This Month in the Medical News

Followers may have noted that I’ve not very much  posted in a while.  This is primarily due to spring migration.  As an avid birder, I have been spending nearly every free daylight hour, and some non-daylignt hours afield enjoying this miracle of nature.  The neotropic songbirds and Arcitc breeding shorebirds have been racing past to get to their breeding grounds on time to procreate and fledge their young in the short northern summer. As a birder have been out experiencing the spring birds.

I have made some time to watch the medical news and some noteworthy and thought-provoking new recommendations from the CDC critique of new drugs and have been released.  Here is a quick review:


  • Pre-exposure HIV Drug Prophylaxis:  The CDC recently recommended that certain high risk populations take a combination drug, available at this time as Truvada be used to reduce infection rates. This is controversial even among gay activists primarily because of concerns that high risk populations may percieve this as a good alternative to condom use. Examples of high risk populations include men who have sex with men (MSM), HIV discordant sexually active couples, heterosexual couples who are HIV discordant couples trying to conceive, and IV drug users.  The reduction in new HIV cases in persons taking the drug vs. controls was very impressive in the studies done to get the CDC recommendation, but whether this recommendation leads young MSM to lower condom use rates remains to  seen.
  • E-cigs for Smoking Cessatioon:  An press release in Addiction looks at the efficacy of e-cigarettes as a way to quit smoking.  The authors are careful not to recommend e-cigarettes as a safe smoking cessation aide.  My take on this is that in likelihood e-cigarettes are not safe, but are very likely to be less dangerous that smoking cigarettes.  If using e-cigarettes can help even a minority of patients who smoke quit smoking, while others switch from cigarettes to vapor there is likely a net positive in overall risk reduction. That said I completely agree that this unregulated and likely unsafe addictive product needs much more study and should be regulated as are other tobacco products.
  • The $1000./ day New Hepatitis C Therapy:  Hepatitic C is a huge U.S. health threat.  The USPSTF recommends all baby-boomers borh from 1945-1965, be tested for Hepatitic C.  A new oral combination drug therapy promises to be safer and more effective than previous treatments that required use of interferon. Criticism of the studies used to gain FDA approval of this new ridiculously expensive drug cocktail has surfaced, and it will be interesting to see how this all sorts out.
  • New No-calorie sweetener gets FDA Approval:  Advantame recently recieved FDA approval as an artificial sweetener.  Like Splenda and unlike aspartame if is heat stable and can  be used in cooking applications.  It will be interesting to see if it gains market share as a new alternative.  The biggest problem with all of the artificial sweeteners is a lack of evidence that they promote weight loss.
  • Nasal Spray Naloxone for Opioid OD Coming Soon?:  Death and accidental overdose complications from opioids is a huge health concern.  Death from accidental prescription opioid overdose has surpassed all other drug related causes of death in the U.S.  Naloxone is an effective antidote for opioid overdosage and it was announced this month that two drug companies are partnering to try  to bring to market a nasal spray form of naloxone that persons at risk for opioid OD could carry to treat their own or others opioid OD.   This is bound to raise all sorts of questions for physicians and opioid users as to who should carry this product.

I hope these capsules of info have  been helpful.  Stay  tuned for more from as the migration slows and summer comes.


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