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Drug-resistant bacteria
March 5th, 2014
11:02 AM ET

CDC: Hospitals contributing to rise of superbugs

Health officials have long been warning us about the overuse of antibiotics and the rise of drug-resistant "superbugs." Now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is shining a light on how hospitals are contributing to the problem.

"Prescribing (antibiotics) varies widely among hospitals," CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden, an infectious disease expert, said in a press conference Tuesday. "Practices that are not optimal are putting patients at unnecessary risk of future drug-resistant infections, allergic reactions and intestinal infections that can be deadly."
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February 11th, 2014
06:04 PM ET

Federal officials support use of naloxone

With heroin use up nearly 80% since 2007, the nation's "Drug Czar," Gil Kerlikowske, is highlighting the benefits of an old, but effective drug called naloxone which can reverse an overdose.

While heroin overdoses account for only a small part of the opioid overdose epidemic, they are a leading cause of death in the United States, killing 100 people every day, Kerlikowske said in a White House press conference Tuesday.

"We're not going to arrest our way out of this problem," Kerlikowske said, pointing out several key things that help to reduce overdose numbers, including the use of naloxone.

Naloxone is a drug that can reverse opioid overdoses from heroin and opioid prescription pain killers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone.  Opioids bind to the receptors in the brain and spinal cord, causing the body to slow down until it stops breathing.  When an addict takes naloxone, it can reverse this process, freeing up the receptors.

"Naloxone has very few side effects and can be safely administered in many different settings, so there is some hope for its expanded use," said Kerlikowske.
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More students think marijuana is OK
More than a third of high school seniors surveyed reported smoking marijuana in the last year.
December 18th, 2013
12:02 AM ET

More students think marijuana is OK

Most teens may be "Above the Influence" when it comes to cocaine and cigarettes, but marijuana use is growing among students.

Sixty percent of U.S. high school seniors do not see regular marijuana use as harmful to their health, according to this year's Monitoring the Future survey from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. More than a third of the seniors surveyed reported smoking marijuana in the past 12 months.

Each year, the Monitoring the Future survey asks eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders about their drug and alcohol use and their attitudes toward illegal substances. For 2013, more than 41,000 students from 389 U.S. public and private schools participated.
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Quit-smoking drugs safe for your heart
December 10th, 2013
11:03 AM ET

Quit-smoking drugs safe for your heart

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death world-wide. About half of all long-term smokers will die because of their addiction. But the good news is that nearly 70% of current smokers want to quit, says the CDC.

And using an effective treatment to help kick the habit can almost double or triple one's chance of success. Replacement therapies like the nicotine patch or gum, or medications like the antidepressant buproprion (sold as Wellbutrin or Zyban) and varenicline (commonly known as Chantix), can help reduce one's cravings to smoke and deal with withdrawal symptoms.

Headlines in recent years have questioned the cardiovascular risks of these drugs. But new research says that these drugs carry little risk of heart attack or stroke. FULL POST


Report: States failing to curb prescription abuse
October 7th, 2013
12:44 PM ET

Report: States failing to curb prescription abuse

Since 1999, sales of prescription painkillers in the United States have quadrupled. So have the number of fatal poisonings due to prescription painkillers, according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Prescription drug misuse is now responsible for more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined.

Despite these shocking statistics, a new report from Trust for America's Health finds many states are lacking effective strategies to curb prescription drug abuse.

The report, titled "Prescription Drug Abuse: Strategies to Stop the Epidemic," shows more than half the states scored a six or less on the advocacy organization's scale, which assesses the ways states are trying to combat prescription drug abuse. Only two states, New Mexico and Vermont, scored 10 out of 10.

"In the past two decades we've seen many advances in the development of new prescription drugs, which have been a miracle for many," said Jeff Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health. "But we've also seen a corresponding rise in misuse, and the consequences can be dire."
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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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Your thoughts: Treating PTSD with Ecstasy
Readers sounded off about the study of the effects of MDMA, the chemical name for pure Ecstasy, on those with PTSD.
December 4th, 2012
01:08 PM ET

Your thoughts: Treating PTSD with Ecstasy

CNN recently published a three-day series on the experimental use of the drug Ecstasy as part of treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. Readers had a lot to say in response to scientists who are studying the effects of MDMA, the chemical name for pure Ecstasy, on patients with PTSD.

Many readers said they were familiar with past research that’s been done on these drugs and questioned why they are still illegal.

Thom Burke
"I think the judicious use of many psychedelics can be very helpful in a lot of these cases. Sad how their use got derailed in the '60s because of culture wars.”

Pagan Champ
“100% agree Thom. The real problem is that politics and policy stand in the way of advancing science and medicine for chemicals that we've had at our disposal for nearly 100 years now.”

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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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FDA unveils new device that detects counterfeit drugs
The CD3 is a hand-held device developed by the FDA to detect counterfeit drugs and packaging.
September 11th, 2012
02:18 PM ET

FDA unveils new device that detects counterfeit drugs

The Food and Drug Administration has a new cutting-edge tool in its counterfeit drug detection toolbox.

At a symposium Monday, the agency unveiled the Counterfeit Detection Device #3 or CD3, a hand-held device developed by FDA scientists that can be used in the field to detect counterfeit products and packaging.

"This device was designed in-house by FDA scientists in response to the needs for screening in the field," said FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg. "It is low cost compared to other analytical devices, operates with batteries, and requires minimal training to use. It allows for 'real time' comparisons with authentic drugs - and has already proven useful for identifying counterfeit drugs at our busy international mail facilities."

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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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