Health Highlights: April 5, 201204/05/12
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Americans Cutting Back on Prescription Drugs, Doctor Visits:
As they struggle to pay for health care, American patients are
using fewer prescription drugs and visiting doctors less often, a
new study finds.
From 2010 to 2011, the number of prescriptions issued to U.S.
patients fell by 1.1 percent and the number of doctors visits
declined by 4.7 percent, according to the IMS Institute for
The New York Times reported.
The health industry research group also found that visits to
emergency rooms increased by 7.4 percent. This is likely due to
more people losing health insurance because they're out of work,
the study authors said.
Older Americans were most likely to cut back on their use of
medicines. Prescriptions for patients 65 and older declined by 3.1
percent in 2011, with the biggest declines in prescriptions for
drugs to treat high blood pressure and osteoporosis,
The Times reported.
Rising Painkiller Drug Sales Lead to Addiction Concerns
Soaring sales of two types of prescription painkillers in
certain areas of the United States have triggered concerns about an
addiction epidemic fueled by a push to relieve patients'
From 2000 to 2010, there was a dramatic increase in the
distribution of oxycodone, the key ingredient in OyxContin,
Percocet and Percodan, according to U.S. Drug Enforcement
Administration data. In some areas, sales increased 16-fold, the
Associated Press reported.
The DEA data also revealed that the distribution of hydrocodone,
the key ingredient in Vicodin, Norco and Lortab, is rising in
Appalachia and the Midwest.
The increases in the use of these opioid painkillers have
coincided with rising number of overdose deaths, pharmacy robberies
and other problems in Florida, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and other
In 2008, opioid painkillers such as oxycodone and hyrocodone
caused 14,800 overdose deaths and that death toll is rising, the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
The increased use of these prescription drugs is partly due to
pain issues in the aging U.S. population and doctors' greater
willingness to treat pain, Gregory Bunt, medical director at New
York's Daytop Village chain of drug treatment clinics, told the
He added that sales of the drugs are also rising due to
addiction. Users become dependent on the painkillers and start
"doctor shopping" in order to continue receiving prescriptions for
Salmonella Outbreak Sickens 93 People in 19 States: CDC
A total of 93 people in 19 states and the District of Columbia
have been sickened with an outbreak strain of
Salmonella Bareilly, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.
Ten of the ill people have been hospitalized. There have been no
The number of people affected in each state are: Alabama (2),
Arkansas (1), Connecticut (4), District of Columbia (2), Georgia
(4), Illinois (8), Louisiana (2), Maryland (8), Massachusetts (4),
Mississippi (1), Missouri (1), New Jersey (6), New York (23), North
Carolina (2), Pennsylvania (2), Rhode Island (4), South Carolina
(3), Texas (3), Virginia (5), and Wisconsin (8).
The CDC has previously tied the outbreak to sushi/sashimi, but
no one food source has yet been conclusively pinpointed as the
source of illness. The CDC said it and Food and Drug Administration
are working together to investigate the outbreak and will provide
updates as soon as they are available.
Symptoms of salmonella infection include diarrhea, fever and
abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. Most people
recover within 4 to 7 days without treatment, but some cases are
deadly if not treated with antibiotics. The elderly, the very young
and people with compromised immune systems are most at risk of a
severe illness from salmonella infection.
If you suspect you have eaten contaminated food, the CDC
recommends contacting your doctor. "CDC will update the public on
the progress of this investigation as information becomes
available," the agency said.
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Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.