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.
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
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."
July 3rd, 2012
02:44 PM ET
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."
June 24th, 2012
08:12 AM ET
Too embarrassed to ask your doctor about sex, body quirks, or the latest celeb health fad? In a regular feature and a new book, "What the Yuck?!," Health magazine medical editor Dr. Roshini Raj tackles your most personal and provocative questions. Send 'em to Dr. Raj at email@example.com.
Q: Is it true that coffee doesn't mix well with some medications?
A: That's true, unless you're drinking decaf. It's best not to combine large amounts of caffeine with any drug that has stimulant effects, such as pseudoephedrine (which is found in some cold and allergy meds), because the caffeine can heighten the drug's side effects, which may include weakness, nausea, and an irregular heartbeat.
Meanwhile, certain antibiotics, such as ciprofloxacin (Cipro), can interfere with the breakdown of caffeine in your body, extending the amount of time it stays in your system and prolonging its effects, such as insomnia or a bad case of the jitters. The herbal supplement echinacea can also do this.
May 8th, 2012
05:35 PM ET
The artist Thomas Kinkade, 54, died in April from a lethal combination of alcohol and Valium, according to an autopsy report from the Santa Clara County, California, medical examiner.
Alcohol and Valium, also known as diazepam, are both depressants that slow down the central nervous system. These depressants slow down the brain and also decrease the heart rate, lower the blood pressure and cause lethargy.
“Because your brain will control autonomic function like heart beat, breathing, when the concentration is so high that area of the brain is affected, it does not function,” said Douglas Rohde, supervisor of chemistry and toxicology at Lake County Crime Laboratory in Ohio. Rohde is not involved in Kinkade’s case.
This could knock a person into a coma, and then breathing and heart beat could stop.
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.