What is Methamphetamine?

In the United States, methamphetamine is a Schedule II chemical under the Controlled Substances Act. This means that, while methamphetamine has some recognized medical value, it is highly regulated and people who are found to be unlawfully in possession of or manufacturing it are harshly penalized.

To the vast majority of people methamphetamine is not much more than a highly-addictive street drug, but it was originally used as a medication for narcolepsy, alcoholism, depression, and attention deficit disorders. It was first synthesized in a laboratory in 1919, but can now be made just about anywhere.

Methamphetamine is an extreme stimulant. It causes an increase in heart rate and a decrease in appetite alongside feelings of euphoria and heightened alertness. However, it has a host of negative side effects, including:

  • Teeth grinding
  • Acne
  • Aggressiveness
  • Paranoia
  • Excessive sweating

Many of these effects worsen with increased and prolonged use. Methamphetamine is highly addictive, so many people struggle to fight their attachment to the drug. Withdrawal symptoms such as depression make it difficult to kick a meth addiction, since addicts quickly realize that they are much “happier” when they are high.

The Basics of GranuFlo: Its History and Usage

In an average person with working kidneys, these organs keep their blood and bones healthy. Unfortunately, for those whose kidneys are failing or not working properly, they need special care and treatment to receive the health benefits that these organs typically provide. While a kidney transplant is the most beneficial way to treat failing kidneys as it provides a long-term solution, a transplant is also expensive, can be very difficult to qualify for, and is not guaranteed to be successful. As a result, many people turn to dialysis as a way to make sure their blood is filtered and they receive the necessary health benefits that working kidneys provide.

When a person undergoes hemodialysis, their blood is removed from their body, sent through a machine, known as a dialyzer, cleaned with the help of a dialysate, and then returned to their body. While there are a variety of different types of dialysates to choose from, a commonly used product in recent years has been GranuFlo. A dialysate produced by the pharmaceutical company Fresenius Medical Care, GranuFlo is a dry acid concentrate which is supposed to neutralize the acids in a person’s blood. Designed to do this by placing substances that convert into bicarbonates in the body, this product was supposed to help those suffering from kidney failure.

Unfortunately, GranuFlo has been linked to serious heart problems and failure, particularly cardiac arrest, in hundreds of patients. In fact, an internal Fresenius Medical Care memo was released that reported that almost 900 patients suffered cardiac arrests in one year as a result of using this product, showing that it is not as safe as consumers or medical professionals believed. The ingredients that covert into bicarbonates and are supposed to be beneficial for patients are actually causing serious harm to them by placing an overabundance of bicarbonates into their blood. In addition to cardiac arrests, this product can cause heart arrhythmias and strokes.

When the memo was released, Fresenius was shown to be aware of the problem, potentially making them liable for the many side effects that patients who had used the product since its release had suffered.  Sadly, although the FDA has issued a Class 1 recall of GranuFlo, this warning comes too late for many people who have already been the victims of heart problems caused by GranuFlo use.

Testing for Drugs Using Breath

Alcohol testing of allegedly impaired drivers is typically carried out by breathalyzer examination. Breathalyzers are rather easy to use and noninvasive. Why not apply the same standard for drug testing?

Unless an expensive hair or fingernail test is ordered, conventional drug tests require blood or urine. However, researchers at Sweden’s leading medical university, the Karolinska Institutet, have found success in testing for drugs through an individual’s breath.

They’ve created a system called SensAbues that they claim can produce reliable, court-defensible drug tests using an individual’s breath. The system comes with an encasement, a bag, and a seal. A person who is being tested breathes into the bag, which is attached to the encasement, 20 times. Cells from his or her airway linings are evacuated into the the bag. If there were drugs present, these cells will contain indicators that tell scientists which illicit substance was used. The test can detect most drugs for up to a few days after the last use.

The downside is that each sample, which is sealed in the encasement shortly after being taken to avoid being tampered with, must be sent to a laboratory for the actual testing phase. This takes time and is a departure from alcohol breathalyzers, which return results immediately.

Next Entries »