Archive → February, 2011
As a former pharmacy professor, I’m honored that a couple of our old and new blogposts have been picked up by colleagues at the University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy. Clinical Assistant Professor and drug information specialist, Jennifer Seltzer, PharmD, and her intern, Tiffany LaDow, PharmD, included us in their online durg information alert entitled, “‘Spice’ It Up – A New Way to Get High: What Pharmacists Need to Know.”
This type of distillation by LaDow and Seltzer is representative of exactly the kinds of briefs I used to enjoy writing for the Colorado Pharmacists’ Society and are what motivated my establishment of this blog when I was out of academia. I always found that practicing pharmacists appreciated these kinds of timely alerts complete with the basic science underlying these developments.
Earlier this week, I wrote about on the comprehensive chemistry text in two North Carolina state bills – H12/S9 and H13/S7 – to criminalize distribution, sales, and possession of compounds present in a variety of legal-high, designer drug products.
One bill specifically addressed compounds present in synthetic marijuana compounds whose extensive list included those eponymous JWH compounds synthesized in the laboratory of Clemson University Professor Emeritus, John W. Huffman (featured here). The other bill addressed mephedrone (4-methylmethcathinone; 4-MMC) and other structural analogs of this amphetamine and cathinone derivative.
However, I noted my surprise at the time at the omission of a compound more commonly associated with so-called bath salt products: MDPV, or methylenedioxypyrovalerone. My neuroscience blogging colleague DrugMonkey also remarked to me of his surprise since most other states deal with MDPV in the same legislation with mephedrone/4-MMC because of their structural similarity.
Dr. Jeremy Berg, Director of NIH’s National Institute for General Medical Sciences, is well known across the academic science blogosphere for engaging with his stakeholders. Dr. Berg comments on blog posts, returns researcher e-mail messages, and is an all-around role model when it comes to serving his grantees (Disclosure: I hold a NIGMS award but am on record as feeling this way about Dr. Berg even before I received my current grant).
So, it’s not surprising that his other NIGMS leaders also reach out in their respective areas. Today, my attention was just brought to this February 9th post by Dr. Mike Rogers, Director of the NIGMS Division for Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biological Chemistry, at the NIGMS Feedback Loop blog. There, Dr. Rogers acknowledges the International Year of Chemistry but citing the long record of NIGMS in supporting chemistry research:
The launch of the International Year of Chemistry 2011 is a good opportunity to reflect on the NIGMS role in supporting research in this central field of science. NIGMS is the leading institute at NIH in funding chemical research, supporting a range of studies focusing on such areas as the development of synthetic methodologies for new drug discovery and synthesis; the role of metals in biological systems; and the discovery of new analytical techniques for the detection, identification and quantification of human metabolites. In fact, just about every branch of chemistry has a connection to the study of human health [boldface mine - DK].
Dr. Rogers notes therein that NIGMS has supported the work of laureates for 36 Nobel Prizes in chemistry. On the other end of the spectrum, he notes the active role in mentoring that NIGMS has been playing, particularly with new faculty workshops in organic and bio-organic chemistry since 2005.
You can read the complete Chemistry at NIGMS post by Dr. Rogers here.
On Wednesday, two bills passed unanimously in the North Carolina State Senate that would outlaw synthetic cannabimimetics and mephedrone. These compounds are currently sold as Spice incense (e.g., K2, Black Mamba) or “bath salts” (e.g., Ivory Wave), respectively. (Many thanks to WRAL-TV Capitol Bureau Chief Laura Leslie and fellow blogger DrugMonkey for alerting me to these bills via Twitter.).
Legislatively, similar bills have been passed and laws enacted in states and municipalities around the US while a proposed scheduling rule by the federal drug agency, the DEA, languishes in an administrative and legal morass.
The synthetic marijuana bill, House Bill 12 (Senate 9) and the mephedrone bill, House Bill 13 (Senate 7), were originally both put forth in the NC House by co-sponsors led by Representative George Cleveland (R, NC-14) of Jacksonville, North Carolina, home to the US Marine base Camp Lejeune. Cleveland himself is a retired, 25-year US Marine. The US military has been far ahead of other state and federal agencies in prohibiting use of these chemicals and associated products.
In the United States, the month of February is known as Black History Month – a time to celebrate the contributions of African Americans to all facets of our lives. The ACS has done an absolutely wonderful job in offering an open-access feature on eleven of the most noteworthy Black chemists from across American history.
The stories of these remarkable individuals span from New Orleans chemist Norbert Rilleaux and his industrial evaporation process for sugar refining to Marie Maynard Daly, the first African American woman Ph.D. in chemistry, then all the way up to our first two African American presidents of the American Chemical Society.
The individual entries are accompanied by other ACS-associated resources such as the National Historic Chemical Landmark program – where the work of three of the featured chemists is honored – and biographies put together by the ACS-affiliated Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia who I spoke of last week.
Recent news on the expulsion of US Naval Academy midshipmen for using synthetic marijuana products such as K2 Spice has a new and much more serious twist.
Sam Fellman at Navy Times reported on Tuesday that the students were not just using the products:
The Navy expelled the seven mids three months after investigators seized a notebook page that suggests one or more midshipmen had hatched the layout for a spice ring.
The notebook page seized by Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents appears to detail a makeshift business plan for the alleged spice ring, complete with four investors, 18 possible consumers and plans for a party house.
Today marks the beginning of the International Year of Chemistry (IYC), a year-long world celebration of chemistry and its contributions to improving the human condition. I’m really hoping that this celebration brings attention to the fact that chemicals are everywhere – WE are chemicals – and raises a level of public awareness to address chemophobia.
For me, of course, the IYC is a chance to celebrate the chemicals that occur naturally as the result of biochemical secondary metabolism of plants, fungi, bacteria, marine organisms, and other sources that have given us drugs that improve the length and quality of life.
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