News you can use, May 2013

BPS news, HIV testing, Rx drug abuse, and more

New BPS specialties in critical care, pediatric pharmacy

The (BPS) announced the approval of , following a final review during its Board meeting on April 12, 2013.

“Pharmacy specialists who care for pediatric and critical care patients are entrusted with a great deal of specialized clinical responsibilities within these patient populations,” said Joseph Saseen, PharmD, FASHP, FCCP, FNLA, BCPS, CLS, Chairman of the BPS Board of Directors and Professor at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, in a news release. “The evidence demonstrating the overall benefits of these two pharmacy specialties is very strong, so we are confident that patient care will continue to be further enhanced by being able to recognize these pharmacists as specialists.”

The next step in the certification process is a call for nominations to serve on the two specialty councils; the closing date for nominations will be August 2, 2013. BPS will appoint nine members to each council by September, and the councils will convene this fall. BPS plans to begin administering the new specialty exams in 2015.

Six specialty examinations are currently administered by BPS: nuclear pharmacy, nutrition support pharmacy, pharmacotherapy, psychiatric pharmacy, oncology pharmacy, and ambulatory care pharmacy. BPS certification exams will be administered at 650 locations worldwide from September 19, 2013, through October 5, 2013. Candidates can register until August 1 at the BPS website.

HIV testing urged for all adults

Clinicians should screen all adults 15 years to 65 years, regardless of their risk profile, for HIV, . This final recommendation follows a draft recommendation issued last November and updates a 2005 USPSTF recommendation limited to only high-risk patients.

“While the best way to reduce HIV-related disease and death is to avoid getting infected, screening is also extremely important,” said USPSTF member Douglas Owens, MD, MS, in a news release. “Nearly a quarter of people with HIV don’t know that they have it, and they’re missing out on a chance to take control of their disease.”

In support of their recommendation, USPSTF noted that treating patients with HIV sooner can not only reduce their risk of developing AIDS and delay its onset, but also decrease the risk that they will pass the infection on to others.

The task force also recommended that younger adolescents and older adults at increased risk for HIV infection and all pregnant women, including those in labor whose HIV status is unknown, be screened for HIV. These new recommendations are similar to those of CDC, the American College of Physicians, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, the task force noted.

Rx abuse rising among teens

Nearly one in four U.S. teens reported misusing or abusing a prescription drug in 2012—a 33% increase since 2008, released by the Partnership at Drugfree.org and MetLife Foundation.

The Partnership Attitude Tracking Survey is an annual study that, in 2012, assessed nearly 4,000 teenagers and about 800 parents and caregivers. In 2012, 24% of teenagers reported misusing or abusing a prescription drug at least once in their lifetime, compared with only 18% in 2008. In addition, 23% of teenagers said their parents didn’t care as much about prescription drug abuse as they would illegal drugs, 27% said they believed prescription drug abuse was safer than using illegal drugs, and 20% of those who had abused prescription drugs said they did so before they were 14 years old.

“These data make it very clear—the problem is real, the threat immediate, and the situation is not poised to get better,” said Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of the Partnership at Drugfree.org, in a news release. “Parents fear drugs like cocaine or heroin and want to protect their kids. But the truth is that when misused and abused, medicines—especially stimulants and opioids—can be every bit as dangerous and harmful as those illicit street drugs.”

The full findings of the report are available online at .

Survey: Many parents give kids unnecessary cough and cold meds

More than 40% of parents said in a recent survey that they gave cough medicine or multisymptom cough and cold medicine to their children younger than 4 years, . Since 2008, OTC cough and cold products have carried a warning that they should not be used in children younger than 4 years, since they have not been proven safe and effective.

“Products like these may work for adults, and parents think [they] could help their children as well,” said Matthew Davis, MD, MAAP, Associate Professor of Adult Medicine and Pediatrics and Director of the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, in a news release. “But what’s good for adults is not always good for children.”

The poll was administered in January 2013 to nearly 500 parents with a child younger than 4 years. Of the respondents, 44% administered multisymptom cough and cold medicine to their children, 42% gave them cough medicine, and 25% gave them decongestants. Use of these medications did not differ by parent gender, race/ethnicity, or household income.

Davis urged parents to read OTC product directions thoroughly and consult their physician or health care provider with any questions. “Because young children often suffer from cold-like symptoms, more research is needed to test the safety and efficacy of these cough and cold medicines in our littlest patients,” he said.

Alternative therapies may help for hypertension

Physical therapies like aerobic exercise, resistance and strength training, and isometric hand grip exercises may help reduce blood pressure for some patients, the in its . According to the association’s scientific statement, patients with blood pressure exceeding 120/80 mm Hg and those who can’t tolerate or don’t respond well to standard medications should consider these alternative therapies.

The recommendation came from an AHA expert panel that assessed three categories of alternative remedies: exercise regimens, behavioral therapies such as biofeedback and transcendental meditation, and noninvasive procedures or devices such as acupuncture or device-guided slow breathing. They reviewed more than 1,000 studies published between 2006 and 2011. The panel did not consider dietary supplements.

The panel noted that behavioral therapies were linked to small reductions in blood pressure, but the evidence was insufficient to make a recommendation. The same was true for acupuncture and relaxation techniques such as yoga. However, evidence showed that device-guided slow breathing could lower blood pressure when performed for 15-minute sessions three to four times a week.

“There aren’t many large, well-designed studies lasting longer than a few weeks looking at alternative therapies, yet patients have a lot of questions about their value,” said Robert Brook, MD, chair of the panel and Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Michigan. “A common request from patients is, ‘I don’t like to take medications, what can I do to lower my blood pressure?’ We wanted to provide some direction.”