In a post on the death of Heath Ledger a year ago I talked about the frustration of not being able to review the toxicity panels from his body tissues after the autopsy. In the end, the medical examiner report just said something along the lines of “in my professional opinion it was the combination of drugs which did him in”. Which one might interpret as meaning the tox panels did not identify an apparently lethal level of any one particular drug (or its metabolites). But as an interested party, I would like to see the numbers. Because in my view they would reinforce the message. Whether it be a drug interaction or a loss of tolerance (or for that matter a tolerance issue) that is associated with a highly public drug toxicity case, it is an opportunity to help people to understand basic pharmacological concepts as they apply to recreational drug use. Another sad case is in the news this month and once again, the data would be exceptionally helpful.
An Australian woman died after allegedly taking two ecstasy tablets.

Neville and Gerry Bebendorf, both high school teachers, are left to mourn their eldest daughter, whom Mrs Bebendorf described as “a beautiful, fragile person who touched many hearts”.
“Rosie was cruelly treated by unscrupulous people who took advantage of her vulnerability and generosity,” she said.
“If any good is to come of this, it may serve as a warning to young people never to start taking drugs.”

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MT4 Programming Note

January 12, 2009

You have probably noticed a few problems with the ongoing (yes) upgrade of the site’s blogging apparatus. Most pertinently to my readers, the comments are continually borked. My apologies. It isn’t you, it’s us. Etc.
TechLordz are working busily to fix things as the SciBlog’sters are practically soiling themselves with angst over the various hiccups and new bugs features of the new system.

A rash of ADHD diagnoses…

January 12, 2009

We have a bit of a running joke in my neck of the woods which stems from a newspaper report many years ago detailing a high rate of diagnoses for ADHD in a local high school. The surprising part was the rather upscale demographic of the high school. Of course, once one became aware that having a diagnosis of ADHD or some other mental/behavioral disability permitted all sorts of extra attention and breaks to be extended to the school kid in question, the suspicious mind was satisfied.
Well of course. If darling kid is not performing above average, there must be SomethingWrongzOhNOes! Get some drugs, quick! (and, oh btw, let him get extra tutoring and untimed tests and some other stuff as well).
Today’s tip is from The Common Man who points to this AP article.

Baseball authorized nearly 8 percent of its players to use drugs for ADHD last season, which allowed them to take otherwise banned stimulants.

The National Institute of Mental Health estimates 3 percent to 5 percent of children have ADHD, according to its Web site [ED-link].

Just eight TUEs were granted for illnesses other than ADHD: three for hypertension, three for hypogonadism, one for post-concussion syndrome and one for metabolic myopathy. The 114 overall TUEs was up from 111 the previous year.</small

Lord knows MLB players would never use amphetamine class psychomotor stimulants to improve play. Nor could there be any reason to seek a legal exemption to use stimulants. That would be just cynical talk.
Maybe they should just switch to benzothiazepines.
small caveat, ADHD rates are 2-3 times higher in boys than in girls (this cites NIH info for the summary). Given that pro ballplayers are all male we need to think of this 8% rate in that context.