News you can use: health & drug safety updates


  • December 8, 2017

    Dozens of cities, counties and school districts are helping their employees buy medicines from pharmacies in Canada and overseas, even though FDA says importing prescription drugs is illegal, is stepping up enforcement and has said doing so is dangerous because of the possibility that medications are counterfeit, mislabeled or otherwise unsafe. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, a nonprofit association that promotes safe pharmacy practices, notes that if cities and counties have done their due diligence to ensure their employees are getting drugs from reputable sources, then there is nothing wrong with it. If not, they could be playing Russian roulette. 

  • December 5, 2017

    The Community Preventive Services Task Force reports on the effectiveness of the effect of chronic disease patients receiving regular text messages reminding or encouraging them to take their medications as prescribed.  A team of specialists in systematic review methods and in nutrition research, practice, and policy selected and evaluated a published systematic review of 16 randomized controlled trials. The finding is based on results from the published review, additional information from the included studies, and expert input from team members and the CPSTF.  Chronic disease continues to be a leading cause of death, disability, and healthcare costs in the United States. Today, 1 in 2 U.S. adults has a chronic disease while 1 in 4 U.S. adults has two or more (CDC, 2017 ).  Poor adherence to long-term therapies leads to poor health outcomes and increased health care costs.

  • December 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.

  • November 29, 2017

    National Consumers League executive director Sally Greenberg notes that a recent survey reveals that the majority of seniors do not review their Medicare plan each year to ensure they're getting the best services and access to care. This is problematic, because health care is not only a significant expense for most seniors – in fact, seniors queried in the survey indicated that health care is their most burdensome household expense – but it's also a decision that they'll need to live with for a full year, until the next open enrollment.

    Over the course of that year, it's likely that the status of a senior's health is going to change, so it's critical that they invest the time to review their plans.  Whether it's traditional Medicare, a supplemental plan or a private Medicare Advantage plan, there are many options for seniors. Not all plans are the same. While seniors tend to evaluate for the typical coverage – prescription drugs and in-network doctors – diagnostic testing, corrective eye exams, hearing aids, physical therapy and substance abuse and mental health services are also critical services. 

  • November 21, 2017

    Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines allow you - the consumer - to choose a product that safely and effectively treats your symptoms, when used as directed. Before you select an OTC pain reliever, it is important to keep in mind that your health conditions and/or lifestyle could play a role in your choice. The Drug Facts label on OTC pain relievers can help.  Use the tool to develop a personalized OTC pain reliever reference document.

  • November 17, 2017

    The American Heart Association (AHA) has announced new blood pressure treatment guidelines that will change the way high blood pressure (HBP) is diagnosed and managed in America. HBP is now defined as a systolic measurement of 130 and higher, or a diastolic measure of 80 and higher. Previously the blood pressure definition was set at 140 and 90 respectively.  By lowering the definition of high blood pressure, the guidelines recommend earlier intervention to prevent further increases in blood pressure and the complications of hypertension.  High blood pressure accounts for the second largest number of preventable heart disease and stroke deaths, second only to smoking.   The guidelines will replace the 2003 guidelines published by the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Pressure. In 2013, the National Institutes of Health entrusted the AHA and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) to produce the first comprehensive guideline update in 14 years.

  • November 16, 2017

    In recognition of U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week and World Antibiotic Awareness Week, CDC launched an updated and ongoing educational effort, Be Antibiotics Aware: Smart Use, Best Care, to support the nation's efforts to combat antibiotic resistance through improved use of these life-saving medications. The Be Antibiotics Aware educational effort also aligns with antibiotic stewardship activities mentioned in the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria (CARB), supports the National Action Plan to Prevent Health Care-Associated Infections (HAIs): Road Map to Elimination, and complements other patient safety initiatives, such as the Get Ahead of Sepsis education effort launched in August 2017.  There are many ways to get involved in U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week 2017. Click here to learn more about how to participate.

  • November 15, 2017

    Otsuka Pharmaceutical won FDA approval for an upgraded version of Abilify, the antipsychotic drug first approved 15 years ago to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression. Otsuka collaborated with Proteus Digital Health, the company that designed the futuristic sensor technology.  The new product, Abilify MyCite, can be swallowed just like any other pill or capsule.  When that happens, the ingestible sensor inside it sends a message to a patch worn by the patient, which then transmits the information to a mobile app that the patient can monitor.

  • November 13, 2017

    The FDA is hosting a two-day public workshop for interested stakeholders who are working on the challenges of improving pain management while addressing the opioid abuse epidemic. To be held on December 11 and 12, 2017, from 8:30 AM to 5 PM at the Sheraton Silver Spring Hotel in Silver Spring, MD.  Registration must occur by 12/01/2017.  Electronic or written comments on this workshop must be submitted by 02/18/2018.


  • November 6, 2017

    Deaths by drug overdose in the United States increased by more than 17% in 2016, according to a report released Friday by CDC. Preliminary data from the 50 states show that from the fourth quarter of 2015, through the fourth quarter of 2016, the rate of fatal overdoses rose to nearly 20 people per 100,000 from 16.3 per 100,000. CDC had previously estimated that about 64,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2016.  Drug overdoses have become the leading cause of death for Americans under 50.  In recent years, according to Dr. Robert Anderson, chief of the C.D.C. mortality statistics branch, the deaths have been driven by overdoses of synthetic opioids, mostly fentanyl, rather than heroin.