Today's News and Commentary

About pharma

Steep Climb In Benzodiazepine Prescribing By Primary Care Doctors: Are benzodiazepines (like Valium) the new opioids? The study found that from “2003 through 2015, the use of benzodiazepines in ambulatory care increased substantially from 3.8% to 7.4% of visits, including coprescribing with other sedating medications. Use among psychiatrists was stable (29.6% vs 30.2%) but increased among all other types of physicians, including primary care physicians (3.6% vs 7.5%), who as a group accounted for about half of all benzodiazepine visits.” These drugs are used for anxiety, insomnia and seizures; however, this research found that the biggest increase in prescriptions was for back pain and other types of chronic pain. Is this class of drugs replacing opioids? What is being done to make sure we don’t repeat the same mistakes?

Read the news story from NPR
Read the original research

Use compulsory license and put ceiling to curb prices of patented medicines: Government panel: One way countries can get around international patent agreements is by declaring a public health emergency and using a “compulsory license” for drugs that will help address the crisis. The “loophole” was meant to help developing countries afford branded treatments in the face of epidemics. This article provides a recent example (India) of countries that stretch the purpose of these licenses to cover very expensive drugs to treat cancers and rare diseases.

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About the public’s health

Outbreak of Salmonella Infections Linked to Pet Hedgehogs: I didn’t know “this was a thing.” People who keep pet hedgehogs have been warned by the CDC to be very careful not to kiss or cuddle them, since many are infected with a salmonella species. Wash your hands after touching!

Read the CDC warning

CHOP opens first food pharmacy for patient families in West Philadelphia: The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has opened a “food pharmacy” to provide neighborhood children with a food bank and nutritional counseling. Add this initiative to the others I have mentioned that document how hospitals are addressing social determinants of health.

Read the announcement