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
December 14th, 2012
11:21 AM ET
The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy recently sent an alert to law enforcement, particularly along the Canadian border, warning them that Canada had approved non-abuse resistant generic versions of oxycodone, the active ingredient in OxyContin, Percocet and about 40 other painkillers.
"ONDCP expects companies will begin offering these generics without the abuse-resistant features in Canadian pharmacies within the next month," according to the alert.
The letter warned of the potential for these generics to show up here in the United States, where they are no longer available.
November 28th, 2012
05:00 PM ET
That cigarette may be doing more damage than meets the eye. If you’ve been smoking for an extended period of time, you’re likely familiar with at least some – if not all – of the bodily symptoms associated with smoking, including but certainly not limited to: Cravings, coughing, shortness of breath and changes to teeth, hair and skin. Coronary heart disease and/or lung cancer might not be far behind.
But a new study published in the journal Age & Ageing concludes that smoking can damage your mind, too. A consistent association was observed between smoking and lower cognitive functioning, including memory.
The bottom line: Smoking and long-term high blood pressure appear to increase the risk of cognitive decline. FULL POST
November 28th, 2012
09:57 AM ET
Editor's Note: In the Human Factor, we profile survivors who have overcome the odds. Confronting a life obstacle - injury, illness or other hardship - they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn't know they possessed. This week we introduce you to Joe Putignano, the "Crystal Man" in Cirque du Soleil's touring show "Totem." He shares his story of how he was a rising gymnast with Olympic potential, who came crashing down into a life of alcohol, cocaine and heroin addiction. After two life-threatening overdoses, he finally got clean, and says it was gymnastics that pulled him back to life.
Spotlights drench over me in a warm glow, and in this illumination I can no longer hide my past from the world - any insecurities will be exposed to an audience of thousands. In fear I hold my breath, binding myself to the band’s soft prelude, slowly unraveling myself from a tight spinning ball. Evolutio means “unrolling” in Latin and is the theme of our Cirque du Soleil show Totem. Evolution is the common thread in my life, from athlete to drug addict to performer.
The voice of my horrific past sings to me over the live music, and my memories of my life with heroin bleed into my performance. I am reminded of the fine-tipped syringe I held in my hand with the small words printed “Use once and destroy.” I feel a strong connection to that statement, envious of those who can use once, put it down, and not be destroyed by it. FULL POST
September 28th, 2012
12:16 PM ET
Buyers beware when it comes to buying medicine online, the Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers. On Friday, the agency launched "BeSafeRx: Know Your Online Pharmacy," a national campaign to raise awareness about fake Internet pharmacies and their potential risk to consumer health.
“Buying medicines from rogue online pharmacies can be risky because they may sell fake, expired, contaminated, not approved by FDA, or otherwise unsafe products that are dangerous to patients,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg. “Fraudulent and illegal online pharmacies often offer deeply discounted products. If the low prices seem too good to be true, they probably are. FDA’s BeSafeRx campaign is designed to help patients learn how to avoid these risks.”
September 28th, 2012
11:07 AM ET
Do a quick inventory of your medicine cabinet. How many unused prescription pills are hanging out there? If you are like many Americans, your answer is probably:
"Twenty hydrocodone left over from getting my wisdom teeth pulled last year," or
"Fifteen oxycodone left over from the C-section when my son was born."
An estimated 200 million pounds of unused prescriptions are gathering dust in American medicine cabinets, according to the National Community Pharmacists Association. The problem is, those innocuous-seeming leftovers can end up in the wrong hands and, in extreme cases, lead to an overdose.
September 24th, 2012
05:32 PM ET
About 2.3 million children and adults abused prescription drugs for the first time last year, according to a new government survey on drug use in America.
That’s about 6,400 new prescription drug abusers a day—taking everything from pain relievers and tranquilizers to stimulants and sedatives.
But a Monday report on prescription drug abuse from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows a 14% drop in the number of young people aged 18 to 25 who are abusing prescription drugs - from 2 million in 2010 to 1.7 million last year. FULL POST
August 15th, 2012
03:49 PM ET
Combining treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse resulted in improved PTSD symptoms without worsening symptoms of substance abuse, according to a study released Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The findings, explain the Australian researchers, are contrary to conventional wisdom on how to treat PTSD and substance abuse, which commonly co-exist in patients. The common belief, they explain, has been that using the so-called "gold standard" of PTSD treatment might exacerbate substance abuse by resurfacing negative memories.
Therefore, people with substance abuse and PTSD have commonly been excluded from prolonged exposure therapy-based PTSD treatments and clinical trials using exposure therapy.
July 10th, 2012
11:22 AM ET
The Food and Drug Administration has announced new safety measures for a class of opioid medication used to treat moderate to severe chronic pain.
Opioids are powerful - patients who suffer from chronic pain say the medications can do wonders. But if they fall into the wrong hands or are used for recreational purposes, these meds can cause serious harm, including overdose and death.
“Although many Americans don’t realize it, prescription drug abuse is our swiftest growing drug problem. Many of those abuses involve opioids," said Dr. Margaret Hamburg, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. "In 2008, nearly 15,000 Americans died where opioids were involved. In 2009, that number went up to 16,000."
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.