Weekly Roundup – 5-04-07

Tongueout Today I will be speaking at the Public Relations Society of America Health Academy here in Washington on issues related to new media and healthcare.  Specifically, I’ll be looking at some of the obstacles that highly regulated industries face in employing new media, but also the necessity of meeting those challenges in today’s environment.  On a sad note, we lost two important landmarks in Washington this week – the Eastern Market on Capitol Hill and the Georgetown Library – both from fires on the same day. 

Here are some of the other things that happened:

  • FDA Launches New Web Page, E-newsletter to Enhance Online Consumer Health Information – FDA today announced two new initiatives to enhance online communications. A Web page, "Consumer Health Information for You and Your Family"  provides comprehensive and timely consumer information. A free monthly e-newsletter, "FDA Consumer Health Information", will alert consumers to content contained on the page. "The Web page and e-newsletter are important new consumer resources that will feature timely stories on pressing FDA topics, provide links to our most requested information, and include interactive content," says Andrew C. von Eschenbach, M.D., Commissioner of Food and Drugs.
  • FDA Proposes New Warnings About Suicidal Thinking, Behavior in Young Adults Who Take Antidepressant Medications – According to the FDA press release,  the agency proposed this week that makers of all antidepressant medications update the existing black box warning on their products’ labeling to include warnings about increased risks of suicidal thinking and behavior, known as suicidality, in young adults ages 18 to 24 during initial treatment (generally the first one to two months).   The proposed labeling changes also include language stating that scientific data did not show this increased risk in adults older than 24, and that adults ages 65 and older taking antidepressants have a decreased risk of suicidality. The proposed warning statements also emphasize that depression and certain other serious psychiatric disorders are themselves the most important causes of suicide. As far as risk management, this measure is fraught with controversy.  Unfortunately, risk management interventions are not really evidence-based decisions.
  • FDA Warns Consumers about Counterfeit Drugs from Multiple Internet SellersCoinciding with proposed legislation that would allow for purchase of drugs from other countries, the agency issued a warning about the potential for counterfeit drugs through such purchases.  The release contained information that showed that the agency found 24  Web sites may be involved in the distribution of counterfeit prescription drugs. 

That’s it for this week folks.  Have a wonderful weekend.  On Monday, you will be able to hear a podcast with Jeff Levi, Executive Director of the Trust for America’s Health on communications issues related to pandemic influenza. 

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