Jul 10 2012

Public Health News Roundup: July 10

FDA Launches New Safety Measures for Extended-Release and Long-Acting Opioid Medications

The Food and Drug Administration has released a strategy for physician and patient education on extended-release and long-acting opioids.

The strategy is part of a federal initiative to address prescription drug abuse, misuse, and overdose. “The FDA’s goal is to ensure that health care professionals are educated on how to safely prescribe opioids and that patients know how to safely use these drugs,” said Margaret Hamburg, MD, who is head of the FDA.

More than 20 drug companies will be required to make education programs available to prescribers based on an FDA Blueprint, as well as FDA-approved patient education materials on the safe use of the drugs. The companies will be required to conduct periodic assessments of the programs which will be reviewed by the FDA.

Materials for physicians are expected to be introduced in March 2013. Read more on addiction.

Most Schools Don’t Train Staff about Teen Dating Violence

A new study in Pediatrics looks at the first national assessment of school counselors’ practices and perceptions of adolescent dating violence prevention and found that the majority of school counselors (81.3 percent) reported that they did not have a protocol in their schools to respond to an incident of dating violence. Ninety percent of school counselors reported that in the past two years, there had been no staff training to assist survivors of dating violence, and their school did not have a committee to address health and safety issues including dating violence. The schools did report that dating violence is an issue in their schools, however: the majority of school counselors (61 percent) reported that they had assisted a survivor of dating violence—usually female--in the past two years. The study researchers also found that school personnel who received formal training perceived dating violence to be a serious problem, and were significantly more likely to assist victims. Read more on violence.

Early Contact With a Dog or Cat Makes Kids Healthier

Children who have a dog or cat or are around dogs and cats during the first year of life are reported to be healthier and have fewer respiratory infections than children who don’t’ have contact to with these animals, according to a new study in Pediatrics. Researchers followed 397 children in Finland from pregnancy to the age of 1 year and found that children with early dog contact seem to have fewer respiratory infectious symptoms and diseases, especially ear infections, and needed a shorter course of antibiotics. Kids in houses with cats also showed benefit from contact with the pet, though not as much as with dogs.

The authors say contact with animals may have an influence on the maturation of the immune system which may lead to shorter infection periods and better resistance to respiratory infections during early childhood. Read more on maternal and child health.

Tags: Addiction, Maternal and Infant Health, News roundups, Violence