News you can use: health & drug safety updates


  • August 17, 2017

    Close to 13% of people 12 and older say they have taken an antidepressant in the last month, according to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics. The most recent number shows an increase of nearly 65% since 1999 - 2002, when 7.7% of Americans reported taking an antidepressant. In addition, females were far more likely than males to report antidepressant medication use.  See also: UPI. 

  • August 11, 2017

    A new report indicates the reasons for adult prescription drug misuse based on data from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).  The report discusses the most common reasons among adults for misuse of prescription pain relievers, prescription tranquilizers, prescription stimulants, and prescription sedatives.  Findings in the report are based on 2015 NSDUH data from approximately 51,200 adults aged 18 or older.  The report covers information about use and misuse of four categories of prescription drugs: pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives.

  • August 10, 2017

    Both the U.S. Senate and House passed the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act as part of the FDA Reauthorization ACT in a 94-1 vote. The legislation will make certain types of hearing aids available over-the-counter for Americans suffering with mild to moderate hearing impairment. It also requires the FDA to write regulations ensuring that this new category of OTC hearing aids meets the same high standards for safety, consumer labeling and manufacturing protections as all medical devices, providing consumers the option of an FDA-regulated device at lower cost.

  • August 9, 2017

    Whether you’re settling into your sixties or heading into your ninth decade, be careful when taking prescription and over-the-counter medicines, herbal preparations, and supplements. And if you’re caring for older loved ones, help them stay safe, too. Why the special concern? The older you get, the more likely you are to use additional medicines, which can increase the chance of harmful drug effects, including interactions. And, as you age, physical changes can affect the way medicines are handled by your body, leading to potential complications. For instance, your liver and kidneys may not work as well, which affects how a drug breaks down and leaves your body.  See below for four safety tips:

    1. Take Medicine as Prescribed—with Input from Your Health Care Provider

    2. Keep a Medication List

    3. Be Aware of Potential Drug Interactions and Side Effects

    4. Review Medications with Your Health Care Provider                                                                     

    See also: Medication Management for Older Adults.

  • August 9, 2017

    When blood pressure is high, high blood pressure (HBP) medication may be an important part of your treatment. Your healthcare provider will also likely recommend lifestyle changes along with your medication. You may even need more than one type of prescription medication to keep your blood pressure at a healthy level.  Although taking medication for your high blood pressure may require some adjustments, your doctor has your best interest in mind.

    • Follow these recommendations carefully, even if it means taking medication every day for the rest of your life.
    • Partnering with your healthcare provider is the best way to reach your treatment goals and enjoy the benefits of better health.
    • Naturopathic approaches are not considered a substitute for medications that have been carefully studied and monitored for prescription use. Natural treatments may also not work as advertised and/or interfere with other medications.
    • Be aware of how certain over-the-counter (OTC) medications, like decongestants, may react with your medications or affect your blood pressure.

    High blood pressure is a lifelong condition:  How long will you have to take your medication? Perhaps for the rest of your life. Managing blood pressure is a lifelong commitment. Do your part starting today for yourself and for those you love.   (Source:  American Heart Association)

  • August 7, 2017

    For all the dizzying talk of repeal versus repair, one of the greatest cost drivers in healthcare is still hiding in plain sight. It’s called medication nonadherence: the simple fact that people often don’t take their medicines as prescribed.  Medications cost the healthcare system approximately $325 billion annually, and research indicates that suboptimal medication use—including taking too much or not taking enough—leads to avoidable annual healthcare costs totaling $300 billion. People who don’t take their medicines are more likely to end up back in the hospital or in the emergency room than those who do. The Prescriptions for a Healthy America partnership and Duke University’s Medication Adherence Alliance are advancing four priorities for addressing this national public health issue:

    ·       Change The Law To Create Better Incentives

    ·       Update Laws To Improve Information Sharing

    ·       Building Off Better Information And Incentives, We Need Better Integration

    ·       Leverage New And Better Technologies

    For too long the U.S. has missed the opportunity to lower costs and improve outcomes via medication adherence solutions. It’s time to come together and get to work on making this worthwhile cause a national priority.

  • August 4, 2017

    The Rhode Island Department of Corrections has recently expanded its medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program, becoming the first state system to offer such a wide range of therapies for opioid addiction to its entire prison population.  MAT consists of three therapies: methadone and buprenorphine, which are opioids that help stave off withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings, and naltrexone, an antagonist.

  • August 3, 2017

    Fifty-five percent of Americans regularly take a prescription medicine, and those who take a prescription use four on average, according to a survey from Consumer Reports. Fifty-three percent of respondents noted they receive prescriptions from more than one healthcare provider, and more than a third said no single provider reviewed their medicines to determine if the combinations are safe or necessary.

    The number of prescriptions filled for American adults and children rose 85 percent between 1997 and 2016, from 2.4 billion to 4.5 billion a year, according to the health research firm Quintile IMS. During that time, the U.S. population rose 21 percent. In 2014, nearly 1.3 million people sought emergency room treatment for adverse drug effects, and about 124,000 people died, according to U.S. government data cited by Consumer Reports.

  • August 2, 2017

    The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that approximately 38% of U.S. adults – or 92 million people - were prescribed an opioid in 2015. People aged 18–49 years, men, and college graduates were less likely to have been prescribed opioids than those who were older, female, or not college graduates. About 5% of U.S. adults were misusing opioids by not following a doctor's orders, such as not following directions or using them without a prescription. 1% of adults, or about 1.9 million Americans, had an opioid use disorder. Opioid misuse and use disorders were more common among people with lower family incomes, without health insurance, or without jobs. About 64% of the survey participants who had misused opioids said they did so most recently to relieve pain, and about 41% said they obtained the drugs from family or friends. The findings are published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

  • August 1, 2017

    Patients who have the same condition sometimes pay different out-of-pocket costs for their medications, but when is this differential more appropriate? What are the implications for health plans and employers who are designing and buying benefits? This National Pharmaceutical Council webinar addressed these questions and identified some of the ethical, legal and economic issues with variable copays.