Attorney General Jeff Sessions made an announcement at a news conference Tuesday that the Justice Department will be creating a new task force to pursue the makers and distributors of prescription opioids. It seems that beyond pursuing new restrictions being put on prescriptions, there will be a more intentional focus on Big Pharma and those who many believe have made the opioid crisis possible.
Jeff Sessions said the task force will “examine existing state and local government lawsuits against opioid manufacturers to determine if we can be of assistance.”
Meanwhile, Sessions also included the Justice Department is going to be backing a lawsuit in Ohio against major prescription opioid makers.
Ohio VS Opioid Makers Lawsuit
In truth, this lawsuit isn’t just about the state of Ohio. It consolidates more than 400 complaints by cities, counties and Native American tribes nationwide. Buckeye Nation has definitely been hit hard by the opioid crisis, but for now, the stage is set here for a massive effort against questionable practices from opioid makers.
The lawsuit that solicits the Justice Departments attention is pending in Federal District Court in Cleveland. It goes after various companies for using misleading marketing to promote prescription opioids, including:
The lawsuit also accuses the defendants of:
- Downplaying the risk of addiction to these drugs
- Failing to report suspicious orders by consumers, which would indicate the drugs were being abused
Furthermore, there are some big names in Big Pharma being listed as defendants, including:
- Johnson & Johnson
- Purdue Pharma
- Teva Pharmaceuticals
The suit is also going after large distributors, such as:
Not to mention pharmacy chains like:
So how will the Justice Department be engaging in the current lawsuit? How will this new development impact the outcome of the case?
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Statement of Interest Against Opioid Makers
During the press briefing, Sessions explained that the Justice Department plans to file what is called a “statement of interest” in the Ohio lawsuit. This is a technique that past administrations typically would only resort to in cases that directly affect the federal government’s interests, such as diplomacy and national security.
However, with the intensity of the opioid crisis being what it is, it is perfectly understandable to make it such a high priority for the current administration to get involved with. So far, recovery advocates have been largely unimpressed with the half-measures that have been presented thus far with the Trump administration to address the issue.
By invoking the statement of interest, the attorney general is legally able to argue on behalf of the government’s interest in any court in the country. However, it does not make the government a plaintiff. All things considered, Sessions said his department will use criminal and civil penalties. He states,
“We will use whatever tools we have to hold people accountable for breaking our laws.”
Which is quite a statement, considering it isn’t at all common for criminal charges to be brought against Big Pharma.
The Devil Is in the Data
What brought the Justice Department into this began with a discussion on access to certain data. This past Monday, lawyers for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) came to the Ohio courtroom to discuss how much data they would share about the national distribution of painkillers.
The DEA said it would only provide two years of information in the case, asserting that the agency did not want to compromise ongoing criminal investigations. However, Judge Dan Aaron Polster’s request is to provide the sides with nine years of data. He said the agency has until next Monday to decide whether it will comply. This data can assist in determining:
- The number of pills distributed
- The locations
- The distributors
This information could be crucial in allocating liability.
Richard Fields, a lawyer who represents state attorneys general and sovereign Native American nations in opioid litigation, predicts that the statement of interest from the Justice Department “will help unlock this data so that we can hold manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies accountable for flooding communities with pills.”
Therefore, it appears Sessions is going to be taking some big steps toward calling out Big Pharma for their involvement in the opioid crisis. Sessions says the government will be taking a hard look at doctors who overprescribe prescription painkillers. Even legal drugs like these too often lead to addiction and abuse of illegal drugs like heroin.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says he believes this is a game changer. With all the suffering communities in Ohio have seen over the past several years, we can only hope.
Holding Big Pharma accountable is a huge step. Nevertheless, we should also highlight the need for state and community officials to promote safe and effective addiction treatment. Innovative and holistic recovery programs can make a dramatic difference in helping heal communities. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
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In 2014 the state of Ohio was #2 for most overdose deaths in all of America with approximately 2,744 deaths. For 2016 early estimates are putting that number at 4,149 Ohioans who lost their lives, a 36% climb from 2015, the year when the Buckeye State had by far the most overdose deaths in the nation.
On average, 11 people died every day from heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil and other drugs in Ohio through 2016.
As the nation grapples with these skyrocketing body counts from coast to coast, more government and law enforcement officials are trying to find new ways to take action against the opioid crisis. For those who do not know, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid; one of the most dangerous drugs on the illicit market.
But recently the Capital City of the Midwest has scored a huge win in that fight.
Enough to Kill Columbus
Back in October one drug bust led to investigators discovering 2 kilograms, or 4.5 pounds, of fentanyl in the trunk of a car. To put this in perspective, the Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien stated that:
- A fatal dose of fentanyl is considered to be only 2-3 milligrams.
- In Columbus, Ohio the population is approximately 860,000 people.
Crunching the numbers, the prosecutor points out this amount of the incredibly lethal synthetic drug could have killed every man, woman, and child in the city.
Three California men were arrested in relation to this bust.
Enough to Kill Ohio
Just when you think you’ve heard the worst of it, that’s not even the tip of the iceberg. The following month police in the capital city seized 20 pounds of pure fentanyl. In regards to this case, Ron O’Brien said,
“So it would probably be enough to kill all, the entire population in the state of Ohio.”
Again, using the same lethal fentanyl dosage for perspective, Ohio has 11.6 million residents. The amount of fentanyl discovered in the November bust could potentially kill more than 9 million people. O’Brien included,
“Two or three milligrams of fentanyl is not much more than five or six small grains of salt.”
So it stands to reason that 20 pounds of this drug could easily wipe out the vast majority of the inhabitants of the state.
More Record Busts this Year
The opioid epidemic is the greatest drug crisis in the history of the country. As the problem has intensified, the spread of fentanyl and carfentanil has continued to bring dead and devastation. Luckily, there are more major opioid busts this year, with some seizing enough fentanyl to kill entire populations of several states.
In August officials of the Empire State managed to seize more than 140 pounds of fentanyl in August. The Drug Enforcement Administration said that amount could’ve killed nearly 32 million people. Put more bluntly, this amount of fentanyl could wipe out the populations of Texas and Oklahoma… combined!
Back in June officials in this major California city found close to 100 pounds of fentanyl. That is enough to kill 22.4 million people; that is the combined populations of:
- New York
- New Hampshire
The Gateway to the West was able to catch nearly 60 pounds of pure fentanyl back in April. That alone is enough to kill more than 13.6 million people.
Fighting the Spread of Fentanyl
Back in Ohio, Ron O’Brien and other officials know the opioid epidemic is getting worse all over the country. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest drug report states:
- More than 33,000 people died from opioid-related drug overdoses in 2015
- Close to 10,000 of them were from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl
In the state of Ohio, the opioid crisis has placed an increasing strain on resources. Financially it is costing Ohio residents between $6.6 and 8.8 billion per year, according to some experts. That is almost as much as the state spends on education for grades K-12.
Yet the fight goes on.
These massive seizures of this lethal synthetic chemical have undoubtedly saved many lives. However, putting a complete stop to the illicit drug trade is still very far off, if at all possible. Still, taking a few hundred pounds of such a potent and potentially deadly drugs off the streets makes an immeasurable difference.
For more important information on the dangers of prescription drugs, download our FREE E-BOOK “Big Secrets of Big Pharma: Why They Secretly Hope You Get Hooked”
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Treating Opioid Abuse
Holistic drug addiction treatment is an effective and important resource for helping people struggling with substance use disorder, especially in the wake of the opioid crisis in America.
Outbreaks of more life-threatening drug problems including fentanyl and other hazardous synthetics only make the need for supportive and impactful treatment more relevant. If we want to overcome the opioid epidemic there must be an emphasis on how we treat people struggling and on how we support them through the recovery process.
Treating opioid abuse is about building a strong foundation with safe medical detox, personalized therapy, and innovative treatment opportunities. Palm Healthcare Company helps thousands of people all over the country overcome opioid abuse. Our facilities are committed to providing quality care for those dealing with drug abuse, whether it is illicit drugs or prescription drug dependence. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
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If that headline seems kind of confusing, don’t worry, it should. Technically insurance companies are already required by law to provide the same coverage for substance abuse and mental health that they do for other health conditions… and therein lies the issue.
Back in August the White House Opioid Commission, established by President Trump and led by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, made several recommendations to the current administration about how to address the current drug crisis as it damages communities across the country. One of those recommendations was to declare a national emergency, while others had to do with options for prevention and education.
In the aftermath of ex-DEA agent Joe Rannazzisi’s eye-opening interview exposing the shady connections between Congress and Big Pharma companies, many have been looking closely at how government officials and multi-billion dollar empires helped create the opioid epidemic. Now the White House’s Opioid Commission is putting a focus on how health insurance companies and the flaws in their policies have contributed to the intensifying addiction crisis.
So with the opioid commission saying they will call-out insurers and make demands on coverage for addiction treatment, will more people have access to help?
Restricted Addiction Treatment
One of the biggest issues the opioid commission seems to have with insurance companies is that frequently their policies only cover one type of addiction treatment and not others. It seems insurance companies are convinced that with a complex and extremely personal issue like substance use disorder or mental health conditions, there is a one-size-fits-all answer. Sadly, most advocates can tell you this isn’t the case.
Something else especially frustrating is that laws already exist to prevent insurers from treating addiction treatment different than any other health issue. Chris Christie himself said,
“Why are we still not seeing addiction services covered, and mental health services covered as broadly as every other type of disease?”
“And what do we need to do to make sure that the law is enforced and followed?”
The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 requires health insurers to treat mental health and substance abuse disorders the same as any other disease. It means they should provide health care coverage for these conditions without additional limits, co-pays or deductibles. If companies add on additional requirements, it creates even more barriers between the suffering individual and treatment. Sadly, not every insurance company thinks it has to play by the rules.
A task force convened by President Barack Obama last year reported that numerous insurance companies still place a number of limits on addiction coverage, like more strict pre-authorization requirements. The insurance companies claim that their policies are only part of a complex problem, insisting that the issue also has to do with shortages of doctors and poor medical training from healthcare providers in the field of addiction treatment.
However, the simple fact that insurance companies are still trying to push back against supporting addiction treatment has the opioid commission ready to address the inconsistencies that are making it even harder for people who need help to get the help they deserve.
Holding Insurance Companies Accountable
The opioid commission is not holding back when it comes to trying to make insurance companies contribute to solutions since they helped contribute to the problem. The New Jersey Governor warned health insurance companies to be prepared for a final report that will “place new demands” on health insurance policies.
Christie and the opioid commission seem to be playing offense, saying Big Pharma drug companies and health insurers profit while allowing an epidemic of addiction to continue, but these new demands will hopefully change all that. Christie added,
“I’m a capitalist. I want everybody to make profits. I think it’s great. But we can’t any longer go about addressing this problem this way,”
“I hope you’re prepared to accept the challenge, because we know if it hasn’t gotten into your own house yet, it could, and then all the sudden your perspective on this problem could become markedly different.”
Not only is there more pressure on insurance companies when it comes to treatment options in their policies, but with how they handle medications in the first place.
Health insurance providers are also under a greater deal of scrutiny for policies that sometimes favor powerful and addictive painkillers over less addictive, and more expensive, variations. So not only are they limiting the options when it comes to getting treatment for substance abuse, but they are limiting coverage of medications to more addictive drugs to save money.
Insurance providers did show up to testify at the commission to help create a more comprehensive view of the issue. Involved were executives from some of the nation’s largest insurance companies:
- Blue Cross Blue Shield
- Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
- Kaiser Permanente
- UnitedHealth Group
- UPMC Health Plan
Representative Elijah Cummings, the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, also has questions for many of those same companies. Some of these inquiries stem from a report by The New York Times last month stating insurance companies “erected more hurdles to approving addiction treatments than for the addictive substances themselves.”
Cummings wrote letters to seven of the companies which state,
“This is not a hypothetical problem. The over-prescription of opioids leads to addiction and death.”
The White House’s opioid commission has also spoken with leaders in the pharmaceutical industry. All this shows that the opioid commission is not only worried about exploring our options for fixing the issue but also in examining all the elements that helped cause the opioid epidemic in America. Christie says the final report to President Trump will include sweeping recommendations but will also be “extraordinarily instructive in terms of how we got here, which is an important thing for this commission to acknowledge.”
The commission will hold its last meeting November 1st before delivering its final report to the President. Only time will tell what demands this report plans to place on insurance companies to provide more coverage for addiction treatment services.
Will Insurance Companies Change?
The big question becomes how will this impact the services offered by insurance companies. Will the opioid commission’s suggestions help shape new policies, or will some insurance companies continue to ignore the parity laws put in place to make sure they do not discriminate against the treatment of substance abuse?
Will these changes allow for the coverage of different innovative and holistic treatment options, or will the change only support programs that depend on maintenance drugs like methadone or Suboxone?
Hopefully, the new demands being put on insurance companies will help to support mental health and substance abuse parity. When it comes to addressing addiction in America, we need every resource we can get in order to move forward with overcoming the opioid epidemic. With more officials taking a closer look at every aspect of the issue, perhaps we can get a more effective strategy for addressing the problem.
With so many people struggling with opioids and other drugs across the country, comprehensive and effective treatment is essential to making any real progress. For decades Palm Healthcare Company facilities have been providing holistic addiction treatment options that help create lasting change. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free now.
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Recently I heard about a new product making a little noise online for being advertised as an all-natural supplement used for drug detox. I had never heard of Mitadone before, but I had heard about people trying to promote what they call more natural home remedies for treating withdrawal symptoms. Some claim to use natural juice cleansing regiments, or synthetic herbal compounds, or various other forms of healthy dietary routines to assist in their recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. However, it seems some people are looking to Mitadone as some kind of ‘miracle supplement.’
So what is Mitadone? Does it Work?
When visiting the official website for Mitadone, one of the first things you will see is that the company claims to offer a variety of detox programs, including:
Some of these options have a number of supplement plans, with different combinations of supplements which seem to imply they assist with different functions at different stages.
For Example- the Opiate Aid Program has a 3 step program with:
- Opiate Withdrawal Aid- 120 Tablets
- 5 Day Detox- 60 Capsules
- Anxiety, Stress Relief, and Mood Support- 90 Capsules
Each with a different purpose and including different ingredients. So what kind of all-natural ingredients are there?
Anit-Opiate Aid Plus Extra Strength
This product is advertised on the site as helping with withdrawal symptoms and cravings from opioid medications and illicit opioids like heroin. The ingredients are listed as:
- Vitamin A (as Beta Carotene)
- Vitamin C (as Ascorbic Acid)
- Vitamin D3 (as Cholecalciferol)
- Pantothenic Acid
- Vitamin E (as D-Alpha Tocopheryl Succinate)
- Vitamin K1
- Kudzu Root
- Vitamin B1
- Vitamin B2
- Vitamin B6
- Folic Acid
- Vitamin B12
- John’s Wort
- Rutin Bioperine
- Dicalcium Phosphate
- Microcrystalline Cellulose
- Croscarmellose Sodium
- Stearic Acid
- Vegetable Stearate
- Silicon Dioxide
- Pharmaceutical Glaze
Quite a mouth-full, right?
Oh and guess what- its Gluten Free!
The site states the product is “manufactured by a GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) approved facility that employs FDA certified manufacturing and quality control procedures.” Essentially, the Mitadone program is a large supply of multi-vitamins and other supplements. There are no prescription chemicals or habit-forming substances, according to their description.
Does it Work?
So are these multi-vitamin routines enough to combat such powerful addictions as opioids or alcohol? Well, Mitadone claims with their products you can detox from home, but is that really safe?
With alcohol detox, some withdrawal symptoms can be particularly harmful to your body. Others can even be lethal. With opioids, withdrawals can be extremely uncomfortable or even painful. So while these supplements may be able to help supply nutrients to the body, they aren’t exactly going to be able to support every aspect of the detox process.
If you look closer at the descriptions of these products, it seems Mitadone also knows how limited its impact can be. The fine-print acknowledges that everyone’s body chemistry is different, so the supplements will not always affect everyone the same. Some of the better reviews on Amazon.com still say that while the supplements made them feel a little better in some aspects, they were still extremely sick. Others claim the supplements did nothing to ease the more severe symptoms of opioid withdrawal.
When looking into the product and reading reviews, it is often but in the same category as Kava, which is a beverage or extract that is often advertised as a more natural substance. Some use Kava for recreational purposes. Others also use Kava to try and fight their withdrawals. If we look closer at Kava, it has much of its own controversy. There is a lot of contention as to whether Kava is responsible for liver damage and other health risks. While Mitadone is a totally different product, people associate them both with the concept of self-detoxing through ‘natural remedies’. Yet, many still question how safe or effective they are.
Even on the Mitadone website, in the Opiate Aid and Alcohol Aid programs you can see statements like:
“Increases the chances of substance abuse patients to stay in any maintenance therapy program.”
“Addiction doesn’t necessarily conclude after the patient exits a rehab program.”
So even in their product descriptions, they seem to admit that these supplements are not a solution on their own, but a product that might give someone a better chance while pursuing other specific treatment options.
In short, these kinds of nutritional products can be an asset to your recovery plan, but they are ineffective as a primary recovery strategy.
Nutraceutical Therapy and Addiction Treatment
Incorporating a healthier diet and perhaps even vitamins and other supplements can be very beneficial for some, but they should be utilized as part of a more holistic approach to addiction recovery.
Palm Healthcare Company offers Nutraceutical Therapy as part of a holistic addiction treatment program. We understand the importance of nourishing the body while also healing the mind. The value of vitamin and supplement therapy should not be underestimated. There is a benefit to supplements such as:
- Digestive enzymes
- Essential fatty acids
Combine these with a healthy, balanced diet and physical therapy can provide an exceptional advantage to someone on the path to recovery.
But we emphasize that recovering from addiction to drugs or alcohol is not just about balancing out the body to help it break its dependence on substances. Recovery is also about comprehensive addiction education, developing new coping skills and addressing personal traumas. There is so much more to a future in recovery.
Mitadone may have a decent product, but people should always remember that with drug addiction it is not always effective, or even safe, to detox on your own. Medical detox is a resource that exists to help people get off drugs as safely and effectively as possible, while providing various lines of support, including nutrition.
Nutritional therapy in addiction treatment recognizes the importance of what we put into our bodies, but it is most effective as part of a complete treatment plan. For those trying to find ways to overcome withdrawal symptoms, a medical detox with experienced professionals can make the process safer and easier. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
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Drug overdoses killed 64,000 Americans last year. That is an increase of more than 20% than the overdose deaths in 2015. Those numbers have nearly quadrupled since 2000. Now nearly two-thirds of overdose deaths are from by opioids. Some are from prescription opioids; others are from illicit heroin or synthetics like fentanyl.
However, some are concerned that the action we have seen thus far is too little too late. The president’s 2018 budget only increases addiction treatment funding by less than 2%. That already includes the $500 million appropriated by Congress in 2016 under the 21st Century Cures Act. So needless to say, many recovery advocates worry that the resources are just not going to be enough.
If we look at the recommendations of the president’s opioid commission, and at other initiatives that have started to gain some traction across the country, we can find patterns. There are some concepts that consistently show up, and perhaps if we focus on these similarities, we can see why so many minds are thinking alike.
So here are 5 big ways America can overcome the opioid epidemic.
Break the Stigma
In order to accomplish most of the things on this list, America first has to consistently fight to break the stigma of drug use and addiction. Misunderstanding what addiction is and how it happens only undermines progress to addressing it. If America hopes to overcome the opioid crisis, we have to be more willing to see it for what it is.
Right now the issue of addiction stigma is still a big deal. While we may have come a long way from how it was decades ago, there are still a lot of people who refuse to consider addiction as an illness. A lot of people still refuse to acknowledge the various factors that contribute to addiction, such as genetic predisposition and instead insist addiction is purely by choice.
If we can see how drug use affects people from all different walks of life, and for countless different reasons, we can then treat those suffering from more compassion. Finding more effective methods of treatment means having a better idea of what really causes addiction, and what feeds it.
Support PAARI, NOT Punishment
Speaking of compassion, supporting PAARI and not punishment is a perfect example of letting go of stigma to work toward saving lives.
It is about time that all of America realizes that the old ways of the failed War on Drugs do not work. Thankfully, it seems a lot more people across the country now understand that we cannot arrest our way out of this problem. Harsher punishments and severe sentences have not deterred addiction, they only support stigma.
Now in America, there are nearly 300 law enforcement agencies across 31 states that have Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative programs (PAARI). These PAARI programs offer treatment for drug users who come to authorities looking for a way out. Instead of fearing the threat of arrest, people struggling with substances are encouraged to reach out to law enforcement in order to be put in contact with treatment options or recovery networks.
This revolutionary new mindset was inspired by a department in Gloucester, Massachusetts not too long ago. So far these efforts appear to cost much less and with better results than efforts focused on punishing addicts.
Create Resources for Treatment
Today addiction medicine is an urgently needed specialty, but there is not much glory in it compared to other areas of medical work. One way the federal government could help create more resources for treatment is to provide tuition incentives for medical students to enter addiction-related specialties and work in underserved communities. By encouraging this kind of work, we further shed the stigma of addiction and shift the perspective to helping care for a vulnerable community.
But don’t just end with specialists.
By supporting things like Medicaid expansion, addiction and mental health treatment can be made available to more people who may not have access to healthcare under limited coverage. More state and federal funding can also be allocated by officials to help build or strengthen addiction treatment programs provided by the state.
Enforce Mental Health Parity
The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 actually requires insurers provide equal benefits for mental health and addiction treatment that they do with other medical therapies or surgery. Thus, the law means to make discrimination against addicts by insurers illegal.
However, some insurers defy this law by imposing illogical treatment limits or tedious authorization requirements. In other words, insurance companies are finding ways to cheat the system in order to avoid paying for addiction and mental health treatment.
America and our government must to better to enforce mental health parity. If we want people to get the treatment they need, we have to protect their right to treatment and assure that insurance providers won’t be able to skip out on the bill.
According to John Renner, president of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, between 50%- 70% of people with substance abuse problems also suffer from a mental health disorder such as:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
With mental health and addiction so closely related, making sure those struggling with opioids and other substances receive care for mental health disorders or other co-occurring conditions it vital to lasting recovery.
First and foremost; preserve life! This should always be a priority when facing any kind of epidemic. Regardless of the circumstances, the preservation of life should always be paramount. This is a discussion that has become crucial in the fight against opioids considering the need for life-saving medications and harm reduction tactics.
At the moment, first responders and emergency rooms do not have adequate access to Naloxone or Narcan, the opioid overdose antidote, to save lives. Both federal and state health agencies can negotiate pricing for naloxone and expand access. They can also encourage pharmacies that offer prescription-free access in some areas.
Another aspect of saving lives involves harm reduction strategies, which tend to be a little more controversial. Not everyone likes to support programs like safe injection sites or needle exchange programs. However, whether you think these programs enable addiction or not, these programs are proven to help preserve life. Between preventing the spread of infectious disease and providing a supported environment in case of overdose, these harm reduction models can prevent a lot of needless loss of life.
One indisputable precedence in the effort to overcome opioids is keeping people suffering alive long enough to get them treatment. The more people we can help survive opioid addiction, the more people have a chance of recovering.
Drug abuse and addiction is a devastating and deadly disease, and providing effective and compassionate treatment makes a lifelong difference. Part of solving the problem is changing the way we look at it and changing how we treat each other. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
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