News you can use: health & drug safety updates


  • July 24, 2017

    Colorado's Department of Health Care and Financing is working to limit the amount of opioid prescriptions that are filled for individuals insured by Health First Colorado, the state's Medicaid program. Under a new policy, the first phase of which will be implemented on August 1, Health First Colorado will pay only for an initial 7-day supply of opioids, and then two additional refills with a 7-day supply. A fourth fill request will require health providers to obtain authorization from the Health Care Policy and Financing department and may require a consultation with a pain management physician.  A second phase of the policy involves lowering doses for people currently on a pain management regimen.

  • July 21, 2017

    The Office on Women's Health (OWH), HHS, released its Final Report: Opioid Use, Misuse, and Overdose in Women, an examination of prevention, treatment, and recovery issues for women who misuse opioids, have opioid use disorders (OUDs), and/or overdose on opioids. The prevalence of prescription opioid and heroin use among women is substantial. Between 1999 and 2015, the rate of deaths from prescription opioid overdoses increased 471 percent among women, compared to an increase of 218 percent among men, and heroin deaths among women increased at more than twice the rate than among men.1 Most alarmingly, there has been a startling increase in the rates of synthetic opioid-related deaths; these deaths increased 850 percent in women between 1999 and 2015. At the same time, the differences between how opioid misuse and use disorder impact women and men are often not well understood. Even in areas where differences between the sexes are apparent, such as women appearing to progress more quickly to addiction than men, very little is understood about why those differences occur. 


    The report explores the opioid epidemic with the overall mission to: foster a national conversation on best practices to prevent, diagnose, and treat opioid-related hazards and deaths among women in the U.S.; bridge gaps between researchers and public health practitioners by creating platforms to share best practices, promising approaches, and priority questions; consolidate what is already known about opioid use and hazards of opioid-related harms that are specific to or more pronounced among women, as well as the research on prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of OUD among women; and explore options for federal, state, and local governments; health insurers; law enforcement; and clinicians to address dependence, disability, and death related to opioid use.

  • July 18, 2017

    Grapefruit juice and the actual grapefruit can be part of a healthy diet. Grapefruit has vitamin C and potassium—nutrients your body needs to work properly.  But it isn’t good for you when it affects the way your medicines work, especially if you have high blood pressure or arrhythmia (irregular or abnormal heart beat).  The FDA has required that some prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs taken by mouth include warnings against drinking grapefruit juice or eating grapefruit while taking the drug.


    Talk to your doctor, pharmacist or other health care provider and read any information provided with your prescription or OTC drug to find out:


    • If your specific drug may be affected.
    • How much, if any, grapefruit juice you can have.
    • What other fruits or juices may also affect your drug in a similar way to grapefruit juice.
    • How Grapefruit Juice Can Interfere With Medications


    Find Out if You Should Avoid Grapefruit or Other Juices.  Ask your doctor, pharmacist or other health care provider if you can drink grapefruit juice while taking your medication.  Read the medication guide or patient information sheet that comes with your prescription drug to find out if grapefruit juice affects your drug.  Read the Drug Facts label on your OTC drug, which will say whether you shouldn’t have grapefruit or other fruit juices with it. If you must avoid grapefruit juice with your medicine, check the labels of fruit juices or drinks flavored with fruit juice to see whether they are made with grapefruit juice.  Seville oranges (often used to make orange marmalade), pomelos, and tangelos (a cross between tangerines and grapefruit) may have the same effect as grapefruit juice. Do not

  • July 13, 2017

    While there has been something of a national obsession with health apps like fitness trackers, most are aimed at exercise and lifestyle buffs and aren’t designed to link patients to health-care providers. There is generally no evidence to back their use in improving health outcomes for those who have chronic disease unless the patients’ own doctors are involved.  New studies, however, show that the emerging field of digital medicine -a combination of remote monitoring, behavior modification and personalized intervention overseen by the patients’ own doctors - can improve outcomes in some of the most costly and tough-to-manage categories such as diabetes, heart disease and lung disease. As a result, more hospitals and health systems are adopting digital programs that have been studied in clinical trials and can be delivered on a broad scale at low cost with the use of smartphones, wireless devices and sensors. (MarketWatch)

  • July 7, 2017

    Opioid prescriptions in the U.S. peaked in 2010 as the number of scripts for the more dangerous higher doses dropped by 41% since then, according to a new report by the CDC. Still, according to the agency, the prescribing rate in 2015 remained three times as high as in 1999, when the nation's opioid crisis was just starting. "We still have too many people getting medicine at too high a level and for too long," said Dr. Anne Schuchat, the acting director of the CDC.

  • July 5, 2017

    Picture-based instruction labels and dosing tools that closely match the amount of drugs needed may prevent medication errors in the home, according to researchers reporting in the journal Pediatrics. "To help make sure they give the right dose, parents should ask their doctor or pharmacists which dosing tool is best to use," stated Dr. Shonna Yin, a pediatrician at NYU Langone Medical Center. "The study makes it clear that it's easy to make mistakes with liquid medicine and that using the right syringe can help and that instructions with pictures help as well," said Dr.

  • July 1, 2017

    NCPIE serves as co-editor for a monthly column in Pharmacy Today (American Pharmacists Association) The column is entitled “One-to-One” and is intended to help develop pharmacists’ medication communication and counseling skills to promote safe and appropriate medicine use.

  • June 30, 2017

    The Not Prescribed Lesson provides teens in middle and high schools with the science and the stories to understand the risks of misusing prescription drugs and tools and resources to manage their own health as well as advocate for their peers' health. This standards-based lesson leverages personal testimony from teens and their families through a compelling video and provides educators with a science-based interactive presentation to facilitate conversation and learning.  After facilitating the Not Prescribed Lesson, students will know and understand:

    • What prescription drugs are
    • Appropriate use of prescription drugs
    • Effects of prescription drug abuse
    • The developing brain
    • How positive and negative decisions affect the brain
    • Addiction and overdose risk factors
    • Healthy decision-making.

    The Not Prescribed Lesson is a program of the Colorado Meth Project.  

  • June 29, 2017

    The Acetaminophen Awareness Coalition reminds health care providers and consumers of potential dosing mistakes that can occur with the use of over-the-counter medicines. The Acetaminophen Awareness Coalition wants to ensure that patients know that FDA recommends taking no more than 4,000 mg of acetaminophen in a 24-hour period, as taking more than directed can lead to liver damage.  The Know Your Dose campaign educates consumers about safe acetaminophen use.

  • June 28, 2017

    The FDA is taking steps to boost the number of generic prescription drugs in an effort to make medicines more affordable. The agency published a list of off-patent, off-exclusivity branded drugs without approved generics and implemented, for the first time, a new policy to expedite the review of generic drug applications where competition is limited.