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Heartburn drugs could cause B12 deficiency
December 11th, 2013
11:00 AM ET

Heartburn drugs could cause B12 deficiency

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.

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CDC: 6% of teens take psychotropic drugs
December 4th, 2013
09:03 AM ET

CDC: 6% of teens take psychotropic drugs

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


Women's prescription overdose deaths skyrocket
July 2nd, 2013
03:55 PM ET

Women's prescription overdose deaths skyrocket

Every day, 42 women die from a drug overdose - and nearly half of those overdoses are from prescription painkillers.

In fact, according to newly released figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of women dying from prescription drug overdoses has increased by more than 400% since 1999 - nearly double the 265% increase of deaths in men.

"In 2010, more than 6,600 women died from prescription painkillers, four times as many died from cocaine and heroin combined," says CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden. FULL POST


Don't judge that generic pill by its color
December 31st, 2012
04:05 PM ET

Don't judge that generic pill by its color

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


Concerns about generic painkillers increase
December 14th, 2012
11:21 AM ET

Concerns about generic painkillers increase

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.

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FDA launches campaign against fake Internet pharmacies
The FDA is aiming to raise awareness about fake Internet pharmacies and the risk they pose to consumer health.
September 28th, 2012
12:16 PM ET

FDA launches campaign against fake Internet pharmacies

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.”

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Dump those (prescription) drugs
An estimated 200 million pounds of unused prescriptions are gathering dust in American medicine cabinets.
September 28th, 2012
11:07 AM ET

Dump those (prescription) drugs

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.

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Suicides outpace car crashes as leading cause of deaths from injuries
The suicide rate increased 15% from 2000 to 2009, according to the report.
September 27th, 2012
02:26 PM ET

Suicides outpace car crashes as leading cause of deaths from injuries

Thirteen-year-old Cade Poulos took his own life just as classes were about to begin Wednesday morning, according to CNN affiliate KJRH. The boy’s death in the crowded hallway of his Stillwater, Oklahoma, junior high school is a raw and recent example of suicide in America.

New research in the American Journal of Public Health reports suicides have surpassed car crashes as the nation’s leading cause of injury-related deaths.

The suicide rate increased 15% from 2000 to 2009, according to the report.

In that same period of time the rate of deadly car crashes dropped by 25%, as a wide array of traffic safety interventions were implemented. The down economy may also have kept more people off the road and out of harm’s way.

Poisonings, the third leading cause of injury-related deaths, increased by 128% over the 10 year period, largely because of prescription drug overdoses.


Fewer young adults abusing prescription drugs
The number of people age 18-25 abusing prescription drugs decreased 14% from 2010 through 2011, a new report shows.
September 24th, 2012
05:32 PM ET

Fewer young adults abusing prescription drugs

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


FDA announces new safety plan for opioid use
July 10th, 2012
11:22 AM ET

FDA announces new safety plan for opioid use

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."
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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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