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The Atlantic

Giving Prisoners Addictive Drugs: Sometimes a Good Idea

Considering the high rates of opiate dependency among American prisoners (heroin and OxyContin), short-term jails seem like an ideal place for methadone programs. Several decades' worth of evidenceconfirm that methadone treatment works. Also well documented is the link between opiate use and crime. According to one National Institutes of Health report, over 95 percent of heroin addicts committed a crime during an 11-year time period. In New York, 12 to 25 percent of arrested felons tested positive for opiate use upon booking in 2003. The NIH says that treating opiate dependence markedly reduces criminal activity. But precious few correctional facilities have taken the bold step of opening methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) programs, and very few plan to. Why?

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Why We Need to Stop Treating HIV Victims Like Criminals

This past January, a 30-year-old man was arrested in South Carolina for allegedly exposing others to HIV. Also that month, a U.S. airman from Kansas was sentencedto eight years in prison for having unprotected sex with multiple partners without telling them he was HIV-positive (none of the partners have tested positive). And in May 2008, Willie Campbell, a 42-year-old, HIV-positive man from Texas, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for spitting at a police officer who was arresting him for public intoxication. The jury ruled that he had harassed the officer with a deadly weapon (despite the fact that HIV cannot be transmitted through saliva).

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Where the Next Great Cancer Drug Might Be Coming From

Where is the next great cancer drug? The number of new drug approvals has declined in the past few years, and despite rare breakthrough successes like Gleevec (for chronic myelogenous leukemia) and Herceptin (for breast cancer), most new "targeted therapy" drugs have offered painfully minimal gains in survival time. As a 2006 FDA report describes, in 1985, a novel agent entering the drug development cycle had a 14 percent chance of getting to market; by 2000, that chance had dropped to 8 percent. Meanwhile, the cost to take a drug from lab to patients increased by 55 percent from 1993 to 2003.

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