How austerity is linked to a decade-long rise in the use of addictive prescription drugs

Ten years ago I could get physiotherapy appointments in weeks; now people wait months. As we struggle to control their pain, patients frequently develop depression and anxiety.

We have a prescription drug problem. In September, Public Health England (PHE) published a report highlighting the alarming rise over the past decade in prescriptions for powerful opiate painkillers, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications. We are following America, where these potentially addictive prescription drugs have overtaken heroin as a cause of death through overdose. PHE has exhorted doctors to be more circumspect about initiating and continuing treatment with these agents. If only it were that simple.

We’re familiar with acute pain, caused by a broken bone, or an operation. This responds well to standard analgesic drugs, and as damaged tissues repair themselves, the pain gradually fades. Far more challenging is chronic pain.

“Chronic” is used to denote long-lasting or persistent pain. There may be damaged tissues that cannot repair, so pain signals never abate. Joint arthritis is a good example; the most common form, osteoarthritis, is age-related, so is ever more prevalent as our life expectancy increases. Conditions such as diabetes can affect nerve fibres, causing them to fire erroneous pain signals; we are in the midst of a type 2 diabetes epidemic. And chronic pain can arise even when tissues are apparently healthy: fibromyalgia is a common example.

In these instances, the central pain processing pathways in the brain and spinal cord have become overreactive: other innocuous types of sensory information are experienced as pain. A crucial feature of this aberrant pain processing is that standard analgesic drugs provide limited or no relief.

Unsurprisingly, people with chronic pain consult their doctors repeatedly. As we struggle to control their pain, patients frequently become frustrated and develop depression and anxiety. Their experience of pain is compounded by …read more

Source:: New Statesman


The last true Gaullist: how Jacques Chirac charmed France

The late president’s popularity across French society is in marked contrast to that of Emmanuel Macron, who is deemed to be an elitist.

The death of the former French president Jacques Chirac on 26 September has hardly shocked France. He was 86 and had been absent from public life for some time. Depending on your sources, he was allegedly suffering from Alzheimer’s or had suffered a series of strokes.

Yet it was a momentous occasion all the same, marked by lengthy tributes in the press from across the political spectrum. Perhaps the greatest sign of respect was President Emmanuel Macron’s televised address to the nation on the evening news. Speaking from his office in the Elysée Palace, and in the gravest voice he could muster, Macron declared Chirac to have been “a great Frenchman… whom we loved as much as he loved us”.

Macron even drew on the immortal words of Charles de Gaulle when he described Chirac, who was mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995 and then president from 1995 to 2007, as having “incarnated a certain idea of France”. He “resembled us and brought us together”, Macron said, praising Chirac’s common touch and seemingly effortless rapport with everyone from farmers and factory workers to captains of industry and royalty.

There was some truth to this. Even those on the left who hated Chirac’s politics applauded his “joviality” with members of the public. Chirac admired de Gaulle, and his own patriotism, opposition to “Anglo-Saxon” capitalism, and belief in France as a world force, made him arguably one of the last true Gaullists.

But unlike the austere and aloof general, Chirac presented himself as the incarnation of le français moyen (“the average Frenchman”). He drank beer and made much of the fact that his great-grandparents had been peasants in the rural …read more

Source:: New Statesman


Sharks Tonight: The best rivalry in the NHL gets things going

San Jose Sharks vs. Vegas Golden Knights


Regular season records: Season opener for both teams. Puck drop: 7:40 p.m. Wednesday at T-Mobile Arena. TV: NBCSN. Radio: KUFX 98.5-FM, San Jose; KOMY 1340-AM.

Anticipated lineup

Timo Meier-Logan Couture-Danil Yurtaykin

Lean Bergmann-Tomas Hertl-Lukas Radil

Marcus Sorensen-Joe Thornton-Kevin Labanc

Barclay Goodrow-Dylan Gambrell-Melker Karlsson

Marc-Edouard Vlasic-Brent Burns

Brenden Dillon-Erik Karlsson

Mario Ferraro-Dalton Prout

Martin Jones

Aaron Dell

Scratches: Jonny Brodzinski, Tim Heed. Suspended: Evander Kane.


Sharks: D Radim Simek (knee) is on injured reserve. Could be available between 10-14 days. Golden Knights: F Cody Eakin (upper body) is questionable; F Alex Tuch (upper body) is out.


Is it the best rivalry in the NHL? Right now, it’s hard to argue. The Sharks and Golden Knights have a serious distaste for one another after meeting in the playoffs for two consecutive seasons, and that hatred hasn’t dissipated one bit if Sunday’s preseason meeting was any indication. The two teams combined for 114 penalty minutes in what became a 5-1 Vegas win. “For fans of these two teams, the rivalry is real,” Sharks captain Logan Couture said. “There’s not much love between both of us.” Will the temperature cool down with Kane unavailable to play? Maybe, maybe not. The Sharks have a handful of players who aren’t afraid to mix it up, and Vegas, too, won’t back down from a challenge.


The Golden Knights scored three times in the second period to take what was then a 4-0 lead. It was the preseason, of course. But the Sharks didn’t do the little things that has made them successful against Vegas in past. They didn’t get the puck in deep enough, they turned it over near the blue line too much, they didn’t have enough guys above the puck on the backcheck. Vegas absolutely feasts on opposing teams in teams in transition. Perhaps no team breaks out of …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


Big tech campus in downtown San Jose attracts Canadian investor

SAN JOSE — A huge tech campus has moved closer to reality now that a Canadian pension board has teamed up with a big developer to jointly build the transit-oriented project in downtown San Jose.

The Platform 16 office complex is now being jointly developed by Boston Properties and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. CBRE, a commercial real estate firm, is seeking tenants for the new campus.

Once complete, the campus would total 1.1 million square feet and sprout near Autumn Parkway and West Julian Street a short distance from the Diridon train station in downtown San Jose.

Potentially 7,000 people could work at the campus, according to CBRE brokers Sherman Chan, Mark Schmidt, Mike Charters, and Will Schmidt.

The new investment means Boston Properties will hold a 55 percent interest in the project, while the Canadian pension board will obtain a 45 percent interest.

“We look forward to bringing this project to market and broadening our footprint on the West Coast,” Owen Thomas, chief executive officer of Boston Properties, said in a prepared release.

Originally, the project was launched by developers TMG Partners and Valley Oak Partners. TMG and Valley Oak cobbled together the parcels needed for the project, won city approvals for the development, and bought the properties needed to create the site.

In January, Boston Properties came on board as a major player in the development. Now, the Canada pension group has teamed up with Boston Properties, the nation’s largest publicly traded office developer, to push Platform 16 to the next major stage.

“Platform 16 is ideally located in one of the largest technology hubs in the country,” Aaron Fenton, Boston Properties’ vice president of development, said in a prepared release.

Earlier this year, construction crews largely cleared out old buildings and other structures on the 5.4-acre site.

The development would be adjacent to a proposed 60-acre …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


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