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DAILY DOSE: Opioid restrictions in the U.S. are preventing patients from obtaining necessary medication.


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Here’s something that should come as little surprise to anyone with common sense. In the U.S. government’s attempt to combat the opioid epidemic ravaging the country, they passed a host of restrictions meant to make it harder obtain drugs of abuse. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that the pendulum has swing much too far. Per the New York Times,

Nearly a year after a sweeping opioid settlement imposed new requirements on the companies that provide medications to pharmacies, patients across the United States are having difficulty obtaining drugs to treat many conditions, including anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and addiction.

The $21 billion settlement, which was brokered between the three largest American pharmaceutical distributors and the attorneys general of 46 states, was designed in part to correct practices that had flooded the country with prescription painkillers, contributing to the nation’s opioid crisis. Distributors are placing stricter limits on drug supplies to individual pharmacies and heavily scrutinizing their dispensing activity.

But the oversight is not limited to opioids: It applies to an array of drugs known as controlled substances that have the potential to be addictive or habit-forming, such as muscle relaxants or medications like Xanax, used to treat anxiety and panic disorders.

As a result, tens of thousands of drug orders have been canceled, disrupting the flow of medication nationwide as the distributors — powerful but little-known wholesalers — navigate the line between implementing safeguards and making necessary drugs available.

It’s hard to overstate how essential it is for this problem to be rectified. http://bit.ly/3mMxzJZ

For some people who have grown accustomed to wearing facemasks over the past few years, it’s hard to just stop wearing them cold turkey. The latest example comes from Japan. According to the Associated Press,

Japan on Monday dropped its request for people to wear masks after three years, but hardly anything changed in the country that has had an extremely high regard for their effectiveness at anti-virus protection.

Most commuters exiting Tokyo’s main train station in the morning were wearing masks as they headed to work. So were people on the streets. During a televised budget committee meeting at parliament, some lawmakers still wore masks, though Prime Minister Fumio Kishida wasn’t wearing one when he arrived at his office Monday.

Baseball fans who gathered outside of the Tokyo Dome hours before Monday’s games Australia-Czech Republic and China-South Korea also had on masks. They’ll also be able to cheer without their masks as that ban was lifted, too.

Dropping the mask-wearing request is one of the last steps Japan’s government is taking in easing COVID-19 rules in public places as it tries to expand business and other activity.

Time will fix this one. http://bit.ly/3le6gYD

A welcome back is in order for a group of astronauts who hitched a ride on a SpaceX flight back to Earth. Per the Associated Press,

Four space station astronauts returned to Earth late Saturday after a quick SpaceX flight home.

Their capsule splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico just off the Florida coast near Tampa.

The U.S.-Russian-Japanese crew spent five months at the International Space Station, arriving last October. Besides dodging space junk, the astronauts had to deal with a pair of leaking Russian capsules docked to the orbiting outpost and the urgent delivery of a replacement craft for the station’s other crew members.

Led by NASA’s Nicole Mann, the first Native American woman to fly in space, the astronauts checked out of the station early Saturday morning. Less than 19 hours later, their Dragon capsule was bobbing in the sea as they awaited pickup.

Earlier in the week, high wind and waves in the splashdown zones kept them at the station a few extra days. Their replacements arrived more than a week ago.

It’s nice to know that people can still get along, to a degree, up in space. Lord knows how much animosity is wielded like machetes here on Earth. http://bit.ly/420oNrU

While time may solve the aforementioned facemask issue in Japan, it won’t do anything with the Zebra mussel problem spreading around the world, especially in North America. In fact, it will make things worse. That’s for certain. Per Science,

Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) are one of the most catastrophic aquatic invasive species in North America. Native to Russia and Ukraine, these fingernail-size mollusks have spread around the world, often carried in ballast water—used to stabilize boats—as larvae, where they’ve caused billions of dollars of damage to fisheries, water treatment facilities, and other aquatic industries by clogging intake pipes and robbing nutrients from ecosystems. Now, researchers have discovered a new way they invade—by hitchhiking on fish.

The scientists made the observation while assessing fish communities in a lake in southeastern Quebec last year. They found a zebra mussel attached to a lake chub (Couesius plumbeus), a species of minnow typically about 12 centimeters long. The observation, reported this month in Biological Invasions, is the only time a nonlarval freshwater bivalve has been seen attached to a fish. The mollusk had latched onto the hapless minnow (pictured above) using protein fibers called byssal threads, which they also use to attach to plants, rocks, and concrete.

The discovery is particularly concerning because fish are highly mobile organisms that don’t have a means of removing these parasites. And lake chub and similar species are often used as bait by anglers, which means they’re frequently carried from one body of water to another.

Sneaky buggers are proof that invasive species are invasive for a reason. They’re good at surviving. https://bit.ly/3LiR2fs

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

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