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Last Updated
September 23, 2016
NEWSROOM > Latest News > Current
Current | 2015 News | 2014 News | Prior to 2014

June 24, 2016
Nearly 1 in 3 on Medicare Prescribed Commonly Abused
Nearly 12 million Medicare beneficiaries received at least one prescription in 2015 for an opioid analgesic at a cost 
of $4.1 billion, according to a new report from the Office of Inspector General (OIG) for HHS. Nearly one-third of 
Medicare beneficiaries received at least one prescription for commonly abused opioids in 2015, and those who did 
received an average of five such prescriptions or refills, the report finds. "We are concerned about the high 
spending and the number of people receiving opioids," said OIG's Miriam Anderson, who led the study, which was 
released Wednesday. "This raises concerns about abuse. This is a serious problem facing our country." Among all 
ages, there were nearly 19,000 fatal overdoses on prescription opioids in 2014, which was the most on record and 
the last year for which that data set was available. Medicare officials say they are reviewing the report closely. 
June 15, 2016
FDA strengthens drug safety warning for type 2 diabetes medicines
FDA has strengthened the existing warning about the risk of acute kidney injury for the type 2 diabetes medicines 
canagliflozin (Invokana, Invokamet—Janssen Pharms) and dapagliflozin (Farxiga, Xigduo XR—AstraZeneca). Based 
on recent reports, the agency has revised the warnings in the drug labels to include information about acute kidney 
injury and added recommendations to minimize this risk. From March 2013 to October 2015, FDA received reports 
of 101 confirmable cases of acute kidney injury, some requiring hospitalization and dialysis, with canagliflozin or 
dapagliflozin use. FDA recommends health care professionals consider factors that may predispose patients to acute 
kidney injury prior to starting them on canagliflozin or dapagliflozin. These include decreased blood volume; chronic 
kidney insufficiency; congestive heart failure; and taking other medications such as diuretics, blood pressure 
medicines, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Read more at link above. 
June 9, 2016
Doctor-assisted Suicide Legal in California Starting June 9,
The California End of Life Option Act goes into effect on 
June 9, 2016, making California the fifth state to legalize physician-assisted dying. Under the law, terminally ill 
adults in the state who have less than 6 months to live can obtain a physician's prescription for a lethal dose of "aid-
in-dying" drugs. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the controversial legislation last October. The law requires that a patient 
requesting lethal drugs make three formal requests to their attending physician (one written and two oral, 15 days 
apart). In addition, it requires informed consent and says the drugs must be self-administered. (Wall Street Journal 
(06/09/16) Gershman, Jacob)
June 9, 2016
XtheRisk -- Protecting Older Adults from Deceptive Internet Pharmacies
The Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP Global), the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies, and the National 
Consumers league (NCL) have formed a partnership to provide tools to seniors and their caregivers to stay safe 
when shopping for medication on the Internet. "Escalating costs for hundreds of drugs prescribed to treat chronic 
conditions not necessarily covered fully by Medicare make it more likely that (older adults), who often are living on 
fixed incomes, will turn to the Internet to look for less expensive options," ASOP Global executive director Libby 
Barney said. The high costs often prompt older adults to turn to the Internet, but according to a review of more 
than 11,000 web sites selling prescription medication to U.S. consumers, about 96% are out of compliance with 
U.S. laws and 50% of the medication sold are fake or counterfeit. The organizations encourage people to avoid sites 
that do not require a valid prescription, sell prescription or medication after the buyer completes a questionnaire, do 
not have a licensed pharmacist available to consult, and are not verified by the National Association of State Boards 
of Pharmacy.  See XtheRisk.com.   
June 7, 2016
FDA Warns of Serious Heart Problems with High Doses of Loperamide
FDA has warned that people taking higher-than-recommended doses of the diarrhea medicine loperamide (Imodium)
—including through abuse or misuse of the product—run the risk of serious, potentially fatal heart problems. The 
agency noted that the risk of these serious heart problems may also increase when high doses of loperamide, which 
is sold both OTC and by prescription, are taken with several kinds of medicines that interact with the antidiarrheal 
drug. Most of the reported serious heart problems were in people intentionally misusing and abusing high doses of 
loperamide either to self-treat symptoms of opioid withdrawal or to reach a euphoric state. FDA said health care 
professionals should consider loperamide as a potential cause of unexplained cardiac events including QT interval 
prolongation, Torsades de Pointes or other ventricular arrhythmias, syncope, and cardiac arrest. Patients taking 
loperamide should be advised to follow the dosing recommendations on the label, as taking higher-than-
recommended doses, intentionally or unintentionally, could lead to abnormal heart rhythms and serious cardiac 
events. Patients should also be warned that drug interactions with commonly used medicines can raise the risk of 
serious cardiac adverse events.