Quick Hits: E-Cigs and Heart Attacks, Influencing Doctor Prescribing & More

Using e-cigarettes daily can significantly increase a person’s risk of having a heart attack. Researchers analyzed responses from almost 70,000 people that took part in the National Health Interview Survey. About 3.6% of current and former e-cigarette users reported having a heart attack, and 6.1% of those who used an e-cigarette daily had a heart attack. People that said they used both conventional cigarettes and an e-cigarette every day were 4.6 times more likely to have a heart attack than those who had not used either product. Posted August 22, 2018. Via American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Writing letters to physicians that prescribe more of a drug than other doctors may help them cut down on those prescriptions. A study examined prescriptions for the antipsychotic drug Seroquel (quetiapine). The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services sent letters to about 5,000 doctors that had written the most Seroquel prescriptions. The letter said that they wrote many more prescriptions for the drug than the average for their state, and included a statement that they had been “flagged as a markedly unusual prescriber.” After following the doctors’ Seroquel prescribing for the next 2 years, researchers found that the prescriptions declined by 16%. Posted August 1, 2018. Via JAMA Psychiatry.

The FDA has approved the first generic version of EpiPen, an epinephrine-containing injection used for emergency treatment of allergic reactions. The approval comes as there is a nationwide shortage of the auto-injector. Mylan, the pharmaceutical company that sells the EpiPen brand version, has been heavily criticized for drastically increasing the price of the product. One pen used to cost $50. A 2-pen set now costs around $600. Last year, the FDA reported at least 7 deaths linked to EpiPens that failed to deploy properly. Posted August 16, 2018. Via FDA.

Jonathan Block

Jonathan Block is a freelance writer and former MedShadow content editor. He has been an editor and writer for multiple pharmaceutical, health and medical publications, including BioCentury, The Pink Sheet, Modern Healthcare, Health Plan Week and Psychiatry Advisor. He holds a BA from Tufts University and is earning an MPH with a focus on health policy from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy.

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