News from AskaPatient

World Health Organization's Model List of Essential Medicines for mental and behavioral disorders

(December 17, 2017)

Every two years, the World Health Organization (WHO) publishes a list of essential medicines, which are chosen because they "satisfy the priority health care needs of the population." Since 1977, the WHO has selected these drugs on the basis of public health relevance, safety and efficacy, and cost-effectiveness. Countries may use the list to help choose which medicines to have on hand at all times and in sufficient amounts for their population. In 2017, there were 433 core and complementary drugs on the list.

Read more

Limiting Disclosure of Drug Side Effects in TV Commercials

(December 10, 2017)

The FDA's comment period ended last month on the topic of "limited risks plus disclosure strategy" for drug advertising. In a change under consideration by the FDA, drugs would be classified according to one of three "risk" levels: severe, serious, or actionable. In addition to this level of risk disclosure in TV commercials, instead of requiring full listings of side effects to be announced, notice would be given that the list is incomplete and that patients need to discuss full details with their health care provider.

Read more

Flu prevention and treatments for 2017-2018

(November 26, 2017)

While the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control reports that influenza activity so far this season is at a low level in Europe, the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that flu indicators are higher than usual for this time of the year. The indicators include: number of doctor visits for flu symptoms, number of lab specimens testing positive for strains of the flu, and number of hospitalizations for influenza.

Read more

Movement disorder side effects of antipsychotic drugs

(November 12, 2017)

Public Citizen's Health Research Group warns about the over-use of antipsychotic drugs in older adults, and about the increasing use of these drugs for purposes other than what they were intended: schizophrenia and other psychoses. Some doctors prescribe them to treat anxiety, depression, and other conditions. While antipsychotic drugs can be extremely beneficial for patients with psychoses, some patients (of all ages, but especially the elderly) using them experience a variety of severe side effects, including movement disorders that result in tremors in the face or body, such as "tardive dyskinesia," "tardive dystonia," "drug-induced Parkinsonism" and "akathisia."

Read more

Trick or treatment? Snails, Snakes, and Lizards in Medicine

(October 15, 2017)

Some of the world's scariest animals may hold the key to some amazing treatment breakthroughs for humans. Some have already been discovered. For instance, the Gila monster, a venomous lizard native to the southwest U.S. and northern Mexico, is able to go for long periods (months!) without eating, and is efficient at storing fat in its body. It turns out that its blood holds a peptide (exendin-4) that is similar to a peptide in humans that lowers blood sugar and stimulates insulin production. A medicine chemically derived from the Gila monster peptide, "Exenatide" is now available to treat diabetes (see the chart below).

Read more

Ask a Patient Weekly Health Care Newsletter archive (partial). The newsletter archive contains pdf versions of the emailed subscription newsletter.