New evidence in France of harm from epilepsy drug valproate

BBC, 21 April 2017
Source: BBC News
“A drug given to pregnant women for epilepsy and bipolar disorder caused “serious malformations” in up to 4,100 children, a French study suggests. Introduced in France in 1967, valproate is prescribed widely worldwide. Doctors in France are now advised not to give it to girls, women of childbearing age and pregnant women. Some families of children with birth defects born to women who took the drug while pregnant have sued Sanofi, saying that it did not adequately warn about the risks.”
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Do patients and doctors understand breast cancer genetic testing results?

Reuters, 19 April 2017
Author: Will Boggs
“If you have early-stage breast cancer and have undergone genetic testing, the odds are high that the results were not explained to you by a genetic counselor, and chances are, the results did not affect your surgeon’s recommendations for treatment, according to a recent U.S. study. Expert guidelines increasingly call for genetic testing to identify the presence of inherited mutations. But it’s not clear if patients or their doctors are using the results to make informed treatment choices.”
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AbbVie cancer drug fails two late-stage trials

Reuters, 19 April 2017
Authors: Divya Grover, Savio D’Souza, Bill Rigby
“AbbVie Inc experimental cancer drug, veliparib, failed to meet the main goals of two late-stage studies. The trials evaluated the effect of veliparib, in combination with a chemotherapy regimen, on patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and triple-negative breast cancer. In one trial, the combination treatment failed to improve the overall survival of NSCLC patients. In another trial, the drug did not achieve the complete pathologic response.”
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More than 800 women sue NHS and manufacturers over vaginal mesh implants

The Guardian, 19 April 2017
Author: Hannah Devlin
“Some women reported that implants had cut into their vaginas, with one woman saying she was left in so much pain that she considered suicide. Others have been left unable to walk or have sex, according to the BBC. However, the medical regulator said that the best current evidence supports the continued use of mesh implants to resolve health conditions that could themselves cause serious distress to patients.”
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Blocked from public health system, drunk doctor finds job at private hospital

SMH, 7 April 2017
Author: Harriet Alexander
“An anaesthetist who abandoned his patient mid-operation and then passed out from intoxication has found new employment at Shellharbour Private Hospital. The doctor who had a history of drinking on the job, has not returned to work at Wollongong Hospital since the incident on its premises in May last year. But the NSW Medical Board allowed him to continue practising under certain conditions”
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Medical Liability Reform in a New Political Environment

JAMA. 2017; 317(13): 1311-1312.
Authors: Anand Parekh, William Hoagland
“Many physicians, patients, and other interested parties do not consider the current medical malpractice system to be optimal. For example, it has been estimated that only 2% to 3% of patients who experience a medical error file a malpractice claim (although it is unclear how serious those medical errors were and if they would result in an adjudicated malpractice claim), the mean time from claim initiation to closure is more than 5 years, and nearly 50% of all compensation awarded to patients is consumed by attorney fees and administrative charges. With respect to clinicians, the annual risk of having an open malpractice claim has been reported to be 7.4%, and, by age 65 years, most physicians will have been involved in a malpractice claim. In addition, the adversarial nature of the current system makes it difficult to improve patient safety and also creates stress for clinicians.”
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WHO Launches Global Effort to Halve Medication-Related Errors in 5 Years

WHO, 29 March 2017
“WHO today launched a global initiative to reduce severe, avoidable medication-associated harm in all countries by 50% over the next 5 years. The Global Patient Safety Challenge on Medication Safety aims to address the weaknesses in health systems that lead to medication errors and the severe harm that results. It lays out ways to improve the way medicines are prescribed, distributed and consumed, and increase awareness among patients about the risks associated with the improper use of medication.”
Find news release here.

“I’m Willing To Try Anything”: Compassionate Use Access To Experimental Drugs And The Misguided Mission Of Right-To-Try Laws

Health Affairs Blog, 27 March 2017
Authors: Amy Scharf, Elizabeth Dzeng
“Beneath its seemingly altruistic and uncontroversial veneer, the Compassionate Use program has been a lightning rod for intense legal, legislative, and public policy controversies, many of which have been framed as ‘libertarian vs. regulatory’ battles between those who wish to allow patients freer, even unrestricted, access to experimental drugs (often by changing or limiting the role of the FDA), and those who prefer a more measured, rigorous approach to dispensing unproven and potentially dangerous therapies.”
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Naturopathic Doctors Look Bad After California Woman Dies From Turmeric Injection

Forbes, 27 March 2017
Author: Britt Marie Hermes
“A San Diego woman recently died of cardiopulmonary arrest after receiving an intravenous injection of turmeric. Reliable evidence for using turmeric for any medical condition is scanty at best. There have been preliminary studies on intravenous turmeric in combination with conventional chemotherapy, but no firm conclusions can be drawn. In other words, intravenous turmeric poses unnecessary risks. This is likely the result of naturopathic education blurring the line between treatments backed by good evidence and practices using “natural” substances that turn profits.”
Find article here.