Wednesday, August 27, 2014


In a story widely covered by major news outlets and healthcare news sites, the World Health Organization has issued a report that calls for a ban on indoor e-cigarette use and stronger regulations to keep minors from using the devices, among other recommendations. Most stories also mentioned the recent policy statement from the American Heart Association urging stronger FDA regulation of e-cigarettes.

        The New York Times (8/26, B3, Jolly, Tavernise, Subscription Publication) reports that the WHO paper “summarizes the growing body of evidence on the health impact of electronic cigarettes,” and was written in preparation for the United Nations Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in October. The article notes that “the organization has no power to enforce its recommendations, but delegates to the meeting could, in theory, endorse the measures for inclusion in a treaty or call for yet more studies before taking further action.”
        The Wall Street Journal (8/26, Esterl, Evans, Subscription Publication) reports that the WHO called for restrictions on advertising and notes particular concern on the growing role of large tobacco companies in the e-cigarette industry. Phillip Morris responded that the agency was calling for industry to be forced out of the policy making process. British American Tobacco PLC also said that overly restrictive regulations would hinder the industry and the public health benefits it could provide.
        According to the Los Angeles Times (8/27, Raab), the report recommends “advertising for e-cigarettes shouldn’t be allowed to make health claims – including claims that the devices help people quit traditional smoking – unless such claims are borne out by clinical trials,” that “marketing for e-cigarettes shouldn’t target children or people who don’t already use nicotine,” and urging that “fruit, candy-like and alcoholic-drink flavors” be banned.
        The AP (8/27, Heilprin) reports that e-cigarette “sales are banned in 13 of the 59 countries that regulate the devices, the WHO reported, but most of those 13 countries say they are still available because of illicit trade and cross-border Internet sales.”

Monday, August 25, 2014


News that the Federal government is tightening restrictions on hydrocodone combination painkillers in an effort to curb widespread abuse received wide coverage, with several major newspapers and news agencies reporting. Some news outlets noted that the rule change was welcomed by many, including lawmakers from states that have been plagued by opioid abuse. Others quoted sources who were skeptical whether the rule change would help curb abuse of the painkillers.

        USA Today (8/21, Leger) reports the change, for instance, will “sharply reduce how many pills a doctor can prescribe for them at one time.” Also, manufacturers and pharmacies will now have to keep hydrocodone combination products such as Vicodin (acetaminophen and hydrocodone) under tighter security, along with “more extensive records.” The new rule, which takes effect from mid-October, elevates the painkillers to Schedule II from Schedule III under the Controlled Substances Act.
        Highlighting the importance of the rule change, the New York Times (8/22, A12, Tavernise, Subscription Publication) notes that it is “one of the most far-reaching efforts to stop the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse.” The paper points to a grim statistic, noting that “more than 20,000 Americans die every year because of prescription drug abuse,” citing Federal data. Still, the Times notes, the change is expected to “draw strong criticism from some pain management experts,” who argue that the new restrictions impose “unfair obstacles for patients in chronic pain, making it harder, for example, on those who cannot easily make a trip to the doctor.”
        The Wall Street Journal (8/22, A3, Radnofsky, Walker, Subscription Publication) examines both sides of the debate, citing sources who are against tighter restrictions and those who seek tougher rules. The paper notes that Linden Barber, a former DEA attorney, who now works with the law firm Quarles & Brady LLP in Indianapolis, pointed out the rule change may not have a major impact because painkillers such as OxyContin (oxycodone), which already have tough safeguards in place, continue to be abused. The AP (8/22, Perrone) also covers the story.

Saturday, August 2, 2014


Actinic keratoses are common skin lesions caused by overexposure to sunlight with the potential to convert to malignancy. As it is impossible to predict which lesions will convert to cancer, treatment of all AK lesions is recommended. Topical treatments offer the best strategy for treating large areas of clinically visible and subclinical lesions. Of the available topical treatments, Picato®, available in 2 formulations, and proven to safely and effectively clear AK, has the shortest application period, which may help improve patient adhere and overall outcomes.