March 11th, 2013
12:01 AM ET
A new study from Stanford University looks specifically at aspirin's role in reducing the risk of melanoma , a form of skin cancer that is on the rise.
The study found a significant association between frequent usage of the drug and this form of cancer; aspirin users were less likely to get melanoma than those who did not take aspirin.
This is not proof, however, that aspirin is directly responsible for lowering the risk.
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 20th, 2012
09:32 AM ET
Our story on talking to someone with a chronic illness received a tremendous, and positive, response from readers last week.
Many of you wanted to share your own stories of living with chronic illness and weigh in on how some well-meaning comments can be misinterpreted, as well as offer tips of your own.
The article's author, Lisa Copen, founded Rest Ministries to encourage others who live with chronic illness or pain. Copen has agreed to host a live chat on the CNN Health Facebook page on Friday from 12 to 1 p.m. ET. She'll be joined by others who live with chronic and sometimes invisible illnesses, as well as members of the CNN.com Health team.
So many of you have stressed the need to raise awareness of those living with chronic illness and their sometimes-daily struggle. This chat is an effort to continue that conversation with our readers. Please join us.
September 13th, 2012
01:54 PM ET
Sore muscles or joints? The Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers who typically reach for topical pain relievers to soothe those aches and pains that these products can cause serious burns.
The agency has received more than 40 reports of skin injuries from over-the-counter products including creams, lotions, ointments and patches. Reported brands included Bengay, Icy Hot, Capzasin, Flexall and Metholatum.
July 3rd, 2012
04:22 PM ET
The maker of the prescription painkiller OxyContin confirms that a clinical trial is currently underway to measure the opioid's effects in children.
Although doctors can prescribe OxyContin off-label to pediatric patients, the drug - which was overwhelmingly tested in adults – is not approved for use in children by the Food and Drug Administration, and Purdue Pharma says it is not seeking that approval.
To qualify for the study, patients must be between the ages of 6 and 17, have moderate to severe pain, and have already demonstrated a tolerance to opioid painkillers. The study will include 154 children.
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."
April 24th, 2012
04:01 PM ET
Just a few days after new migraine treatment guidelines were released at the American Academy of Neurology's annual convention, new research published in this week's edition of JAMA, finds Botox may not work as well on migraines as originally thought.
The AAN's recommendations found that numerous drugs, such as the seizure drugs divalproex sodium, sodium valproate and topiramate, along with the beta-blockers metoprolol, propranolol and timolol, are effective for migraine prevention.
The guidelines also noted herbal drugs such as petasites relieved migraine pain and nonsterodial anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium should be offered to people with migraines to reduce the frequency and severity of attacks.
Botulinum toxin A, otherwise known as Botox, was not mentioned.
April 19th, 2012
06:50 PM ET
Children explore their worlds by touching and tasting items within their reach. That can cause deadly results when the object of their curiosity contains a potentially lethal drug like pain relieving fentanyl.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a consumer advisory Thursday, reminding parents, caregivers, and medical personnel of the deadly consequences posed to children from accidental contact with, or ingestion of fentanyl patches, which are marketed under the brand name Duragesic.
The patches are prescribed for patients experiencing constant pain - for example, cancer patients. They contain a strong synthetic opiate that relieves pain for three days. But when a child swallows a patch or applies it to his or her skin, the drug can slow breathing and result in death.
An advisory on the FDA website says "Young children are at particular risk of accidental exposure to fentanyl patches. Their mobility and curiosity provide opportunities for them to find lost patches, take improperly discarded patches from the trash, or find improperly stored patches, all of which may result in patches being placed in their mouths or sticking to their skin. Additionally, young children are at risk of exposure when being held by someone wearing a partially detached patch which can then transfer to the child. "
According to the FDA warning, there have been 26 incidents of accidental fentanyl exposure since 1997, resulting in ten deaths and 12 cases requiring hospitalization. Most of the cases involved children.
“This reinforces the need to talk to patients and their families," says Douglas Throckmorton, M.D., deputy director of FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, in a written statement, "to make sure that these patches are stored, used and disposed of carefully.”
April 17th, 2012
06:31 PM ET
About 20 million people are using the drug opium or one of its derivatives. A new study suggests new reasons for viewing this as problematic.
Research in the British Medical Journal finds strong connections between people using opium and conditions such as cancer, circulatory diseases and respiratory conditions.
"Long term recreational opioid use, even at relatively modest levels, causes important increases in death from multiple different causes," said study co-author Paul Brennan, head of the Section of Genetics at the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France.
Why it matters
Although this study focused on opium for recreational purposes, the research also has significant implications for medicinal uses of opium-derived painkillers - such as morphine and codeine, Irfan Dhalla, assistant professor at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, wrote in an accompanying editorial.
April 16th, 2012
12:01 AM ET
For most parents - even the strongest believers in the benefits of vaccines - anticipating how their newborns' facial expressions will turn from curious to shock before they burst into tears from the needle stick, can make the next well-baby check-up something they would love to skip.
But doctors at Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia, have found an easy way - actually five easy ways - to help calm a baby's pain (and anxiety), without any medication.
It's called the "5 S's": swaddling (tightly wrapping a baby in a blanket almost like a burrito), side/stomach position, shushing sounds, swinging and sucking.
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.