News you can use: health & drug safety updates


  • August 4, 2009
    One in ten Americans over the age of six is taking antidepressants. That number has doubled in just one decade from just over 13 million to 27 million, according to a study released in the Archives of General Psychiatry (August 2009). This equates to nearly 10 percent of Americans — or 27 million people — taking antidepressants in 2005, the last year for which data were available at the time the study was written. That’s about twice the number in 1996. Notably, the majority of patients taking antidepressants weren't being treated for depression.
  • July 28, 2009
    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today issued a Public Health Advisory (PHA) warning consumers to stop using body building products that are represented as containing steroids or steroid-like substances. Many of these products are marketed as dietary supplements. The agency also issued a Warning Letter to American Cellular Laboratories Inc. for marketing and distributing body building products containing synthetic steroid substances. Although these products are marketed as dietary supplements, they are not dietary supplements, but instead are unapproved and misbranded drugs.
  • July 23, 2009
    Some pharmacists have reported that patients have changed the way they take medications because of the downturn in the economy, according to a recent survey by the American Pharmacists Association. This includes skipping doses and splitting tablets in an effort to save money. Regarding the practice of splitting tablets, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the American Medical Association, and other medical organizations advise against it unless it’s specified in the drug’s labeling. Tablet splitting often involves buying higher strength tablets and then breaking
  • July 23, 2009
  • July 16, 2009
    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), in collaboration with FDA’s Office of the Commissioner (OC), is holding a public workshop on September 24 and 25, 2009 entitled ‘‘Providing Effective Information to Consumers About Prescription Drug Risks and Benefits.’’ This public workshop is intended to explore potential approaches that will result in written prescription drug information for consumers that is comprehensible, accurate, and easy to access.
  • July 1, 2009
    On June 29 and 30, 2009, FDA held an advisory committee meeting in Adelphi, Maryland, about how to address the problem of liver injury related to the use of acetaminophen in both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription products. For more information about the meeting, visit the Advisory Committee Web page. Acetaminophen is the generic name of a drug found in many common brand name OTC products such as Tylenol, as well as prescription products such as Vicodin and Percocet. Acetaminophen is an important drug, and its effectiveness in
  • June 17, 2009
    Teenagers with asthma are “too busy” to use their medications and often do not believe in their benefits, say researchers who assessed health beliefs in young people with asthma. It has previously been suggested that poor adherence to asthma medications in individuals aged 15–20 years contributes substantially to asthma-related morbidity in that age group. However, there have been few adherence studies in this age group, despite the fact that the organizational and behavioral skills that largely determine adherence are developed during late adolescence.
  • June 9, 2009
    One quarter of supplements tested by an independent company over the last decade have had some sort of problem. Some contained contaminants. Others had contents that did not match label claims. Some had ingredients that exceeded safe limits. Some contained real drugs masquerading as natural supplements. Examples found include:
  • Lead in ginkgo pills
  • Arsenic in herbals.
  • Bugs in a baby’s colic and teething syrup.
  • Other tests, reported in scientific journals, found prenatal vitamins lacking claimed
  • 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
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