News you can use: health & drug safety updates


  • May 14, 2009
    The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently launched an initiative to help ensure the safe use of methadone. Methadone is a prescription drug best known as a treatment for addiction and dependence on heroin and other narcotic pain medicines. It is also prescribed to treat moderate-to-severe chronic pain patients. The campaign responds to concerns about an escalating number of poisoning deaths linked to the improper use of this medication. The National
  • May 7, 2009
    An expert panel of the American Geriatrics Society warned that non-steroidal anti- inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or high-dose aspirin should not be used long-term for adults 75 or older with chronic pain. The panel stated that people who cannot get relief with alternatives like acetaminophen might be better of taking opiates. The guideline recommends that acetaminophen be considered as initial and ongoing pharmacotherapy of patients with mild to moderate musculoskeletal pain, but — in a significant departure from the 2002 guideline — recommends that
  • May 5, 2009
    The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy® (NABP®) released a position paper examining the lawlessness of Web sites selling prescription medicine over the Internet. “To see why this ‘wild west’ of an electronic marketplace is a problem, one need only follow the trail of dead and injured patients,” the paper asserts. The report calls to task the various parties whose activities allow this trend to continue and challenges lawmakers and regulators to rein in this dangerous underground marketplace. In the document, NABP revisits the call to action of its 2003 “Position Paper on
  • April 20, 2009
    The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) today announced availability of a NIDA-Modified Alcohol, Smoking, and Substance Involvement Screening Test or ASSIST). This Web-based interactive tool guides clinicians through a short series of screening questions and, based on the patient’s responses, generates a substance involvement score that suggests the level of intervention needed. The tool also provides links to resources for conducting a brief intervention and treatment referral, if warranted. (Note: NIDA recommends reading the ASSIST
  • April 8, 2009
    In 2006 the year the nation’s Part D prescription drug program began, Medicare’s share of outpatient prescription medications increased by $38 billion over 2005 according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Prior Medicare drug coverage was limited to certain beneficiaries, such as people with who required dialysis or a transplant due to severe kidney disease. AHRQ’s analysis found that between 2005 and 2006:
  • Medicare spending for outpatient prescription drugs rose from $5.9 billion to $44.3 billion.
  • April 7, 2009
    The “Diabetes Ten City Challenge,” a program that brings together employers, pharmacists and people with diabetes to work together to reign in diabetes- related health care costs as well as improve patient health is showing promise, according to a report released today by the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Foundation. Conducted by the APhA with support from GlaxoSmithKline, Inc., 30 employers in 10 U.S. cities established a voluntary health benefit for employees, dependents and retirees with diabetes.
  • April 6, 2009
    The number of American children and teens taking drugs to lower blood pressure and control diabetes has risen significantly since 2004, according to a new study. The study is one of several reports on childhood obesity in the April issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Researchers at CVS Caremark used the company’s drug database to track prescriptions filled on behalf of children and adolescents. Increases in all age groups [between] 6 to 18 years of age were noted. The youngest age group, the 6-to-10-year population, realized the
  • April 2, 2009
    The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report March 23 entitled Nonprescription Drugs: Considerations Regarding a Behind-the-Counter Drug Class. While the report does not include a recommendation either for or against a behind-the-counter (BTC) class of drugs in the United States, GAO concludes that they found no association between the restrictions placed on the availability of particular drugs in our sample by the study countries and the presence of a BTC drug class. The report stresses that several important issues
  • March 31, 2009
    Patients and clinicians should consider risk factors—including age, gender, diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, smoking and risk of gastrointestinal bleeding—before deciding whether to use aspirin to prevent heart attacks or strokes, according to new recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. The recommendations were published in the March 17 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. The Task Force found good evidence that aspirin decreases first heart attacks in men and first strokes in women. The more risk
  • March 30, 2009
    Consumers overlook warnings about potential tampering on over-the-counter (OTC) or nonprescription medicines at least 80 percent of the time, suggesting packages and labels need to be redesigned to attract attention and improve safety, according to the research today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Participants spent the most time focused on the brand names and product claims of nonprescription drugs. More than half of those surveyed also missed alerts about child safety on medicines that did not have child-resistant packaging,
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