APhA advises consumers on acetaminophen use

Patients Urged to Take Acetaminophen Products as Recommended on the Labeling

The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) advises consumers to take acetaminophen products as recommended on the labeling and seek guidance from pharmacists or other healthcare providers on evaluating medication options. This recommendation comes as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) convened a public advisory committee meeting on June 29 and June 30, 2009 regarding acetaminophen use in both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription (Rx) products, the potential for liver injury, and potential interventions to reduce the incidence of liver injury.

The committee recommended a range of options for the FDA to consider from putting warning labels on products to pulling certain medicines from the market. The FDA will take the recommendations into consideration before taking any action and is not obligated to follow the recommendations of the advisory committee.

“Acetaminophen is an effective, long utilized medication in relieving patient pain and fever, and is considered safe when used according to the directions on product labeling,” said Ed Hamilton, PharmD, FAPhA, and APhA President.  “As the FDA considers the recommendations made by the committee, we urge consumers not to panic, but to take acetaminophen containing products and any other medicines as directed by the product label or prescription label. Consumers are also encouraged to ask questions. Pharmacists are here to answer consumers questions about medications and can help them identify which ones may have acetaminophen.”

What should consumers do?

  • If taking acetaminophen containing products (commonly referred to as Tylenol® or APAP), always take according to current directions and dosing instructions.
  • Healthy adults should not exceed 4 grams (4000mg) of acetaminophen per day. Others should seek advice from their pharmacist or other health care provider for appropriate dosing limits.
  • Always read OTC and Rx medication labels before each use, follow the directions, and if you have questions, ask the pharmacist or other health care provider.
  • If a dosing device is included with a specific medication, use only that device for that medication.
  • Check the active ingredients of OTC and Rx medications to ensure that multiple products do not contain acetaminophen.  Generally, taking multiple products containing acetaminophen is not advisable due to the risk of exceeding the maximum daily dose and liver damage.
  • Store all medications appropriately, keep all medications out of the reach of children, and always return medications to a proper storage location following each use.
  • Seek medical advice immediately if you or someone you know may have taken too much acetaminophen.
  • Advise your health care providers of all Rx, OTC, herbal and dietary supplement products taken regularly or on an as needed basis.

About the American Pharmacists Association (APhA)
The American Pharmacists Association, founded in 1852 as the American Pharmaceutical Association, represents more than 62,000 practicing pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, student pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and others interested in advancing the profession. APhA, dedicated to helping all pharmacists improve medication use and advance patient care, is the first-established and largest association of pharmacists in the United States. APhA members provide care in all practice settings, including community pharmacies, health systems, long-term care facilities, managed care organizations, hospice settings, and the uniformed services.

Aspirin cuts colon cancer death risk: study

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Taking aspirin not only can help keep colon cancer from coming back, but it also can lower the risk of dying from the disease, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

Aspirin already occupies a prominent spot in many medicine cabinets. Daily use of low-dose aspirin can stave off heart attacks and strokes, as well as chase away aches and pains.

Other studies have found it can reduce the risk of developing colon cancer. The latest study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows it can prevent colorectal cancer deaths.

Dr. Andrew Chan of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston and colleagues studied aspirin use in 1,279 men and women with colorectal cancer that had not spread to other parts of the body.

They found that people who took aspirin regularly after their diagnosis were nearly 30 percent less likely to die from their cancer than people who did not take aspirin. These people also were 21 percent less likely to die for any reason while they were in the study lasting more than two decades.

“These results suggest that aspirin may influence the biology of established colorectal tumors in addition to preventing their occurrence,” Chan said in a statement.

Chan said aspirin likely works by blocking the enzyme cyclooxygenase2, or COX-2, which promotes inflammation and cell division. Many tumors make an abundance of COX-2, he said.

Despite its benefits, aspirin can cause serious bleeding in the stomach. The team said further study in carefully controlled clinical trials should be done before the drug could be recommended for routine use by colon cancer patients.

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cancer killer in the United States behind lung cancer. It will kill an estimated 50,000 Americans this year, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Will Dunham

All About Menopause and Perimenopause

Midwifemuse photo

Midwifemuse photo

When does menopause start?

On average, women are 51 at natural menopause, notes the National Institute on Aging. But menopause can start earlier or later. A few women start menopause as young as 40, and a very small percentage as late as 60. Women who smoke tend to go through menopause a few years earlier than nonsmokers. There is no proven way to predict menopause age. It’s only after a woman has missed her periods for 12 straight months, without other obvious causes, that menopause can be confirmed.

Menopause is the permanent end of menstruation.

It’s a turning point, not a disease, but it can have a big impact on a woman’s wellbeing. Although menopause can bring physical upheaval from hot flashes, night sweats, and other symptoms, it can also be the start of a new and rewarding phase of a woman’s life — and a golden opportunity to guard against major health risks like heart disease and osteoporosis.

What Causes Menopause?

NIH Study Finds Low Short-term Risks After Bariatric Surgery for Extreme Obesity

Short-term complications and death rates were low following bariatric surgery to limit the amount of food that can enter the stomach, decrease absorption of food or both, according to the Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery (LABS-1).

The study was funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. Results are reported in the July 30 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Less than 1 percent (0.3 percent) of patients died within 30 days of surgery, further supporting the short-term safety of bariatric surgery as a treatment for patients with extreme obesity.

Bariatric surgery can have dramatic health benefits — such as improved blood sugar control or even reversal of type 2 diabetes. But it also carries serious risks, including death. The LABS-1 study aimed to evaluate the short-term safety of bariatric surgery to help doctors and patients understand the risks.

“Evaluating the 30-day safety outcomes of bariatric surgery in large populations is an essential step forward,” according to co-author Myrlene Staten, M.D. senior advisor for diabetes translation research at NIDDK, part of NIH. “And LABS-1 data are from all patients who had their procedure performed by a surgeon participating in the study, not from just a select few patients.”

Various types of bariatric surgery limit food intake, nutrient absorption or both. The major types of surgery undergone by participants in this study included laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding, laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and open Roux-en-Y gastric bypass.

Gastric bands create a pouch around the top of the stomach to limit food intake at any one time. Gastric bypass also creates a pouch and redirects food around most of the stomach and part of the small intestine, limiting the absorption of food.

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