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MEDICAL NEWS BRIEFS #6

New Vaccines for COVID-19, RSV Coming This Fall

   The American Academy of Family Physicians has announced that “health officials are unveiling a new arsenal of vaccines to protect vulnerable Americans and exhausted health-care  workers from an expected wave of COVID, flu, and RSV as the Fall respiratory season begins.” We can expect to deal with higher costs, who will pay the cost, and when vaccines should be given, and to which age group(s). Stay Tuned.

FDA Approves First Over-the-Counter Oral Birth Control

   Norgestrel (Opill) marketed by generic drug maker, Perrigo, was the first OTC birth control pill OK’d by the FDA. It is a progestin-only drug thus it’s safety profile is very acceptable, and it is 98% effective. Without estrogen, the pill avoids estrogen-related adverse effects—blood clots, stroke, breast cancer risk, vaginal bleeding, headache, and GI side effects.

Experts Disagree About Aspartame’s “Possibly Carcinogenic” Status

   Artificial sweetener, aspartame, is now listed by the WHO as potentially cancer-causing based on limited evidence from animal studies. Acceptable intake is 40 mg/kg of body weight, equivalent of 9-14 cans of diet soda per day for a 150 lb adult. The U.S. FDA disagreed with this characterization. 

Misdiagnosis Might Harm Up To 800,000 US Patients Annually

   The British Medical Journal Quality & Safety reports that from 2012-2014, between 550,000 and 800,000 people died or were permanently disabled due to diagnostic errors. Fifteen diseases were responsible for half the cases with stroke, sepsis, pneumonia, venous blood clots, and lung cancer being the top five. But with over 1 billion health care visits every year, patients had a 0.1% chance of experiencing harm from a misdiagnosis. Most problems stem from a delay in making the diagnosis. Harm already has been done when the diagnosis is finally made.

FDA Approves RSV Monoclonal Antibody for Infants and Young Children

   Astra-Zeneca’s single-dose monoclonal antibody, nirsevimab-alip, has received FDA approval for use in infants and young children for the prevention of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) lower respiratory tract disease. In clinical trials, a single shot reduced the risk of severe RSV infection by 70%-75% in children up to 2 years of age.

Gallup says Cigarette Smoking Rate in Adults is Still Near Historic Low Reached Last Yr

   According to a Gallup survey, only 12% of Americans said they had smoked cigarettes in the past week in 2023. Last year, the number was 11% which was the lowest ever recorded. Do you know anyone who still smokes? I do not. Compare that to our parents’ generation when they, and all their friends, smoked cigarettes every day.

Ivermectin Still Neither Effective Nor Approved for COVID-19 Treatment, FDA says

   Despite recent reports to the contrary from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the FDA is reminding physicians and the public that Ivermectin has never been approved for treatment of COVID-19. They state it lacks evidence of efficacy. 

Virtual Reality Exercise Therapy May Be Safe, Viable Treatment Delivery Method For Patients with Low Back Pain, Neck Pain

   A report in the Archives of Physiotherapy states that virtual reality exercise, that done with the aid of wearing virtual vision goggles, has been appropriate for low back and neck pain. No adverse events were reported and reduction in disability measures was seen. 

Breathing Tiny Particles From Wildfire Smoke Can Produce Cognitive Deficits

   Wildfire danger comes not only from flames and heat, but also smoke inhalation. Inhalation of tiny particles in wildfire smoke can produce cognitive deficits which appear 6 months or more later. So says the journal PLOS Climate. 

Adenotonsillectomy May Improve Dysphagia Outcomes in Children with Obstructive Sleep Apnea

   The JAMA Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery reports that children with Obstructive Sleep Apnea and trouble swallowing who have their adenoids and tonsils removed have resolution of their symptoms. After 7 months, swallowing trouble decreased by 21.3% in patients having a T & A.

2023 Update: Top Causes of Death Among Doctors

   An article published by the American Medical Association has the following key points: 1. In the U.S., 300-400 physicians die by suicide each year. 2. COVID-19 was the second leading cause of physician death. 3. The third cause was “peripheral arterial disease due to job strain.”

Job strain was the underlying cause of all three major causes and was worsened by the uncertainties of the pandemic. “Self care, wellness behaviors, and a supportive atmosphere are preventive measures.”

References: AAFP Family Medicine Today: New Vaccines for COVID-19, RSV Rolling about This Fall 2023 August 18.

Medical News in Brief: FDA Greenlights First Over-the-Counter Oral Birth Control JAMA 2023 August 15;330(7):585.

Medical News in Brief: Experts Disagree About Aspartame’s “Possibly Carcinogenic” Status JAMA 2023 August 15;330(7):585

Medical News in Brief: Misdiagnosis Might Hurt up to 800,000 US Patients Annually JAMA 2023 August 15;330(7):586

AAFP Family Medicine Today: Cigarette Smoking Rate Among American Adults Still Near Historic Low Reached Last, Survey Finds 2023 August 21.

Medical News in Brief: FDA Approves RSV Monoclonal Antibody for Infants and Young Children JAMA 2023 August 15;330(7):586

AAFP Family Medicine Today: Ivermectin Still Neither Effective Nor Approved for COVID-10 Treatment, FDA says 2023 August 21.

AAFP Family Medicine Today: Virtual Reality Exercise Therapy May Be Safe, Viable Treatment Delivery Method For Patients with Low Back and/or Neck Pain 2023 August 21.

AAFP Family Medicine Today: Breathing Tiny Particles From Wildfire Smoke Can Produce Cognitive Deficits 2023 August 21.

AAFP Family Medicine Today: Undergoing Adenotonsillectomy May Improve Dysphagia Outcomes in Children with OSA and Tonsil Hypertrophy Compared With Watchful Waiting with Supportive Care 2023 August 21.

Murtha J. 2023 Update: Top Causes of Death Among Doctors MDLinx.com/article

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