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Weekly News Round Up - August 2, 2011

Free Birth Control and Other Preventive Care to Be Paid by US Insurers

Institute of Medicine’s recommendations accepted by HHS to ensure US women get free evidence-based preventive care Read more...

Free birth control made headlines this week: In a historic health care move for US women, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced women will be eligible to receive eight preventive care measures, free of charge, starting August 1, 2012. The new coverage, enacted as part of the The Affordable Care Act, will increase access to FDA-approved birth control methods and sterilization, HPV testing, screening for pregnancy-related gestational diabetes, breastfeeding counseling and equipment, and screening and counseling for HIV, domestic violence, and sexually transmitted diseases. New health plans will be required to include these services.

Evital: Unapproved "Morning-After" Pill May Be Counterfeit, Ineffective, Unsafe

An unapproved emergency contraceptive medication has found it’s way into US distribution, possibly targeting hispanic communities Read more...

It seems obvious that medications should only be purchased at legal US pharmacies, but counterfeit prescription drugs that cross US borders are a constant threat. The Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning that an unapproved emergency contraceptive pill, Evital, has been found illegally in the US through imports reviews. Evital, available in other countries, is not approved in the US. The FDA suspects the product is counterfeit and may be ineffective and unsafe. Women who have taken Evital labeled as the 1.5 mg tablet should contact their doctor or pharmacist if they have experienced any problems. Submit adverse event information directly to the FDA by using the FDA’s MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program.

Anti-Heroin Vaccine Shows Promise in Preventing High in Animals

Investigational vaccine shows an effective response in heroin addicted rats Read more...

When we think of vaccines, it’s usually of the flu, chicken-pox, or tetanus-type, right? Well, investigators at The Scripps Research Institute are studying vaccines for a drastically different use: to treat addiction to drugs of abuse. And the results in animals are promising, so far. The latest vaccine, under research in rats addicted to heroin, works by producing antibodies. The antibodies prevent heroin from reaching the brain and producing it’s euphoric response. Addicted rats that received the vaccine were less likely to try to press levers to self-administer heroin compared to non-vaccinated rats. Human vaccine trials are ongoing for other addictive substances, such as cocaine and nicotine.

Drug Interaction Alert: Linezolid (Zyvox) Has Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor Action

Common psychiatric medications linked to serious drug interaction with the antibiotic linezolid (Zyvox) Read more...

Drug interactions warnings are so frequent sometimes we are tempted to overlook them. But consumers and health care providers should take note of a potentially serious drug interaction noted by the FDA. Linezolid, an antibiotic, also blocks the enzymatic action of monoamine oxidase A, which breaks down serotonin in the brain. Drugs such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), and others interact with serotonin in the brain. It is speculated that these medications, known as serotonergics, may lead to high brain levels of serotonin when given with linezolid. This drug interaction may lead to Serotonin Syndrome - which may include confusion, muscle twitching, excessive sweating, shivering, and fever.

Tamoxifen Shown to Avert Breast Cancer Return For Over 10 Years

Large, worldwide study defines benefits of 5-year tamoxifen therapy after breast cancer diagnosis Read more...

Roughly 40,000 US women were predicted to die in 2010 from breast cancer. But here is the good news: death rates from breast cancer, while still too high, have been decreasing since 1990. Tamoxifen is considered by many health providers to be one of the great cancer drug discoveries of the 20th century. A new study, done worldwide in 21,000 women after breast cancer treatments showed that tamoxifen lowered the risk of death by one-third compared to women not taking the drug. This lower risk of death was also seen 10 years after they stopped taking the drug. And another added bonus: tamoxifen is generic so drug treatment is affordable.