Our children have been allergic to peanuts since they were babies, breaking out in hives when there were even trace amounts in any food they ate. So we’ve listed their allergy in all the forms we fill out each year for the school, and avoided bringing peanuts into our home. Then one child brought home a form that asked us to provide the school with an EpiPen, or get documentation from a doctor that showed he did not need it. It turns out that in 2013 Congress passed the federal School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act to help protect students…

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When a patient with breast cancer had more than the usual amount of toxic effects from the chemotherapy regimen she was on, Hardeep Phull, MD, an oncologist with the Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group in San Diego, was puzzled. “It’s normal to have some side effects, but she was extremely tired, and the more tired she got, the more supplements she took, thinking it would boost her energy. When I noticed she drank what looked like a milkshake, I asked her what’s in it, and turns out it was milk with turmeric, and she had two bottles of it a day…

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When we think of drug interactions and adverse effects, we worry more about adults — and particularly seniors — who are often on a cocktail of drugs. But new research shows that children and teens are also at risk for adverse effects – some quite serious – from being on multiple drugs. The study, published in September in the journal Pediatrics, found that one in five children is on regular prescription medication, and one in twelve is potentially at risk for serious side effects from two or more drugs interacting with each other. In particular, teen girls have a higher…

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When people are on multiple medications, it’s difficult to know what adverse events can occur. An experimental system called Decagon could change that. Marinka Zitnik is a postdoctoral computer science researcher at Stanford University with an interest in how artificial intelligence (AI) can help in the field of medicine. When she came across statistics about how taking multiple medications can lead to experiencing many side effects, she decided to do something about it. She wondered if an AI system could mine information about these drug combinations and predict their potential side effects, which could then be used by prescribers as…

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A sports injury from playing squash in high school lead to a herniated disc for Bob Johnson (name changed to protect his privacy), who was initially given codeine for his pain, and then bumped up to hydrocodone, which is more powerful and used to treat severe pain. He stopped taking the drugs once he began recovering. All was well until he left for college in Philadelphia and started playing on the squash team — and his back began hurting again. He found it was easy to get access to drugs and began buying OxyContin (oxycodone) from a dealer. “I had…

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Despite guidelines stating no antibiotics for asthma patients unless there’s evidence of lung infection, doctors still prescribe them. When someone is hospitalized for asthma, the standard of care is steroids with bronchodilators, yet many patients also end up getting antibiotics. But a growing amount of medical evidence indicates antibiotics are not only unnecessary, but can also cause side effects and increase patients’ hospital stay and expenses. Nearly half of the patients who were hospitalized for asthma did not have signs of a lung infection, but nonetheless were given antibiotics, according to a comparative effectiveness study that examined patient medical records…

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Every drug has side effects, and the question is usually how to assess the risk of the side effects vs. benefit of the particular medication. But what if a stem cell test could predict how a particular patient would react to a particular drug? What if physicians knew this before starting a treatment regimen, and could swap one drug for another or alter the dosage of a drug? “Essentially, such identification will allow clinicians to begin at lower drug doses, and to increase as needed,” says Dr. Min-Han Tan, an oncologist and principal research scientist at the Institute of Bioengineering…

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This is part 2 of a 2-part series on drugs whose side effects send seniors to the emergency room. Part 1 can be found here The 3 classes of drugs implicated in seniors’ ER visits are found scattered on the BEERS list, but there are many drugs within these classes on the market today, and “it’s difficult to point out which particular drugs are causing the problems,” Shehab says. “Simply putting these drugs on the list is not an answer.” Watanabe says Shehab’s research team has done a good job of showing it’s not just the drugs on the BEERS…

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This is part 2 of a 2-part investigation by Padma Nagappan for MedShadow Foundation. The first part is available on our blog. Zarin thinks that the new FDAAA final rule will be a game changer in bringing about compliance in reporting results. It will be effective from mid-January, 2017, and the deadline for compliance is April 18th, 2017. “It will change how they report,” she says. But a former FDA senior medical officer, Dr. David Gortler, now a pharmacology expert with FormerFDA.com, says companies are not going to do that unless they are specifically told to do so. “To collect…

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