Antidepressants are prescribed for conditions other than depression nearly 50% of the time, as many doctors give them to patients to treat conditions including anxiety, insomnia, fibromyalgia and chronic pain, according to Canadian researchers. 2 out of every 3 antidepressant prescriptions given for conditions other than depression were for off-label use. The results are not entirely surprising given that antidepressant use in the US has skyrocketed, surging nearly 400% between 1988-1994 and 2005-2008, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the study, the researchers found only 55% of antidepressant prescriptions were actually for depression. Other conditions antidepressants were prescribed for were anxiety disorders (18.5%), insomnia (10%); chronic pain (6%) and panic disorders (4%). Posted May 24, 2016. Via Healthday.
A major insurance company is aiming to cut opioid use among its members by 25% in 3 years in an effort to help combat the prescription painkiller epidemic. Cigna says it will limit the quantities of prescription opioids supplied when appropriate and is working to find additional ways to curb use by high-risk customers. The insurer is also endorsing quick adoption of new CDC guidelines on opioid use, prescribing the pain pills for the shortest possible time for acute pain and education patients about risks and options before initiating long-term opioid therapy. Cigna is also backing efforts that would require doctors to search a state’s Prescription Drug Management Program database when prescribing more than 21 days of opioid drugs. Posted May 19, 2016. Via Company News Release.
Lyrica (pregabalin), which is prescribed for epilepsy and fibromyalgia, may increase the risk for birth defects in women, according to a new study. Researchers conducted a study that study involved 164 women who took Lyrica during their pregnancy’s first trimester, as well as 656 pregnant women who didn’t take the drug. Most of the women on Lyrica started it before pregnancy but stopped taking the drug an average of 6 weeks into pregnancy. Women that took Lyrica were 6 times more likely to give birth to a baby with a central nervous defect compared to women not on the drug, the researchers reported in Neurology. Page Pennell, MD, an associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, wrote in an accompanying editorial suggesting that women who are pregnant or a planning to be should avoid Lyrica. Posted May 18, 2016.Via Healthday.
Doctors should avoid prescribing the oral antifungal medicine ketoconazole to treat skin and nail infections due to a risk of liver damage, problems with the adrenal gland, and potential interactions with other drugs. A safety review conducted by the FDA found that oral ketoconazole is still being prescribed by many physicians for these 2 conditions, even though labeling was changed 3 years ago to advise of these risk and indications for the conditions were removed. Following this change, an individual taking oral ketoconazole for a nail fungal infection died. The FDA recommends that ketoconazole tablets should only be used to treat serious fungal infections when no other options are available. However, the agency adds that topical forms (e.g. creams) of ketoconazole have not been associated with the risks noted. Posted May 19, 2016. Via FDA.
France is tightening rules surrounding how drug trials in humans are conducted following the death of a volunteer involved in a trial for the Portuguese pharmaceutical company Bial. The Phase I trial, which is designed to test the safety of a drug only, enrolled 90 healthy people, yet 6 people became seriously ill while taking the experimental medication requiring hospitalization. A report from French authorities faulted both Bial and Biotrial, the laboratory conducting the trial, for taking days to notify the National Agency for Drug Safety after the first volunteer fell seriously ill. All trials of the drug, which is intended to treat mood and anxiety problems, as well as movement coordination disorders linked to neurological conditions, have since been suspended. Posted May 23, 2016. Via Associated Press.
Jonathan Block is MedShadow’s content editor. He has previously worked for Psychiatry Advisor, Modern Healthcare, Health Reform Week and The Pink Sheet.