Study: Unintentional drug overdoses ‘epidemic’ driven by prescription opioid use
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The number of unintentional deaths from overdosing on prescription opioid painkillers in 2007 was greater than those from heroin and cocaine combined, according to a new study by medical researchers at the University of North Carolina, Duke University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who in particular called such deaths among teenagers and adults a national epidemic.
About 27,500 people died from unintentional overdoses on the drugs in 2007, and in some 20 states, the number of drug poisoning deaths exceeds that of either car crashes or suicides, according to the study, published online in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
“It is very important to screen patients with chronic pain who may require opioid therapy for substance abuse and mental health problems, especially depression and other mood and anxiety disorders, and address these problems adequately,” the authors wrote.
Rapport between pharmacist, patient can lead to better health outcomes
WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — When the pharmacist talks, people listen. The real gem to come out of this survey is where that pharmacist is standing when delivering that over-the-counter recommendation. (Here’s a hint: It ain’t behind the pharmacy counter.)
(THE NEWS: Survey: Many pharmacists offer guidance on OTC purchases. For the full story, click here.)
When asked about which allergy remedy to take — or which pain reliever is best for those tension headaches or whether a patient can take one of those newfangled heartburn remedies, such as Prilosec OTC, Prevacid 24HR or Zegerid OTC, with the list of prescriptions they’re currently taking — the pharmacists are walking into the aisle, picking up a product and saying, “Here, you should use this because …”
That kind of interaction speaks volumes. It underscores the truth that pharmacists historically have been considered a trustworthy source of medicine information. But it also hints to another dynamic: Pharmacists enjoy engaging the consumer, so much so that they will take the time to walk a patient to an aisle and personally identify the product to be recommended.
That kind of engagement is not easily forgotten, at least not by that patient. That’s the kind of engagement that leads to knowing the pharmacist by name. That’s the kind of engagement that has many patients including their pharmacists in their healthcare dialogue. And that’s the kind of engagement that can set the stage for a much more substantial (and reimbursed) intervention, such as medication therapy management or disease-state management.
New app offers diabetes information with dash of humor
SALT LAKE CITY — One of the basic functions of humor is to make people feel better about difficult situations. A group of software developers has incorporated that idea into a new app for Apple iPhones, iPods and iPads for people living with diabetes.
The app, called “Shot in the Arm,” made by Nashsmile, delivers brief and simple diabetes management advice, as well as humor — for example, ways to handle an insulin reaction and jokes, such as “Whoever said ‘no man is an island’ has never seen my stomach in the bath tub.”
“The ideas come at exactly the right time,” Richard Nash of Nashsmile said. Nash has had Type 1 diabetes for 42 years. “You check your phone one morning, you read a brief, simple idea to help you control your diabetes, you try it that day, it works — and all of a sudden, it’s not a diabetes management tip from a book or website. It’s a part of your life.”