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In this Feb. 19, 2013 photo, OxyContin pills are arranged at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vermont. VOA

A U.S. government watchdog on Tuesday harshly criticized the Drug Enforcement Agency for its response to the opioid crisis, saying that amid a surge in opioid-related deaths the agency failed to use its most powerful deterrent and authorized an increase in pain pill output.

A report released by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, whose office is an internal government watchdog, found the DEA was “slow to respond to the dramatic increase in opioid abuse” since 2000.


The report criticized the DEA for cutting back on use of an enforcement tool known as “immediate suspension orders,” which allows it to halt pill shipments, between 2013 and 2017.

Horowitz’s report also found that between 2002 and 2013 the DEA authorized a 400% increase in production of the opioid oxycodone, and that the agency did not significantly reduce production of the pain pill until 2017.


FILE – U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT INSPECTOR GENERAL MICHAEL HOROWITZ TESTIFIES BEFORE THE HOUSE OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTEE ON CAPITOL HILL IN WASHINGTON, SEPT. 18, 2019. VOA

Nearly 400,000 deaths in the United States have been linked to overdoses of opioids from 1990 to 2017, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The DEA said in a statement that it appreciated Horowitz’s assessment and that it has made improvements intended to control the diversion of opioids.

“Working with United States Attorneys’ Offices across the country, an increasing number of individuals and corporations are facing civil and criminal charges for actions that have fueled the opioid crisis,” the DEA added.

Horowitz’s report said that the DEA, which is part of the Justice Department, had recently taken steps to address the opioid epidemic, including increasing its intelligence sharing with local law enforcement agencies and launching “community outreach efforts” to raise awareness of the dangers of opioids.

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Horowitz found that more progress was needed, however, and that the DEA should establish “measurable performance metrics” to determine if some of its efforts were working.

Companies like drug distributor McKesson Corp and Oxicontin maker Purdue Pharma, which have been accused of enabling opioid abuse in many pending lawsuits, have long argued that they abided by the DEA’s production quotas and that it was not their place to second-guess the agency’s determinations. (VOA)


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Basil Leaves

Basil scientifically called Ocimum basilicum, and also known as great basil, is a culinary herb from the Lamiaceae (mints) family. A common aromatic herb, it is usually used to add flavor to a variety of recipes, but what may astonish one is that there are various health benefits of basil that make it well-known for its immunity-enhancing properties.

Basil seeds or basil essential oil are proven to help prevent a wide range of health conditions, which makes it one of the most essential medical herbs known today. Basil has vitamin A, C, E, K, and Omega 3 components including cooling components too. It also contains minerals like Copper, Calcium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Zinc, and Potassium. An ancient Ayurvedic herb, basil has various proven benefits including being anti-inflammatory, ant-oxidant, immune-booster, pain-reducer, and blood vessel-protector.

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This herb also contains cooling components thus making it really helpful for summers. It detoxifies the body and maintains one's body temperature pace. Adding to the benefits Basil contains antioxidant-rich volatile essential oils, which are considered hydrophobic, meaning they don't dissolve in water and are light and small enough to travel through the air and the pores within our skin. Basil's volatile essential oil is something that gives the herb its distinct smell and taste, but basil contains some great healing properties.

In the long history of Ayurveda, basil seeds were also called tukmaria seeds. These seeds may support one's gut health, may complete one's fiber quota, reduce blood sugar, help in weight loss, and also reduce cholesterol.

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When you're pregnant, the immune system is seeing the placenta for the first time in decades.

The US researchers have discovered a class of immune cells that plays a role in miscarriage, which affects about a quarter of pregnancies.

Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco found that the recently discovered subset of cells known as extrathymic Aire-expressing cells in the immune system may prevent the mother's immune system from attacking the placenta and fetus.

The researchers showed that pregnant mice who did not have this subset of cells were twice as likely to miscarry, and in many of these pregnancies fetal growth was severely restricted.

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"When you're pregnant, the immune system is seeing the placenta for the first time in decades -- not since the mother made a placenta when she herself was a fetus," said Eva Gillis-Buck, from UCSF.

"Our research suggests that this subset of immune cells is carrying out a sort of 'secondary education' -- sometimes many years after the better-known population of the educator cells have carried out the primary education in the thymus -- teaching T cells not to attack the fetus, the placenta and other tissues involved in pregnancy," she added. The findings are published in the journal Science Immunology.

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