News in Brief: Week of June 6-10

June 08, 2011 05:40 pm News Staff

FDA: No Link Between ARBs, Cancer

The FDA has concluded that treatment with angiotensin receptor blockers, or ARBs, does not increase a patient's risk of developing cancer. The agency conducted a meta-analysis of 31 clinical trials involving more than 155,000 patients after a study(www.thelancet.com) (abstract) published last year in The Lancet found a small increased risk of cancer in patients taking the antihypertension medications.

The agency said in a June 2 safety announcement(www.fda.gov) that results from three recently published studies also do not suggest any increased risk of cancer related to ARB use. Complete lists of single-ingredient ARBs and combination ARBs are included in the safety announcement.

The FDA said patients should not stop taking the medications without talking with their physicians. Patients and physicians are encouraged to report any side effects experienced with ARBs to the FDA's MedWatch program(www.accessdata.fda.gov).

Rule Change Could Mean Patients Can See Who is Accessing Their Health Information

Proposed changes to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, privacy rule mean that patients could receive a report that lists who electronically accessed their protected health information.

According to a May 31 news release(www.hhs.gov) from HHS, the proposed rule would allow patients to obtain information on who has seen their information by requesting an access report, which would document who accessed and viewed their protected health information. Currently, covered entities are required by the HIPAA security rule to track access to protected electronic health information, but they are not required to share this information with patients.

Comments on the notice of proposed rulemaking(www.gpo.gov), which is in the May 31 Federal Register, are being taken through Aug. 1.

CDC Offers New Vaccine Resource

The CDC has launched a new section on its website(www.cdc.gov) focused on immunizations for preteens and teenagers. The section includes information for preteen and teen patients, their parents, public health professionals and health care professionals.

Resources for health care professionals include a provider fact sheet, a reminder/recall card, information about the Vaccines for Children program, immunization schedules and a screening questionnaire to help physicians determine which vaccines a patient may need.

Florida AFP Joins Lawsuit to Overturn Physician Gag Law

The Florida AFP has signed on to a lawsuit that seeks to overturn a recently enacted measure that severely restricts the ability of physicians and other health care professionals in the state to discuss firearms safety with their patients.

The lawsuit alleges that the measure, H.B. 155(www.flsenate.gov), violates the right of physicians and other health care professionals to engage in open and free exchanges of information and advice with their patients about ways to reduce the safety risks posed by firearms, which the lawsuit says abrogates the right of free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution.

"By severely restricting such speech and the ability of physicians to practice such preventive medicine, the Florida statute could result in grievous harm to children, adolescents, adults and the elderly," says the lawsuit. "The First Amendment does not permit such a gross and content-based intrusion on speech and, accordingly, the court should declare the physician gag law unconstitutional and enjoin its enforcement."

The Florida AFP, as well as the state chapters of the American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics, have signed on as plaintiffs to the lawsuit.

CMS to Host Open Door Forum on Advance Payment Initiative

On June 14, from 2-3:30 p.m. EDT, CMS is hosting a special open door forum on an advance payment initiative being considered by CMS' Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation.

The advance payment initiative will test whether and how prepaying a portion of future shared savings could increase participation in the Medicare shared savings program by ACOs. After the presentation, CMS will take questions on the initiative.

Those interested in participating can call (866) 501-5502 and use conference identification 71725238.

An audio recording and transcript of the forum(innovation.cms.gov) will be posted to the CMS Innovation Center website when it becomes available.

Vaccine Schedules Are in the Mail

If you're one of the 64,000 active and resident members of the AAFP, be on the lookout for laminated versions of the 2011 child, adolescent and adult immunization schedules, which were developed by the CDC, the AAFP and other professional medical organizations.

The late May mailing, which was funded through a nonrestricted grant from Merck & Co. Inc., also includes CDC resources and information about AAFP immunization resources.


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