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Study: Shingles vaccine safe for patients on immune-suppressing drugs
July 3rd, 2012
07:39 PM ET

Study: Shingles vaccine safe for patients on immune-suppressing drugs

Shingles is a painful but common condition, affecting half of Americans by age 85. All adults aged 60 and older should receive a vaccine against it, according to the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

But not everyone is eligible for this preventive measure. The vaccine is not recommended for people being treated with immune-suppressing drugs called “biologics,” which control how the body reacts to inflammation in a variety of conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.

Contrary to that advice, a new study found no increased risk for shingles among people with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, or inflammatory bowel disease who have been treated with biologic medicines and receive the shingles vaccine.  The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
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Company studying OxyContin's effect in children
July 3rd, 2012
04:22 PM ET

Company studying OxyContin's effect in children

The maker of the prescription painkiller OxyContin confirms that a clinical trial is currently underway to measure the opioid's effects in children.

Although doctors can prescribe OxyContin off-label to pediatric patients, the drug - which was overwhelmingly tested in adults - is not approved for use in children by the Food and Drug Administration, and Purdue Pharma says it is not seeking that approval.

To qualify for the study, patients must be between the ages of 6 and 17, have moderate to severe pain, and have already demonstrated a tolerance to opioid painkillers. The study will include 154 children.
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Methadone tied to one-third of prescription painkiller deaths
July 3rd, 2012
02:44 PM ET

Methadone tied to one-third of prescription painkiller deaths

If you are not grappling with cancer-related pain, you probably should not be taking prescription methadone

That is the message spiraling out of startling statistics suggesting using methadone inappropriately is linked to one-third of prescription painkiller overdose deaths.

Methadone accounted for a mere 2% of prescriptions in 2009, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data that spans 10 years and 13 states, but was responsible for 30% of prescription painkiller deaths. 

"Methadone is riskier than other opiates for treating non-cancer pain," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, who added that there is limited scientific evidence it works for chronic non-cancer pain. "It should only be used for pain when other drugs haven't been effective."
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FDA approves first at home rapid HIV test
July 3rd, 2012
02:02 PM ET

FDA approves first at home rapid HIV test

 The first ever over-the-counter rapid HIV test has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Users of the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test swab their upper and lower gums with the included test pad device and place it into a vial of solution.  Much like a pregnancy test, one line shows up if the test is negative, two lines means a positive test. Test results take about 20 minutes.

A positive reading does not mean a definite human immunodeficiency virus, but that additional testing should be scheduled with a health professional.  However, the FDA also cautions that a negative test result "does not mean that an individual is definitely not infected with HIV, particularly when exposure may have been within the previous three months."

The FDA approved another in-home test in 1996, however those samples needed to sent away to a lab for results.

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A medical home makeover begins
July 3rd, 2012
11:14 AM ET

A medical home makeover begins

Editor's note: Flesh-eating bacteria almost killed Aimee Copeland. Now, after two months in the hospital, she's moving to a rehab facility to continue her recovery. Erin Burnett talks to the 24-year-old's parents about their daughter’s ordeal and her inspirational attitude, tonight at 7 p.m. ET on CNN.

Aimee Copeland, the 24-year-old Georgia woman who lost most of her hands, one of her legs and her remaining foot after a flesh-eating bacteria infection, now faces the daunting task of learning how to live her life without her full limbs.

Aimee was released from the hospital Monday and has started physical therapy near her home in Snellville, Georgia. Her father, Andy, says the therapy will take six to eight weeks.

In the meantime, Andy and his wife, Donna, are rapidly giving the house Aimee has lived in since she was 6 years old a medical home makeover.
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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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