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The Daily Buzz: September 26, 2014

Activists demand that the FDA chief step down for approving high-dose painkillers; France hopes plain cigarette packs will cut teen smoking; and British actor Stephen Fry apologizes for doing cocaine at the Queen's house.

1 Substance

Groups call for FDA Chief’s Replacement Amid Prescription Painkiller “Epidemic”
A coalition of activist groups has called for the replacement of Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, claiming the FDA’s approval in the past year of “dangerous, high-dose” opioid painkillers “are fueling high rates of addiction and overdose deaths.”

License to Deceive? A Big Drug Company’s Smokescreen on Hepatitis C
California pharmaceutical giant, Gilead, has announced a plan to issue licenses to seven Indian companies to make cheaper versions of its new hepatitis C drug, sofosbuvir, to sell in 91 countries. But though most news coverage describes the move as philanthropic, it is also a strategy to block out competition in countries with the highest Hep. C rates. Big Pharma’s cunning marketing schemes have been known to cost lives.

France Cracks Down On Smoking With Plain Cigarette Packaging
France has announced it will soon strip cigarette packaging of the colors and graphics that boost its appeal to young people. They will also ban electronic cigarettes in certain public places, aiming to reduce high smoking rates among teens. France is home to an estimated 16 million adult smokers, and an especially high rate among under-16s.

A Guide to the 2016 General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS)
Drug issues are normally discussed at annual UN meetings in Vienna; but this Special Session, to be held in NY in 2016, was called at the request of Mexico, and will provide a “fresh set of eyes” to assess the world drug problem and review the situation. Find out more in this article from Talking Drugs.

Stephen Fry “Took Cocaine in Buckingham Palace”
The British actor, writer and broadcaster talks candidly about his 15-year cocaine addiction in his new autobiography, and mentions the high-profile places where he did blow—including the home of Her Majesty the Queen. Fry, who apologizes to those in whose houses and places of employment he did drugs, says his habit cost him “tens if not hundreds of thousands of pounds” (that’s even more in dollars). He also spent “many hours, sniffing, snorting and tooting away time that could have been employed writing, performing, thinking, exercising, living.”