News you can use: health & drug safety updates


  • August 7, 2017

    For all the dizzying talk of repeal versus repair, one of the greatest cost drivers in healthcare is still hiding in plain sight. It’s called medication nonadherence: the simple fact that people often don’t take their medicines as prescribed.  Medications cost the healthcare system approximately $325 billion annually, and research indicates that suboptimal medication use—including taking too much or not taking enough—leads to avoidable annual healthcare costs totaling $300 billion. People who don’t take their medicines are more likely to end up back in the hospital or in the emergency room than those who do. The Prescriptions for a Healthy America partnership and Duke University’s Medication Adherence Alliance are advancing four priorities for addressing this national public health issue:

    ·       Change The Law To Create Better Incentives

    ·       Update Laws To Improve Information Sharing

    ·       Building Off Better Information And Incentives, We Need Better Integration

    ·       Leverage New And Better Technologies

    For too long the U.S. has missed the opportunity to lower costs and improve outcomes via medication adherence solutions. It’s time to come together and get to work on making this worthwhile cause a national priority.

  • August 4, 2017

    The Rhode Island Department of Corrections has recently expanded its medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program, becoming the first state system to offer such a wide range of therapies for opioid addiction to its entire prison population.  MAT consists of three therapies: methadone and buprenorphine, which are opioids that help stave off withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings, and naltrexone, an antagonist.

  • August 3, 2017

    Fifty-five percent of Americans regularly take a prescription medicine, and those who take a prescription use four on average, according to a survey from Consumer Reports. Fifty-three percent of respondents noted they receive prescriptions from more than one healthcare provider, and more than a third said no single provider reviewed their medicines to determine if the combinations are safe or necessary.

    The number of prescriptions filled for American adults and children rose 85 percent between 1997 and 2016, from 2.4 billion to 4.5 billion a year, according to the health research firm Quintile IMS. During that time, the U.S. population rose 21 percent. In 2014, nearly 1.3 million people sought emergency room treatment for adverse drug effects, and about 124,000 people died, according to U.S. government data cited by Consumer Reports.

  • August 2, 2017

    The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that approximately 38% of U.S. adults – or 92 million people - were prescribed an opioid in 2015. People aged 18–49 years, men, and college graduates were less likely to have been prescribed opioids than those who were older, female, or not college graduates. About 5% of U.S. adults were misusing opioids by not following a doctor's orders, such as not following directions or using them without a prescription. 1% of adults, or about 1.9 million Americans, had an opioid use disorder. Opioid misuse and use disorders were more common among people with lower family incomes, without health insurance, or without jobs. About 64% of the survey participants who had misused opioids said they did so most recently to relieve pain, and about 41% said they obtained the drugs from family or friends. The findings are published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

  • August 1, 2017

    Patients who have the same condition sometimes pay different out-of-pocket costs for their medications, but when is this differential more appropriate? What are the implications for health plans and employers who are designing and buying benefits? This National Pharmaceutical Council webinar addressed these questions and identified some of the ethical, legal and economic issues with variable copays.

  • August 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.

  • July 28, 2017

    Researchers confirm in the Journal of Medical Toxicology, that potentially harmful exposures to dietary supplements increased in recent years. An analysis of U.S. poison control center calls from 2000–12 showed an almost 50% jump from 2005.  The bulk of the reports, 70%, were generated after children aged 6 years or younger unintentionally ingested the substances. The study authors have called on FDA to strengthen regulation for certain supplements found to have especially high toxicity levels. In the meantime, experts recommend that parents treat supplements as they would prescription drugs, keeping them out of the reach of children.

  • July 24, 2017

    Colorado's Department of Health Care and Financing is working to limit the amount of opioid prescriptions that are filled for individuals insured by Health First Colorado, the state's Medicaid program. Under a new policy, the first phase of which will be implemented on August 1, Health First Colorado will pay only for an initial 7-day supply of opioids, and then two additional refills with a 7-day supply. A fourth fill request will require health providers to obtain authorization from the Health Care Policy and Financing department and may require a consultation with a pain management physician.  A second phase of the policy involves lowering doses for people currently on a pain management regimen.

  • July 21, 2017

    The Office on Women's Health (OWH), HHS, released its Final Report: Opioid Use, Misuse, and Overdose in Women, an examination of prevention, treatment, and recovery issues for women who misuse opioids, have opioid use disorders (OUDs), and/or overdose on opioids. The prevalence of prescription opioid and heroin use among women is substantial. Between 1999 and 2015, the rate of deaths from prescription opioid overdoses increased 471 percent among women, compared to an increase of 218 percent among men, and heroin deaths among women increased at more than twice the rate than among men.1 Most alarmingly, there has been a startling increase in the rates of synthetic opioid-related deaths; these deaths increased 850 percent in women between 1999 and 2015. At the same time, the differences between how opioid misuse and use disorder impact women and men are often not well understood. Even in areas where differences between the sexes are apparent, such as women appearing to progress more quickly to addiction than men, very little is understood about why those differences occur. 


    The report explores the opioid epidemic with the overall mission to: foster a national conversation on best practices to prevent, diagnose, and treat opioid-related hazards and deaths among women in the U.S.; bridge gaps between researchers and public health practitioners by creating platforms to share best practices, promising approaches, and priority questions; consolidate what is already known about opioid use and hazards of opioid-related harms that are specific to or more pronounced among women, as well as the research on prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of OUD among women; and explore options for federal, state, and local governments; health insurers; law enforcement; and clinicians to address dependence, disability, and death related to opioid use.

  • July 18, 2017

    Grapefruit juice and the actual grapefruit can be part of a healthy diet. Grapefruit has vitamin C and potassium—nutrients your body needs to work properly.  But it isn’t good for you when it affects the way your medicines work, especially if you have high blood pressure or arrhythmia (irregular or abnormal heart beat).  The FDA has required that some prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs taken by mouth include warnings against drinking grapefruit juice or eating grapefruit while taking the drug.


    Talk to your doctor, pharmacist or other health care provider and read any information provided with your prescription or OTC drug to find out:


    • If your specific drug may be affected.
    • How much, if any, grapefruit juice you can have.
    • What other fruits or juices may also affect your drug in a similar way to grapefruit juice.
    • How Grapefruit Juice Can Interfere With Medications


    Find Out if You Should Avoid Grapefruit or Other Juices.  Ask your doctor, pharmacist or other health care provider if you can drink grapefruit juice while taking your medication.  Read the medication guide or patient information sheet that comes with your prescription drug to find out if grapefruit juice affects your drug.  Read the Drug Facts label on your OTC drug, which will say whether you shouldn’t have grapefruit or other fruit juices with it. If you must avoid grapefruit juice with your medicine, check the labels of fruit juices or drinks flavored with fruit juice to see whether they are made with grapefruit juice.  Seville oranges (often used to make orange marmalade), pomelos, and tangelos (a cross between tangerines and grapefruit) may have the same effect as grapefruit juice. Do not