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Posts from February 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the life science industry and has catalyzed the use of approaches that will, in due course, allow us to build a more responsive and therefore resilient healthcare ecosystem. For example, in response to the urgent need for fast insights and global collaboration, we have seen a significant increase in demand for preprints, or publicly accessible scientific manuscripts that have not yet been certified by peer review. Preprints are valuable for offering a rapid, albeit unvetted, view of new research potentially coming down the pipeline, helping organizations inform their own research approaches in response to recent, relevant activity.

The beauty of preprints is in their ability to openly communicate new research with virtually no lag time. That’s a stark contrast to work published via peer review, a process with a median lapse time of 166 days. After a brief quality-control inspection, a preprint manuscript is posted without peer review and can be viewed without charge by anyone in the world. Of course, peer review remains an essential process to ensuring quality research, which is why many manuscripts are submitted for peer review and preprint publication in tandem.

"The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." - Nelson Mandela

Difficult observations

It is never easy to observe someone hit “rock bottom”, especially when it is more of a routine than a one-time fall. Yet - so many of us have experienced those we love repeatedly falling into the familiar pattern of addiction. There are many forms of substance abuse. Some are more socially accepted, like alcohol consumption and tobacco use. Others like opioids, and other narcotic substances, are more taboo.

Whatever the flavor, substance abuse rarely appears in one day. There are patterns when abuse is forming and common clues once the addiction is established. The current pandemic has pushed many into a state of ill-health and substance abuse. Many nations are experiencing booming alcohol sales. And according to a recently published article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA),since March 2020 US hospitals are reporting an increase in substances found in urine samples nationwide: 67% fentanyl, 23 % methamphetamines, and 19% in cocaine.

Early identification is key. More so than we ever realized. For example, as a physician, I was taught that opioids are safe for short-term use. But the meaning of the term ‘short-term’ is shrinking drastically – some studies show that dependency starts within just a handful of days. As a former research scientist, I have reviewed thousands of patient charts - and the majority of opioids I have seen prescribed are for a minimum of five to seven days.

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