Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

MRSA Strain With Outbreak Potential Among Reports at Disease Conference

Presentations also track antibiotic prescriptions, new drugs

From an October 24, 2010 Health Day news item

FRIDAY, Oct. 22 (HealthDay News) — An increasingly stubborn strain of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, a common bacterial infection acquired in hospitals, has been identified in Ohio, according to research presented at the [2010] annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

The strain, ST239 MRSA, killed 22 percent of the people it infected within 30 days, the study found. It’s the first time that the strain, originally identified in Brazil, has been seen in the United States since the 1990s.

“It does have epidemic potential for outbreak,” the study’s co-author, Dr. Shu-Hua Wang, said. “It has increased capacity to cause invasive, serious infection.”

Wang’s group reported that 6.8 percent — or 77 — of 1,126 MRSA samples collected through the Ohio State University Health Network and seven rural hospitals in a three-year period from January 2007 to January 2010 were ST239.

Wang, who is an assistant professor of medicine at Ohio State, called for more genotyping of MRSA isolates.

A second study presented at the conference found that antibiotic prescriptions in the United States were much higher in the South than in the West, a finding that held for all types of antibiotics……

…..

Among other research being presented at the conference, which concludes Sunday in Vancouver, Canada: three new drugs appear to show promise in fighting MRSA and other bacteria when current antibiotics fail.

  • Fusidic acid, which could fight S. aureus. “This is pretty exciting because it has no cross-resistance with any class of antibiotics so it could be used widely,” said Dr. Ronald N. Jones, chief executive of JMI Laboratories in North Liberty, Iowa, which makes the drug and funded the study being presented.
  • JNJ-Q2. This potential agent belongs to a class of drugs known as fluoroquinolones and may be effective against S. aureus, including the methicillin-resistant form. “JNJ-Q2 was 16 times more potent than the existing marketed fluoroquinolones,” Jones said. The drug is moving into phase 2 and phase 3 trials, he said.
  • A version of cephalosporin. It “may enable us to treat a broader spectrum of drug-resistant bacteria, although it probably won’t be on the market till 2013 or 2014,” Jones said.

Also being presented at the conference is a study involving a computer model that found that “universal contact precautions” — requiring anyone visiting a MRSA patient in the hospital to wear gloves and a gown — were more effective at preventing MRSA infection among patients in intensive-care units than were other strategies.

But the approach was expensive. The study’s lead author, Dr. Courtney A. Gidengil, an instructor in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Boston and Harvard Medical School, said that other strategies might be less effective but they are also less costly.

Another study presented at the conference found that carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, which carries a high mortality rate, is becoming more prevalent in the Chicago area.

Editor Flahiff’s note: If you need assistance tracking down studies in this news item, contact a reference librarian at your local public, academic, or medical library. Alternatively, you may contact me at jmflahiff@yahoo.com. I will reply within 48 hours. At the very least, I will provide contact information for a study’s author(s). Many study author’s are happy to share at least citations to their works, if not full text of their studies.

 

Related reports

[April 1]

AHRQ Researchers Study How Community-Acquired Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Is Managed in Health Care Settings

 

Findings from three new AHRQ-funded reports on community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are now available.  The reports result from two-year projects conducted by AHRQ’s Practice-Based Research Networks in Colorado, Iowa, and North Carolina. Select below to access each report.

  • Management by Primary Care Clinicians of Patients Suspected of Having Community-Acquired Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus AureusInfections—State Network of Colorado Ambulatory Practices and Partners. Researchers tested interventions for two health networks to optimize treatment for skin and soft tissue infections consistent with the community-acquired MRSA guidelines developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They found the intervention resulted in an increase in antibiotic use and the proportion of prescribed antibiotics that covered MRSA.
  • Community-Acquired Skin Infections in the Age of Methicillin-Resistant Organisms—Iowa Research Network Practices, University of Iowa. Researchers assessed how family physicians in rural areas managed patients with skin and soft tissue infections after introducing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. They used chart review and/or follow-up to compare infection management and antibiotic therapy in patients before and after the CDC guidelines were introduced. They found that providers were more likely to prescribe antibiotics that covered MRSA at the initial patient visit after the guidelines were implemented.
  • Cellulitis and Abscess Management in the Era of Resistance to Antibiotics (CAMERA)—Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill & Duke Clinical Research Institute.  Researchers worked with nine primary care practices to improve the quality of care for individuals with skin or soft tissue infections. As a result, they developed recommendations and strategies for diagnosing and managing community-acquired MRSA in these settings. For example, researchers recommend that practices develop documentation and coding presentations; integrate templates into electronic medical records for describing skin and soft tissue infections; and hold workshops in the management of skin and soft tissue infections.


 

 

October 26, 2010 Posted by | Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

Jailed Dads Tied to Greater Risk of Kids’ Drug Use

Kids whose dads have put in time behind bars may be at a greater risk for using marijuana and other illegal drugs, according to a new study

From an October 20 Reuters Health Information press release

By Lynne Peeples

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Kids whose dads have put in time behind bars may be at a greater risk for using marijuana and other illegal drugs, according to a new study.

The incarcerated population of the U.S. has grown from 250,000 in the mid-1970s to about 2.25 million today. Rising alongside has been the number of kids growing up with a parent that has served jail time: now about 7.5 million.

In other words, one out of every eight young people in the U.S. now has a father that has been incarcerated, notes lead researcher Michael E. Roettger, formerly of Bowling Green State University in Ohio and now at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

“In the context of the massive increases in incarceration in the U.S. and growing number of children being affected, we wanted to know what issues these children would likely face,” Roettger told Reuters Health. “It appears that drug use is one of the unintended consequences of these rising rates.”

Already on the troubling list, he added, were increased risks for mental health problems, criminal behavior, dropping out of high school, family instability and poverty

To determine the extent of the role a father’s incarceration might play in youth drug use, Roettger and his colleagues looked at data from about 150,000 young men and women followed from adolescence into early adulthood during the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a nationally representative sample beginning in 1995.

The team found that over half of young men and 39 percent of young women who had a father with a history of incarceration reported using marijuana, compared to 38 and 28 percent of young men and women whose fathers never went to jail.

This unfortunate group also used marijuana more frequently and continued using it longer into adulthood.

 

 

October 26, 2010 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hormone Therapy Statistics

From the  North American Menopause Society fact sheet Hormone Therapy Statistics

[As of July 10, 2009]

The National Prescription Audit, derived from IMS (a health care information company)Health’s Xponent, captures roughly 70% market share of all prescriptions, then uses projection methodology from a stratified and geographically balanced sample to represent 100% market share coverage of US prescription activity at retail, mail service, long-term care, and managed care outlets. Highlights include:

  • During each of the last several years, fewer prescriptions have been dispensed in the United States for menopause hormone therapy (HT). In 2008, 42.262 million prescriptions were dispensed, down 6.2% from 45.054 million during 2007. This compares to 57.861 million HT prescriptions dispensed in 2004.
  • Oral Premarin (conjugated estrogens) remained the most dispensed estrogen therapy during 2008, responsible for 23.3% of all dispensed scripts, down 13% versus 2007.
  • Oral medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) remained the most dispensed progestogen.
  • Estrogen-progestogen combinations were responsible for 14.8% of dispensed prescriptions during 2008, about even with 2007 levels. The most dispensed combination remained Prempro (low-dose).
  • Estrogen-androgen combinations were responsible for 4.3% of dispensed prescriptions during 2008.


October 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Hospitalizations for Medication and Illicit Drug-related Conditions on the Rise among Americans Ages 45 and Older

From an October 25, 2010 Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) news release

The number of hospital admissions among Americans ages 45 and older for medication and drug-related conditions doubled between 1997 and 2008, according to a new report released today by the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Medication and drug-related conditions include effects of both prescription and over-the-counter medications as well as illicit drugs.

Hospital admissions among those 45 years and older were driven by growth in discharges for three types of medication and drug-related conditions—drug-induced delirium; “poisoning” or overdose by codeine, meperidine and other opiate-based pain medicines; and withdrawal from narcotic or non-narcotic drugs.

Admissions for all medication and drug-related conditions grew by 117 percent—from 30,100 to 65,400—for 45- to 64-year-olds between 1997 and 2008. The rate of admissions for people ages 65 to 84 closely followed, growing by 96 percent, and for people ages 85 and older, the rate grew by 87 percent. By comparison, the number of hospital admissions for these conditions among adults ages 18 to 44 declined slightly by 11 percent.

“This report reveals a disturbing trend, and we need to find out more about why these admissions are increasing,” said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. “As the average age of hospital patients continues to increase, so does the need for close monitoring of the types and dosages of drugs given to them.”

Drug-induced delirium or dementia can be caused by sleeping pills as well as drugs for urinary incontinence, nausea and other problems common in the elderly, but doctors sometimes cannot identify the cause. Poisoning by pain medicines or other drugs containing codeine, meperidine or other opiates can be caused by accidental overdosing or the failure to recognize the drug’s active ingredient. Drug withdrawal occurs when there is an abrupt withdrawal or significant reduction in the dosage of pain or other prescription medicines to which a person can become addicted, as well as of illicit drugs.

HHS’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helped support the analysis of the data in the report on hospital care for mental health and substance abuse disorders.”Substance abuse is rising, and drug abuse of all kinds is exploding as a major public health concern for our country,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. “The challenge for our health care practitioners is to see that patients receive medications when there is medical need but also to help prevent the adverse health consequences from drug use.”

The new AHRQ report also shows that Medicare and Medicaid were responsible for 57 percent of the $1.1 billion cost to hospitals in 2008 for treating patients with medication and drug-related conditions, private insurance covered 24 percent, and the uninsured accounted for 14 percent. The remaining 5 percent of hospital costs for treating these conditions were borne by other sources such as TRICARE.

AHRQ’s report also includes data on other types of medical conditions treated in U.S. community hospitals, surgical and other procedures, and costs in 2008. For more information, go to HCUP Facts and Figures: Statistics on Hospital-Based Care in the United States, 2008 at http://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/factsandfigures/2008/TOC_2008.jsp.

For more information, please contact AHRQ Public Affairs: (301) 427-1855 or (301) 427-1539.

Use Twitter to get AHRQ news updates: http://www.twitter.com/ahrqnews/ Exit Disclaimer

 

October 26, 2010 Posted by | Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

Romantic Love: Nature’s Painkiller?

In study of lovesick undergrads, it seemed to squelch pain as much as being distracted

From an October 14, 2010 Health Day news item

THURSDAY, Oct. 14 (HealthDay News) — In a study involving a group of lovelorn Stanford undergrads, researchers discovered that high-octane romantic love might be a natural analgesic.

Love’s painkilling effect isn’t just that the person is distracted by thoughts of the loved one — although that works, too. Instead, the researchers found that feeling “head-over-heels” activates the same dopamine-oriented centers of the brain that tune in to illicit drugs such as cocaine.

“These pain-relieving systems are linked to reward systems,” said Dr. Sean Mackey, senior author of a paper appearing online Oct. 13 in PLoS One. “Love engages these deep brain systems that are involved with reward and craving and similar systems involved in addiction.”

“This gives us some insight into potential ways of further probing and ultimately translating that into treatment for pain,” added Mackey, who is chief of the pain management division at Stanford University School of Medicine….

Researchers flashed the picture of the beloved while inflicting pain with a handheld thermal probe. As a control, participants were asked to name every sport that doesn’t involve a ball, a form of distraction, while also activating the probe.

“To our pleasant surprise, both love and distraction reduce pain to an equal amount and that was good because it more fully allowed us to compare them,” Mackey explained.

The pain relief afforded by looking at the picture of the beloved seemed specific to that act — when participants were asked to look at a picture of an equally attractive and familiar acquaintance, their pain levels did not recede…

October 26, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | , | Leave a comment

Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR) Releases New Overview Of Open Access Map

The Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR) exists to promote the development of open access by providing up to date information about repositories of information worldwide.

Information about the registry includes

  • Search page (options include country of origin, subjects [medical and non medical] as psychology, internal medicine, dermatology, nursing, environmental sciences, textbooks), keyword entry by user as description and title
  • Browse registry with options country, year, repository type (as research, e-theses), and repository software

October 26, 2010 Posted by | Biomedical Research Resources | , | Leave a comment

What Drug Companies are Paying Your Doctor – “DollarsForDocs”

From an October 21, 2010 Open Medicine blog item

The American broadcaster, National Public Radio (NPR), recently ran a story about doctors who get money from drug companies to promote their drugs.  ProPublica has created a free database with the names of doctors and the amount they’ve received from pharmas.

http://projects.propublica.org/docdollars/

“Drug companies have long kept secret details of the payments they make to doctors for promoting their drugs. But seven companies have begun posting names and compensation on the Web, some as the result of legal settlements. ProPublica compiled these disclosures, totaling $258 million, into a single database that allows patients to search for their doctor. Receiving payments isn’t necessarily wrong, but it does raise ethical issues. “

Similarly, NPR posted a story that shows more of the disclosures. Note: pharmaceutical sales in the US in 2009? $300 billion dollars~!

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130654426

NPR has links to health, business, science news, and much more at its home page. There are also options for podcasts and RSS feeds.

 

October 26, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: