Drug Safety

Category archives for Drug Safety

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…

Washington State adopts rule to protect healthcare workers from hazardous medications

Washington State becomes the first in the nation to adopt specific workplace safety rules to protect healthcare workers who are potentially exposed to anti-neoplastic drugs and other hazardous medications. The new rule, issued earlier this month by the State’s Department of Labor & Industries, stems from legislation passed in April 2011 and signed into law…

Preventing Public Health Disasters

Earlier this week, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg presented Frances Kelsey with the first in what will be a series of awards bearing Kelsey’s name. Fifty years ago, as a new medical officer with the FDA, Kelsey refused to approve US sale of Kevadon, a drug widely recognized by its generic name, thalidomide. The drug was…