Drug Safety

Category archives for Drug Safety

Strategies to reduce the deathly toll of prescription drug abuse are reaping positive outcomes, though not every state is taking full advantage, according to a new report from Trust for America’s Health.

The Supreme Court’s decisions on marriage equality and the Voting Rights Act got a lot of media attention last week, but several of the Court’s other decisions also have implications for public health — and they came down on the side of employers, real-estate developers, and drug manufacturers.

“If you really look at how pain affects people and what it means to have pain…you start to view it more as a social phenomenon.” These are words from Dr. Daniel Carr, who says the time for a population-based approach doesn’t begin with misuse and abuse of prescription painkillers; it begins, in fact, with how we interpret the contributors to pain in the first place.

A decade ago, only about 10 percent of the patients at Cincinnati’s Center for Chemical Addictions Treatment were admitted for opioid addiction and abuse. During the treatment center’s last fiscal year, that number was up to 64 percent. The numbers reflect a startling trend in Ohio and throughout the nation — a trend that public health workers are taking to task.

Since 2000, overdose deaths due to prescription painkillers in Utah have increased by more than 400 percent. By 2006, more Utahans were losing their lives to prescription drug overdoses than to motor vehicle crashes. For Dr. Lynn Webster, a longtime pain management physician, the startling numbers were a call to action.

It took six years of going from doctor to doctor to doctor for Penney Cowan to finally receive a diagnosis for her chronic pain: fibromyalgia. Doctors had told her she’d just have to learn to live with the pain — a condition that some days made it hard to lift a cup of coffee. So when she decided to join the pain program at Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic, she didn’t have high hopes. She says she expected the effort to fail.

Researchers studying workers’ compensation claims have found that almost one in 12 injured workers who begin using opioids were still using the prescription drugs three to six months later. It’s a trend that, not surprisingly, can lead to addiction, increased disability and more work loss – but few doctors are acting to prevent it.

Between 1940 and 1971, a synthetic form of estrogen called diethylstilbestrol (DES) was prescribed to pregnant women to prevent miscarriage and premature labor. This practice changed abruptly, though, after the New England Journal of Medicine published a dramatic new finding from a study of young women diagnosed with a rare cancer in two Boston hospitals.

For years, Peter Rosenfeld was looking for an effective way to treat what doctors had diagnosed as severe and intractable migraines. He’d heard of medical marijuana, but thought it was a joke — that it was just a way for people to justify their marijuana use. Today, he’s a passionate advocate for medicinal marijuana and one of many advocates disappointed at recent federal actions.

In the New York Times last week, Gardiner Harris reported on tensions between FDA and the White House over FDA decisions that White House officials fear will be politically problematic for President Obama. Harris reminds readers that “The Bush administration repeatedly stopped the agency from issuing rules to prevent contamination of eggs, produce and other…