Items filtered by date: Friday, 12 May 2017

PLDT net income drops 20% in Q1 as wireless revenue shrinks

MANILA -- Philippine telecom giant PLDT said Friday its net income in the first three months of 2017 dropped 20% on the year to 4.97 billion pesos ($99.9 million) as wireless revenue kept shrinking and impairment losses from Rocket Internet continued to hamper the bottom line.

The impairment losses from PLDT's investment in the German e-commerce company reached 500 million pesos in the period, while higher expenses also hindered the telecom's net profit.

PLDT's share price dipped by as much as 4% at the time of the earnings release, but the stock recovered quickly as Chairman and CEO Manuel Pangilinan gave a positive outlook on the company's prospects. The shares closed at 1,755 pesos, up 1.9% from Thursday.

"In the medium term, as far as we could see, the growth of the industry will come from the [fixed-line business], and the wireless would grow at low single-digit numbers," Pangilinan said Friday.

PLDT's net income plunged by as much as 49% in the third quarter of 2016, but an internal reorganization and a shift in focus to the fixed-line business has ameliorated the slump.

Service revenue continued to decline, falling 7% on the year to 35.6 billion pesos. PLDT's wireless segment dropped 16% to 20.8 billion pesos, but the fixed-line business grew 10% to 16.9 billion pesos. On a quarter-to-quarter basis, service revenue dropped 1%.

"For now, we are in this sort of golden age of fixed [line]," the CEO said.

Household and business subscribers, excluding international, now comprise 52% of the company's revenue base, a proportion forecast to reach 56% by 2019.

PLDT shifted focus to fixed line following the exodus of over 5 million customers in 2015 to key rival Globe Telecom, which leads in offering expanded data services. PLDT controls around 70% of the fixed-line market.

Pangilinan said the first-quarter performance puts the company on track to meet its core profit target of 21.5 billion pesos for the year, up slightly from last year's 20.2 billion pesos. Barring "unusual circumstances," PLDT is poised to earn more than 5 billion pesos for each succeeding quarter of 2017, he said.

MIKHAIL FLORES, Nikkei staff writer


MacBook Pro gets its ports back (VIA Satechi)







The Satechi Type-C Pro Hub plugs into both USB-C ports on the left of the MacBook Pro 13-inch model or both sides of the MacBook Pro 15-inch model. As Satechi suggests, this hub “acts as a missing puzzle piece” and adds ports that’ve been on MacBook Pro notebooks in previous generations. This includes a Thunderbolt 3 Port, 4K HDMI port, a standard USB-C port, two USB 3.0 ports, and an SD/Micro-SD card reader.

Without the hub, users have two USB-C ports on the side of their MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt 3 capabilities. With the hub, they have one of these ports as well as a USB-C port without Thunderbolt capabilities. As such, the trading of the use of one Thunderbolt-capable port for a standard USB-C port gives the user 2X USB 3.0 ports, a memory card reader, and a 4K HDMI port.

Seems like a pretty good trade – supposing the extra tiny bit of bulk is acceptable to you. We’ll be reviewing this hub on SlashGear very soon with a standard 13-inch MacBook Pro. From there we shall have judgement, to be sure.

The Type-C Pro Hub from Satechi is available starting this week from Satechi or Amazon online. The hub is available for around $100 in both Silver and Space Gray. Satechi made a very similar hub back in 2015 called the USB Type-C hub for the first MacBook with USB-C ports – now it’s time to go Pro.

-Chris Burns , Slash Gear



  • Published in Tech

Robredo to host own radio show starting May 14


MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo will be hosting her very own radio program starting Sunday, May 14. 

Called "BISErbisyong LENI", the hour-long weekly program wil bel tackling issues on public service and providing legal advice to listeners. 

It will be aired live on RMN-dzXL 558 Khz and via its regional stations in Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, and Naga City. 

The program will be co-anchored by broadcaster Ely Saludar. 

The Office of the Vice President (OVP) said the pilot episode, airing on Mother's Day, will cover the state of nutrition in the Philippines. 

"For the pilot episode, VP Leni and Ely Saludar will be interviewing Ms Dyan Rodriguez, an advocate of nutrition in the Philippines and Nanay Lorna Tambaoan, a solo parent from Quezon City and interviewee featured on Istorya Ng Pag-Asa (INP)," said the OVP. 

The launch of her radio program comes after her 15-percentage-point drop in trust ratings, according to survey firm Social Weather Stations (SWS).

SWS said in a survey conducted in March 2017, 55% of Filipinos have "much trust" in Robredo while 25% have "little trust" in her, for a net trust rating of 30%. About 20% of the respondents said they are undecided.

Though classified as still "good" by the polling firm, Robredo's March 2017 rating is significantly lower than the 45% she got in December 2016.

The radio show also comes days after the appointment of blogger Mocha Uson, among Robredo's staunchest critics, as assistant secretary who will handle the social media content of Malacañang.

She has been criticized by pro-Duterte followers, including Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, for supposedly being behind the impeachment complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte, and for speaking out against summary executions. –


Abu Sayyaf temporary camp in Basilan captured



SUMISIP, Basilan – The Joint Task Force Basilan under Colonel Juvymax R. Uy consisting of the 4th Special Forces Battalion and 3rd Scout Ranger Regiment scored anew after engaging the scampering Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) Thursday, May 11. 

Armed with intelligence reports from ASG surrenderers, the local populace, and local government units, the brigade was able to track down the ASG's temporary encampment. 

Just before dawn, operating troops under the 4th Special Forces Battalion managed to close in on the enemy's temporary camp in Bgy Pamatsaken, Sumisip municipality, which is believed to be harboring ASG sub-leader Furuji Indama. 

“Equipped with night fighting capabilities, our troops were able to inch within a hundred meters of the enemy under the cover of darkness,” Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Bacala Jr, commanding officer of the 4th Special Forces Battalion, said.

Evading several improvised explosive devices (IEDs) laid out by the bandits, the Special Forces troops managed to seize completely the encampment before 10 in the morning last Thursday.

Sourced photo by Richard Falcatan

Sourced photo by Richard Falcatan 

Seizure of the site yielded 12 makeshift tents capable of accommodating at least 30 to 40 Abu Sayyaf bandits across 150 meters. Blood stains were found in the vicinity, with intel reports estimating no less than 20 ASG fatalities from the combined airstrikes and indirect fires. 

The troops also recovered food stuff and explosive components for about 30 IEDs. Three live IEDs were also recovered by Special Forces demolition specialists. One IED, however, was detonated, inflicting minor injuries on two troopers. None were reported to be in critical condition. 

Successive firefight followed as the Rangers from the 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion caught up with the fleeing bandits some 300 meters from the seized encampment.

“Our troops were able to cordon the enemy due to the accurate and timely indirect fires and close air support delivered by our artillery and the Philippine air force,” Uy said.

“Also, the information being volunteered by the populace and LGUs provided critical details to validate the intelligence we have on hand,” he added.

Naval Task Group Basilan also conducted maritime interdiction operations to prevent the bandits from escaping by sea.

Shock and awe

The bandits also got a taste of the air force’s F/A 50 after the jet fighters delivered their deadly payload, inflicting immediate fatalities on the ASG.

“The ASGs were so shocked they left most of their personal belongings and unfinished meal at their encampment,” a team leader from the Special Forces who cleared the site said. 

The airstrikes were immediately followed with artillery and mortar fires, inflicting additional damage on the bandits.

Resources dwindling, members getting desperate

Unlike previous engagements, the ASGs have now resorted to evading government forces as their resources run low.

“We no longer experience the prolonged firefights with the ASGs. This suggests that they have run out of ammunition and other supplies necessary to engage government forces," Uy explained. "More than just resources, they no longer have the mass base they once enjoyed."

Debriefing from ASG surrenderers revealed that most of their members “have lost the will to fight due to the intensified military operations and no longer believe in the promises of a better life with the terrorist group,” Uy said.

“It will only take a matter of time before the ASG succumbs and their dream of establishing a folly caliphate will finally come to an end," Uy continued. "With the string of victories we are attaining, it will not take long before the ASG's threats are downgraded to no more than that of an ordinary criminal.” –


PH, China set to begin bilateral talks on ‘sensitive’ maritime issues

BEIJING—The Philippines and China would start bilateral talks on the “sensitive” issue of the South China Sea dispute next week, the country’s envoy here said Saturday.
“By next week, we will inaugurate the bilateral consultative mechanism on issues. This is where the sensitive issues will be discussed,” Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana told reporters here.
Sta. Romana said the bilateral talks between the two nations would be held on the sidelines of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) event with China in southwestern China.
“The first session will really cover the terms of reference and the basic (issues). (We will) try to draw an agenda so the first session will be the long step in the long journey… What it provides is a platform, a mechanism to bring out the issue,” he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping, he said, would not attend the talks.
But Sta. Romana said he would join the talks together with his counterpart Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jinhua. Other foreign affairs officials at deputy minister and undersecretary levels would also attend, he said.
The South China Sea issue has strained the Philippines’ relations with China after the latter claimed almost all parts of the minerals-rich region.
The Philippines won a landmark decision at the United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal but China has repeatedly rejected the decision.
Duterte has said that he would use a “soft landing” approach in tackling the issue, saying he prefers a diplomatic way of solving the issue.
Sta. Romana said the bilateral talks would be an opportunity to exchange views on both countries’ position over the disputed sea.
“It will be an exchange of views. At least, you are able to communicate, not through a megaphone but in a room where the two sides will meet, not open to the media but at least where they can speak directly to each other and try to understand,” he said.
“We have to clarify what is our position on the issue, and for the Chinese to clarify their position on a certain issue is at least a first step in trying to understand where the difference lies,” he said.
Duterte is set to arrive here on Saturday night to attend the “One Road, One Belt” Forum. This is the second time Duterte would visit China after a four-day state visit in October 2016.
He is also scheduled to have a bilateral talk with Xi where the issue of South China Sea might be discussed. By:  - Reporter 



Pinoy 'Miss Saigon' stars to be honored in New York

Jon Jon Briones and Eva Noblezada will be among those honored at the 73rd Theatre World Awards to be held on June 5 in New York.
Briones, who grew up in Quezon City, was recognized for his role as the Engineer in the Broadway revival of "Miss Saigon," and Noblezada, a Filipino-American, for her star turn as Kim, a young Vietnamese bar girl who falls in love with an American soldier.
The other honorees are Carlo Albán ("Sweat"), Christy Altomare ("Anastasia"), Barrett Doss ("Groundhog Day"), Lucas Hedges ("Yen"), Denée Benton ("Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812"), Raymond Lee ("Vietgone"), Jeremy Secomb ("Sweeney Todd"), and Cobie Smulders ("Present Laughter").
In addition to those honorees, the Theatre World Awards will also present special awards to Katrina Lenk ("Indecent, The Band's Visit"), Glenn Close ("Sunset Boulevard"), and Dave Malloy ("Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812").
The news comes after Noblezada earned herself a Tony nomination --her first -- for the same role. Briones was also recently nominated for a Drama Desk Award.
According its website, the Theatre World Awards celebrate debut performances on and off Broadway. The annual awards show wants to "encourage and inspire newcomers to the stage to continue to pursue their dream."



Russia eyed as new OFW destination

THE Philippines is  eyeing Russia as a new destination for  overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as bilateral relations between the two countries continue to get stronger since Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Rodrigo Duterte’s meeting at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Lima, Peru last year.

Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd on Friday disclosed that he and Russian Ambassador to Manila Igor Anatolyyevich Khovaev have agreed to establish “a solid legal basis for cooperation” for the benefit of Filipino migrant workers.


“We are glad we had preliminary discussion on various labor issues and concerns of mutual interest to both countries,” Bello said.

According to him, the Russian ambassador  gave his assurance to give ample protection to  the rights and legitimate interest of overseas Filipino workers in Russia.

In response,  Bello said he suggested forming a bilateral working group to craft the partnership where the rights and protection of both Filipino workers and Russian employers will be guaranteed.

“We hope to meet with our counterparts in Russia for us to discuss the specifics of this agreement. A working group should define the terms and guidelines for this,” he added.

According to Bello,   opening of labor relations between Manila and Moscow will also be discussed by  Duterte with Putin in his planned visit to Russia this year.

“I already sent a memo to the President requesting him to include the possible deployment of skilled and professional workers to Russia,” he said.

Bello added that  there is a demand for construction and household service workers in Russia.

In 2014, there were about 4,000 OFWs in Russia who were working in construction, hotels and households.

According to a recent study, Middle East countries are still the top destinations for OFWs.

The  2016 Overseas Land-Based Jobs and Salary Report  showed that  Saudi Arabia remains to be the top OFW destination for the past two years, with 39 percent contribution to the total OFW jobs.

Other Middle East countries that dominated the list are Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman followed by the United States, New Zealand, Brunei Darussalam and Australia.

The study is based on overseas jobs posted by agencies licensed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration at from January to September 2016.

Engineering is still the top specialization with most jobs for professional workers contributing 26 percent to the total OFW jobs.

Other specializations that made it to the list are General Work, Hospitality, Nurse/Medical Support and Assistant, Manufacturing/Production Operations, Maintenance/Repair, Personal Care, Sales, Clerical/Administrative and Arts/Creative/Graphics Design.

As for the highest paying OFW jobs, doctors remain to be on top of the list having an average monthly income of P111,620.00 and with pediatricians and OB gynecologists getting the highest salaries.

Process Design and Control/Instrumentation lands second followed by Public Relations/Communications, Aviation, Aircraft Maintenance, Law/Legal Services, Education/Training and Development, Quality Control/Assurance, IT-Related, Engineering-Related and Architecture/Interior Design.

The same study showed that United Arab Emirates emerged as the highest paying country of deployment for OFWs where doctors are still the highest paid.

Coming in next were Qatar and Canada with Aviation/Aircraft Maintenance and Nurses/Medical Support and Assistant earning the highest salaries, respectively. WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL, The Manila Times


Criminals used leaked NSA cyberweapon in crippling ransomware attack, experts say

A leaked cyberweapon believed to have been created by NSA spies was used by criminals on Friday to launch a crippling ransomware attack on hospitals and telecom companies across Europe, security experts say.

The attack — which holds access to infected computers ransom in exchange for payment — wreaked havoc on patient care in at least 16 organizations within the U.K.'s state-run National Health Service and is believed to have spread to computers in more than 74 countries, according to security company Kaspersky.

Researchers spent much of Friday examining the software used in the attack, and believe it relies on re-purposed code that is said to have originally been written by the NSA.

The supposed NSA code exploited a software vulnerability found in multiple versions of Microsoft's Windows operating system, but was patched in March just weeks before a group of hackers known as the Shadow Brokers leaked a trove of information publicly detailing what they claimed were the U.S. spy agency's secret tools and techniques.

'Weapons-grade exploits'

"These were weapons-grade exploits [and] very trivial to use," said Matthew Hickey, a cybersecurity research and co-founder of the company Hacker House, who previously analyzed the code leaked by the Shadow Brokers. "So what we're seeing is this very run-of-the-mill malware that's being adopting these exploits, adopting these kind of weaponized attacks and using them to spread across networks and demand ransom."

Spain's national computer security incident response team was one of the first organizations to publicly attribute the ransomware's spread to the leaked exploit — known by the NSA code name EternalBlue and Microsoft patch number MS17-010 — while malware researchers reported similar findings on Twitter.

Costin Raiu, director of global research and analysis at the computer security company Kaspersky, said that his firm had detected more than 45,000 recorded instances of the attack in 74 countries by early Friday afternoon.

"I'm actually genuinely quite surprised that it's taken close to six or seven weeks for the first large-scale incident like this to happen," said Hickey, who is alarmed — but unsurprised — that people aren't patching as quickly as they should.

A global patching problem

While many ransomware infections require a victim to open an email attachment or click a link, Friday's attack is notable for its worm-like ability to spread — in other words, its ability to copy itself between vulnerable machines without user intervention.

The ransomware's rapid spread suggests that many organizations have been slow to update their systems to newer versions of Microsoft's Windows operating system that address the bug, which likely aided the worm's movement.

"I just can't stress it enough: we have a global patch management problem," said Katie Moussouris, CEO and founder of the cybersecurity company Luta Security. "And it's been manifesting for the better part of the last 20 years."

Software makers have long struggled to convince users of the importance of keeping their software up to date — especially in the face of bugs deemed as critical as the one that was patched in March.

Some organizations, such as hospitals or factories, might delay patching for fear of disrupting critical systems. Others might lack the technical knowledge or resources to patch quickly, if at all. Software companies have more recently tried to address the problem by downloading and installing some updates automatically — but Moussouris believes there is still more work that needs to be done.

Re-using NSA code

In this case, it's not so much the NSA spy software that criminals are exploiting, but rather the software vulnerabilities spies use to deliver their tools undetected onto targets' machines, re-purposed to deliver ransomware instead.

And while it may sound surprising to see tools otherwise used for government espionage re-purposed for what amounts to a global electronic extortion campaign, Moussouris said it's long been the practice of criminals to adapt everything from academic research to leaked code for use in their attacks.

"While there's nothing particularly special about this pattern … for sure, if there are future leaks you can expect the same patterns to be followed," Moussouris said, stressing the importance of applying patches as soon as possible once software updates are made available.

What having NSA tools in the wild doesn't mean is that "we're all going to be spied on by everyone," she said.

"It's not how that works. If you were not a target in the first place, guess what? You're still not a target."

By Matthew Braga, CBC News

  • Published in Tech

Trump warns Comey not to go public and suggests he has secret 'tapes'


U.S. President Donald Trump warned ousted FBI director James Comey on Friday against talking to the media, suggesting there might be tapes of conversations between the two men that could contradict his account.

"James Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!" Trump said in a string of Twitter posts. In a report that added to critics' charges that Trump has overstepped the norms of his office, the New York Times reported that the president asked Comey in January to pledge loyalty to him, a request that would undermine the standing of the FBI chief as an independent law enforcer.

On Twitter, Trump appeared to suggest that if Comey gave his version of contacts between them, the administration might produce tapes of conversations, although it was not clear if such tapes exist. The veiled threat added to the storm over Trump's abrupt firing of Comey.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Friday afternoon would not expand on or answer questions whether recording devices exist in the White House or whether Trump recorded conversations with Comey.

"The president has nothing further to add on that," Spicer repeatedly said, rejecting the notion it was any kind of warning.

"I don't think, that's not a threat, he simply stated a fact. The tweet speaks for itself," he said.

When asked if Trump requested loyalty from Comey in January, Spicer said: "No."

"I think the president wants loyalty to this country and to the rule of law," he said.

Adam Schiff, the top ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, in an official statement, called Trump's suggestion that he may have taped Comey "staggering."

"The president should immediately provide any such recordings to Congress or admit, once again, to have made a deliberately misleading — and this case threatening — statement," said Schiff.

Russia probe in limbo

Critics have assailed Trump for dismissing the FBI chief at a time when the agency is investigating alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, and possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump presidential campaign.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation probe and parallel congressional investigations have cast a cloud over Trump's presidency since he took office on Jan. 20, threatening to overwhelm his policy priorities.

Democrats have accused Trump of trying to dent the FBI probe by firing Comey, and have called for a special counsel to investigate the Russia issue. The New York Times said Comey has told associates he declined to make a pledge of loyalty to Trump when the president requested it as the pair had dinner at the White House just seven days after his inauguration.

Comey instead told the Republican president he could count on his honesty, the Times said.

Trump says Comey had told him three times he was not under investigation in the Russia probe. He said in an interview on Thursday with NBC News that Comey gave him this assurance during a dinner and in two phone conversations.

It's a claim made of Comey that has many experts skeptical.

Comey has not publicly discussed any conversations he has had with Trump.

Acting FBI director Andrew McCabe sidestepped a question during a Senate hearing on Thursday on whether he ever heard Comey tell Trump that the president was not the subject of investigation.

The No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, Richard Durbin, slammed the president after Friday's tweets, telling MSNBC that the president is "dangerous because he may be obstructing justice in terms of the investigation ... and secondly his credibility has been destroyed."

The White House initially said Trump fired Comey on the recommendation of the two top officials at the Justice Department, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

In the NBC interview on Thursday, Trump said he would have fired Comey regardless of any such recommendations.

The White House has said Comey's firing was unrelated to the Russia probe.

On Thursday, Trump told NBC he knew he ran the risk that by firing Comey he would "confuse people" and "lengthen out the investigation" into ties to Russia.

"In fact when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, 'You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won," he said.

The president said he never pressured Comey into dropping the FBI probe, and added that there was no "collusion between me and my campaign and the Russians."

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded in January that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign of interference in the election aimed at tilting the vote in Trump's favor. Moscow has denied any such meddling.

Trump also hit back on Friday at media reports questioning the credibility of White House accounts of why Comey was fired, which have changed over the course of the week and threatened an end to regular White House press briefings.

"As a very active president with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!" Trump tweeted. "Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future 'press briefings' and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???"

The White House Press Association released an official statement in response a few hours later, indicating any such move would be against the spirit of the First Amendment in the U.S. Constitution.

"Doing away with briefings would reduce accountability, transparency and the opportunity for Americans to see that, in the U.S. system, no political figure is above being questioned," the statement read.

© Thomson Reuters, 2017

  • Published in U.S.

'Poor man's methadone': Imodium is a potentially fatal high

A popular drug that promises rapid relief from diarrhea is worrying doctors and emergency room staff because of the dangerous high it gives opioid abusers.

The over-the-counter medication Imodium, whose main ingredient, loperamide, is an opioid, is cheap and easy to buy at a drugstore. It's available in bulk at Walmart and Costco.

"Drug users, opioid seekers, they are desperate," says Nardine Nakhla, a lecturer at the faculty of pharmacy at the University of Toronto.

"They need this medication to help with the withdrawal, or to achieve that euphoric state. So they disregard the warning and still use the drug if it means they get their fix."

Imodium is safe when taken as directed. The maximum recommended daily dose is 16 milligrams, or eight tablets.

"It's been likened to a poor man's methadone", says Dr. David Juurlink, a drug safety researcher at Sunnybrook Hospital. "At high doses, it will cause effects like methadone or oxycontin. The problem is the doses you need to achieve that is really, really dangerous."

Juurlink says its not uncommon for drug abusers to take up to 200 tablets a day to get high.

"It can cause your heart to stop. It's the sort of thing people can do for weeks or months at a time, with no symptoms at all, then suddenly they just drop dead," says Juurlink.

He says people abusing this drug will put a few hundred pills in a blender, make a smoothie and drink it. "That's especially dangerous because you absorb the drug very quickly."

At Vancouver's St. Paul's Hospital, Dr. Chris DeWitt calls an Imodium overdose a "double whammy."

"It can cause slow breathing or even stopping breathing, similar to other opioids. But it can also cause direct effects on the heart."

On web forums, drug abusers have been talking about the "lope cocktail" for several years. One writes that Imodium may be his "new best friend." Another says his loperamide high "almost killed me a couple times with crazy pressure in my head."

In the U.S, the number of calls to poison centres have doubled between 2010 and 2015. Several people have died of loperamide overdoses. The alarming trend prompted the Food and Drug Administration to issue a safety alert last year warning that higher than recommended doses of Imodium can cause serious heart problems that can lead to death.

The Ontario Poison Centre reports only a "couple of cases" of Imodium poisoning, but its medical director, Dr. Margaret Thompson, can't say whether those involved an overdose or a death because of patient confidentiality.

Juurlink says the small number of cases doesn't tell the whole story.

"We are starting to see more and more people coming to hospital or just dying suddenly at home courtesy of this drug that most of us perceive as pretty innocuous."

A soon to be released review co-authored by Juurlink warns Canada's emergency room physicians to watch for increasing misuse and abuse of loperamide, with patients suffering from "loperamide-induced cardiac toxicity."

It's a challenge for doctors because the go-to antidote Naloxone works to reverse an opiod overdose but can't fix heart problems caused by this medication. Juurlink says doctors sometimes have to resort to "Hail Mary therapies."

Affected people have "grossly abnormal" electrocardiograms, he says. "When a person has that sort of ECG, we don't have a magic drug that we can just give to reverse it."

Imodium is widely available and cheap in drugstores and grocery stores. (Kas Roussy/CBC)

Health Canada says it's aware of health warnings for Imodium in the U.S. The agency says it has conducted a preliminary review of the issue and has not found evidence of a similar problem here, but it will monitor the safety of the drug.

In a Toronto drugstore, Nakhla says she believes more needs to be done to prevent Imodium abuse.

"I think pharmacists need to be adequately monitoring patients who are coming in requesting this type of medication," she said. "They need to think about further restricting the sale of this by placing it behind the counter where they will be in contact with the individual who will be purchasing it."

Juurlink agreed.

"If you couldn't just walk in a drugstore and for $20 walk out with enough of the tablets to get high and possibly kill you, I think that would be a good thing," he said.

By Kas Roussy, CBC News

  • Published in Health
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