June 26th, 2014
08:04 AM ET
When people want to learn more about a new drug warning, they turn to the internet - that’s no surprise. But is the information they find there accurate and up-to-date? Not always, according to a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine this week.
“Despite debates over its credibility, Wikipedia is reportedly the most frequently consulted online health care resource globally,” the authors write. “Wikipedia pages typically appear among the top few Google search results and are among the references most likely to be checked by internet users.”
Wikipedia, along with Google and WebMD, is where more than half of all Americans turn to for health information, according to the report.
Researchers found that when the FDA issues a drug safety warning, Google searches about that drug increase 82% on average in the following week. Wikipedia pages about the drug see a 175% increase in views on the day of the announcement.
May 22nd, 2014
07:32 AM ET
Alprazolam, the prescription sedative more commonly known by its brand name, Xanax, is being implicated in a spiraling number of emergency room visits, according to a new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Over the past few years, the number of ER visits associated with misuse of the drug more than doubled. In 2005, the number of patient cases involving Xanax was 57,419, and by 2011 (the last year for which there is data), there were 123,744.
"We have been clamping down on opiates (prescription painkillers) but Xanax is becoming a fast-riser in the game," said Dr. Howard Mell, an emergency room physician based in Cleveland, Ohio.
"It's not even a little surprising," he said of the new figures. "I wish it was."
May 14th, 2014
02:24 PM ET
About half of all Americans take at least one prescription drug each month, and 10% take more than four, according to a new government report.
"Health, United States, 2013" is an annual report on the nation’s health prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics. This year’s report includes a special section on prescription drugs.
Here are a few key facts from that section:
May 14th, 2014
09:39 AM ET
Ask the average person how to treat alcoholism, and they’ll probably describe an AA meeting or maybe a 30-day stint in a fancy rehab center. What won’t leap to mind, even for most experts, is medication.
That’s a missed opportunity, according to an analysis of more than 120 research studies that found that prescription medication helps addicts reduce their drinking and the associated harms.
Taken together, the studies involved 22,803 patients who abused alcohol. The bulk of the papers looked at the medications naltrexone or acamprosate. Both made addicts less likely to drink again and reduced the number of “drinking days” when they did relapse.
December 11th, 2013
11:00 AM ET
Patients who use certain acid-suppressing drugs for heartburn over a period of two years or longer are more likely to suffer from a vitamin B12 deficiency than those who do not use them, according to a new study released Tuesday.
The drugs, known as proton-pump inhibitors (PPI) and histamine 2 receptor antagonists (H2 blockers), are available by prescription and over-the-counter, under names such as Prilosec and Nexium. They are designed to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, as well as other acid-related conditions.
December 4th, 2013
09:03 AM ET
The debate around adolescents and psychotropic drug use may be quieted - ever so slightly - by new data.
More than 6% of adolescents reported using psychotropic medications during the past month, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Six percent is pretty much what I would expect for the prescription of psychotropic medications based on what we know about new disorders and how prevalent they would be among adolescents," said Bruce Jonas, a mental health epidemiologist with the National Center for Health Statistics at the CDC, who compiled the data.
Psychotropic medications are used to alter the mood, behavior or overall functioning of persons with certain mental health conditions. FULL POST
October 16th, 2013
12:21 PM ET
Anyone who's ever eaten an Oreo knows how difficult it can be to eat just one.
Scientists have long suspected that our brains crave junk food in the same way they crave other pleasurable substances, such as illegal drugs. Previous studies in rodents and in humans have shown the same area of the brain that lights up on scans when people use drugs, also shows increased activity when study participants consume, or even look at, high fat, high sugar foods like ice cream or bacon.
Some scientists believe certain foods trigger the brain to signal for more, similar to the way addictive drugs prompt cravings; if we don't fulfill the brain's request, the body could produce a physical response (like caffeine headaches) similar to withdrawal symptoms.
New research from undergraduate students at Connecticut College adds to the growing evidence suggesting that food can be addictive. The students were interested in understanding how the availability of junk food in low-income areas has contributed to America's obesity epidemic.
“Even though we associate significant health hazards in taking drugs like cocaine and morphine, high-fat, high-sugar foods may present even more of a danger because of their accessibility and affordability,” study designer and neuroscience major Jamie Honohan said in a statement.
December 31st, 2012
04:05 PM ET
It's not the color, but what's inside that counts when it comes to medication. However, doctors suspect that's not exactly how patients see it.
According to a study published Monday in the medical journal Archives of Internal Medicine, changes in pill color significantly increase the odds that a patient will fail to take their medication as prescribed by their doctor.
First, the basics
Generic drugs are approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s Office of Generic Drugs. These off-brand alternatives must be “bioequivalent” to the brand-name version, meaning they must be identical in terms of dosage form, strength, route of administration, quality, intended use, and clinical efficacy. But the FDA does not require that the two versions look alike. FULL POST
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.