2. Acknowledge the topic in general
3. Answer the topic question in a complete sentence. (This is Your Thesis)
_______________________________________________________

Writing Prompt:
If you could do one thing to make the school a better place, what would it be and why?

——————————————————————————————

1.  Now, lets write a hook:
Imagine a place on a school campus where you could rid yourself of stress, find more happiness, and work towards becoming the person you want to be in life?  

2. Acknowledge the topic in general
There are many things someone could do to make my school a better place.

3.  Now write your thesis (your road map).
If I could do anything to make my school a better place, I would build gigantic athletic workout facility for students and staff to utilize.

Now, all three parts together to have a nice introduction:
Imagine a place on a school campus where you could rid yourself of stress, and meet boys and girls all while getting pumped up!There are many things someone could do to make my school a better place.  If I could do anything to make my school a better place, I would build gigantic athletic workout facility for students and staff to utilize.

Flow – The Ultimate State of Being

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The 8 Elements of Flow

Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced Chick–sent–meehayee) describes eight components of the flow-experience. The first three are basic prerequisites; the other five address the subjective experience during activity in flow.

1. Clarity of goals and immediate feedback

…as seen in many sports or the arts. A tennis player knows exactly what is required in order to win a game. The rules are clear. In every action, success or failure is immediately perceived. Sports and the arts are therefore classic flow-activities.

2. A high level of concentration on a limited field

This allows a person’s consciousness to delve deeply into the activity. In contrast, there are often chaotic and contradictory demands in daily life which may cause confusion and dissatisfaction.

3. Balance between skills and challenge

The difficulty of a task has to provide the right degree of challenge to a person’s ability. A too difficult piece of music will leave a musician frustrated and disappointed, a too easy one leads to boredom and routine. So flow occurs in range between ‘too much’ and ‘too little’.

The relationship between requirements and capabilities

4. The feeling of control

Characteristic for flow is the feeling of heightened control over one’s actions. The expression ‘control’ is easily misunderstood. It can put many people off by its association with compulsive domination or nervous attention. Control in flow has none of these qualities. It is a state of security and relaxation with the complete absence of worry: the paradox known in Zen Buddhism as ‘control without controlling’.

5. Effortlessness

Flow involves flexibility and ease; everything works harmoniously and effortlessly. A tennis match or a solo performance on stage may look strenuous from the outside; yet, if in fact the player is in flow, he or she does not experience any particular strain. The activity runs smoothly, guided by an inner logic. All necessary decisions arise spontaneously from the demands of the activity without any deliberate reflection.

6. An altered perception of time

In a deep flow-state, one’s normal perception of time is on hold. Time can either feel condensed – two hours feel like ten minutes, or expanded – seconds feel like minutes. That is why the flow-mode is called ‘timeless’.

7. The melting together of action and consciousness

Complete involvement creates a state in which there is no room for worry, fear, distraction or self-conscious rumination. Performers do not feel separated from their actions; they are one with their performance. This feeling of unity can expand to a person’s surroundings (nature) as well as to a whole group of people working together (team flow).

8. The autotelic quality of flow-experiences: IROI

From Greek autos – self and telos – goal. Not only achieving the goal of an activity is rewarding but the activity in itself is fulfilling. Flow is therefore “Immediate Return on Investment”.

References:

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Beyond Boredom and Anxiety: Experiencing Flow in Work and Play. Jossey-Bass
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. HarperCollins
Good Business. Leadership, Flow, and the Making of Meaning. Viking
Creativity. Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention. HarperCollins
The Evolving Self. A Psychology for the Third Millenium. HarperCollins