Tag Archives: panic disorder

MedShadow’s Top 10 Stories of 2018

What were the most popular stories we published in 2018? Our Top 10 includes two stories on drugs that have become popular among opioid abusers, as well as articles dealing with drug interactions, a controversial class of antibiotics and a first-person story on an herbal supplement that has come under attack from the FDA, among others. Here are excerpts of the stories with the highest readership.

1. Gabapentin’s Secret: The Drug Opioid Abuser’s Crave

By Ronni Gordon

For many people who take gabapentin – a drug prescribed to treat seizures and pain caused by shingles – side effects such as sedation can be a challenge, as those who take it off-label for neuropathic pain told MedShadow in the past.

But an increasing number of opioid abusers crave that side effect, reporting a calm feeling when combining gabapentin – developed by Pfizer under the brand name Neurontin – with opioids, muscle relaxants and anxiety medications. Some also get a marijuana-like high and an enhanced euphoria. But when overused or abused, it can cause significant organ or brain damage. Read more →

2. Managing Eczema: Are New Treatments Like Eucrisa Worth It?

By Madeline Vann

Eczema (atopic dermatitis) can feel like a moving target for people who live with it. They get control over one flare, only to have eczema redden and irritate another patch of skin. For some patients, changing their bathing and beauty habits along with a thick moisturizer and topical corticosteroid ointments are enough.

“Steroids are the mainstay of treating atopic dermatitis. They’ve been around for decades. They are generally inexpensive, and for the vast majority of patients, that’s how we start treatment,” explains dermatologist Amy Paller, MD, director of the Northwestern University Skin Disease Research Center in Chicago. American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) guidelines recommend using emollient moisturizers, lifestyle changes to avoid triggers, and corticosteroids at first. Read more →

3. How Imodium Became Appealing to Opioid Addicts

By Padma Nagappan

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. Read more → 

4. What is the Best Way to Treat Heat Rash?

By Dave Walker, RPh

Question: It’s summer and I’m going to be spending a lot of times outdoors. I’m susceptible to heat rash. What is the best treatment for it?

I remember anticipating summer vacation as a kid. We were always busy planning and participating in neighborhood sporting activities, biking, hiking, fishing and camping trips. The neighborhood moms always had a ready supply of Band-Aids, Bactine and antiseptic cream to take care of those expected and inevitable scratches, scrapes, cuts and insect bites along the way. Read more →

5. 4 Drugs That Interact with Anxiety Meds

By Christy Huff, MD

If you suffer from anxiety, panic disorder or insomnia, your doctor may have prescribed you a tranquilizer belonging to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines.

Drugs such as Xanax (alprazolam), Valium (diazepam), Ativan (lorazepam), and Klonopin (clonazepam) are some of the most-prescribed medicines – more than 133.4 million such prescriptions were filled in the US in 2014. As with any medication, drug interactions can occur if you take a benzo with another medication, and in certain cases, may be life-threatening. Read more → 

6. Why Aren’t Seniors Getting the Shingles Vaccine?

By Rita Colorito

Nearly 12 years after the FDA approved Zostavax, the first vaccine to prevent shingles in adults 60 and older, the vast majority of seniors still haven’t received it. Only 30.6% of adults age 60 and older reported getting the shingles vaccine, according to the latest CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) assessment of vaccine coverage.

Since it became available, Zostavax has faced numerous barriers in terms of getting seniors vaccinated, the assessment found. In October, the FDA approved a new shingles vaccine, Shingrix, for people age 50 and older. Less than a week later, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended Shingrix as the CDC’s preferred shingles vaccine for adults age 50 plus due to Shingrix’s better efficacy and fewer side effects compared to Zostavax. Read more → 

7. Floxed! The Painful, Life-Lasting Effects of Some Antibiotics

By Suzanne B. Robotti

Last week, we ran a news story on antibiotics causing “rare” damages to people. We had a very passionate response from more than 75 people who all claimed to be harmed by a particular type of antibiotics. More than 60,000 people have complained to the FDA about them. It begs the question, how unusual are these “rare” harms.

The side effects and adverse events associated with Cipro, Levaquin and other fluoroquinolones (FQs) can be significant and life altering. Yet many people who have been damaged by fluoroquinolones complain that there are too few warnings. Many claim that doctors don’t believe that their new illnesses have come from the FQs. Worse, sometimes FQs are prescribed when other, less risky — and just as effective — antibiotics are available. Read more →

8. The FDA Has It Wrong on Kratom: How the Herb is Helping People Like Me

By Andrew Turner

Some may ask who are the consumers of kratom, an herb used to treat pain, depression and anxiety that has been the subject of controversy lately in the news. It’s complicated.

We can be anyone. We are your neighbor, the veteran in the supermarket, your college professor and even your best friend. There’s a lot of misconceptions about kratom, how it’s used to treat certain ailments and its potential for addiction. Read more →

9. Can An Opioid Addiction Drug Treat Autoimmune Disorders

By Deborah Lynn Blumberg

A slew of drugs, both new and old, are used to treat autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus and Crohn’s disease. Most of them come with side effects, some of them serious. But research and experience from patients and doctors are mounting that a drug used to treat substance abuse, when used in lower doses, can effectively treat autoimmune conditions with few side effects.

The drug is naltrexone, which was first approved in the 1980s to treat heroin addiction. In recent years, it has been prescribed more and more at a low dose for patients with autoimmune disorders. But is this off-label use (yet to be approved by the FDA) safe and effective? Read more →

10. Pros and Cons: Prednisone

By Tori Rodriguez

If you visit the doctor from time to time for anything other than a routine checkup, it’s likely that at some point you’ve received a prescription for a type of drug called corticosteroids. These are among the most commonly prescribed medications in the US, and they are used in almost every medical specialty.

In a study published last year, researchers at the University of Michigan found that 1 in 5 American adults with commercial health insurance had been prescribed a corticosteroid at least once over a 3-year period. Read more →

Quick Hits: Nighttime Urination Treatment Approved, Using Aricept & More

Noctiva (desmopressin acetate), a prescription nasal spray for adults who urinate frequently throughout night, was approved by FDA. The drug is the first FDA-approved treatment for the condition known as nocturnal polyuria, which is overproduction of urine during the night. Patients who plan to take this Noctiva should take precautions since the drug has a boxed warning. Noctiva can cause hyponatremia, which is low sodium levels in the blood. If it is not promptly diagnosed and treated, hyponatremia can be fatal — leading to seizures, coma, respiratory arrest or death. Doctors should ensure that a patient’s sodium level is normal before prescribing Noctiva, and should check sodium levels within 1 week and approximately 1 month after starting treatment and periodically thereafter. Posted March 3, 2017. Via FDA.

People with milder cognitive impairment should be given a genetic test before using Aricept (donepezil) to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers at the UCLA School of Nursing found Aricept could speed mental decline in someone with mild cognitive impairment who has a specific genetic variation, they reported in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Patients with the K-variant of the butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) gene who took Aricept deteriorated faster than those who took a placebo. Posted March 7, 2017. Via Medline Plus.

Patients who have psychiatric ailments are more likely to reject treatment if only medication is involved. Researchers analyzed 186 studies of patients who sought help for mental health conditions. The results, published in the journal Psychotherapy, found that the treatment refusal rate was more than 8% on average. Patients were almost twice as likely to refuse drug treatment alone compared to those offered talk therapy alone. Patients with depression were more than 2 times more likely to refuse drug therapy alone and patients with panic disorders were nearly 3 times more likely to refuse drug therapy alone. Researchers explained that patients usually prefer talking with a caring individual who could talk them through their emotional distress. Posted March 6, 2017. Via Medline Plus.

Antidepressant Side Effects Worse for People With Panic Disorder

Depressed people that take antidepressants are more likely to suffer from the side effects of that drug class if they also have panic disorder.

A new study examined data from 808 people with chronic depression that were prescribed an antidepressant. About 10.5% of the people also had panic disorder.

Overall, about 9 out of 10 participants reported at least 1 side effect during the 12-week study duration. However, those with depression and panic disorder were more likely than those with only depression to self-report gastrointestinal (47% vs. 32%), cardiovascular (26% vs. 14%), neurological (59% vs. 33%), and genital/urinary side effects (24% vs. 8%).

Participants with co-occurring panic disorder were also more likely to report a worsening of their symptoms of depression over 12 weeks if they reported multiple side effects, researchers reported in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

“Because [patients with panic disorder] experience panic attacks — which are sudden, out-of-nowhere symptoms that include heart racing, shortness of breath, and feeling like you’re going to die — they are acutely attuned to changes in their bodies that may signal another panic attack coming on,” said Stewart Shankman, MD, professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Illinois-Chicago and the main author of the paper. “So it does make sense that these tuned-in patients report more physiological side effects with antidepressant treatment.”

Quick Hits: Non-Depression Conditions Boost Antidepressant Use, & More

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.