PHARMACY

Consumer Reports survey: Antidepressant use on the rise

BY Allison Cerra

YONKERS, N.Y. A new Consumer Reports health survey found that nearly 80% of respondents seeking treatment for depression or anxiety were prescribed antidepressants.

Of the 1,500 subscribers surveyed, Consumer Reports found that 78% respondents use antidepressants to aid their mental health issues. CR also found that 58% had experienced anxiety, up from 41% in 2004 when CR last surveyed subscribers about these conditions. The survey sought to show how subscribers treat their mental health conditions and asked readers who took drugs for anxiety, depression or both within the past three years to rate them.

The survey also found that older, often less expensive antidepressants known as SSRIs  (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) such as Lexapro, Celexa, Prozac and Zoloft work just as well, and with fewer side effects (51% of respondents said), than newer, more costly drugs known as SNRIs (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) like Cymbalta and Effexor (49%). SSRIs and SNRIs address depression by altering the levels of certain brain chemicals, CR said.

CR also found, however, that talk therapy was effective in treating anxiety or depression in patients, it received high marks from CR’s survey participants–91% said therapy made things “a lot” or “somewhat” better. People who stuck with talk therapy for at least seven sessions had significantly better outcomes that those who went to six or fewer sessions. What’s more, they scored as high as people treated mostly with medication on an overall outcome scale.

“Pharmaceutical companies stand to profit most from convincing consumers that drugs are the only answer to depression and anxiety, and that newer, more expensive drugs are a better alternative to older drugs and their generic counterparts,” said Nancy Metcalf, senior program editor, Consumer Reports Health.  “Our survey shows that a combination of therapy and medication works best, and that despite the intense marketing push consumers are subjected to, there is no evidence that newer drugs like Pristiq and Cymbalta work any better than older medications in their class.”

Click here to read the full report.

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Study: Military service members with PTSD may be at risk of developing diabetes

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK Military service members that experience post-traumatic stress disorder are at risk of developing diabetes, according to a study published in the May 18 edition of Diabetes Care.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that may develop in those exposed to frightening events. People that suffer from PTSD may experience such issues as exhibiting violent behavior, insomnia or lack of emotion.

In the journal Diabetes Care, lead author Edward Boyko and colleagues examined more than 44,754 service members who did not have diabetes when they initially were enrolled in the Dept. of Defense’s Millennium Cohort Study. Three years later, 376 study participants, reported they had been newly diagnosed with diabetes. The researchers factored out age, gender, body weight, race, and other variables that might increase the risk of diabetes (as well as military service characteristics and other mental health conditions), only PTSD symptoms remained associated with an increased risk of diabetes. The risk of diabetes was more than twofold higher in the presence of PTSD symptoms.

The findings, however, don’t explain why there may be a link between PTSD and diabetes, the researchers said. Boyko and colleagues also noted that their study had several limitations, including self-reported conditions by the participants, rather than medically confirmed ones.

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CVS/pharmacy’s Pack Your Bag program heads to New Hampshire

BY Antoinette Alexander

MANCHESTER, N.H. CVS/pharmacy and the National Council on Aging are bringing the Pack Your Bag medication consultation program to pharmacy patients in Manchester, N.H., which includes a presentation by a pharmacist on improving health through medication compliance and advice on how to save money on medications.

The program, held May 26, encourages seniors to pack a bag with their medications, including prescription drugs, OTC medications and dietary supplements for a review in one-on-one consultations with a local CVS pharmacist. This event is just one of hundreds of similar Pack Your Bag events that are taking place across the country.

According to CVS, 8-out-of-10 Americans have at least one chronic health problem, such as high blood pressure or diabetes. Fifty percent of seniors take an average of eight or more prescriptions regularly. With increased use of medications, both prescription and OTC treatments, comes increased risk of adverse drug interactions and increased costs.

In the more than 5,000 Pack Your Bag consultations since the program’s inception two years ago, CVS pharmacies have found:

  • 7% of seniors were taking expired medications
  • 15% were not taking medications as prescribed
  • 10% were at risk for potential drug interactions
  • 16% had the opportunity to switch to money-saving generics.

“We recognize that many seniors in New Hampshire are struggling to make ends meet and to pay for necessary health care,” stated Nicole Harrington, pharmacy supervisor for CVS/pharmacy. “By speaking with a pharmacist about their entire medication regimen, seniors can identify cost-saving alternatives as well as any potential drug interactions.”

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