GRAPEFRUIT – The Killer Fruit!

Occasionally, I hear news reports regarding the dangers of eating grapefruit while on certain medications. Recently, a relative of mine was prescribed a new medication and the prescription label indicated that eating grapefruit while taking the medication could be dangerous.

This is not new information regarding grapefruit with certain prescription drugs, but that label warning reminded me that many are still unaware of this very serious drug-food interaction.

The medical community identified this harmful interaction at least ten years ago and now pharmacists routinely attach alert notices to certain prescription medications involved in these interactions.

The new information here is that the number of drugs that can cause such a deadly interaction with grapefruit has doubled in just the last few years. At present, more than 85 drugs interact with grapefruit to cause injury, 43 of which cause serious or deadly interactions.

The list of drugs that interact with grapefruit now includes many blood pressure medications, most of the cholesterol-lowering drugs, certain cardiac drugs, some anti-seizure medications, specific chemotherapy drugs and a few antibiotic medications.

Sometimes a news anchor will warn the public to stop taking such medications and call their physicians for alternatives. That advice may be premature, and dangerous in itself, if there is not another safer medication that can be substituted quickly. The easier solution and a much safer recommendation would be to simply STOP EATING GRAPEFRUIT!

Many of the drugs that interact with grapefruit are maintenance medications, those that patients take every day for chronic medical conditions. If a patient is achieving acceptable therapeutic effects with a drug therapy, it’s considered irresponsible to discontinue that drug in favor of a specific food choice.

As healthy and tasty as grapefruit is, if taken with certain medications it can be deadly.  As little as one-half grapefruit, or the equivalent in juice, can interfere with the metabolism of certain drugs.  A chemical in grapefruit called furanocoumarin causes certain drugs to stay in the body much longer than expected and this creates an overdose effect when subsequent drug doses are given.

Patients have died from respiratory failure, kidney failure and internal bleeding as a result of this accumulated drug effect. The problem remains a public health hazard for two specific reasons.

First, many people don’t read warning labels and, secondly, people don’t associate a food as simple and healthy as grapefruit as having a deadly effect.

And the problem is becoming more widespread as additional new drugs become available that have this potential for interaction with grapefruit.

It’s a much more responsible plan to eliminate grapefruit from the diet than it is to find a replacement drug, particularly if that drug is working well to control a medical condition.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

Posted in About James J. Murray, About Medications/Pharmacy, Blog Writers, Blogging, Deadly Food-Drug Interactions, Deadly Grapefruit, Food-Drug Interactions, Furanocoumarin, Furanocoumarin and Grapefruit, Grapefruit and Drugs, Grapefruit as a Public Health Issue, Grapefruit-Drug Interactions, How Grapefruit Kills, Medication Safety Issues, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, New Blog, New Drug Research, Pharmacist Errors, Prescription Drug Safety, Prescription For Murder Blog, Prescription Trends, The Practice of Pharmacy, Using Grapefruit to Kill | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How to Action-Pack the New Year!

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2018!

Now, before you roll your eyes at yet another lesson about New Year’s resolutions, here are some practical suggestions to help you make realistic goals and keep yourself on track to meet those goals.

Take a deep breath and smile! The new year is fresh and filled with potential. Whatever unfulfilled dreams you had last year is history. Leave them behind and don’t look back.

It’s time to focus on what you want and need to accomplish going forward. Forget about calling them New Year’s Resolutions. Instead, call them New Life Goals.

Each new year is a golden opportunity to make meaningful life adjustments to create a better personal world. I’ve learned that deciding on the right New Life Goals can be daunting. You may have one BIG change you wish to make or there may be many small adjustments you’d like to incorporate into your life. The principles of change are the same for both: Plan, Execute, Adjust and Repeat.

*The key word here is REPEAT!*

For meaningful change to happen, you must make that change a habit. If you want to be more active, you must get your body used to whatever you want it to do by actually doing that action. If it’s a new thing you want to accomplish in life (like maybe writing a book), you need to practice doing that until it becomes a habit. Start with setting aside a couple of hours a day to write.

It’s said that anything you do as a ritual each day for two consecutive weeks becomes a daily habit. In that sense, after fourteen days you will be in the habit of sitting down to write (or whatever it is you’ve decided as your change) and that becomes a good habit. If you miss doing it one day, it will feel wrong -> and that’s a good thing!

Adjust your life to achieve your goal rather than adjusting your goal.  Create a new habit and repeat it as often as possible to make it a part of your life.

Meaningful changes in your life happen by identifying goals, incorporating them into your life and making that specific change a habit—and it’s a continual process of improvement.

If you’ve identified multiple goals for 2018, you’ve created an extra challenge for yourself. You can achieve all of your goals, but you simply have to work on one before starting another. Prioritize each goal and tackle them one at a time.

Attempting to achieve multiple goals at once can be overwhelming and it sets you up for failure. Achieving meaningful change takes focus. Don’t dilute your effectiveness by focusing on several changes at once.

The important thing to remember is that this is a New Year. The slate is totally clean and you have all year to achieve the goals you’ve identified.

Tackle the one goal that’s most important to you first. Attack it with gusto! Achieve it! Own it!

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

Posted in A Holiday Wish, A New Year's Greeting, A New Year's Wish, About James J. Murray, Achieving Perfection, Blog Writers, Blogging, Change in the New Year, Changing Your Life in The New Year, Create a Better You, Creating Change in the New Year, Creating New Habits in The New Year, Developing Better Life Skills, Forging a Better Life, Happy New Year, How To Change Bad Habits, How to Create a Better Life, How to Create a More Enjoyable Life, How to Create a More Productive Life, How to Create a More Satisfying Life, How to Implement New Year's Resolutions, How to Make New Year's Resolutions, Ideas for Creating Permanent Change, James J. Murray Blog, Life Skills, Life-Altering Goals, Making Change Permanent, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, New Blog, New Life Goals, New Year's Resolutions, Prescription For Murder Blog, Skills to Create a Better Life, The Writings of James J. Murray | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

MY NEW YEAR’S WISH FOR YOU!

** MY WISH FOR YOU IN THE NEW YEAR **

May peace break into your home;

May thieves steal your debts;

May the pockets of your jeans

Become magnets for $100 bills.

May love stick to you like glue;

May laughter assault your lips.

May happiness spread across your face;

May your tears be that of joy;

May the problems you had this past year forget your address.

In short . . .

May 2018 be the BEST YEAR OF YOUR LIFE!To You and Yours!!

 

Posted in A Holiday Wish, A New Year's Greeting, A New Year's Poem, A New Year's Wish, About James J. Murray, Happy Holidays | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Wishing You a Joyous Winter Holiday

Wishing You a Joyous Winter Holiday

 

 

Happy Holidays

&

May You and Yours Be Filled

With Joy and Peace

During This Holiday Season

Posted in A Christmas Greeting, A Holiday Wish, About James J. Murray, Blog Writers, Blogging, Christmas Themed Blog, Happy Holidays, Holiday Cheer, James J. Murray Blog, New Blog, The Writings of James J. Murray | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

PRIONS and the Zombie Disease!

Imagine designing a murder mystery or thriller plot using a substance that transformed ordinary people into zombies and then writing a convincing story based on the science of it all.

The victims in your story would have difficulty walking because of loss of coordination skills and severe muscle twitching. They would draw up their arms and shiver. They would slur their speech and constantly be agitated. They would look emaciated and sick because they’d have trouble chewing and swallowing. If this sounds like a zombie description, I’d have to answer a dramatic “Yes!”

However, I would be describing a person with a disease known as kuru. It’s extremely rare, but always fatal. The disease reached its peak in the late 1950s and early 1960s in New Guinea and is primarily a neurological disease that presents when infectious, abnormal proteins invade the brain.

These abnormal proteins are called prions—misshapen protein particles that form when normal proteins misfold and clump together.

The Fore people of New Guinea contracted the kuru disease because of their cannibalistic funeral rituals. They ate the brains of dead relatives during funeral rites. But it’s not the tribe’s cannibalism itself that caused the disease. It’s the fact that the consumed brain matter contained the prions already and they were transmitted orally within the brain matter.

Present day science tells us that prions are amyloid particles that form from normal brain proteins and may contribute to such diseases as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s. Scientists describe a prion as the smallest infectious disease-causing agent, but it is also the most indestructible biological entity.

Prions are responsible for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (known as mad cow disease) and its human counterpart, Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease. There are no generally accepted treatments for these infections and they are almost always fatal.

Initially, people with prion body accumulations in the brain experience neurological degenerations that exhibit as behavioral and personality changes, dementia and muscle coordination difficulties. The symptoms progress to convulsions and eventually to death.

Besides consuming contaminated brain matter, these encephalopathy diseases can be transmitted via blood transfusions, intravenous immunoglobulin therapies and human growth hormone treatments that have been contaminated with or contain prion bodies. Contaminated surgical instruments and organs for transplant can also transmit prion bodies.

It should be noted, however, that tests for such abnormalities have become standard practice during blood collection and prior to organ transplantation. So how could you design a murder, or a catastrophic epidemic for that matter, around the transmission of prions?

Novelists have, in fact, written and published novels with this science interwoven into the plot—like Cold Plague by Daniel Kalla and The Sixth Extinction by James Rollins. So, you’d have to devise a bit of a twist for your plot to overshadow these successful authors.

Articles that discuss the science behind a would-be zombie invasion suggest that attaching a prion to a virus that could spread and carry the prions to the frontal lobe and cerebellum could be effective, but likely a slow process. It’s been suggested, however, that any virus that causes encephalitis would do—herpes, enteroviruses, mosquito and tick-borne viruses, rabies and even some so-called childhood diseases like mumps and measles.

Dr. Jay Fishman, Director of Transplant Infectious Diseases at Mass General Transplant Center in Boston states that attaching a prion to a common virus is “a fairly unlikely scenario” and, therefore, an author would need lots of creative thinking to make the science work.

I suspect that some clever genetic alteration of a fast-acting virus would be in order here to make such an event believable to create a scientifically based zombie plague or a zombie-like murder, but I’ll leave those specific details up to you.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

Posted in A How To Blog on Murder Plot Ideas, A How To Blog on Murder Weapons, About James J. Murray, About Murder, About Writing, All About Murder, All About Writing, Biological Weapons, Blog Writers, Blogging, Bloodless Death Scene Writing, Characteristics of Murder, Chemicals Used For Murder, Deadly Viruses, Deciding How to Kill Off a Character in a Novel, Designer Poisons Used For Murder, Designing Murder Plots, Developing Story Plots, Developing Storyline Ideas, Dramatic Murder Weapons, How to Choose a Murder Weapon for a Plot Idea, How To Write A BloodLess Murder Scene, Ideas for Murder Scenes, Interesting Murder Weapons, James J. Murray Blog, Killing Off Characters in Writing, Killing Off Characters in Your Novel, Kuru, Methods of Murder, Microbes Used To Murder, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, Murder Weapons Discussed, Murder With Drugs, Neuroscience and Murder, New Blog, New Methods of Murder, New Methods To Kill Characters in Your Novel, New Viral Threats, Plot Ideas and Where They Come From, Plotting Interesting Murder Scenes, Prescription For Murder Blog, Prion Linked Diseases, Prion-Associated Diseases, Prions and Murder, Prions and Neurological Degeneration, Prions and The Science of Murder, Prions and the Zombie Disease, Science-Based Zombies, The Science of Murder, The Zombie Disease, Unique Lethal Compounds, Unique Murder Plots, Unique Murder Weapons, Ways To Kill, Ways to Murder, Writing Death Scenes, Writing Dramatic Murder Scenes, Zombie Drugs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Inert Gases Can Lead To Murder!

Some time ago, I watched an interesting TV murder mystery program. It had a most intriguing plot. The scenario involved a wealthy man who had his home office designed such that it was similar to an impenetrable vault—both for security and privacy purposes. The room was so secure that it had its own air supply and other essential life-sustaining amenities for extended periods of seclusion.

However, this well-designed, perfectly secure room became a murder weapon in itself because someone who was displeased with the man added a halon gas canister to the ventilation system. The man was murdered by asphyxiation when the gas canister was remotely activated and halon gas pumped into the room. This action temporarily replaced the room’s normal atmosphere, thus depriving the man of life-sustaining oxygen.

As you can imagine, it took considerable time and a complicated investigation to determine the cause of death since the room was locked from the inside and there was no evidence of foul play.

Of course, I made some notes and researched halon gas! I found that, for a long time, halon gas was the gold standard of fire-suppressant systems for enclosed areas such as bank vaults, museums and other secure areas that contained high-value assets that could be damaged by traditional water-based sprinkler systems. Although, the halon in the television plot was not part of a fire suppression system for that man’s office, it was attached to the fresh air supply used specifically for his isolated office space.

I also learned that halon gas production was banned in many countries between 1989 and 1994 when it was discovered that halocarbon agents depleted the ozone layer. Existing halon-based fire suppression systems are still permitted, and recycled halon gas is allowed for maintenance and to refill these systems as needed, but no new halon systems can be constructed.

So, my idea of a storyline involving halon gas in one of my future stories became less feasible, since halon is not as available as it used to be. I decided that the TV show writers were possibly working from older research data.

That’s when I dug deeper and searched for halon replacement products. I discovered that, after halon was banned, other “clean agent” systems were developed that reportedly have no known ozone-depleting capacity. And these systems are installed now in place of, or as replacements for, halon-based systems.

These mainly include various inert gas fire suppression systems that utilize mostly nitrogen, argon or carbon dioxide—plus a few other inert elements that appear to be more difficult to use.

Nitrogen, argon and carbon dioxide naturally occur in the atmosphere, they do not harm the environment and are not toxic to humans (at least to the extent regarding residues on surfaces after their use).

Therefore, it’s perfectly feasible that any of these three gases could be used in a murder plot in much the same way as halon gas was used in that TV program. Flood a secure, sealed area with one of these gases and any human within that environment would die from oxygen depletion since the gases replace the regular room air to suppress fire without damaging valuables. This effect requires an airtight environment, of course, and that is termed “enclosure integrity.”

An interesting advantage to these inert gases is that the gas canisters that contain them can be located much further away from the protected enclosure than halon canisters. These inert gases flow much better inside suppression system piping and can be located up to 400 feet away from the area to be protected against fire.

This fact makes it easier for the villain in your murder plot to have access to the equipment that supplies air to the secure area to add an inert gas canister, or to activate an inert gas fire suppression system even without starting a fire. Of course, all this can be activated remotely.

So, the next time you need a character killed in one of your stories, you might consider placing that character in a room or vault that can be sealed off rapidly before the character can escape and then remotely activate the fire suppression system or attach a gas canister to flood that area with one of these inert gases.

The cause of death will be asphyxiation (suffocation/oxygen-depletion) but without an obvious source and with no external evidence of trauma or foul play.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d like to hear them!

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Posted in A How To Blog on Murder Plot Ideas, About James J. Murray, About Murder, About Writing, Achieving Writing Perfection, All About Murder, All About Writing, Blog Writers, Blogging, Bloodless Death Scene Writing, Characteristics of Murder, Deadly Inert Gases For Fire Suppression, Designing Murder Plots, Developing Story Plots, Developing Storyline Ideas, Difficult to Solve Murders, Evidence Free Murder, Fire Suppression Systems Used for Murder, Halon Gas and Murder, How to Choose a Murder Weapon for a Plot Idea, How To Write A BloodLess Murder Scene, Ideas for Murder Scenes, Inert Gases and Murder, Inert Gases and Murder Plots, Instruments of Death, James J. Murray Blog, Killing a Villain in a Novel, Killing Off Characters in Writing, Killing Off Characters in Your Novel, Lethal Agents and Murder, Lethal Chemicals in Murder Mysteries, Murder without Evidence of Foul Play, New Blog, New Methods of Murder, New Methods To Kill Characters in Your Novel, Plot Ideas and Where They Come From, Plotting Interesting Murder Scenes, Plotting The Perfect Murder, Prescription For Murder Blog, Secure Room as a Murder Weapon, The Art of Storytelling, The Art of Writing, the perfect crime, the perfect murder weapon, The Science of Murder, Tools of Murder, Unique Murder Plots, Unique Murder Weapons, Ways To Kill, Ways to Murder, Writing Death Scenes, Writing Dramatic Murder Scenes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Smart Pills Simplify Medication Compliance Issues

Experts estimate that patients who do not take their medications as ordered cost this nation approximately $100 billion a year in additional medical expenses. Much of that additional cost is due to patients getting sicker and needing additional treatments or even hospitalizations.

Several years ago, I wrote a blog about the mind-boggling statistics regarding the number of patients who go to the doctor for a specific ailment but then ignore the doctor’s prescribed treatments. At that time, an estimated one-third of patients did not fill the prescription(s) that the doctor ordered to cure or alleviate the ailment.

The elderly population appears to be the worst about taking medications as prescribed. study by the US Office of Inspector General (OIG) indicated that 55% of elderly patients do not take their medications as prescribed. That percentage increases to an estimated 75% when elderly patients are prescribed three or more medications.

Earlier this month, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the very first “digital pill” and this is a significant advance toward addressing the longstanding issues of drug therapy non-compliance.

A digital pill is an oral medication embedded with a sensor that emits a signal when a patient takes their medication. The sensor—containing safe ingredients normally found in food, like copper, magnesium and silicon—generates an electrical signal when touched by stomach acid.

After several minutes, the signal is detected by a patch worn on the patient’s skin—looks like a Band-Aid. The patch should be located on the skin over the left rib cage and needs to be replaced after seven days.

The patch, after receiving the signal from the ingested sensor material, sends the date and time of the medication’s ingestion to a cellphone app via Bluetooth technology. That information is then transmitted to a database that physicians and others, who have the patient’s permission to do so, can access.

Since 2016, the use of this technology has been tested outside of the clinical trials with specific pharmacies, but commercial use was very limited. Until this recent FDA approval, the sensors and medication were added to a digestible capsule by the dispensing pharmacies. Nine health systems in six states tested the technology with success for conditions that included hypertension and Hepatitis C.

The first digital medication approved this month by the FDA for the embedded sensor technology is Abilify, a medication prescribed to patients with schizophrenia and/or bipolar disorder. Patients with these conditions often do not take their medication regularly, and non-compliance can have severe relapse consequences. This new version of Abilify is called Afilify MyCite.

Additional regulatory clearance is being sought for medications used by heart patients, stroke victims, those with H.I.V., diabetic patients, and post-surgical patients to monitor for taking too much opioid pain medications.

Experts believe that regular compliance to medication therapy by a wide variety of patients, especially the elderly, could lead to reduced costs from non-compliance.

Variations of this initial sensor technology are already in the works with sensors made from magnesium and silver chloride that do not use the patch technology to pick up the signal of therapy ingestion.

Medication embedded with these chemicals generate a low power radio signal that can be picked up by a receiver worn around the neck of the patient. This presents an acceptable alternative for those patients who might be sensitive/allergic to the patch receiver option. There is also receiver technology being developed in the form of watch bands and cellphone cases for additional convenience.

The issue of privacy, as well as the overall argument by some that this is simply another “Big Brother Watching” scheme, is a concern with many patients. At least for the foreseeable future, such technology is merely an interesting option to conventional oral medications, and this new technology can be rejected by patients with privacy concerns.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

Posted in About James J. Murray, About Medications/Pharmacy, Advances in Medication Therapy Compliance, Blog Writers, Blogging, Controlling Drug Costs, Cost of Ignoring Doctor Orders, Cutting Edge Drug Therapy Research, Deaths Related to Therapy Non-Compliance, Developing Technologies, Digital Oral Medication Compliance, Digital Pill Technology, Drug Error Prevention, Drug Errors in The Elderly, Drug Misadventures, Economic Impact of Therapy Non-Compliance, Future Drug Manufacturing Practices, Future of Drug Manufacturing, Innovative Drug Manufacturing Practices, James J. Murray Blog, Making Medications Affordable, Medication Cost Increases, Medication Non-Compliance, Medication Safety Issues, Misuse of Drugs, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, New Blog, New Drug Discoveries, New Drug Manufacturing Methods, New Drug Research, New Research Technology, New Ways to Manufacture Painkillers, Non-Compliance in Medication Therapies, Non-Compliance to Physician Orders, Non-Compliance to Prescription Therapies, Non-Compliance with Medication Therapies, Patient Non-Compliance, Patient Therapy Compliance Issues, Patient Therapy Outcomes, Pharmacy/Pharmaceuticals, Prescription Drug Safety, Prescription Fill Rates, Prescription Fill Statistics in the US, Prescription For Murder Blog, Prescription Prescribing Practices, Prescription Therapy Non-Compliance in the Elderly, Prescription Trends, Reasons for Medication Therapy Non-Compliance, The Pharmacy Profession, The Practice of Pharmacy, Types of Medication Non-Compliance | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments