Patient Care scoured the web to find the top news in medicine this month that could affect your practice. Which ones made the cut?
Headline Medical News: June 2018. Scroll through the slideshow above for highlights from the top 6 medical news stories that could impact clinical practice:
Major Booze Study Shut Down. An investigation at the National Institutes of Health found that a $100 million study on alcohol was tainted by funding from major alcohol manufacturers. The international, 10-year randomized clinical trial, funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), was supposed to examine whether a daily drink can protect against heart attacks and stroke. However, officials at the NIAAA, had solicited funding from alcohol manufactures and discussed study methods with the groups via email. “Officials at the alcohol institute lobbied beer and liquor companies to help fund the $100-million trial . . . scientists were flown to industry meetings where they described the proposed trial and suggested that the results would support moderate drinking,” The New York Times reported on June 15, 2018.
Purdue Pharma is Getting Sued, Again. Massachusetts joined the growing number of states suing OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, but this lawsuit is a little different. Massachusetts is the first state to also include 16 of Purdue’s current and past directors in the lawsuit for misleading doctors and patients about the risks of the pain medication. The civil suit cites information from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health that states over 11 000 of the state’s residents have died of opioid-related overdoses in the last 10 years, 2000 of whom died last year. Of the deceased, at least 671 people filled prescriptions for OxyContin. Massachusetts attorney general, Maura Healey, stated at a news conference on June 12, “’We found that Purdue engaged in a multibillion-dollar enterprise to mislead us about their drugs . . . Purdue pushed prescribers to give higher doses to keep patients on drugs for longer periods of time, without regard to the very real risks of addiction, overdose and death,’” National Public Radio reported on June 13, 2018.
Major Diet Study Getting a Makeover. The New England Journal of Medicine retracted its 2013 study that found a Mediterranean diet reduced the risk of heart attack, stroke, or death from cardiovascular causes vs a low-fat diet. The authors are replacing the paper with a corrected version that has softer language about the conclusions. “The revised paper says only that people eating the Mediterranean diet had fewer strokes and heart attacks, not, as the original paper claimed, that the diet was the direct cause of those health benefits,” National Public Radio reported on June 13, 2018.
Cannabis– Coming Soon to a Pharmacy Near You. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first cannabis-based drug for the treatment of severe forms of epilepsy. Epidiolex (cannabidiol) is an oral solution for the treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome in patients aged 2 years and older. “This approval serves as a reminder that advancing sound development programs that properly evaluate active ingredients contained in marijuana can lead to important medical therapies. And, the FDA is committed to this kind of careful scientific research and drug development,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, in an FDA news release on June 25, 2018.
Opioid Prescriptions on the Decline. Opioid prescriptions are decreasing, according to the American Medical Association Opioid Task Force 2018 Progress Report. Between 2013 and 2017, there was a 22.2% reduction (55 million) in opioid prescriptions. Between 2016 and 2017 alone, prescriptions decreased by 9% or 19 million fewer prescriptions. “The American Medical Association (AMA) urges physicians to continue to make judicious prescribing decisions to ensure comprehensive, compassionate pain care and talk with their patients about safe storage and disposal of all unused and unwanted medications,” the progress report stated.
Growing Number of Prescription Drugs Linked to Depression. Common prescription drugs may be contributing to depression among US adults, according to a new study in JAMA. While many patients are prescribed drugs that are known to have depression as a side effect, the study found that the risk of depression increased with each additional drug taken at the same time. The number of medications that had depression as a side effect was larger than researchers anticipated as well. Researchers used the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to analyze the medications, and their side effects, used by a sample of 26 192 American adults and found that over 200 medications have depression or suicidal symptoms listed as potential side effects.