Am Fam Physician. 2006 Jun 15;73(12):2109-2110.
Panel Advocates Changes in FDA Regulation of Dietary Supplements
An independent panel convened by the National Institutes of Health assessed evidence on the safety and effectiveness of multivitamins and minerals and released a statement of its findings. The 13 panel members, who are experts in various fields such as human nutrition and family medicine, identified several risks associated with the consumption of multivitamins and minerals; these included the potential for overconsuming certain nutrients, which could cause adverse effects. Because of these concerns and limitations in available evidence, the panel recommended that Congress expand the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) authority and resources to require the disclosure of adverse events by manufacturers, to ensure production quality, and to include consumer reporting information on supplement labels. It also recommended areas for future research, including trials of the impact of individual supplements in chronic disease, the building of databases detailing the exact composition of supplements, and the development of a strategy to support understanding of possible interactions between supplements and prescription or over-the-counter medications. The full report is available at http://consensus.nih.gov. For more information, visit http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/may2006/od-17.htm.
Health Information Community Delivers First Recommendations
The American Health Information Community (AHIC) delivered its first set of recommendations to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Mike Leavitt in May. The AHIC is a federally chartered commission formed in 2005 to advance efforts toward meeting President Bush’s call for most Americans to have electronic health records within 10 years. Its 17 members include Secretary Leavitt, who serves as chair; Julie Louise Gerberding, M.D., director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); and Douglas Henley, M.D., executive vice president of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). The 28 recommendations delivered to Secretary Leavitt advised the HHS on how to make health records digital and interoperable while protecting privacy and security. Among the recommendations were that the Health Information Technology Standards Panel should define standards to enable secure messaging between patients and physicians, laboratory results reporting, and electronic registration, and that these standards should be incorporated as criteria for product certification. For more information about the AHIC and for the complete recommendations, visit http://www.hhs.gov/healthit/ahic.html.
Medical Liability Reform Bill Fails to Reach Senate Floor
The Medical Care Access Protection Act of 2006 (S. 22), supported by the AAFP in its effort to bring about medical liability system reform, received only 48 votes from senators—12 short of the 60 needed to bring it to the floor. AAFP President Larry Fields, M.D. (Ashland, Ky.), sees medical liability reform as critical to achieving health care coverage for all Americans. If it had passed, the bill would have allowed the Senate to vote on medical liability legislation, including proposals to limit noneconomic damages to $250,000 for any one health care provider, to narrow the window of time in which a plaintiff could file a lawsuit, to limit attorney contingency fees, and to restrict expert witnesses to those with appropriate credentials. Further action on medical liability is not considered likely for the rest of the year. Dr. Fields urged AAFP members to take note of how their senators voted. For more information and to access a complete list of senators and their votes, visit http://aafp.org/online/en/home/publications/news/news-now/government-medicine/20060509liabilityvote.html.
CDC Initiative Seeks to Reduce Youth Dating Violence
A new initiative from the CDC, “Choose Respect,” will focus on teaching adolescents healthy relationship skills. The initiative was developed after a CDC study (published in the May 19, 2006, issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report) found that one in 11 high school students reported being the victim of physical violence by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the previous year. The study also found that the risk of dating violence was the same for boys and girls, although it was higher in black and Hispanic teenagers than in whites, and it increased in those with lower grades. The “Choose Respect” initiative highlights the importance of respecting other people, provides information on effectively handling conflicts, encourages youths to take positive action, and encourages adults to support positive social skills. The CDC will work with community agencies in 10 cities throughout the summer, including Houston (Tex.), Los Angeles (Calif.), Washington (D.C.), and Topeka (Kan.), to create awareness among children ages 11 to 14 and their parents. For more information and online materials, visit the initiative Web site at http://www.chooserespect.org.
Trial Assesses Method to Personalize Breast Cancer Treatment
Researchers in a study sponsored by the National Cancer Institute hope to demonstrate a means of identifying which women are likely to benefit from chemotherapy for breast cancer and which are not. TAILORx (the Trial Assigning IndividuaLized Options for treatment[Rx]) will assess whether genes that often are associated with the risk of recurrence in women with early-stage breast cancer can be used to assign patients to appropriate therapy. A molecular profiling test will be used to estimate women’s risk of recurrence, and participants then will be assigned to receive chemotherapy plus hormone therapy, hormone therapy alone, or adjuvant hormonal therapy with or without chemotherapy. The study will follow 10,000 participants for 10 years, with an additional follow-up after 20 years; women will be enrolled at 900 locations in the United States and Canada. For more information, visit http://www.cancer.gov/clinicaltrials/digestpage/TAILORx.
SAMHSA Awards Grants to Support Youth Suicide Prevention Programs
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced the award of eight grants totaling more than $9.5 million to support suicide prevention programs in Alaska, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, and Wisconsin. The recipients each will receive about $400,000 annually for three years. A project in California will target American Indians and Alaska Natives 10 to 24 years of age in Los Angeles County, providing screening and enhanced crisis services. A project in Utah will expand family-centered suicide prevention services in the juvenile court system for youths assigned to probation, aiming to increase employment, school enrollment, and family stability. According to data from a SAMHSA survey, about 900,000 youths ages 12 to 17 had made plans to commit suicide during an episode of depression, and 712,000 had attempted suicide. Suicide prevention is now a priority at SAMHSA, said administrator Charles Curie. For more information, visit http://www.samhsa.gov/news/newsreleases/060517_youthsuicide.htm.
AAP Applauds Defeat of Health Insurance Modernization Act
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thanked members of the U.S. Senate for voting against the Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act (S. 1955). The bill would have allowed health insurers to bypass existing state health regulations, resulting in the loss of immunizations, emergency services, obesity care, autism screening, and diabetes supplies, the AAP said. The AAP had urged the Senate to defeat the bill; it instead supports the Small Employers Health Benefits Program Act (S. 2510), which would retain state benefit mandates and provide employers with a tax credit to encourage participation. To access the AAP statement, go to http://www.aap.org/advocacy/washing/defeat_S1955.htm.
For more news, visit AAFP News Now at http://www.aafp.org/news-now.
Copyright © 2006 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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