MDNN: Azar Confirmed, Physics for Pain, ADHD Neglect in College, and the FDA/FTC Opioid Warning

JANUARY 26, 2018
MD Magazine Staff

Hi, I’m Jenna Payesko, and I’m Matt Hoffman, and this is MD Magazine News Network - it’s clinical news for connected physicians.

Former Eli Lilly and Company president Alex Azar has been confirmed as the new secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Azar, who stepped down from his position as the head of Lilly’s US division in early 2017, was approved in a 55-to-43-vote by the Senate on Wednesday. The federal appointment stoked polarizing opinions in the health care community, as dissenters pointed to his role in raising insulin lispro injection prices by nearly 300% during his tenure at Lilly. However, those in support of Azar told MD Magazine that his experience in pharmaceuticals should help improve relationships between manufacturers and the 11 health care-related agencies he will now oversee. Azar replaces former HHS secretary Tom Price, who resigned after 231 days amid criticism pointed at his alleged use of taxpayer money to charter private jets.

A new study has found that hyperactivity in brain networks is to blame for the chronic pain suffered by patients with fibromyalgia. The hyperactivity, called “explosive synchronization,” is commonly studied by physicists, but is only recently beginning to be understood by medical scientists. Readings from the brains of 10 female patients with fibromyalgia showed a hypersensitivity in patients’ brains at baseline, and the degree of explosive synchronization correlated with the intensity of reported chronic pain. The use of computer models of the brain for the study could have implications for personalized care in patient chronic pain moving forward.

College freshmen often need help with their laundry and, apparently, remembering their ADHD medication. In a recent study of young adults with ADHD entering their first semester at Auburn University, researchers found that only 53% of the medication doses prescribed to the new students were actually taken. Despite the small sample size of 34 students, researchers emphasized the need for physicians to inform families about the challenges of adhering to ADHD medication in college, as well as the pressures of sharing the treatment with friends and classmates.

The FDA and Federal Trade Commission released a joint warning this week to 4 marketers and 11 distributors of 12 opioid cessation products, which were flagged for illegal marketing of unapproved therapies. Despite their unapproved statuses, some therapies contained claims that they could treat opioid addiction and withdrawal symptoms, which is a violation of both the Federal Trade Commission Act and Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The administrations warned that the products have not demonstrated safety and efficacy, and could result in patients not seeking proper treatment.

For these stories and more, visit us at I’m Jenna Payesko, and I’m Matt Hoffman. Thank for you watching MDNN.

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