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Last Updated
June 24, 2016
NEWSROOM > Latest News > Current
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March 22, 2016
FDA warns about several safety issues with opioid pain medicines; requires label changes
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning about several safety issues with the entire class of opioid pain 
medicines. These safety risks are potentially harmful interactions with numerous other medications, problems with 
the adrenal glands, and decreased sex hormone levels. We are requiring changes to the labels of all opioid drugs to 
warn about these risks.

  • Opioids can interact with antidepressants and migraine medicines to cause a serious central nervous system reaction called serotonin syndrome, in which high levels of the chemical serotonin build up in the brain and cause toxicity (see List of Serotonergic Medicines).
  • Taking opioids may lead to a rare, but serious condition in which the adrenal glands do not produce adequate amounts of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol helps the body respond to stress.
  • Long-term use of opioids may be associated with decreased sex hormone levels and symptoms such as reduced interest in sex, impotence, or infertility.
  • Opioids are a class of powerful narcotic pain medicines that are used to treat moderate to severe pain that may not respond well to other pain medicines (see List of Opioids). They can help manage pain when other treatments and medicines are not able to provide enough pain relief, but they also have serious risks including misuse and abuse, addiction, overdose, and death.
    March 22, 2016
    Study: One in Six Seniors Takes Dangerous Combination of Medications, Supplements
    More than 15% of older Americans took potentially life-threatening combinations of prescription medications, over-
    the-counter drugs and dietary supplements in 2011, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine. The 
    2011 numbers represented a twofold increase from 2005, when 8.4% of seniors did so. Patients should always tell 
    their doctor and pharmacist about all of the drugs and supplements they are taking, or plan to take, including 
    over-the-counter medications, said lead researcher Dr. Dima Qato.
    
    See Related article: Polypharmacy: Time to Get Beyond Numbers.
    See Related Report:Accelerating Progress in Prescription Medicine Adherence: The NCPIE Adherence Action Agenda 
    
    March 21, 2016
    New Guide to Intervening Early to Prevent Substance Use Disorders
    The guide, launched online by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, (NIDA), offers research-based principles that 
    affect a child’s self-control and overall mental health, starting during pregnancy through the eighth year of life.  It 
    recognizes that while substance use generally begins during the teen years, it has known biological, psychological, 
    social, and environmental roots that begin even before birth. 
    
    Principles of Substance Abuse Prevention for Early Childhood addresses the major influences on 
    a child’s early development such as lack of school readiness skills, insecure attachment issues, and signs of 
    uncontrolled aggression in childhood behaviors.  Special attention is given to a child’s most vulnerable periods 
    during sensitive transitions, such as a parents’ divorce, moving to a new home, or starting school. There is strong 
    evidence that a stable home environment, adequate nutrition, physical and cognitive stimulation, and supportive 
    parenting can lead to good developmental outcomes.
    March 16, 2016
    CDC Issues Opioid Prescribing Guidelines for Chronic Pain
    As part of the urgent response to the epidemic of overdose deaths, CDC issued new recommendations for 
    prescribing opioid medications for chronic pain, excluding cancer, palliative, and end-of-life care. The CDC 
    Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, United States, 2016 will help primary care providers ensure 
    the safest and most effective treatment for their patients.
    
    The U.S. is currently experiencing an epidemic of prescription opioid misuse and overdose. Increased prescribing 
    and sales of opioids— a quadrupling since 1999— helped create and fuel this epidemic. The guideline provides 
    recommendations on the use of opioids in treating chronic pain (that is, pain lasting longer than three months or 
    past the time of normal tissue healing). Chronic pain is a public health concern in the United States, and patients 
    with chronic pain deserve safe and effective pain management.  This new guideline is for primary care 
    providers—who account for prescribing nearly half of all opioid prescriptions—treating adult patients for chronic 
    pain in outpatient settings. It is not intended for guiding treatment of patients in active cancer treatment, 
    palliative care, or end-of-life care.
    March 14, 2016
    Script Your Future Wallet Cards and Infographic in Chinese, Vietnamese, and Russian
    Script Your Future (SYF) wallet cards and medication adherence infographics are now available in English, Spanish, 
    Chinese, Vietnamese, Hmong, and Russian.  The materials are free for download, printing, distribution, and web site 
    linking.  The National Consumers League (NCL) leads the Script Your Future campaign, with partners from every 
    sector of the health care system, including health care professionals, patient communities, family caregivers, 
    pharmacies, health insurance plans, pharmaceutical companies and associations, as well as government agencies 
    and researchers.  SYF also includes coordinated national communications, paid advertising and targeted outreach in 
    six cities around the nation: Birmingham, AL; Cincinnati, OH; Baltimore, MD; Raleigh-Durham, NC; Sacramento, 
    CA; and Providence, RI.