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Weekly News Round Up - September 14, 2011

Study: Two Doses of HPV Vaccine May Offer As Much Protection as Three

Researchers note rates of cervical cancer may decline if two HPV vaccines doses, instead of three, can be given to more women Read More...

Getting more for your money may extend to cervical cancer vaccine prevention programs, as suggested in a study by the US National Cancer Institute (NCI). Data from the Costa Rica Vaccine Trial (n=7466) revealed that women who received only two doses of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Cervarix, instead of the standard three still had similar protection against HPV infection. Even one dose offered enhanced protection. More studies will be required to define long-term effectiveness of fewer doses.

Electronically Link Physician’s Office with Pharmacies to Enhance Medication Adherence

Kaiser Permanente study: pharmacies integrated with physician's electronic health records (EHRs) improves prescription adherence Read More...

Once a physician writes a new prescription, it is usually up to the patient to get it filled. But maybe they can’t - it might be too expensive, not in stock, or maybe they just forget. Most doctors and pharmacies are not electronically integrated, and it is difficult for doctors to monitor prescription fill rates. Kaiser Permanente Colorado is an integrated health care system where physicians and pharmacies can communicate electronically. A new study from this group notes higher rates of adherence for patients picking up first-time heart and diabetes prescriptions when compared to rates in non-integrated systems. More importantly, linking pharmacies and physicians may allow examination of why patients do not get their prescriptions filled, and what can be done about these barriers to improve adherence rates.

Harvard Study: Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) May Lead to Kidney Cancer

Long-term, regular use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may lead to slightly higher risk for kidney cancer Read More...

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve) are taken by millions of patients for arthritis, headaches, fevers, and to relieve minor aches and pains. A new study finds that long-term, regular use of these agents may slightly increase the risk for kidney cancer. A review of data from over 120,000 individuals in the Nurses Health Study and Health Professionals Follow Up Study found 333 cases of renal cell carcinoma over a 16 to 20 year follow-up period. However, experts explain that for most patients who use these drugs intermittently, the risks are low. The risk appears highest for patients who use NSAIDs daily over a period of many years.

Are Patients Afraid to Discuss Depression with Their Primary Care Doctor?

Forty-three percent of patients uneasy about discussing depression with their primary physician: Why? Read More...

The use of antidepressants, such as Zoloft (sertraline), Cymbalta (duloxetine) or Lexapro (escitalopram) are widely accepted treatments for depression. A phone survey supported by the National Institute of Mental Health found that 43% of patients do not want to talk their primary health care provider about depression. Reasons include fear of being prescribed an antidepressant, antidepressant side effects, not believing primary care providers deal with emotional issues, and confidentiality. Bottom line: patients should consider talking to their primary care doctor about depression. Primary care doctors can direct patients to the best course of action including specialists, suggest options that may be medication-free, and, if medicine is needed, help control any adverse effects.

FDA Advisory Committee Recommends Xarelto For Approval

Committee backs Xarelto for stroke prevention, even after FDA staff produce negative review Read More...

The FDA’s Cardiovascular and Renal Drugs Advisory Committee, in a 9-2 vote, recommended approval of Johnson and Johnson’s Xarelto (rivaroxaban) for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation patients. Rivaroxaban is a direct oral factor Xa inhibitor already approved to prevent deep vein thrombosis in knee and hip replacements. Rivaroxaban has been found to be as good, but not better than warfarin treatment for stroke prevention, but INR blood testing is not required with rivaroxaban. An FDA reviewer challenged the approval and suggested that warfarin, the comparative study drug, was not optimally dosed and that might favor results toward rivaroxaban. Additionally, panel members were concerned about spikes in clotting events when rivaroxaban was stopped as patients were transitioned back to warfarin. Some panel members suggested additional safety studies should be done prior to stroke prevention approval.