News in Brief: Week of Aug. 13-17

August 15, 2012 05:35 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

AAFP Asking Members to Update Contact Info

The AAFP is asking its members to go online (Members Only) to confirm that the contact information (address, e-mail, phone number) the Academy has on file for them is correct. The AAFP also is asking members to update that information as necessary.

Reviewing the information only takes a couple of minutes, according to the Academy. And it will ensure that members continue to receive updates on the AAFP's activities and don't miss out on valuable membership benefits.

FDA: Careful Using Codeine for Children

The FDA issued a Drug Safety Communication( on August 15 regarding the use of codeine following tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. According to the release, three children died and one child experienced a nonfatal, but life-threatening case of respiratory depression after receiving routine doses of the pain reliever following surgeries performed to treat obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.

The FDA is advising physicians and other health care providers to use the "lowest effective dose for the shortest time on an as-needed basis" when prescribing codeine-containing drugs. The organization also is conducting a review of adverse event reports and other information to determine if there are additional cases of inadvertent overdose or death in children taking codeine, and if these adverse events occur during treatment of other kinds of pain.

HHS Joins Forces With Pharmacies to Distribute News About Medicare Benefits

HHS has partnered with several pharmacy chains to help consumers learn more about Medicare benefits that are available as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The agency has formed partnerships with CVS Caremark, Walgreens, Thrifty White, Wal-Mart and Sam's Club to provide educational materials on newly available preventive services that are part of the Medicare program, according to an HHS press release( The materials will include information on how the Affordable Care Act helps to bridge prescription coverage gaps when beneficiaries fall into the Medicare doughnut hole.

"Our pharmacist partners are helping their customers make informed health care decisions," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, when announcing the initiative. "These partnerships will help people with Medicare learn more about new preventive services, such as mammograms, and the new annual wellness visit that are available at no charge for everyone with Medicare."

Laws Regulating Food Content in Schools Have Strong Effect on Weight Gain, Study Finds

The strength of state laws regulating the nutrition content of food and drinks in schools has a direct impact on student weight gain, which provides a strong argument for statutes that govern the content of food in schools. That's according to new study( published in the online journal, Pediatrics.

The study followed 6,300 students in 40 states during a three-year period and found that students gained less weight from fifth to eighth grade if they resided in states with laws regarding required, specific and consistent competitive food standards across grade levels. In the study, the authors defined competitive foods as vending machine items that competed with school breakfasts and lunches.

The authors also stressed that laws regulating food content should not be limited to elementary schools as some states have done. "In states that had weaker laws for middle schools than elementary schools, average weight gain was equal compared to states that had no competitive food laws," said the study.