News you can use: health & drug safety updates


  • December 15, 2017

    As soon as infants learn to crawl and especially once they learn to walk, their mobility, curiosity, and tendency to put things in their mouths make many substances in the home a potential danger. The effects of the increased availability of opioid pain relievers are widely known and well-publicized.  Recently, light is being shed on this increased availability and its effects on the youngest members of society.  According to DAWN, the number of ED visits involving accidental ingestion of opioid pain relievers among children aged 1 to 5 tripled between 2004 and 2011.

  • December 14, 2017

    Use of acetaminophen during pregnancy for more than 29 days was associated with a more than twofold increased risk of ADHD in offspring, according to results of a large observational study published in Pediatrics.

  • December 13, 2017

    Drugs that are not affordable are of little value and drugs that do not exist are of no value,” according to the chair of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s committee on drug pricing.  A report, “Making Medicines Affordable: A National Imperative,” identifies eight steps to cut drug prices. It also provides a list of specific “implementation actions” for various federal agencies, including Congress, the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services.  The recommendations come as Americans across the political spectrum say lowering the price of prescription drugs is a top priority. Yet, while individual states have passed laws for more transparency and price controls and the President has publicly called for lower drug prices, Congress has stalled. 

  • December 12, 2017

    For decades, experts have warned that older Americans are taking too many unnecessary drugs, often prescribed by multiple doctors, for dubious or unknown reasons. Researchers estimate that 25 percent of people ages 65 to 69 take at least five prescription drugs to treat chronic conditions, a figure that jumps to nearly 46 percent for those between 70 and 79. Doctors say it is not uncommon to encounter patients taking more than 20 drugs to treat acid reflux, heart disease, depression or insomnia or other disorders. Unlike the overuse of opioid painkillers, the polypharmacy problem has attracted little attention, even though its hazards are well documented.  But some doctors are working to reverse the trend.

  • 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.