News you can use: health & drug safety updates

2017

  • September 21, 2017

    An estimated 6.2 million people aged 12 or older reported misusing psychotherapeutic drugs in 2016, reports the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The agency defines misuse as nontherapeutic use of a prescription medication at least once in the past month and collects data on four main categories of prescription psychotherapeutic drugs – pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives. Of those four categories, prescription pain relievers were the most commonly misused by people aged 12 or older.

  • September 19, 2017

    Pharmacists who provide medication therapy management or medication reconciliation services for patients who take more than one psychotropic drug may turn to drug monographs and drug-drug interaction (DDI) references to ensure safe use. The trouble is, DDI documentation across three major references - Clinical Pharmacology, Micromedex, and Lexicomp - is inconsistent, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association. Researchers extracted entries for severe or major psychotropic DDIs for 102 psychotropic drugs including central nervous system stimulants, antidepressants, antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, anxiolytics-sedatives-hypnotics, and lithium. Overall, the team found 2,155 unique severe or major psychotropic DDIs listed among the references. However, only 371 DDIs were included in all three. Of the remaining DDIs, 543 were included in only two references, and 1,241 were included in just one reference. 

  • September 18, 2017

    Generic medications are just as safe and effective as their brand-name counterparts, and often cost less.  While nearly 9 in 10 prescriptions filled are for generics, many people have questions about whether they are really as good as the name brand medications and, if so, why there is a cost savings. To help educate patients about FDA’s rigorous review process, the economics of pricing, and related issues, FDA offers a range of educational materials, including videos, graphics, fact sheets, and related resources. 

  • September 13, 2017

    Older adults are the largest consumers of over the counter (OTC) medications. Of the older adults who are at risk of a major adverse drug event, more than 50% of these events involve an OTC medication. OTC product use in older adults can be harmful. Results of a small study of patient interviews of participants aged 65 years or older showed that 95% misuse these products, and OTC misuse can result in drug–drug, drug–disease, and drug–age interactions.

  • September 11, 2017

    Almost one-third of people have stopped taking a prescription medicine at some time without telling their health care provider, according to the latest NPR-Truven Health Analytics Health Poll. Twenty-nine percent of people cited side effects as the reason for stopping, while 17% believed they didn't need the drug, 16% said they were feeling better, 15% felt the drug wasn't working and 10% said cost was the reason.

  • September 7, 2017

    Sunday, Sept. 10 is Grandparents Day.  You love your grandchildren and would do anything for them, but did you know these startling facts?

  • September 6, 2017

    Massachusetts health officials have introduced a multimedia effort urging parents to talk to their adolescent children about prescription drug abuse and addiction. The campaign, "Stop Addiction Before It Starts," links parents to tips on how to start a conversation about drugs and information such as how to safely dispose of unused pain medications and where to get help for addiction and recovery. A second phase of the campaign will focus on Hispanic parents with children in middle and high school.

  • August 28, 2017

    About 1 in 8 children (8.7 million) aged 17 or younger lived in households with at least one parent who had a past-year substance use disorder (SUD), according to a new report by SAMHSA. SUDs are characterized by recurrent use of alcohol or other drugs (or both) that results in significant impairment.

  • August 25, 2017

    Diabetics who were nonadherent to their oral diabetes medications had higher medical costs and higher total health care costs compared with those who were adherent, according to a new Express Scripts study, which found that nonadherent diabetes patients last year had 1.3 times higher medical costs and 4% higher total health care expenses compared with adherent patients. Medication adherent patients had 235 fewer ER visits and 50 fewer hospitalizations per 1,000 patients.

    Health care costs for adherent patients with diabetes-related complications were 9% lower than those for individuals who were not adherent to their oral diabetes drugs.  A separate analysis found that adherence to oral diabetes drugs rose 3.6% between 2014 and 2016. The research showed that medication adherence to oral diabetes drugs was highest among commercially insured individuals aged 65 years and older at almost 75%, while those aged 20–44 years had the greatest room for improvement, with slightly less than 50% reporting adherence to oral diabetes drugs in 2016.

  • August 24, 2017

    Presented at the June 2017 meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism, the symposium “Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Alcohol Treatment But Were Afraid To Ask: A Primer for Non-Clinicians” covers screening and diagnosis of alcohol use disorder, brief interventions, and referral to treatment, as well as the many treatment options and potential pathways through treatment.  Included: discussions of approved and experimental medications and various behavioral therapies.

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