Category Archives: Prescription drugs
Disabled Adults Have Very High Rates of Emergency Room Use
A review of medical expenditure data by researchers at the National Institutes of Health finds that disabled adults account for a disproportionately high amount of annual emergency room (ER) visits.
The study found that despite representing 17 percent of the working age U.S. population, adults with disabilities accounted for 39.2 percent of total emergency room visits. The researchers say the higher ER use is a problem not just because of the higher costs, but also because many disabled adults have non-urgent needs that are not met by the ER visits.
Recommendations to improve care for disabled adults include prevention and chronic condition management programs tailored for the functional limitations and service needs of people with disabilities, wider use of coordinated care systems for the disabled that provide case management, integration of psychosocial care and 24/7 access to medical assistance.
Read more on disability.
Change in Color of their Pills Keeps Some Patients from Taking Generic Drugs
A new study in JAMA Internal Medicine finds that some people stop taking their medicines when a generic becomes available if the color of the dispensed generic drug is different than the brand name drug they received previously.
The authors say the study shows the need for a reconsideration of the FDA’s current regulations that allow wide variation in the appearance of generic drugs.
Read more news about the Food and Drug Administration.
Mental Health Disorders Increase the Risk of Becoming a Victim of Domestic Violence
People diagnosed with mental illness are more likely than those who are not to be victims of domestic violence, according to a new study in PLoS One.
The researchers say the causality may run in both directions. Domestic violence can result in mental health problems and people with mental health problems are more likely to experience domestic violence. The researchers say studies they reviewed show that the link between domestic violence and mental health problems is a concern for both men and women.
Read more on mental health.
Study: Medicare Patients More Likely to Have Repeated Tests
Older adults on Medicare are more likely to have heart, lung, stomach or bladder tests repeated within three years, according to a new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine. "What we were struck by is just how commonly these tests are being repeated," said H. Gilbert Welch, MD, from the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice in Hanover, New Hampshire. "Either these patients continually develop new problems or there are doctors who routinely repeat tests." Excessive testing can lead to unnecessary costs and treatments, Welch said. Read more on access to health care.
Use of Discontinued Meds Shows Need for Electronic Updates to Pharmacies
Even though the treatments are complete, some pharmacists continue to fill prescriptions for patients, which can unintentionally cause health issues ranging from nausea or lightheadedness to low blood pressure or allergic reactions, according to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Researchers found that about 12 percent of discontinued medications caused harm, which demonstrates the need to electronically alert pharmacies when a medication is prescription is discontinued, said Adrienne Allen, MD, associate medical director of quality, safety and risk at the Boston-area North Shore Physicians Group."Future research should focus on evaluating methods of improving communication between providers and pharmacies to better reconcile medication lists, as well as explore strategies to improve patient knowledge and awareness of their medication regimen." Read more on prescription drugs.
Link Between Antibiotic Use During Pregnancy, Asthma in Children
Antibiotic use during pregnancy increases the chance that a child will have asthma, according to a new study in The Journal of Pediatrics. Researchers concluded the children were 17 percent more likely to be hospitalized for the breathing disorder. "We speculate that mothers' use of antibiotics changes the balance of natural bacteria, which is transmitted to the newborn, and that such unbalanced bacteria in early life impact on the immune maturation in the newborn," said Hans Bisgaard, MD, a professor at the University of Copenhagen. The findings support previous research linking antibiotics to asthma. Read more on maternal and infant health.
Meningitis Toll at 29 Dead, 368 Infected
A national meningitis outbreak linked to potentially tainted steroids has now caused 29 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There have been 368 cases in 19 states. New England Compounding Center of Framingham, Massachusetts, which manufactured the drugs, is under multiple investigations. Westborough, Massachusetts-based Ameridose, a sister company to New England Compounding Center, has also announced a voluntary recall of all its products after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration voiced concerns with the sterility of its facility. Ameridose said there have been no reports of any issues with its products. Read more on infectious disease.
Study: Black Women at Greater Risk of Death from Breast Cancer
Black women with breast cancer are at greater risk of death within the first three years of diagnosis than white women, according to preliminary research presented at an American Association for Cancer Research in San Diego, Calif. The study looked at approximately 19,000 women with breast cancer between 2000 and 2007, finding black women were 48 percent more likely to die than white women; Asian women were 40 percent less likely to die than white women. The study linked the higher mortality rate for black women to particular types of tumors. "The results of this study emphasize that clinical management and follow-up for patients with breast cancer, particularly black women, is important in the first few years after diagnosis," said Erica Warner, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. Read more on cancer.
Boys More Likely Than Girls to Abuse OTC Drugs
New research suggests boys are more likely than girls to abuse over-the-counter drugs. Researchers at the University of Cincinnati looked at 2009-2010 survey results for students in grades 7-12 in 133 schools, finding 10 percent of students overall abused drugs such as cough syrup or decongestants, which can lead to accidental poisoning; seizures; and physical and mental addictions, according to HealthDay. "Findings from this study highlight and underscore OTC drugs as an increasing and significant health issue affecting young people," said Rebecca Vidourek, an assistant professor of health promotion, in a release. The preliminary results were presented at the American Public Health Association annual meeting in San Francisco. Read more on prescription drugs.
A recent article in the New York Times looks at a shift in thinking to combat drug abuse from efforts to prevent drugs such as heroin and cocaine from entering the U.S. illegally, to combating the rising, more significant problem in the fifty states—abuse of prescription drugs.
>>Bonus Link: Read a NewPublicHealth interview with R. Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has announced a pilot program in Ohio and Indiana that will make existing prescription drug use information available to doctors and pharmacists in outpatient and emergency settings. The goal is to allow providers to intervene in cases of suspected prescription drug abuse.
“The PDMP pilot projects being launched today will help hospital staff identify a patient’s controlled substance history at the point of care to enable better targeting appropriate treatments and reduce the potential of an overdose or even death,” said Farzad Mostashari, MD, ScM, national coordinator for health IT.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths from prescription drugs now outnumber deaths from heroin and cocaine combined, and over the past decade, prescription drug-induced deaths have approached motor vehicle deaths as the leading cause of all injury deaths. Read a Q&A with Farzad Mostashari on the potential for health IT to support public health.
High levels of traffic noise put people who live nearby at an increased risk for a heart attack, according to a new study in the journal PLoS One. Researchers followed more than 50,000 people in Denmark, ages 50 to 64, for ten years and found that for every 10 decibel rise in traffic noise near a person's home, there was a 12 percent increased risk of a first heart attack. Read more on community health.
In a study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research's Pancreatic Cancer: Progress and Challenges conference, UCLA researchers fed mice that had a genetic mutation that predisposed them to pancreatic cancer a diet high in fat and calories, and found that this diet triggered and accelerated increased pancreatic inflammation and pancreatic cancer development for many. The researchers say that the mutation was not sufficient for the mice to develop the cancer, but that the high-fat, high-calorie diet could provide an “environmental secondary hit and trigger cancer development." Read more on cancer.
Fewer antibiotic prescriptions were dispensed by pharmacies for kids 17 and younger but prescriptions for ADHD drugs were up, according to a study by Food and Drug Administration researchers and published in Pediatrics. The researchers reviewed outpatient retail prescription databases. In addition to decreases in antibiotic prescriptions for children, the study also found decreases in allergy, pain and depression drugs as well as a 42 percent drop in cough and cold medicines for kids. The FDA issued an advisory in 2008 against using cough and cold drugs in very young kids.
In addition to increases in ADHD drugs, the study found higher rates of asthma drugs and contraceptives. Read more on prescription drugs.
A new study in Pediatrics looks at the practice of delaying infant vaccinations, which experts say can increase the risk of communicable disease outbreaks. The study found that in 2009, about 9.5 percent of parents in the Portland, Ore., area did not consistently follow the recommended vaccine schedule for infants and children up to nine months old, up from 2.5 percent in 2006. Children whose parents delayed shots had more visits to providers for shots, fewer total shots, and did not generally catch up later with the recommended vaccination schedule.
The researchers say negative media attention about vaccine safety likely contributed to the increase in parents delaying or limiting the number of immunizations, and say there are no known benefits to delaying vaccines in infants. Read more on vaccines.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Injury Prevention is celebrating its twentieth anniversary this year. Throughout the year, the Injury Center will be holding events and activities to mark the anniversary and raise awareness of injury and violence prevention community opportunities. NewPublicHealth recently spoke with Linda Degutis, DrPH, the center’s director, about milestones in injury prevention of the last twenty years, and what’s ahead.
NewPublicHealth will be posting interviews with several injury prevention experts this week.
NewPublicHealth: Tell us about the National Center for Injury Prevention, and some of the successes in injury prevention to date.
Linda Degutis: We’re one of the younger centers at CDC, and I think a lot of the successes that we’ve seen are not just successes of the Center itself but of the field of injury and violence prevention as a whole, and I think that’s really important for us to stress. For example, the reduction in motor vehicle crash deaths have been so very significant where we’re now talking about something more like closer to 30,000 motor vehicle crash deaths per year—when at the time the Center started it was probably closer to 50,000. That’s a great success.
>>For more on preventing motor vehicle crashes, read an interview with Andrea Gielen, MD, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Prevention.
NPH: What types of preventable injury issues have emerged or increased in prevalence since the Center launched?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has designated Saturday, May 19, as the first ever Hepatitis Testing Day to remind health care providers and the public about who should be tested for chronic viral hepatitis. Millions of Americans have the condition but don’t know they’re infected. The CDC recommends starting with their five-minute online assessment. Read more on infectious disease.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved generic versions of the blood thinning drug Plavix (clopidogrel bisulfate), which helps reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by making it less likely that platelets in the blood will clump and form clots in the arteries.
The drug is approved to treat patients who have had a recent heart attack or stroke, or have partial or total blockage of an artery.
“For people who must manage chronic health conditions, having effective and affordable treatment options is important,” said Keith Webber, PhD, deputy director of the Office of Pharmaceutical Science in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “The generic products approved today will expand those options for patients.” Read more on prescription drugs.
The Associated Press is reporting that a man from San Joaquin County, Calif., has been arrested for refusing to comply with a drug regimen to treat tuberculosis. The arrest was requested by the county’s nursing director.
Reuters is reporting that an FDA advisory committee has recommended that the HIV drug Truvada be approved for the prevention of HIV for people at highest risk of contracting the infection, such as men who have sex with other men. The agency is expected to rule on the recommendation next month. While the drug has been effective in preventing transmission of the infection in clinical trials, drawbacks include the high cost of the drug and a risk for serious kidney problems when the drug is used long term. Read more on HIV.
This week the governor of Washington State, Chris Gregoire, made emergency funds available to the state Department of Health to help curb the outbreak of whooping cough (pertussis) underway in Washington. The state’s Health Secretary declared a whooping cough epidemic last month. Gregoire also urged health care professionals to get vaccinated and vaccinate their patients, and announced federal approval for health officials to re-direct some funds to buy several thousand doses of pertussis vaccine for adults.
“I’m especially concerned about the vulnerable babies in our communities that are too young to be fully immunized,” said Gregoire. “These actions will help state and local health leaders get vaccine into people’s arms so we can stem the tide.” According to the Department of Health 1,132 cases of whooping cough have been reported in the state through April 28—that’s compared to 117 over the same time last year. There were 965 cases reported in all of 2011. Read more on vaccine-preventable illnesses.
In cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and Toys R Us Inc., are announcing the recall of about 21,000 inflatable Banzai in-ground pool water slides. During use, the slide can deflate, allowing the user to hit the ground underneath the slide and become injured. The slide is also unstable and can topple over in both still and windy conditions and carries inadequate warnings and instructions. The CPSC says it is aware of one death, a paralyzing injury and a neck fracture linked to use of the slides.
CPSC urges consumers to immediately stop using the product and return it to the nearest Wal-Mart or Toys R Us for a full refund. Consumers can also cut the two safety warning notices out of the slide and just return that portion.
The CPSC has also recently published a roundup of recalls this past year of products most likely to be used in the spring and summer, such as playground sets, gas grills and kiddy bikes. Read more on injury prevention.
Warnings on cigarette packages about the health hazards of smoking may keep ex-smokers from starting to smoke again, according to a study in the journal Tobacco Control. The findings are based on results of a survey taken among 2,000 former smokers in Canada, Australia, Britain and the US.
The Office of National Drug Control Policy has released an analysis of data from the 2009 and 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health that finds that the majority of new or occasional nonmedical users of pain relievers got the drug from family or friends for free or took them without asking. In contrast, frequent or chronic users (those who used pain relievers non-medically once a week or more on average in the past year) were more likely to obtain the drug from doctors or by buying them themselves.
To help Americans dispose of any unneeded medications in their homes, the Drug Enforcement Administration will host its fourth National Take Back Day on Saturday, April 28th, at over 5,000 collection sites across the United States.
A new report from the Employment Benefit Research Institute finds that between 2005–2009, the rate of poverty among American seniors rose as they aged. Almost 15 percent of those older than age 85 were in poverty in 2009, compared with approximately 10.5 percent of those older than 65, Additionally, in 2009, 6 percent of those age 85 older were new entrants in poverty.