May 6th, 2013
05:46 PM ET
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning pregnant women to stay away from migraine medicine containing valproate. The agency says the drug can lead to decreased IQ scores in children whose mothers took the medication during pregnancy.
Valproate sodium (Depacon), valproic acid (Depakene and Stavzor), and divalproex sodium (Depakote, Depakote CP and Depakote ER) are among the valproate products the FDA says pregnant women should never use. That includes their generic versions.
January 7th, 2013
07:17 PM ET
If you take drugs to lower your blood pressure, your medication may also lower your risk of dementia, according to a new study released Monday by the American Academy of Neurology.
According to the study, people taking beta blockers, a class of drugs used to treat a number of conditions including high blood pressure, glaucoma and migraines, were less likely to have less cognitive impairment than those that did not. Beta blockers cause the heart to beat slower and with less force, which reduces blood pressure. They also open up blood vessels to increase blood flow.
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.
July 25th, 2012
06:05 PM ET
The Senate Commerce Committee bashed drug distributors for up-charging patients at a hearing Wednesday about the “grey-market” for short-supply drugs.
The “grey market” is the second-hand market, where drugs, frequently in short supply, are re-distributed and sold by various distributors and wholesalers.
It’s an already dire situation for many patients in need. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, drug shortages have increased nearly 300% since 2005. Many of the drugs on this list are cancer treatments. The “grey market” only exacerbates the price and the shortage issue.
July 16th, 2012
03:30 PM ET
Adults who do not have HIV but are at risk of getting the disease will now be able to take a drug to reduce their chance of getting infected. For the first time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a drug for this use on Monday.
The drug is Truvada, an antiretroviral medication made by Gilead Sciences, Inc., which was already approved by the FDA in 2004 to help control HIV infection.
Truvada is a combination of two HIV medications - emtricitabine (Emtriva) and tenofovir (Viread) - into one pill that is taken once a day. As a treatment for HIV, it is always used in combination with other HIV drugs.
June 18th, 2012
07:45 AM ET
American children are taking fewer antibiotics now than 10 years ago, but prescriptions to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, have increased, according to a new report by the Food and Drug Administration.
FDA researchers analyzed large prescription drug databases, looking at more than 2,000 drugs, to identify the top 30 medications most prescribed to children up to age 17.
They found 263.6 million prescriptions were filled for infant through adolescent patients in 2010 – down 7% compared to 2002.
However, a closer look at the numbers reveals that while prescriptions for some drugs went down, others were prescribed more often between 2002 and 2010. The findings were published in the journal Pediatrics on Monday.
May 30th, 2012
01:51 PM ET
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning about counterfeit generic Adderall tablets being sold on the Internet. Adderall is approved by the FDA to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy.
The FDA became aware of the problem when Teva Pharmaceutical Industries reported that a consumer alerted them about purchasing a fake version of Teva’s Adderall 30-milligram tablets from an illegal Internet pharmaceutical site.
The bogus version was discovered “by a consumer, who noticed misspellings on on the fake product packaging,” according to Denise Bradley, Teva Pharmacautical’s vice president of corporate communications. Bradley said two incidents have been reported to the FDA, and Teva Pharmaceuticals continues to work with the FDA on the investigation.
Teva’s authentic 30mg Adderall tablets are round, orange/peach in color and are imprinted with “dp” on one side and 30 on the other side of the tablet. The tablets are packaged in bottles. The active ingredients in authentic Adderall tablets are dextroamphetamine saccharate, amphetamine aspartate, dextroamphetamine sulfate and amphetamine sulfate. An analysis of the counterfeit tablets revealed they contained tramadol and acetaminophen, both used to treat acute pain, and they were in blister packages.
Both instances occurred when consumers tried to purchase Adderall from illegal websites rather than using legitimate distribution channels. The FDA noted that “consumers should be extra cautious when buying their medicines from online sources. Rogue websites and distributors may especially target medicines in short supply for counterfeiting.” Adderall is currently on the FDA drug shortage list because of active pharmaceutical ingredient supply issues.
“It is very important that patients purchase product through legitimate channels,” Bradley said. “Websites that do not require prescriptions are not reputable.”
The FDA website offers tips for consumers who want to purchase prescription drugs using the Internet. First, make sure that the site requires a prescription and has a pharmacist available to answer questions. Consumers should only buy prescription medications from licensed pharmacies located in the United States. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy has information about legitimate U.S. online pharmacies, and provides information about licensing and certification for online pharmacies. Consumers should never provide personal data, such as credit card numbers, unless they are sure an online site is legitimate and will protect their information.
The FDA advises consumers who believe they have a counterfeit version of Teva’s Adderall 30mg tablets not to take the product, and to consult their health care professional about other treatment options. They should also contact the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations at 800-551-3989 or http://www.fda.gov/OCI.
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.