Use of Stronger Painkillers on the Rise: Study

March 3, 2015 Posted by

The percentage of Americans who take painkillers stronger than morphine is on the rise, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These drugs include oxycodone, hydromorphone, fentanyl and methadone.

The study found 37 percent of people who used a prescription narcotic painkiller in 2011-2012 used a drug stronger than morphine, compared with 17 percent in 1999, USA Today reports.

An estimated seven percent of adults use a narcotic painkiller, according to the CDC. Women are more likely than men to use opioid painkillers. The findings indicate that the use of opioid analgesics among U.S. adults has more than doubled since 1988–1994, when 3.4 percent used opioid painkillers, the CDC noted.

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Binge-Eating Drug, with High Potential for Abuse, Being Aggressively Marketed: Experts

March 2, 2015 Posted by

The drug Vyvanse, which is being aggressively marketed as a treatment for binge eating, is classified by the federal government as having a high potential for abuse, The New York Times reports.

The drug is a type of amphetamine. Retired tennis player Monica Seles, a paid spokeswoman for the company that makes Vyvanse, has been on a media tour to promote the drug. Shire, which makes Vyvanse, received approval late last month to market the drug for binge-eating disorder.

Vyvanse was already approved to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Federal officials have cited the company for inappropriately marketing Vyvanse and other ADHD drugs.

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FDA Will Consider Whether Snus Smokeless Tobacco is Less Harmful Than Cigarettes

February 27, 2015 Posted by

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will consider this spring whether the smokeless tobacco known as snus is less harmful than cigarettes.

Smokeless tobacco maker Swedish Match has requested that its General brand of snus be certified as “modified risk,” the Associated Press reports. The company wants to be able to claim snus products are addictive but much less risky than smoking. Swedish Match also wants to be able to remove one of the required health warning labels about oral cancer. The company has sold snus in the United States since 2007.

The FDA will consider the requests at a two-day meeting in April of its Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee. The FDA does not have to follow its committees’ recommendations, but usually does, according to the AP.

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Medical Marijuana Patients in Washington State Must Stand Trial, Judge Rules

February 26, 2015 Posted by

Five people involved in a medical marijuana case in Washington state, where recreational use of the drug is legal, must stand trial, a judge has ruled. U.S. District Judge Thomas O. Rice said a measure approved by Congress to end federal prosecutions of medical marijuana patients does not apply in this case.

Four family members and a friend say they grew marijuana for medicinal purposes, according to U.S. News & World Report. If they are convicted on all charges, they each face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.

The five defendants were arrested after a raid in August 2012, several months before Washington voters approved a measure to legalize recreational marijuana. Medical marijuana has been legal in the state since 1998. All of the defendants had qualifying conditions to use and grow marijuana. Federal prosecutors say the amount of marijuana they were growing exceeded the amount they needed, and accused them of drug trafficking.

Full story of medical marijuana trial in Washington at

Smokers Can Increase Quit Rates if They Take Medication Before They’re Ready to Stop

February 25, 2015 Posted by

A new study finds smokers who start taking smoking-cessation medication before they are ready to quit have greater success once they do want to stop.

Doctors are currently advised to follow clinical practice guidelines that recommend patients set a quit date before they are prescribed smoking cessation pills such as Chantix, the medication used in the new study. Chantix is made by Pfizer, which funded the study, according to The New York Times.

The study included 1,500 smokers at 61 clinics in the United States and abroad. None of the smokers said they wanted to quit right away, but they all said they wanted to smoke less, and to quit within three months. Half of the smokers took Chantix twice a day, and the other half took placebo pills. Almost one-third of smokers who took Chantix quit within six months, compared with 6 percent of those taking the placebo.

Full story of smokers and smoking-cessation medication at