ENEWSPF News http://www.enewspf.com/ Sat, 28 Mar 2015 23:47:03 GMT FeedCreator 1.8.0-dev (info@mypapit.net) Ebola in West Africa: The Importance of 'Getting to Zero' http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59929-ebola-in-west-africa-the-importance-of-getting-to-zero.html Despite progress, the region remains vulnerable to resurgence of Ebola

Atlanta, GA--(ENEWSPF)--March 27, 2015.  One year after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began the largest international emergency response in agency history, the goal is the same: Get to zero new Ebola cases in West Africa. In a digital press kit released today, CDC chronicles progress to date and the work needed to “Get to Zero” cases in West Africa.

“CDC’s critical and sustained response has helped contribute to the important progress seen in West Africa, including the dramatic decrease of new Ebola cases in Liberia during the first part of the year,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “But despite these signs of hope, the fight against Ebola is far from over.”

In March 2014, public health officials reported the first outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. Recognizing the danger not only to the region but to the world, CDC responded quickly. In West Africa, CDC teams have worked with the governments of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone and other international partners to:

establish emergency operations centers in all three nations,

trace patient contacts in some of the world’s hardest-to-reach areas,

test more than 12,000 blood samples for Ebola virus in just one CDC lab in Sierra Leone, 

train more than 23,000 West African healthcare workers to improve infection control, and

develop messages to help people understand how to protect themselves and their families.

In the United States, CDC helped establish airport screening to ensure all travelers from the affected West African countries are screened on arrival, and worked with state health partners to monitor returning travelers for 21 days to ensure they are Ebola-free. CDC also has helped 55 facilities in 17 states and the District of Columbia become designated as Ebola treatment centers to prepare to care for patients with Ebola if necessary.  These efforts are showing progress. Liberia had a steady decrease in new cases during the first part of the year, and in March went more than 21 days. The identification in late March of a new Ebola case in Liberia and continuing identification of cases in Sierra Leone and Guinea highlight how vulnerable the region remains.

CDC remains committed to helping West Africa get to zero. Working with partners, we are strengthening public health systems to prevent Ebola and other outbreaks from taking hold in the future.

Source: cdc.gov

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 27 Mar 2015 22:42:25 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59929-ebola-in-west-africa-the-importance-of-getting-to-zero.html
Ebola Test Vaccines Appear Safe in Phase 2 Liberian Clinical Trial http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59926-ebola-test-vaccines-appear-safe-in-phase-2-liberian-clinical-trial.html Liberia–U.S. partnership planning Phase 3 trial and study of Ebola survivors

Bethesda, Maryland--(ENEWSPF)--March 27, 2015.  Two experimental Ebola vaccines appear to be safe based on evaluation in more than 600 people in Liberia who participated in the first stage of the Partnership for Research on Ebola Vaccines in Liberia (PREVAIL) Phase 2/3 clinical trial, according to interim findings from an independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board review. Based on these findings, the study, which is sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, may now advance to Phase 3 testing.

“We are grateful to the Liberian people who volunteered for this important clinical trial and encouraged by the study results seen with the two investigational Ebola vaccine candidates,” said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. “Now we must move forward to adapt and expand the study so that ultimately we can determine whether these experimental vaccines can protect against Ebola virus disease and therefore be used in future Ebola outbreaks.”

The PREVAIL trial, which began on Feb. 2, 2015 in Monrovia, Liberia, is testing the safety and efficacy of the cAd3-EBOZ candidate vaccine co-developed by NIAID scientists and GlaxoSmithKline, and the VSV-ZEBOV candidate vaccine developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada and licensed to NewLink Genetics Corporation and Merck. Volunteers are assigned at random to receive a single injection of the NIAID/GSK (cAd3-EBOZ) vaccine, the VSV-ZEBOV vaccine, or a placebo (saline) injection. The trial is also double-blinded, meaning that neither study subjects nor staff know whether a vaccine or placebo was administered. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial is considered the “gold standard” in clinical research.

While the initial enrollment goal in the Phase 2 study has been met and the vaccines proven safe, the researchers are continuing Phase 2 study enrollment at Redemption Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, through late April 2015. This would boost enrollment in the Phase 2 portion of the trial to approximately 1,500 people and would be done, in part, to increase the percentage of women (currently, about 16 percent) in the study for a more robust data set overall. The study follow-up period would be at least one year, and two additional blood samples would be obtained from all volunteers at six and 12 months post-vaccination to determine the durability of the immune responses. These proposed changes will be discussed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and are under review by the institutional review boards in Liberia and the United States.

Investigators planned to enroll 27,000 people in Liberia at risk of Ebola infection in the Phase 3 portion of the trial. However, there has been only one new confirmed case of Ebola infection in the country since Feb. 19, 2015. Given this decline in Ebola infection incidence, the trial leaders — H. Clif ford Lane, M.D., NIAID deputy director for clinical research, and Liberian co-principal investigators Stephen Kennedy, M.D., and Fatorma Bolay, Ph.D. — have determined that it is scientifically appropriate to expand the trial to additional sites in other West African countries. Discussions are underway to explore that possibility.

The Liberia–U.S. research team also plans to launch a separate natural history study of Ebola survivors to better understand the after-effects of Ebola virus disease. Four sites in Monrovia, Liberia and locations in the United States may begin enrollment into this study in the coming months, pending regulatory review and approval. More information on this study will be provided when the trial launches.

NIAID conducts and supports research — at NIH, throughout the United States, and worldwide — to study the causes of infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses. News releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available at http://www.niaid.nih.gov.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

Source: nih.gov

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 27 Mar 2015 18:15:05 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59926-ebola-test-vaccines-appear-safe-in-phase-2-liberian-clinical-trial.html
NIH Study Finds No Evidence of Accelerated Ebola Virus Evolution in West Africa http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59925-nih-study-finds-no-evidence-of-accelerated-ebola-virus-evolution-in-west-africa.html Bethesda, Maryland--(ENEWSPF)--March 27, 2015.  The Ebola virus circulating in humans in West Africa is undergoing relatively few mutations, none of which suggest that it is becoming more severe or transmissible, according to a National Institutes of Health study in Science. The study compares virus sequencing data from samples taken from patients in Guinea (March 2014), Sierra Leone (June 2014) and Mali (November 2014).

Image of Ebola virus

Ebola virus, isolated in November 2014 from patient blood samples obtained in Mali. The virus was isolated on Vero cells in a BSL-4 suite at Rocky Mountain Laboratories.

“The Ebola virus in the ongoing West African outbreak appears to be stable—that is, it does not appear to be mutating more rapidly than viruses in previous Ebola outbreaks, and that is reassuring,” said Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of NIH. “We look forward to additional information to validate this finding, because understanding and tracking Ebola virus evolution are critical to ensuring that our scientific and public health response keeps pace.”

Obtaining virus samples for analysis was challenging for researchers during the outbreak. The NIAID study published today relies on data from the Guinea and Sierra Leone cases as well as samples from two case clusters in Mali obtained from the International Center for Excellence in Research (ICER) located in Bamako. NIAID and the Malian government have been partners in the ICER since 2002. The Mali case clusters originated from people who became infected in Guinea and traveled to Mali, where they were diagnosed.

Today’s study, from NIAID’s Rocky Mountain Laboratories, finds that there appear to be no genetic changes that would increase the virulence or change the transmissibility of the circulating Ebola virus, and that despite extensive human-to-human transmission during the outbreak, the virus is not mutating at a rate beyond what is expected. Further, they say, based on their data it is unlikely that the types of genetic changes thus far observed would impair diagnostic measures, or affect the efficacy of candidate vaccines or potential virus-specific treatments.

As of March 11, the World Health Organization listed more than 24,000 confirmed, suspected or probable cases of Ebola virus disease in West Africa, with about 10,000 deaths.

NIAID conducts and supports research — at NIH, throughout the United States, and worldwide — to study the causes of infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses. News releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available at http://www.niaid.nih.gov.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

NIH...Turning Discovery Into Health®


T Hoenen, et al. Mutation rate and genotype variation of Ebola virus from Mali case sequences. Science DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa5646 (2015).

Source: nih.gov

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 27 Mar 2015 18:12:15 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59925-nih-study-finds-no-evidence-of-accelerated-ebola-virus-evolution-in-west-africa.html
HIV Can Spread Early, Evolve in Patients’ Brains http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59924-hiv-can-spread-early-evolve-in-patients-brains.html Findings add urgency to screening, treatment – NIH-funded study

Bethesda, Maryland--(ENEWSPF)--March 27, 2015.  The AIDS virus can genetically evolve and independently replicate in patients’ brains early in the illness process, researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health have discovered. An analysis of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF), a window into brain chemical activity, revealed that for a subset of patients HIV had started replicating within the brain within the first four months of infection. CSF in 30 percent of HIV-infected patients tracked showed at least transient signs of inflammation – suggesting an active infectious process – or viral replication within the first two years of infection. There was also evidence that the mutating virus can evolve a genome in the central nervous system that is distinct from that in the periphery.

Image of HIV virus infecting a cell

HIV, the AIDS virus (yellow) infecting a human immune cell. Source: Seth Pincus, Elizabeth Fischer and Austin Athman, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health.

“These results underscore the importance of early diagnosis and treatment with antiretroviral therapy,” said Dianne Rausch, Ph.D., director of the Division of AIDS Research of the NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). “Any delay runs the risk that the virus could find refuge and cause damage in the brain, where some medications are less effective – potentially enabling it to re-emerge, even after it is suppressed in the periphery.”

NIMH grantees Serena Spudich, M.D. External Web Site Policy, of Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut; Ronald Swanstrom, Ph.D. External Web Site Policy, of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Richard Price, M.D. External Web Site Policy, University of California, San Francisco; and Christa Buckheit Sturdevant, Ph.D., UNC External Web Site Policy (now at Duke), and colleagues, report on their findings March 26, 2015, in the journal PLoS Pathogens.

Prior to the study, it was known that HIV readily penetrates the brain and can trigger neurological problems and eventually cause dementia over the course of the infection. Yet there was little evidence about how quickly it can take hold and thrive there. Nor was it clear to what extent the brain serves as a hard-to-reach hideout from which the virus might re-infect the body – even if it is eliminated from peripheral blood and lymph node tissue by treatment.

To learn more, the researchers compared evidence of HIV activity in CSF versus blood from 72 untreated HIV-infected patients over the first two years of their infection. Overall, 10-22 percent of the patients showed evidence of HIV replication or inflammation in the brain at the different time points analyzed within the first two years – and the signs persisted over time in about 16 percent of the participants.

The evidence suggests that in most patients peripheral forms of the virus infect immune cells that spread to the brain via blood. Yet in some patients, genetic versions of the virus not found in blood evolve in the brain environment. So it could become an independent, compartmentalized viral reservoir, capable of generating treatment-resistant mutant forms that could break out and re-infect the rest of the body after seemingly successful treatment, explained Rausch.

Whether the potential brain damage caused by early HIV replication and inflammation might be reversible with antiviral therapy awaits further research, said Swanstrom.

Grants: MH099979, MH101024, MH094177, MH074466

The mission of the NIMH is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery and cure. For more information, visit http://www.nimh.nih.gov.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

NIH...Turning Discovery Into Health®


Compartmentalized replication of R5 T Cell-Tropic HIV-1 in the central nervous system early in the course of infection. Sturdevant CB, Joseph SB, Schnell G, Price RW, Swanstrom R, Spudich S. PLoS Pathogens, March 26, 2015.

Source: nih.gov

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 27 Mar 2015 18:09:26 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59924-hiv-can-spread-early-evolve-in-patients-brains.html
Industry Leaders Advocate Best Practices for Regulation, Labeling and Manufacturing of Medicinal Cannabis and Hemp Products http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59921-industry-leaders-advocate-best-practices-for-regulation-labeling-and-manufacturing-of-medicinal-cannabis-and-hemp-products.html Groups convene in Washington, DC for third annual national medical cannabis conference March 27-31

Washington, DC – (ENEWSPF)—March 27, 2015. The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) Cannabis Committee, in coordination with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), and the Hemp Industries Association (HIA), announces the release of a joint statement advocating for implementation of best practices for the regulation of consumable, topical, and inhalant cannabis and hemp-derived products to ensure quality and consumer safety.  These best practices were developed with the input of numerous industry experts and establish common language and defined terms for the transparent and accurate labeling of these products to support responsible commerce and informed use of the cannabis plant.

AHPA, ASA and HIA will be promoting these best practices at the 3rd Annual National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference being held March 27-31, in Washington, DC.

Recommendations for plant part identification
The AHPA Cannabis Committee has established a policy that lawfully-marketed products consisting of or including Cannabis spp. ingredients that are intended for oral ingestion, topical application, or inhalation be labeled to identify the part of the Cannabis plant from which the ingredient is derived (e.g., seed oil, flower extract, or extract of aerial parts). This policy does not apply to parts of the Cannabis plant provided to consumers in unprocessed and recognizable forms.

"Today's hemp food and body care companies implement good manufacturing practices and adhere to established standards for labeling," noted Eric Steenstra, executive director of the HIA. "In the best interest of consumers, it's vitally important for leading industry associations and manufacturers to work together to clarify and implement guidelines for all hemp and cannabis products."

Regulatory recommendations
The AHPA Cannabis Committee has developed regulatory recommendations in the form of best practices addressing the operational stages of cannabis production and distribution: cultivation and processing; manufacturing and related operations; laboratory practice; and dispensing. These recommendations are applicable to any operation lawfully producing and/or distributing cannabis or industrial hemp consumable, topical, or inhalant products that are not already governed by federal regulations. ASA and HIA members contributed to the development of these recommendations as well.

The AHPA Cannabis Committee, ASA, and the HIA support the regulatory trends toward mandatory product testing and adoption of other product safety regulations in states currently implementing medical marijuana programs.

"Regulators seeking to enhance cannabis product quality can adopt and implement these recommendations, as well as the product quality guidelines found in the American Herbal Pharmacopeia (AHP) Cannabis Monograph," stated Michael McGuffin, president of AHPA. "AHPA is conducting outreach encouraging all medical cannabis states to update their laws and regulations accordingly to include product safety and quality considerations."

Cannabis companies are volunteering to adjust to these market demands as well.

"Cannabis companies are encouraged to participate in ASA's Patient Focused Certification (PFC) program as a way to independently demonstrate to consumers that these guidelines have been integrated into their production processes," explained Steph Sherer, ASA executive director. "The PFC program criteria draw from both the AHPA Cannabis Committee recommendations and the AHP Cannabis Monograph to foster consistency across the industry."

"This is an exciting time for the cannabis industry; tremendous progress has been made in the past few years and the industry will continue to offer these products in a safe and transparent way that is imperative to its future," McGuffin added.

The complete joint statement is available online.

# # #

About American Herbal Products Association:
The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) is the national trade association and voice of the herbal and botanical products industry. AHPA is comprised of more than 300 domestic and foreign companies doing business as growers, processors, manufacturers, and marketers of herbs and herbal products, including foods, dietary supplements, cosmetics, and non-prescription drugs. Founded in 1982, AHPA's mission is to promote the responsible commerce of herbal products. Website: www.ahpa.org.

About Americans for Safe Access:
With over 50,000 active members in all 50 states, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. ASA works to overcome political and legal barriers by creating policies that improve access to medical cannabis for patients and researchers through legislation, education, litigation, grassroots actions, advocacy and services for patients and the caregivers. Website: www.safeaccessnow.org. Become a Member of ASA Today!

About Hemp Industries Association:
The Hemp Industries Association (HIA) is a non-profit trade association comprised of hundreds of hemp businesses, representing the interests of the hemp industry and encouraging the research and development of new hemp products. More information about the HIA can be found on the association's website: www.thehia.org.

Source: www.AmericansforSafeAccess.org



shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 27 Mar 2015 17:52:44 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59921-industry-leaders-advocate-best-practices-for-regulation-labeling-and-manufacturing-of-medicinal-cannabis-and-hemp-products.html
FTC Releases Reports on 2012 Cigarette and Smokeless Tobacco Sales and Marketing Expenditures http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59919-ftc-releases-reports-on-2012-cigarette-and-smokeless-tobacco-sales-and-marketing-expenditures.html Cigarette Sales Declined, Smokeless Tobacco Sales Increased From 2011 Levels

Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--March 27, 2015.  The number of cigarettes sold to wholesalers and retailers in the United States declined from 273.6 billion in 2011 to 267.7 billion in 2012, according to the most recent Federal Trade Commission Cigarette Report.

The amount spent on cigarette advertising and promotion by the largest cigarette companies in the United States rose from $8.37 billion in 2011 to $9.17 billion in 2012, due mainly to an increase in spending on price discounts (discounts paid to cigarette retailers or wholesalers in order to reduce the price of cigarettes to consumers). Spending on price discounts increased from $7.0 billion in 2011 to $7.8 billion in 2012. The price discounts category was the largest expenditure category in 2012, as it has been each year since 2002; in 2012, it accounted for 85.1 percent of industry spending.

The Commission has issued the Cigarette Report periodically since 1967 and the Smokeless Tobacco Report periodically since 1987.

According to the 2012 Smokeless Tobacco Report, spending on advertising and promotion by the major manufacturers of smokeless tobacco products in the United States, which had risen from $444.2 million in 2010 to $451.7 million in 2011, declined to $435.7 billion in 2012. As with cigarettes, price discounts made up the largest spending category, totaling $212.1 million, or 48.7 percent of all spending in 2012.

Smokeless tobacco sales rose from 122.7 million pounds in 2011 to 125.5 million pounds in 2012. The total value of those sales increased from $2.94 billion in 2011 to $3.08 billion in 2012.

To read the full reports, click on Federal Trade Commission Cigarette Report for 2012 and Federal Trade Commission Smokeless Tobacco Report for 2012.

The Commission vote to issue the reports was 5-0. (FTC File No. P114508)

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook (link is external), follow us on Twitter (link is external), and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

Source: ftc.gov

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 27 Mar 2015 17:41:53 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59919-ftc-releases-reports-on-2012-cigarette-and-smokeless-tobacco-sales-and-marketing-expenditures.html
DEA Agents Had Cartel ‘Sex Parties’ With Prostitutes While Working In Colombia http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/59917-dea-agents-had-cartel-sex-parties-with-prostitutes-while-working-in-colombia.html dea sex parties columbiaOREGON--(ENEWSPF)--March 27, 2015.  Marijuana activists have been saying for decades that the DEA needs to be de-funded. The agency has caused so much misery and ruined so many lives in the name of the drug war. The money that goes to fund their failed war on drugs could be going to schools, roads, or just about anything else. A story broke yesterday which highlighted just how out of control DEA agents can be. Per Politico:

Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration reportedly had “sex parties” with prostitutes hired by drug cartels in Colombia, according to a new inspector general report released by the Justice Department on Thursday.

In addition, Colombian police officers allegedly provided “protection for the DEA agents’ weapons and property during the parties,” the report states. Ten DEA agents later admitted attending the parties, and some of the agents received suspensions of two to 10 days.

The stunning allegations are part of an investigation by the Justice Department’s inspector general into claims of sexual harassment and misconduct within DEA; FBI; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the U.S. Marshals Service. The IG’s office found that DEA did not fully cooperate with its probe.

‘Some of the agents received suspensions of two to 10 days.’ Some? So not all of them were suspended? And those that were, were only suspended for 2 to 10 days? This is your tax money at work America. As many people have said on social media, if this isn’t enough to get meaningful change in our federal government’s law enforcement system, what will? The infractions occurred between 2005 and 2008.

About Johnny Green

Johnny Green is a marijuana activist from Oregon. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Public Policy. Follow Johnny Green on Facebook and Twitter.

Source: www.theweedblog.com

g@turningleft.net (Johhny Green) Fri, 27 Mar 2015 17:34:21 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/59917-dea-agents-had-cartel-sex-parties-with-prostitutes-while-working-in-colombia.html
Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Leader Harry Reid’s Retirement Announcement http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/59915-statement-by-afl-cio-president-richard-trumka-on-leader-harry-reid-s-retirement-announcement.html Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--March 27, 2015.

Senator Reid has been a leader in title, but more importantly in practice. The lives of working people in Nevada and across the country are better because of his achievements in a long and illustrious career in public service. While the politics of Washington, DC can easily corrupt and distort, Leader Reid has never wavered from his core values or his agenda to help make America better. He is a first-class Senator, a true leader and a friend.

Source: www.aflcio.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 27 Mar 2015 17:24:42 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/59915-statement-by-afl-cio-president-richard-trumka-on-leader-harry-reid-s-retirement-announcement.html
Food and Water Watch: Obama’s Antibiotic Plan Fails to Address Overuse on Factory Farms http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/59912-food-and-water-watch-obama-s-antibiotic-plan-fails-to-address-overuse-on-factory-farms.html

Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--March 27, 2015. Statement of Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter: 

“Today the White House released its ‘National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria,’ which is intended to protect the public from antibiotic resistant infections. Unfortunately, the plan falls short of protecting the public from this looming public health crisis in that it fails to adequately address the misuse of antibiotics on factory farms, relying on FDA’s limited efforts to change practices through voluntary guidance.

“Food & Water Watch supports the plan’s call for USDA and FDA to research and promote alternatives to antibiotic use in livestock and poultry. Such research is necessary to support a transition away from non-therapeutic uses of antibiotics. But this is not enough.

“80 percent of the antibiotics used in the United States are used on factory farms. Every year, over two million Americans suffer from antibiotic resistant infections, and 23,000 people die from them. The Food and Drug Administration has been aware of the problems associated with the misuse of these critical, life saving drugs since at least 1977, but has not required factory farms to stop misusing them.

“Despite overwhelming scientific evidence that curbing the misuse of antibiotics on factory farms would address this public health crisis and help maintain the effectiveness of these critical, life saving drugs, the meat industry continues to oppose meaningful regulation on how it uses antibiotics.

“Ultimately the National Action Plan is a missed opportunity to take more aggressive action. That is why we need federal legislation like the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act that would end the overuse of medically important antibiotics in livestock production. This is what it will take to combat this public health crisis.”

Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.

Source: www.foodandwaterwatch.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 27 Mar 2015 17:11:42 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/59912-food-and-water-watch-obama-s-antibiotic-plan-fails-to-address-overuse-on-factory-farms.html
NRDC: DOE’s Petroleum Council Dead Wrong on Arctic Drilling http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/59909-nrdc-doe-s-petroleum-council-dead-wrong-on-arctic-drilling.html WASHINGTON—(ENEWSPF)--March 27,2015 - The National Petroleum Council, the largely industry-based oil and gas advisory committee to the Department of Energy, released a study Friday predicting the twilight of oil production through fracking and calling for drilling in the Arctic Ocean to compensate for depleting onshore reserves of oil. 

Niel Lawrence, senior attorney and Alaska director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, made the following statement:

“This puts an end to the myth that a relentless rush to fracking can overturn the laws of supply and demand. The answer, though, is not to risk a BP-style blowout in Arctic waters where we can’t prevent, contain or clean up a catastrophic oil spill. We need, instead, to break our dependence on the fossil fuel use that is putting our natural systems at risk and driving the dangerous climate change that threatens our future.”

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

Source: www.nrdc.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 27 Mar 2015 16:56:36 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/59909-nrdc-doe-s-petroleum-council-dead-wrong-on-arctic-drilling.html
Sierra Club Statement on Retirement of Harry Reid http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/59908-sierra-club-statement-on-retirement-of-harry-reid.html WASHINGTON, D.C. –(ENEWSPF)—March 27, 2015. Today, U.S. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid announced that he would not seek re-election in 2016.

In response, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune released the following statement:

“The Sierra Club and the rest of the environmental movement are filled with gratitude today for Senator Reid’s decades of tenacious leadership to protect our air, water, and climate.

“Senator Reid has been instrumental in moving Nevada beyond coal. He stood with the Moapa Band of Paiutes and the Sierra Club to retire a heavily polluting coal plant that was threatening the health of those living in an adjacent Moapa Paiute reservation. He also stood with Sierra Club volunteers working to stop the dumping of nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. But these are only a couple examples of Senator Reid’s myriad contributions to help protect Americans’ air, water, health, and climate.

“Senator Reid’s leadership has left an immeasurable impression on our nation’s climate and clean energy future. On behalf of the Sierra Club’s 2.4 million members and supporters, we wish him the best and thank him for his tireless advocacy.  We look forward to working with new climate and clean energy champions who will continue his legacy.”

Source: www.sierraclub.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 27 Mar 2015 16:51:39 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/59908-sierra-club-statement-on-retirement-of-harry-reid.html
Portland, Oregon to Vote on Neonic Ban on City Property http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/59906-portland-oregon-to-vote-on-neonic-ban-on-city-property.html Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--March 27, 2015.  Portland, Oregon is considering a ban on neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides linked to bee deaths, from use on city property. If the measure passes, Portland will join a long list of towns and communities, including Eugene (Oregon), Skagway (Alaska), and, in Washington State, Thurston CountySeattle, and Spokane.

Under the proposed ordinance, city officials would not be permitted to use or buy neonicotinoids or similar pesticides on city lands or in city buildings and would urge stores to label products, such as plants and seeds treated with neonicotinoids. The proposal also applies to city contractors.

Susan Jergans Elkhorn WI These were taken at a bank in Elkhorn1Additionally, the proposed ban on neonicotinoids and neonicotinoid-like insecticides would not apply immediately to two city rose gardens. Officials say the rose midge, a pest, is difficult to eradicate with the insecticide. Instead the city will look for an alternative method using a pilot project at Peninsula Park in North Portland to test alternative non-toxic insecticides. That proposal would be phased in with a deadline of December 2017 to eliminate all neonicotinoid-based products.

The proposal cites seven separate bumble bee incidents in Oregon related to the application of neonicotinoids on trees since June 2013, documented by the state’s Department of Agriculture. Six of those incidents occurred in the greater Portland area. The proposal also mentions growing scientific evidence linking the pesticides to pollinator decline and damage to beneficial organisms, as well as the contamination of neonicotinoids in our nation’s waterways. The proposal specifically lists imidacloprid, clothianidin, thiamethoxam, dinotefuran, and other neonicotinoid or neonicotinoid-like, systemic, persistent pesticides.

“I think it’s appropriate for us to take this kind of action,” said Mayor Charlie Hales, referring to the city’s track record of green policy proposals.

Commissioner Steve Novick said the city doesn’t necessarily need a smoking gun linking the insecticides to bee die-offs. “The cautious thing to do is to get rid of them,” Mr. Novick said.

The City Council held a public hearing on Wednesday to discuss the proposal and a final vote is expected April 1.

Meanwhile, federal action to curb threats to pollinators posed by neonics remains sluggish. Some promising steps have been taken, such as the ban of neonics on National Wildlife Refuges and the issuance of a Presidential Memorandum, Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators, and establishment of a corresponding White House Task Force. However, federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agency remain hesitant to take meaningful action.

As federal efforts languish, local efforts like the Thurston County bans provide a promising opportunity for communities across the United States to stand up for pollinators. Visit Beyond Pesticides’ BEE Protective webpage to learn more about the issue and what can be done to protect pollinators.

Take Action! With your help, we can prompt Portland to join other cities that have shown they care about pollinators by banning the use of neonicotinoids. Comments need to be submitted by Tuesday March 31, as the Commissioners plan to vote on the ordinance the next day, April 1.

E-mails can be sent to Mayor Hales and Commissioners Fish, Fritz, Novick and Saltzman: mayorhales@portlandoregon.gov, nick@portlandoregon.gov, amanda@portlandoregon.gov, novick@portlandoregon.gov, dan@portlandoregon.gov

Sources: The Oregonian, www.beyondpesticides.org

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 27 Mar 2015 16:42:55 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/59906-portland-oregon-to-vote-on-neonic-ban-on-city-property.html
House Passes Medicare Reform Bill, But Critics Warn Beneficiaries Will Pay the Price http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59901-house-passes-medicare-reform-bill-but-critics-warn-beneficiaries-will-pay-the-price.html

As is too often the case, bipartisanship in Congress results in society's most vulnerable being asked to sacrifice the most in return for less

Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--March 26, 2015
So-called permanent "doc fix," say critics, would give "pay raises to doctors, while shifting $30 billion in higher costs to some beneficiaries." (Photo: UALR Public Radio)

As leaders of the Republican and Democratic Parties in the House of Representatives were congratulating themselves on passing an actual piece of legislation on Thursday, critics of the bill aimed at restructuring Medicare payments to providers are warning—despite the feel-good mood provided by the bipartisan achievement—it will be the elderly and low-income beneficiaries of the program who will ultimately pay the heaviest price if the proposed changes become law.

The Hill reports:

The House on Thursday overwhelmingly voted to repeal automatic payment cuts to doctors under Medicare, endorsing a rare bipartisan deal that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) negotiated with Democrats.

The bill, which passed by a vote of 392-37, puts Congress on the precipice of ending a fight nearly two decades old over a formula known as the sustainable growth rate (SGR). 

Since 2003, lawmakers have put off cuts under the Medicare formula 17 times, perennially punting the solution through short-term “fixes” that, over time, ran up the cost of abolishing the formula to nearly $200 billion dollars.

Facing a new deadline for the cuts at the end of March, Boehner said he decided it was time to make a deal.

"This is what we can accomplish when we focus on finding common ground," Boehner said after the bill passed. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she hoped the compromised bill "will be a model for things to come."

Defenders of the Medicare program, however, were quick to issue warnings that it will be those individuals who benefit most from the nation's public health program who end up on the losing side if and when the bill passes the Senate and reaches the desk of President Obama, who has already indicated his desire to sign it.

“Unfortunately, the SGR replacement package from the House is not sufficiently balanced; it asks too much from beneficiaries – and nothing from the pharmaceutical or insurance industries – without providing enough for beneficiaries in return,” said Judith Stein, Executive Director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy.

And Joe Baker, President of the Medicare Rights Center, made a similar argument, saying that although the proposal is a step in the right direction, it ultimately "comes at a steep cost, asking too much from Medicare beneficiaries in return for too little."

The new law, Baker said, would give "pay raises to doctors, while shifting $30 billion in higher costs to some beneficiaries and granting a small measure of security to low-income seniors and people with disabilities. This security afforded to low-income beneficiaries through a permanent Qualified Individual (QI) program should be celebrated, but Congress can and should do better."

According to an evaluation by the CMA:

Of the portion of the SGR package that will be offset, roughly half (approximately $35 of the total $70 billion over 10 years) would come from Medicare beneficiaries through changes that will increase their out-of-pocket costs for health care, including:

Adding deductibles to Medigap plans purchased in the future;

Further means-testing premiums for higher-income beneficiaries, and

Overall increases in Part B premiums.

At the same time, neither the pharmaceutical industry nor the insurance industry is being asked to pay for any of this package, although doing so would pay for a major portion of the SGR replacement. Simply reinstating prescription drug rebates for low-income beneficiaries as they existed until 2006, for example, would save an estimated $116 billion over 10 years.

"Payment for an SGR fix should not rely on increasing out-of-pocket health care costs for people with Medicare, jeopardizing access to needed care, and further diminishing the already tenuous economic circumstances facing many beneficiaries and their families," said Ms. Stein.

Though she said her group appreciates the need, given the current dynamics in Congress, for some level of compromise she said her group would not endorse this piece of legislation as it stands.

"As the debate shifts to the Senate," she said, "we hope further balance and improvements for beneficiaries can be made."


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Source: www.commondreams.org

Related Article:

Rep. Jan Schakowsky Statement on the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate Bill


shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 27 Mar 2015 00:24:08 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59901-house-passes-medicare-reform-bill-but-critics-warn-beneficiaries-will-pay-the-price.html
Lawsuit Filed to Protect Rare Colorado, Utah Wildflowers Threatened by Oil Shale Mining http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/59894-lawsuit-filed-to-protect-rare-colorado-utah-wildflowers-threatened-by-oil-shale-mining.html Records show Fish and Wildlife Service conceded to habitat destruction demanded by industry under the guise of “conservation”

the Graham’s beardtongue (Penstemon grahamii) is a perennial plant known from the Uintah Basin in Utah and Colorado.

A Graham’s beardtongue (Penstemon grahamii). The Graham’s and White River beardtongues have been waiting for Endangered Species Act protection since 1975 and 1983 respectively. Kevin Megown / U.S. Forest Service

Denver, CO —(ENEWSPF)--March 26, 2015. Conservation groups filed a lawsuit today in federal court in Denver challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to deny Endangered Species Act protection to two imperiled wildflowers that live only on oil shale formations in Colorado and Utah. Oil shale and tar sands mining and traditional oil and gas drilling threaten 100 percent of known White River beardtongue populations and over 85 percent of the known Graham’s beardtongue populations. 

In August 2013, the Service proposed to provide Endangered Species Act protection to the wildflowers and nearly 76,000 acres of their essential habitat, recognizing the threat posed by mining and drilling. One year later—after lobbying by industry and its supporters, including the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) and Uintah County—the Service reversed-course and denied Endangered Species Act protections. The Service based its decision on a 15-year “conservation agreement” negotiated behind closed doors with pro-industry stakeholders.  

Public records obtained by plaintiffs in today’s lawsuit show that the conservation agreement purposefully excluded wildflower habitat from protection to accommodate oil shale mining and drilling.  SITLA’s Associate Director and Chief Legal Counsel, John Andrews, described the agreement as follows:

“The basic concept is you’ve got a 15-year agreement that’s going to buy for all of our miners the ability to strip mine and destroy any [wildflowers] that are located on those sites in exchange for some conservation” on lands “that wouldn’t be disturbed” anyway.[1]

In its proposal to list the species, the Service recognized oil shale mining in the wildflowers’ habitat as one of the primary threats justifying the need for Endangered Species Act protections.  FWS found that that development of just two planned oil shale projects in Utah by the Enefit and Red Leaf corporations would have substantial impacts and would reduce the viability of the species.  But the conservation agreement denies protections on private and state lands slated for oil shale development during the 15-year term of the agreement, including those owned or leased by Enefit and Red Leaf.

“The conservation agreement is a giveaway to the fossil fuel industry,” said Robin Cooley, an Earthjustice attorney representing the conservation groups. “Although the Fish and Wildlife Service previously identified habitat that was essential to the survival of these wildflowers, the agency rolled over during negotiations and sacrificed more than 40% of this essential habitat, including lands the oil shale industry plans to strip mine in the next 15 years.”

“The Endangered Species Act requires the Service to make decisions based on science, not politics,” said Megan Mueller, senior biologist with Rocky Mountain Wild.  “The science here is clear, these wildflowers must be protected from strip mining and drilling.”

“The Endangered Species Act has an incredible record of saving species—but it can only work if we use it.  We’ve known for decades that these wildflowers need federal protections if they’re going to survive,” said Michael Saul, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s shameful to see the Fish and Wildlife Service forego that effective tool just for the profits of one industry.”

“These rare and beautiful wildflowers are a treasured part of our natural heritage and we need to protect them for future generations to enjoy,” said Tony Frates with the Utah Native Plant Society. “Rather than ensuring their survival through the proven protections of the Endangered Species Act, the Fish and Wildlife Service opted for a conservation agreement that paves the way for destruction of large populations of these two species.”

Earthjustice filed today’s lawsuit challenging the Service’s failure to list the beardtongues under the Endangered Species Act on behalf of Rocky Mountain Wild, Center for Biological Diversity, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Utah Native Plant Society, Grand Canyon Trust, Western Resource Advocates, and Western Watersheds Project.

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.

Source: www.earthjustice.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 27 Mar 2015 00:05:17 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/59894-lawsuit-filed-to-protect-rare-colorado-utah-wildflowers-threatened-by-oil-shale-mining.html
Senators Wyden, Heinrich Introduce Budget Amendment To Protect America's Treasured Public Lands From Being Sold Off http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/59891-senators-wyden-heinrich-introduce-budget-amendment-to-protect-america-s-treasured-public-lands-from-being-sold-off.html WASHINGTON, D.C. --(ENEWSPF)--March 26, 2015 - U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) introduced an amendment to the Senate's budget resolution that would protect America's parks and public lands, including national forests, wildlife refuges, and conservation lands, from being sold off as a deficit reduction tactic. The amendment is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.).

"Americans depend on clean water and treasure wildlife habitats and the quality of life that public lands offer," Sen. Wyden said. "I'm proud to support this amendment with my colleagues to protect our public lands that in turn, protect wildlife, tourism and outdoor recreation that supports local businesses and local economies."

"Selling off America's treasured lands to the highest bidder would result in a proliferation of locked gates and no-trespassing signs in places that have been open to the public and used for generations. This would devastate outdoor traditions like hunting, camping and fishing that are among the pillars of Western culture and a thriving outdoor recreation economy," Sen. Heinrich said. "Our natural heritage is not for sale. America's forests, wildlife refuges and conservation lands are part of the fabric of our democracy. Let's keep them that way."

"New Mexicans have treasured our public lands for hunting, hiking, and camping for generations. This is our shared heritage -- selling off our public lands would be devastating for businesses and communities that depend on tourism and our thriving outdoor economy," Sen. Udall said. "This amendment protects our heritage, and I'm proud to vote to support our outdoor economy and Western way of life."

"Public lands drive economic growth in Colorado and all across our country," Sen. Bennet said.  "On top of the economic benefits, wilderness areas, national monuments, and national parks are a fundamental part of the fabric of our country and its history. It is important to preserve these lands for our kids and our grandkids, just as our grandparents preserved them for us."

"Our public lands help drive the economy in rural America and countless small businesses depend on the millions of folks who access our public lands each year," said Sen. Tester. "This amendment protects our public lands for future generations and builds on our outdoor legacy."

Source: wyden.senate.gov

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 26 Mar 2015 23:53:57 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/59891-senators-wyden-heinrich-introduce-budget-amendment-to-protect-america-s-treasured-public-lands-from-being-sold-off.html
Study: Cannabis Use Linked With Lower Diabetes Risk In HIV/HCV Patients http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59884-study-cannabis-use-linked-with-lower-diabetes-risk-in-hiv-hcv-patients.html Study: Cannabis Use Linked With Lower Diabetes Risk In HIV/HCV PatientsMarseille, France--(ENEWSPF)--March 26, 2015.  A history of cannabis use is positively associated with a lower risk of insulin resistance (IR) in HIV/Hepatitis C co-infected patients, according to a longitudinal analysis published online ahead of print in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. Insulin resistance is a leading cause of type 2 diabetes.

French investigators evaluated the association between cannabis use and IR in a nationwide cohort of HIV/HCV co-infected patients over a 60-month period. Researchers reported that patients with a history of cannabis use - irrespective of frequency - were nearly three times less likely to be insulin resistant compared to non-users.

"Cannabis use is associated with a lower IR risk in HIV/HCV co-infected patients," authors concluded. "The benefits of cannabis-based pharmacotherapies for patients concerned by increased risk of insulin resistance and diabetes need to be evaluated in clinical research and practice."

In 2013, researchers at Harvard Medical School and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston similarly reported cannabis use to be correlated with lower levels of insulin resistance in a sample of over 4,600 subjects.

Observational trial data published in 2012 in the British Medical Journal also reported that adults with a history of marijuana use had a lower prevalence of type 2 diabetes and possessed a lower risk of contracting the disease than did those with no history of cannabis consumption, even after researchers adjusted for social variables such as subjects' ethnicity and levels of physical activity.

Full text of the study, "Cannabis use and reduced risk of insulin-resistance in HIV-HCV infected patients: a longitudinal analysis," appears in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Source: www.norml.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 26 Mar 2015 23:34:34 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59884-study-cannabis-use-linked-with-lower-diabetes-risk-in-hiv-hcv-patients.html
DEA: Marijuana Plant Seizures Flat For 2014 http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/59883-dea-marijuana-plant-seizures-flat-for-2014.html DEA: Marijuana Plant Seizures Flat For 2014Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--March 26, 2015.  Seizures of indoor and outdoor cannabis crops by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) held steady in 2014, but remain well below totals from just five years ago.

According to the DEA's Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Statistical Report, agents eradicated some 4.3 million marijuana plants in 2014. That total is virtually identical to 2013 figures (4.4 million), but is slightly above 2012 figures (4 million). However, these totals continue to reflect a significant drop in DEA crops eradication from previous years, as the agency reported eliminating some 10.3 million cultivated plants in 2010 and nearly 7 million plants in 2011.

As in past years, DEA eradication efforts largely focused on California. Of the 4.3 million plants eliminated by DEA in 2014, some 62 percent were from California.

The DEA reported making some 6,300 arrests in conjunction with their cannabis eradication efforts - a total that nearly mirrored 2013 figures. By contrast, the agency reported making nearly 10,000 marijuana arrests in 2010 and 8,500 arrests in 2011.

Source: www.norml.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 26 Mar 2015 23:33:01 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/59883-dea-marijuana-plant-seizures-flat-for-2014.html
Senators Durbin, Reed Applaud New Initiative To Strike Back At Growing Heroin Epidemic http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59880-senators-durbin-reed-applaud-new-initiative-to-strike-back-at-growing-heroin-epidemic.html Senators have led the call for a national, comprehensive plan to reduce overdose deaths with increased resources for life-saving drugs and follow up care

WASHINGTON, DC –(ENEWSPF)—March 26, 2015. U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Jack Reed (D-IL) welcomed today’s announcement of a new targeted initiative through the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to address the heroin epidemic. In December, Durbin and Reed led a group of twenty-one Senators in calling on HHS to prioritize programs that reduce heroin and other opioid overdose deaths in its national strategy to curb prescription drug abuse. Both Senators have been active in highlighting the need for expanded access to overdose education, naloxone distribution, and access to substance abuse treatment services and other follow-up care.

“Naloxone is sometimes called the “Lazarus drug” because of its ability to reverse the deadly effects of a heroin overdose. And yet, law enforcement officers in only a few Illinois counties carry it,” Durbin said. “With heroin and opioid use on the rise, why wouldn’t we do everything we could to give first-responders access to this life-saving drug? I am glad to see the Department of Health and Human Services answering that call today by expanding the use of naloxone and providing additional training and resources to the first-responders who are on the frontline of this crisis.”

“Heroin and opioid abuse is a serious public health and safety problem and we need a comprehensive, coordinated response to this epidemic.  I commend the Obama Administration for boosting prevention efforts and expanding access to treatment options for those who need it.  Research shows naloxone works.  It’s a lifesaver that helps prevent overdose deaths from prescription painkillers and heroin.  We need to help states purchase overdose-prevention toolkits and train first responders and individuals who work with addicts to effectively use them so we can save lives.  This is a devastating problem and there is so much more to be done.  We need to bring together law enforcement, medical personnel, addiction treatment specialists, social service providers, pharmacies, and families to help save lives and get at the root of this problem,” said Reed, who introduced the Overdose Prevention Act, which would expand access to naloxone, as well as drug overdose prevention programs that have been proven to save lives.

The initiative announced today by HHS focuses on three priority areas:

Increasing use of naloxone, as well as continuing to support the development and distribution of the life-saving drug, to help reduce the number of deaths associated with prescription opioid and heroin overdose.

Providing training and educational resources, including updated prescriber guidelines, to assist health professionals in making informed prescribing decisions and address the over-prescribing of opioids.

Expanding the use of Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), a comprehensive way to address the needs of individuals that combines the use of medication with counseling and behavioral therapies to treat substance use disorders.

Naloxone is a medication that can reverse the effects of an overdose from opioids, including heroin and prescription painkillers, if it is administered in a timely way. Naloxone has no side effects or potential for abuse, and is widely recognized as an important tool to help prevent drug overdose deaths. However, many communities struggle to get naloxone to those on the front lines who need it most.  Illinois, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and other states have been leaders in implementing programs that distribute naloxone and other similarly effective drugs to law enforcement, first responders, providers, nonprofit organizations, family, and friends.

Last year, Reed and Durbin were joined by U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ed Markey (D-MA) in introducing the Overdose Prevention Act, which would expand access to naloxone, as well as drug overdose prevention programs that have been proven to save lives. The Overdose Prevention Act aims to decrease the rate of drug overdose deaths by improving access to naloxone, supporting overdose prevention programs, enhancing surveillance of overdose occurrences, and establishing a coordinated federal plan of action to address the epidemic.

Earlier this month, Durbin joined U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) in introducing bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the National All-Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting (NASPER) program, which provides grants to states to maintain, improve, and expand their prescription drug monitoring programs. Prescription narcotic drugs are the number one cause of overdoses in the United States with more than 22,000 reported deaths due to prescription drug related overdoses in 2012. The program was originally signed into law in 2005. In Illinois, the number of drug overdose deaths, the majority of which are from prescription drugs, increased by nearly 50% between 1999 and 2010.

Source: durbin.senate.gov

Related Article:

HHS Takes Strong Steps to Address Opioid-drug Related Overdose, Death and Dependence

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 26 Mar 2015 23:22:45 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59880-senators-durbin-reed-applaud-new-initiative-to-strike-back-at-growing-heroin-epidemic.html
Senator Durbin Meets With BNSF Chairman To Discuss Railway's Crude Oil By Rail Operations Following Galena Train Derailment http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/59876-senator-durbin-meets-with-bnsf-chairman-to-discuss-railway-s-crude-oil-by-rail-operations-following-galena-train-derailment.html WASHINGTON, D.C. –(ENEWSPF)—March 26, 2015. Following the derailment of a BNSF Railway train carrying crude oil near Galena, Illinois, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) met yesterday with BNSF Railway Executive Chairman Matt Rose to receive an update on the accident and to discuss the rail company’s crude oil by rail operations. BNSF is the largest shipper of crude oil in North America. 

“In the days following the train derailment in Galena, Illinois, BNSF officials worked quickly and efficiently with federal, state and local agencies to respond to the disaster,” Durbin said. “But the fact remains that as these tragic accidents become more frequent, stricter standards are needed to prevent from these fiery train derailments from occurring. BNSF and other railway companies will be critical partners in our ongoing efforts to ensure that our communities are safe during the transport of potentially dangerous and combustible products.”

Five years ago, very little crude oil was hauled by the nation’s railroads. Today, more than 1.1 million barrels per day – with more expected – move by rail, largely originating in the Midwest. There have been four fiery derailments involving oil trains in North America since the start of February, including one near Galena, Illinois.

After the BNSF Railway train derailment earlier this month, Durbin wrote Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan urging renewed efforts to create the strongest possible safety standards for the transportation of flammable materials. Durbin also joined twenty-one Senate colleagues earlier this week calling on the Senate Appropriations Committee to support robust investment for a Safe Transportation of Energy Products program to address increasing safety concerns related to the transportation of Bakken crude and other energy products.

The Safe Transportation of Energy Products Fund is intended to address current and emerging safety issues related to the transportation of combustible energy products like Bakken Crude. It would include providing additional crude oil route safety managers, inspectors and tank car specialists at FRA, special agents at FMCSA to provide additional oversight of energy product transportation, and additional safety equipment, training, and outreach through PHMSA. Along with these personnel and resource additions, the Local Rail Facilities and Safety Program will provide critical infrastructure improvements to facilities handling tank cars, particularly to small stations.

Source: durbin.senate.gov

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 26 Mar 2015 23:08:18 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/59876-senator-durbin-meets-with-bnsf-chairman-to-discuss-railway-s-crude-oil-by-rail-operations-following-galena-train-derailment.html
Some Good, Some Bad in Obama Administration Plan to Protect Antibiotics http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59874-some-good-some-bad-in-obama-administration-plan-to-protect-antibiotics.html Plan fails to adequately address growing public health threat

CHICAGO—(ENEWSPF)—March 26, 2015. Tomorrow the National Task Force for Combating Resistant Bacteria will release a five-year action plan to tackle the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.  While the plan will take several important steps necessary to control the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, it will miss the opportunity to call for critical reforms in the agricultural sector that are essential to protect public health.

“President Obama gets an A for tackling this problem from multiple angles,” said Dev Gowda, Advocate with Illinois PIRG’s Stop Antibiotics Overuse campaign. “But in terms of addressing the biggest problem, the troubling overuse and misuse of antibiotics on large factory farms, the administration gets an incomplete.”

This lack of action to address the overuse of antibiotics in agriculture is notable in the face of recent commitments by several major retailers to curtail the purchase of meat raised with the routine use of the drugs.  Earlier this month, for instance, McDonald’s announced it will phase out chicken raised with medically important antibiotics in its U.S. restaurants.  This policy will likely do more to confront the overuse of antibiotics in agriculture than the policies recommended in today’s plan. 

In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that antibiotic resistance could be the “next pandemic,” and the agency has reported that 2 million Americans are sickened and 23,000 are killed by antibiotic-resistant infections every year.

“Factory farms are playing a game of chicken with superbugs, and our ability to treat infections big and small may end up losing,” said Gowda. “While fast food restaurants are taking the lead on confronting this issue, our national laws are not keeping up.”

Up to 70 percent of antibiotics sold in the U.S. are given to livestock and poultry, which regularly get their helping of the drugs whether they’re sick or not.”

Industrial agriculture is the biggest consumer of antibiotics in the United States. Animals are routinely fed these drugs so that they can grow faster with less feed and remain healthy in the unsanitary, disease-laden conditions common on factory farms. This widespread overuse, however, leads to the creation of drug-resistant bacteria, and these superbugs make their way off the farm and into the surrounding environment, threatening public health across the country.

Experts around the globe, from the World Health Organization to the CDC, agree that steps to immediately and significantly reduce antibiotic use on factory farms are essential to curb the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Recognizing this growing public health threat, several retailers, including McDonald’s Corporation, Chick-Fil-A, Chipotle, Panera, and others have made strong commitments to stop or significantly reduce their purchase of meat raised with life-saving antibiotics. 

However, the national plan to be issued tomorrow does not recommend similar strong action. It does not ask the agencies to reduce antibiotics administered for disease prevention – the bulk of use on farms – and does not mandate compliance with national guidance.

As detailed in a recent report released by Illinois PIRG, entitled Weak Medicine, such an approach is unlikely to lead to a significant reduction in antibiotic overuse on animal farms. 

Farmers already purchase a majority of antibiotics under FDA rules that allow them to feed drugs to their healthy livestock to prevent diseases, rather than to treat existing infections. And all classes of antibiotics that can be used to promote growth can also be used to prevent diseases. Therefore, these voluntary guidelines may do nothing more than simply require factory farms to claim that these drugs are being used for disease prevention, rather than actually address their overuse.

The report also found that experience with similar rules in Europe shows stronger action is necessary to realize real reductions in antibiotics use in livestock production. For more than 30 years, European regula­tors took action similar to the FDA’s recommendations, yet antibiotic use in animals did not decline because farms increased the antibiotics fed to animals for “disease prevention.” In 2011, the European Parliament adopted a resolution stating that the ban was insufficient to protect human health from the overuse of antibiotics. Meanwhile, both Denmark and the Netherlands took stronger actions than was required, and have seen huge reductions in antibiotic use in animals.

“We urge the administration to keep up with the retail sector and go further to limit the use of antibiotics to when animals are truly sick or directly exposed to illness,” said Gowda. “The medical community, consumers, and even many in the food industry would likely stand and applaud such a move.”

The plan will direct federal agencies to take several actions that will combat the accelerating spread of superbugs that are increasingly resistant to antibiotics and are more difficult, expensive and sometimes impossible to treat. These include:

Strengthening surveillance of antibiotic sales and resistance patterns in food-producing animals

Requiring hospitals and other healthcare facilities to implement robust antibiotic stewardship programs

These steps will greatly aid in assessing the extent of the problem and, while not tackling the largest overuse of antibiotics, will still result in some reductions.


Illinois PIRG conducts research and public education on behalf of consumers and the public interest. Our research, analysis, reports, and outreach serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful special interests that threaten our health, safety, or well-being.  Find out more at www.illinoispirg.org

Source: www.illinoispirg.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 26 Mar 2015 23:01:24 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59874-some-good-some-bad-in-obama-administration-plan-to-protect-antibiotics.html