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Weekly Drug News Round-Up: January 18, 2017

Teva Receives FDA Approval for Vantrela ER

Vantrela ER tablets must be swallowed whole to prevent a possibly fatal overdose of hydrocodone Read More...

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Teva’s Vantrela ER (hydrocodone bitartrate) extended-release tablets, an abuse deterrent formulation. Vantrela ER is used for severe pain requiring a daily, around-the-clock, long-term opioid not amenable to other treatments. Vantrela ER can reduce, but not totally prevent, oral, intranasal and intravenous abuse of the drug when the tablets are manipulated. Side effects occurring in at least 2% of patients treated with Vantrela ER include nausea, constipation, headache, somnolence, vomiting, dizziness, and itching, among other reactions. Last week, the FDA also approved Arymo ER (morphine sulfate), another abuse-deterrent formulation.

Guidelines Raise Blood Pressure Threshold to Start Meds in Older Adults

Lowering blood pressure is known to reduce the risk of heart problems, stroke, and death Read More...

According to new guidelines put out this week by the American College of Physicians (ACP) and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), treatment of high blood pressure in adults 60 and older should now begin when persistent systolic blood pressure (the upper number) is at or above the 150 mmHg threshold, instead of 140 mmHg. Experts suggest tighter control of blood pressure in some older adults can be linked with low blood pressure leading to fainting. However, some higher risk groups, with stroke or heart disease history may need more aggressive treatment with a systolic goal of under 140 mmHg. To learn more, see: Beat That: 12 Easy Tips For Maintaining A Healthy Heart

Steep Rise in Pregnant Women Using Opioids

Between 2000-2009, opioid use among women giving birth increased from 1.19 to 5.63 per 1,000 hospital births/year Read More...

A report prepared for the Congress by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) notes an yearly average of roughly 21,000 pregnant women aged 15 to 44 misused opioids in the past month. In addition, there was a dramatic rise in the number of infants born with a dependency on opioids, such as heroin and prescription painkillers like fentanyl, oxycodone (OxyContin) and hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Vicodin). Younger women, age 15 to 17 years, were more likely to use opioids for non-medical reasons during pregnancy. The authors suggest special treatment programs for pregnant/postpartum women should be a focus.

A 'Superbug' Resistant to All Antibiotics Leads to U.S. Fatality

Concerns have soared over past decades as germs have developed resistance to widely used antibiotics Read More...

A recent report published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report detailed a case of a woman who had recently returned from India and died in September from a "superbug" infection that was resistant all antibiotics. This report joins a growing number of cases of antibiotic resistance. According to testing, the bacteria the woman had acquired at a hospital in India was a form of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) and was resistant to all available antimicrobial drugs, 26 in total. Doctors stressed that the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant germs is caused by the overuse of these drugs -- often for conditions for which they are useless like a cold or the flu.

The Flu is Ramping Up Nationwide

It take several weeks for immunity to build after a flu shot, so get it soon if you haven’t had one Read More...

Public health experts stress that influenza activity probably has not peaked yet, and there’s still time for flu shots. High risk groups -- the very young, the elderly, the chronically ill (i.e, asthma, HIV) and pregnant women -- are especially vulnerable to flu complications. Right now, the heaviest flu activity is occurring in the East and West, with the center of the country expected in the next few weeks. The dominant strain this year is H3N2, and all circulating viruses are found in this year’s vaccine. The antiviral drugs Tamiflu (oseltamivir), now available generically, and Relenza (zanamivir)  can help lessen flu symptoms if taken early.