Category Archives: Drugs & Medicines

Travel smart: get vaccinated – CDC

Share

Before you travel internationally, ensure that you are up to date on all your routine vaccines, as well as travel vaccines.

airplane thumbMore and more Americans are travelling internationally each year. Today more than a third of Americans have a passport.  It is important to remember that some types of international travel, especially to developing countries and rural areas, have higher health risks.

These risks depend on a number of things including:

  • Where you are traveling
  • Your activities while traveling
  • Your current health status
  • Your vaccination history

Measles and International Travel

Each year, unvaccinated people get measles while in other countries and bring it to the United States. This has sometimes led to outbreaks.  The majority of measles cases brought into the U.S. come from U.S. residents. When we can identify vaccine status, almost all are unvaccinated.

Vaccination is the best protection against measles. Before leaving for trips abroad, make sure you and your family are protected against measles. Plan ahead and check with your doctor to see if you and your family need MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine.

Continue reading

Share

What preventive services must be provided for free under the Affordable Care Act?

Share

Preventive Services Covered Under the Affordable Care A

stethoscope doctor's bag chest x-rayIf you have a new health insurance plan or insurance policy beginning on or after September 23, 2010, the following preventive services must be covered without your having to pay a copayment or co-insurance or meet your deductible. This applies only when these services are delivered by a network provider.

  • Covered Preventive Services for Adults
  • Covered Preventive Services for Women, Including Pregnant Women
  • Covered Preventive Services for Children

Continue reading

Share

‘Free’ contraception means ‘free,’ Obama administration tells insurers

Share
Birth control patch - Photo by John Heilman, MD under creative commons licesnse

Birth control patch – Photo by John Heilman, MD (CC)

By Phil  Galewitz
KHN

Free means free.

The Obama administration said Monday that health plans must offer for free at least one of every type of prescription birth control — clarifying regulations that left some insurers misinterpreting the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate.

“Today’s guidance seeks to eliminate any ambiguity,” the Health and Human Services Department said. “Insurers must cover without cost-sharing at least one form of contraception in each of the methods that the Food and Drug Administration has identified … including the ring, the patch and intrauterine devices.”

The ruling comes after reports by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the National Women’s Law Center, an advocacy group, found many insurers were not providing no-cost birth control for all prescription methods. (KHN is an editorially independent project of the Kaiser Family Foundation.) Continue reading

Share

Washington state whooping cough study shows vaccine protection fades over time

Share

But vaccination still the best tool for protection, health officials say

From the Washington State Department of Health:

Photomicrograph of the bacteria that causes whooping cough

A new study shows that whooping cough vaccinations wear off over time, but they’re still the best protection against the dangerous disease.

The study, released in the May edition of the journal Pediatrics, used data from the 2012 whooping cough epidemic in Washington.

The article, entitled “Tdap Vaccine Effectiveness in Adolescents During the 2012 Washington State Pertussis Epidemic” is one of the first studies to test how long the adolescent and adult (Tdap) whooping cough vaccines are effective.

The investigation analyzed vaccine histories of 11- to 19-year-olds who contracted whooping cough — also called pertussis == during the 2012 epidemic.

For each case, researchers also looked at the vaccine histories of three adolescents that didn’t have whooping cough but were the same age and went to the same doctor.

While whooping cough vaccines are the best form of defense against the disease, the study found that much of the protection from the Tdap vaccine may wear off after two to four years.

State officials say the study shows that Tdap is most effective in its first year, underscoring the importance of high-risk individuals and pregnant women getting vaccinated. Continue reading

Share

Whooping cough case up sharply in Washington state

Share

There have been a total of 387 cases of whooping cough reported statewide so far this year, compared to 85 reported cases during the same time period last year, the Washington State Department of Health reports.

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 8.45.51 AM

Newborns and infants, who cannot be immunized against the disease, are at greatest risk of serious complications. To date, 25 infants under one year of age were reported as having whooping cough and six of them were hospitalized. Of these hospitalized infants, five (83%) were three months of age or younger.

How to protect infants from whooping cough – CDC

Because the disease can make babies so sick, and they can catch it from anyone around them, they need protection. These are the three important ways you can help protect them with vaccines:

  • If you are pregnant, get vaccinated with the whooping cough vaccine in your third trimester.
  • Surround your baby with family members and caregivers who are up-to-date with their whooping cough vaccine.
  • Make sure your baby gets all his doses of the whooping cough vaccine according to CDC’s recommended schedule.

Whooping cough fact sheet from the Department of Health

Continue reading

Share

Tyson Foods plans to cut human antibiotics in U.S. chicken flocks by 2017 | Reuters

Share

Rooster looking through the wires of a cage

Tyson Foods Inc, the largest U.S. poultry producer, plans to eliminate the use of human antibiotics in its chicken flocks by September 2017 – one of the most aggressive timelines yet set by an American poultry company.

The Arkansas-based chicken and meat giant also said it is working on ways to curtail such on-farm drug practices at its other protein businesses, which include pork and beef.

Photo by dragonariaes

Source: Tyson Foods plans to cut human antibiotics in U.S. chicken flocks by 2017 | Reuters

 

Share

Common asthma steroids linked to side effects in adrenal glands | Reuters

Share

Illustration of the lungs in blueAfter stopping steroids commonly prescribed for asthma and allergies, a significant number of people may experience signs of malfunctioning in the adrenal glands, a European study finds.

So-called adrenal insufficiency can be dangerous, especially if the person’s body has to cope with a stress like surgery, injury or a serious illness, the study authors say.

Source: Common asthma steroids linked to side effects in adrenal glands | Reuters

Share

Most states list deadly methadone as a ‘preferred drug’

Share

465px-Methadone.svgBy Christine Vestal
Stateline

The federal government has been issuing warnings about the dangers of methadone for nearly a decade.

Two years ago, states started removing it from their Medicaid “preferred drug lists.” (Joe Amon/Getty Images)

As prescription drug overdose deaths soar nationwide, most states have failed to take a simple step that would make it harder for doctors to prescribe the deadliest of all narcotics.

Methadone is four times as likely to cause an overdose death as oxycodone, and more than twice as likely as morphine, yet as many as 33 states make it easy for doctors to prescribe. 

Methadone overdoses kill about 5,000 people every year, six times as many as in the late 1990s, when it was prescribed almost exclusively for use in hospitals and addiction clinics where it is tightly controlled.

It is four times as likely to cause an overdose death as oxycodone, and more than twice as likely as morphine. In addition, experts say it is the most addictive of all opiates.

Yet as many as 33 states make it easy for doctors to prescribe the pain medicine to Medicaid patients, no questions asked. Continue reading

Share

If this vaccine fights cancer, why aren’t more people embracing it?

Share

Human Papilloma Virus

By Meredith Li-Vollmer 
Public Health – Seattle & King County

If you knew there was a vaccine that could prevent several types of cancer—including a form of cancer that kills over 250,000 women each year—would you make sure your child gets it?

Consider this:

  • An estimated 79 million Americans are infected with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) that causes a range of cancers, as well as genital warts.
  • HPV is so common that most females and males will become infected with at least one type of HPV in their lifetime.

But there is some incredibly good news: the HPV vaccine prevents infections from HPV, and an updated HPV vaccine protects against more than twice the number of strains of HPV than the previous version.

Yes, this vaccine prevents cancer. Continue reading

Share

Global pandemic of fake medicines poses urgent risk, say experts

Share

pills-spill-out-of-bottleFrom the National Institutes of Health

Poor quality medicines are a real and urgent threat that could undermine decades of successful efforts to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, according to the editors of a collection of journal articles published today.

Scientists report up to 41 percent of specimens failed to meet quality standards in global studies of about 17,000 drug samples.

Among the collection is an article describing the discovery of falsified and substandard malaria drugs that caused an estimated 122,350 deaths in African children in 2013. Other studies identified poor quality antibiotics, which may harm health and increase antimicrobial resistance.

However, new methodologies are being developed to detect problem drugs at the point of purchase and show some promise, scientists say. Continue reading

Share

Pregnant women urged to get pertussis vaccine

Share

From the Snohomish Health District

Cases of whooping cough in Snohomish County on the rise

Alert IconIn a trend consistent with information released by the Washington State Department of Health, the number of whooping cough (pertussis) cases in Snohomish County is increasing.

Since January, there have been 40 confirmed cases and most of which have been in the last few weeks. This compares to just 57 and 23 cases in all of 2013 and 2014 respectively.

Pregnancy changes the immune system in mothers, and waiting until delivery to administer the vaccine still puts the newborn at risk.

Whooping cough is a serious disease that affects the respiratory system and is spread by coughing and sneezing.

Of the 40 cases in our county, nearly three-quarters have been students between the ages of 6 and 18. This is not surprising given the close quarters students keep during the school day.

“We are seeing an explosion of pertussis cases statewide and locally,” said Dr. Gary Goldbaum, health officer and director at the Snohomish Health District. “Thankfully we are not at the epidemic levels last seen in 2012, and I am hopeful that by all of us doing our part, we can spare Snohomish County from a repeat.”  Continue reading

Share

Whooping cough outbreak growing in Washington

Share

Department of Health urges everyone, especially pregnant women, to get Tdap vaccine

From the Washington State Department of Health

Alert IconWhooping cough is on the rise in Washington and state health officials are urging people to get vaccinated against the disease, especially pregnant women.

So far in 2015 there have been 319 cases of whooping cough reported compared to 49 reported cases during the same time in 2014.

Whooping cough (pertussis) is a serious disease that affects the respiratory system and is spread by coughing and sneezing.

Rates of whooping cough are continuing to rise in several areas around the state, which is a concern to health officials.

While everyone is encouraged to get vaccinated against the disease, newborn babies who are too young to be vaccinated are at high risk for severe disease.

That’s why it’s especially important that pregnant women get vaccinated during each pregnancy, toward the end of their pregnancy, to best protect their newborn.

“Women who are pregnant should be sure to talk to their health care provider, doctor, or midwife about getting their Tdap vaccine before they give birth,” said Dr. Scott Lindquist, communicable disease epidemiologist for the state Department of Health “It’s also important that everyone else in the family is vaccinated to keep babies safe.” Continue reading

Share

Lead-warning for children’s herbal cold and flu remedy from China

Share

From the Washington Department of Health

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has sent out an alert regarding Bo-Ying Compound after traces of lead were found in the product. Bo-Ying Compound is used to treat a wide variety of conditions in infants and children.

boying (1)

The Washington State Department of Health received an alert regarding lead found in Bo-Ying Compound manufactured by Eu Yan Sang (Hong Kong).

This product is also manufactured by other companies and may also contain lead so people are urged not to use any Bo-Ying Compound products. Continue reading

Share