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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Young Adult Prescription Drug Misuse Prevention

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Prescription drug misuse has fast become the most commonly abused substance after alcohol and marijuana for people 14 and older, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). In the fight against prescription drug misuse among young adults, prevention efforts need to focus more on peers and less on peer pressure, according to a new study funded by NIDA and conducted by Purdue University.

"With the 18-29 age group we may be spending unnecessary effort working a peer pressure angle in prevention and intervention efforts. That does not appear to be an issue for this age group," said study co-author Brian Kelly, a professor of sociology and anthropology who studies drug use and youth cultures. "Rather, we found more subtle components of the peer context as influential. These include peer drug associations, peers as points of drug access, and the motivation to misuse prescription drugs to have pleasant times with friends."

The research will be presented at the 109th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association by study co-author Alexandra Marin, a sociology doctoral student at Purdue.

"People normally think about peer pressure in that peers directly and actively pressure an individual to do what they are doing," said Kelly, who also is director of Purdue's Center for Research on Young People's Health. "This study looks at that form of direct social pressure as well as more indirect forms of social pressure. We find that friends are not actively pressuring them, but it's a desire to have a good time alongside friends that matters."

Researchers looked at the role of peer factors on three prescription drug misuse outcomes:
  • The frequency of misuse.
  • Administering drugs in ways other than swallowing.
  • Symptoms of dependency on prescription drugs.

"We found that peer drug associations are positively associated with all three outcomes," Kelly said. "If there are high perceived social benefits or low perceived social consequences within the peer network, they are more likely to lead to a greater frequency of misuse, as well as a greater use of non-oral methods of administration and a greater likelihood of displaying symptoms of dependence. The motivation to misuse prescription drugs to have a good time with friends is also associated with all three outcomes. The number of sources of drugs in their peer group also matters, which is notable since sharing prescription drugs is common among these young adults."

Source: Science Daily

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

More People Use E-Cigarettes for Smoking Cessation

its hard keeping this one on one hand and the ...A new study has found that that more smokers use e-cigarettes to help with smoking cessation than prescription drugs like Chantix or nicotine alternatives like gums and patches. E-cigarettes have been in the spotlight over the last year as cities and states work with health officials to determine how to treat the popular devices. 

The firm Kantar Media, conducted a study of consumer behavior by mailing a questionnaire about health-related behavior to about 50,000 American households, and 20,000 people responded, according to Time. In the last year, the survey showed that of adults who said they used a product to help them quit smoking, 57 percent used e-cigarettes, 39 percent used a prescription drug like Chantix, and 39 percent used over-the-counter gums or patches. 

The study found that almost 6 million adults in the United States use e-cigarettes, while 44 million use a tobacco or nicotine product. The research showed that the average E-cigarette users are more likely than the national average to be young and male and have a lower income.

E-cigarettes are still in their infancy, which means there has been little research on the efficacy of e-cigarettes as useful smoking cessation products; experts continue to debate whether or not they are effective tools. In May, a study was published in the journal Addiction which found that smokers who switch to e-cigarettes are 60 percent more likely to be successful in quitting smoking, when compared to gums or patches

However, a group of leading lung health organizations issued a position statement which urged governments to ban or limit the use of e-cigarettes until more research is conducted and more is known about the devices’ health effects. The Forum of International Respiratory Societies, comprised of more than 70,000 members worldwide, said, “Since electronic cigarettes generate less tar and carcinogens than combustible cigarettes, using electronic cigarettes may reduce disease caused by those components. However, the health risks of electronic cigarettes have not been adequately studied. Studies looking at whether electronic cigarettes can aid smoking cessation have had inconsistent results.”

The Kantar Media study did not determine if e-cigarettes are an effective tool to quit smoking, according to the article.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Brief Interventions May Not Help People With Drug Problems

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Screening for signs of alcohol or drug abuse in the doctor's office has become a common practice. Just asking a couple simple questions can help physicians determine if a patient may have a problem with alcohol, which opens the door for discussion and can lead to a patient seeking help for their problem. However, while brief counseling from a doctor may help some problem drinkers two new studies have found that brief counseling may not be effective in counteracting drug use, according to NPR.

The studies come in the wake of public health officials urging primary care doctors and hospital emergency rooms to ask their patients about drug use, and to give those with a drug problem a 10- to 15-minute counseling session, called a brief intervention. The hope is that the brief intervention will encourage the patient to seek additional help.

In one study researchers observed 500 people who were determined by doctors to have a drug problem. Researchers then divided the 500 into three separate groups. The first two groups received brief counseling; however, the third group received no counseling at all. After six months, researchers determined that the two groups who received counseling had not reduced their use any more than the third group.

The second study looked at people who received brief counseling and a short phone call two weeks later. Researchers found that the patients had not reduced their drug use any more than people who did not receive counseling. They found that the only people who received brief counseling and sought treatment for their problem were those people with the most severe drug problems.

“I think it was wishful thinking that a problem as complex could be solved with a simple intervention,” said Richard Saitz of Boston University, author of the first study.

Dr. H. Westley Clark, Director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, told NPR that the brief interventions model is very useful for many patients. “But as you popularize the intervention, you want to refine your approach,” he noted.

The studies were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"Happiness Quotient" Jeopardizes FDA Ability to Act Against Tobacco

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Smoking is considered one of the hardest vices to let go of, despite knowing the fact that cigarettes kill. While the FDA has put up a strong fight over the years, using advertisements that highlight the dangers of smoking, which has led a number of people away from cigarettes; sadly, many smokers simply do not respond to the FDA’s call to action. It turns out that the FDA may find that their job of dissuading smokers may get harder due to what is called the “happiness quotient,” according to The New York Times.

New federal tobacco regulations, scheduled to be finalized by summer 2015, have within them a cost-benefit calculation known as the happiness quotient; the calculation weighs the health benefits of quitting smoking against the pleasure a smoker loses from quitting. The benefits from reducing smoking must be discounted by 70 percent in order to offset the loss of pleasure smokers experience when they quit, according to the article.

The happiness quotient could make the new tobacco regulations much more susceptible to legal challenges, experts told the newspaper. Economists argued that the happiness quotient is too high, in a paper submitted to the FDA. They are calling on the FDA to change the quotient before the regulations go into effect.

A spokeswoman for the FDA, Jennifer Haliski, told the newspaper there is “still a great deal of uncertainty” surrounding the calculation, and that the agency was helping fund research to explore the issue.

More than 69,000 public comments have been made to the FDA regarding the proposed tobacco regulations.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Prescription Drug User Fee Act Needs Reform

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It is no secret that Americans are bombarded with pharmaceutical advertisements from every media front. As a result we take more prescription drugs than any other society in the world and many of the drugs Americans take are highly addictive. It seems like every year the FDA approves a new prescription painkiller, even if the doctors on FDA panels are against such approvals - as was the case with Zohydro ER (pure hydrocodone).

How does this happen? The answer has to do with a law that was passed in 1992 that allowed the FDA to speed up the trial and approval process of new drugs - called the Prescription Drug User Fee Act. Since the law went into effect, pharmaceutical companies had the option to pay the FDA fees to speed up the approval process. Drug companies have no shortage of cash and are more than happy to use their bottomless pockets to get a drug out on the market as soon as possible. What could possibly go wrong?

As you might imagine, a new study has found that more prescription drugs than ever before have received black-box safety warnings or have been completely withdrawn from the market, almost 27 percent, since the Prescription Drug User Fee Act went into effect, reports CBS. When you compare that number to the 21 percent of drugs that received black-box safety warnings and/or were withdrawn before 1992, it is easy to see that not enough research is being conducted on drugs before they are released on the market.

“New drugs have a one-in-three chance of acquiring a new black-box warning or being withdrawn for safety reasons within twenty-five years of approval,” the researchers wrote in Health Affairs. “We believe that the ultimate solution is stronger U.S. drug approval standards.”

Researchers note that after the law was passed, median drug approval times were reduced from 33.6 months in 1979-1986, to 16.1 months in 1997-2002. 

“Our findings suggest the need for reforms to reduce patients’ exposure to unsafe drugs, such as a statement or symbol in the labeling, medication guides for patients, and marketing materials indicating that a drug was approved only recently,” the researchers wrote.