News you can use: health & drug safety updates


  • 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.

  • November 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.

  • October 31, 2017

    USP, a long-time representative on the NCPIE board of directors, recently convened a roundtable to explore strategies to protect the public’s health, as well as assist first-responders and healthcare providers. The roundtable gathered additional input and feedback about these strategies. The four approaches being developed are:

    1. Recommendations for effectively and safely storing and disposing of opioid prescriptions in order to help prevent misuse, including how this information should be communicated;
    2. Clear prescription label information to ensure patients understand that a prescribed drug is an opioid and can be addictive;
    3. Easy-to-follow instructions for using naloxone, so that first responders and others (including family, friends, and others who may not be trained healthcare providers) can quickly understand when and how to administer this life-saving antidote; and
    4. New standards for healthcare providers to counsel patients about appropriate use of prescription opioids and how to avoid misuse.

    In the coming months, USP will release a report based on these discussions which will inform the work of USP’s Healthcare Quality and Safety Expert Committee, whose members have been developing the concepts discussed at the roundtable. All proposed new or revised standards will be open to public comment for 90 days.

  • October 31, 2017

    Healthline partners with the U.S. Pain Foundation and the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE) for new social media campaigns. To further its mission to be patients’ most trusted ally as they pursue health and well-being, Healthline is created two awareness campaigns this month: #MakeItVisible and #DontMix. Both campaigns are taking place across social media platforms until October 31, 2017.