“What’d I miss?” – Week of August 9th

As usual there were a lot of things that happened during the week, and not all of it was pharmacy or technology related. Here’s a quick look at some of the stuff I found interesting.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra was #1 at the box office last weekend. My family and I saw the movie Friday, August 7. Let’s just say it was a little disappointing.

The Wall Street Journal: “The Food and Drug Administration’s top medical-device regulator said Tuesday he is resigning. The departure follows internal dissent over device-approval decisions that the regulator’s critics said were too friendly to industry. Daniel Schultz said his move comes “by mutual agreement” with FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, who took office in May.” The article goes on to say that a group of division employees “wrote to the House Energy and Commerce Committee last October to complain that the division’s leaders had approved devices despite formal safety and efficacy concerns raised by FDA. They also alleged some scientists who objected to the decisions faced retaliation from leaders of the device division.” In addition, The Journal is reporting that Janet Woodcock, the director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, is being investigated “from an ethics complaint filed by Amphastar Pharmaceuticals Inc., a California company that says it has been delayed in its six-year effort to win approval for a generic version of Lovenox, a multi-billion-dollar blood thinner.” It looks like the FDA has some explaining to do.

– An online article published on August 10 in Pediatrics describes the results of a study in a pediatric ICU in Israel. The study looked at 1250 PICU drug prescriptions from each of the following periods: 1 month before computerized order entry (period 1); 1 year after computerized order entry (period 2); after clinical decision support system implementation (period 3); and after a change in prescription authorization allowing only physicians to prescribe prescription drugs. The results of the study demonstrated only a small decrease in prescription errors. CPOE systems are difficult to design and implement in pediatrics secondary to all medications using weight based dosing. If you want to see a great CPOE system used in a pediatric environment, plan a visit to Denver Children’s Hospital. Two years ago I attended a presentation by their pharmacy director on their design and implementation. It was well done.

Medsacpe: “Many family physicians, internists and other prescribers continue to meet with drug company representatives and think these meetings are worthwhile, new research shows. In a series of focus groups with prescribers of various training backgrounds, researchers found that most prescribers believe overall that these interactions improve patient care and the health of their practice.In general, prescribers also felt that meeting with a drug detailer does not impact their prescribing habits, despite an abundance of research showing that drug detailing by pharmaceutical representatives does influence prescribing. Most prescribers indicated that they either trusted the information from pharmaceutical drug detailers or felt that they are well equipped to evaluate and filter information presented to them, Dr. Fischer and colleagues report.” – Wow! Any pharmacist that believes a pharmaceutical rep has the patient’s best interest in mind with the information they provide, please raise your hand. What, no takers; didn’t think so. Anyone interested in my take on the issue can read more here.

mactablet_mockup– The Mac Tablet continues to make headlines, but this time it’s to the chagrin of excited people like me. Several sources this week have written that the Mac Tablet will not debut in September as originally thought, but sometime in 2010. Bummer. Until then, I will continue to drool over all the cool mockups that continue to show up on the internet; like the image to the right.

MedGadget.com: “Complicated pediatric cardiac surgeries, such as staged Fontan reconstruction in children born with an univentricular heart, present great challenges when planning for each procedure. Unique anatomies bring unknowns into the physiologic (hemodynamics) equation, often requiring surgeons to make difficult decisions when predicting the outcome of a specific approach. Now scientists at Georgia Tech and clinicians at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have developed a software tool that analyzes patients’ own MRI scans to simulate various possible surgical options and their outcomes.” – I love this type of 3-D animation. Drug researchers have been doing this for years as a way to develop new medications by rendering 3-D images of receptor sites. Cool technology.

Medicine And Technology: “My wife and I have debated this topic. Should our daughters get the HPV vaccine? There are so many potential implications associated with this question. CNN has a story that asks the same question: Should your daughter get Gardasil, the vaccine against HPV? Right now, Gardasil (made by Merck) is the only HPV vaccine that is approved by the FDA. There are other vaccines in the pipeline, but who knows if/when they will get approved. The FDA has been so slow these days. Someday, we’ll probably have a single vaccine that includes all of these major shots. This way, you won’t have to poke people multiple times. Kids (and adults) don’t generally like needles. HPV causes warts. It can also cause cervical cancer. So by vaccinating children, you could be preventing cancer. From a public health view, it seems like the right thing to do. However, HPV is also sexually transmitted. So if you’re vaccinating children, what type of message are you conveying regarding sex and sexually transmitted diseases? If you tell your child “abstinence before marriage” and then give her an HPV vaccine, are you communicating mixed signals? So what do you think about this topic? If you had a young daughter, would you have her get the HPV vaccine?” – This is a timely topic for me as my wife and I have also been discussing whether or not our daughters should get the HPV vaccine. I won’t tell you our decision, but if you have daughters this topic should be near the top of your list of things to talk about.

barcode.com: “The American National Standards Institute, or ANSI, recently approved a new set of standards from the Health Industry Business Communications Council for using RFID tags to label and track medical products. ANSI/HIBC 4.0, the new decided upon standard, provides guidelines for tagging healthcare products in a way that will prevent RFID interference with medical devices, which had previously been causing some major issues. In fact, in a June 2008 Journal of American Medical Association study, it was found that ultra-high frequency tagging interfered with the operation of electronic medical devices in almost 63% of the cases tested. Since a smaller read range is less likely to interfere with medical devices, the council’s new standards recommend that healthcare products be tagged with 13.56mhz high-frequency coding.”

– Thankfully the NFL preseason has arrived. It’s time for some football!

Have a great weekend everyone.

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