News you can use: health & drug safety updates

2016

  • July 27, 2016
    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration it I strengthening label warnings on a class of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones because the drugs can lead to disabling side effects, including long-term nerve damage and ruptured tendons. The Agency also cautioned that these bacteria-fighting drugs — including levofloxacin (Levaquin) and ciprofloxacin (Cipro) — shouldn't be prescribed for sinusitis, chronic bronchitis or simple urinary tract infections unless no other treatments options exist. Besides Cipro and Levaquin, other fluoroquinolones include moxifloxacin
  • July 26, 2016
    A new study shows that medical marijuana is bringing down Medicare spending in Washington, DC, and the 17 states that also have legalized it, to the tune of $165.2 million in 2013. University of Georgia researchers estimate the government program could have saved as much as $468 million if all states offered the drug as an alternative to prescription medications. Their review of Part D prescriptions from 2010–13, with a focus on medicines that could also be treated with medical marijuana, indicated that enrollees filled fewer orders during those years to relieve
  • July 25, 2016
    An OptumRx study involving subjects who received several different kinds of medication alerts, refills, and dosage reminders via mobile phone culminated in an overall medication adherence rate of 85% on the intervention side and only 77% adherence on the control side. Adherence rates are higher when using the most complex form of mobile technology that includes artificial intelligence-adapted text messages with reinforcement learning. Live patient counseling with pharmacists is the most effective channel for medication adherence. The maxim of “2
  • July 20, 2016
    Five percent of adults from a cohort of 400 people reported using antibiotics without a prescription during the previous 12 months. Twenty-five percent said they would use antibiotics without contacting a medical professional. These findings demonstrate yet another factor abetting the spread of antibiotic resistance. The research is published ahead of print July 11 in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology. In the study, the investigators surveyed a random sample of socioeconomically and ethnically diverse
  • July 19, 2016
    Older adult patients who do not receive enough of the right prescriptions can significantly increase their risk of being hospitalized or dying, according to a study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. The study focused not only on polypharmacy but medication underuse and misuse and found more than two-thirds of those studied were not receiving medications they should have and 56% were misusing medications. The most common health problems participants had were high blood pressure, osteoarthritis and high cholesterol. Drugs for heart
  • July 18, 2016
    A recent study released online in JAMA Internal Medicine, examined this pattern and found the prescriptions are used and renewed more often than you might imagine, often opening the door to long-term use and dependence. Researchers analyzed the pharmacy claims of a random sample of more than 623,000 Medicare beneficiaries who were hospitalized in 2011. They only included people who did not have a prescription claim for opioids for at least 60 days before being hospitalized.
  • July 15, 2016
    Caretakers of aging seniors may be aware of the challenges associated with managing a loved one’s daily medication regimen. Age, failing memory, and gender are among the reasons why seniors may miss their doses, according to new research. Skipping doses or not taking medication properly can have dire health consequences, and serious side effects may occur from taking medications at the wrong time or in the wrong dose, notes a HealthDay News article A study found that the difficulties of taking the right medications at the right time increased with advancing age. For
  • July 15, 2016
    Allowing patients to choose among different medications that do the same thing may increase the effectiveness of the selected drug and reduce possible side effects, according to a study in Annals of Behavioral Medicine. Participants who got to pick between two different formulations of a medication reported significantly fewer side effects after 24 hours compared with those not allowed to choose, the study found. The subjects weren’t aware that the drugs were harmless placebos.
  • July 14, 2016
    Our nation is in the midst of an unprecedented opioid epidemic. More people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than in any year on record, and the majority of drug overdose deaths (more than six out of ten) involved an opioid.1 Since 1999, the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids—including prescription opioid pain relievers and heroin—nearly quadrupled, and over 165,000 people have died from prescription opioid overdoses. Prescription pain medication deaths remain far too high, and in 2014, the most recent year on record, there was a sharp
  • July 12, 2016
    A new scientific statement from the American Heart Association (AHA) warns that commonly used medications and nutritional supplements may cause or worsen heart failure. The statement provides guidance on avoiding drug–drug or drug–condition interactions for people with heart failure, including comprehensive information about particular drugs and “natural” treatments that could have serious unintended consequences for people with heart failure. AHA notes that, on average, heart failure patients have five or more separate medical conditions, and they take

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