News you can use: health & drug safety updates


  • June 8, 2009
    A new study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) finds that the prevalence of illicit drug use — and drug preferences — vary widely among the states. The SAMHSA report, drawn from data gathered by the 2006 and 2007 National Surveys on Drug Use and Heath, found, for example, that use of drugs ranges from a low of 5.2 percent in Iowa to a high of 12.5 percent in Rhode Island. However, Iowa had one of the nation’s highest rates of alcohol dependence. "This report shows that while every state faces its own unique pattern of public
  • June 4, 2009
    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) listed two dozen drugs, including weight-loss medicines and sleep disorder pills that it is at an early stage of reviewing for potential safety problems. Many of the issues have been previously disclosed, but remain under review by the Food and Drug Administration. The appearance of a drug on this list does not mean that FDA has concluded that the drug has the listed risk. It means that FDA has identified a potential safety issue, but does not mean that FDA has identified a causal relationship between
  • May 27, 2009
    The recession is taking a toll on some American workers' health as nearly one in three (27%) survey respondents report forgoing healthcare treatment to save money on co-payments or co-insurance costs. About 20% of respondents report that they skipped taking their prescription medication dosage as prescribed by their doctor. The National Business Group on Health (NBGH) survey of 1,500 workers employed at large employers (2,000 or more employees) was conducted in March 2009. Workers in the survey ranged between 22 and 69 years of age and
  • May 26, 2009
    This draft guidance describes factors FDA considers when evaluating advertisements (ads) and promotional labeling for prescription drugs, ads for restricted medical devices, and promotional labeling for all medical devices for their compliance with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the FD&C 21 Act or the Act) and relevant regulations. The draft guidance discusses factors that are relevant to the disclosure of risk information and provides numerous examples to illustrate FDA’s thinking on these factors. This guidance responds to stakeholder
  • May 19, 2009
    Dr. Carolyn Clancy, Director of the federal Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (AHRQ), describes the evolving concept of the medical home in this advice column. A medical home takes a team approach to primary care and puts the patient at the center of that team. The idea isn't new, but it’s getting tested in new and larger ways. Medical home teams often work in a primary care doctor’s office or clinic. Team members can include doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and physical therapists. They help coordinate their patients' care across a range of
  • May 15, 2009
    In a continuing effort to empower parents with the tools to stop medicine abuse among teens, the leading manufacturers of over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines are adding a new educational icon on the packaging of products containing dextromethorphan. The icon will be on the majority of cough medicines containing dextromethorphan, including brand name and private label products, by the end of 2009. OTC cough medicines containing dextromethorphan can be very dangerous when intentionally abused in extreme amounts to get high. While educational efforts
  • 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