News in Brief: Week of Aug. 20-24

August 22, 2012 04:00 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

Latest Information on NIH's Website for Seniors Targets Older Drivers

Talking with older drivers about when it's time to turn over the car keys can be touchy, as many family physicians know all too well. But now, the NIH's National Institute on Aging and the National Library of Medicine have teamed up to offer resources for patients and their families that can help make the topic easier to broach.

Seniors who visit's Older Drivers section( can expect to learn about how age-related declines in vision, hearing and other abilities, as well as certain health conditions and medications, can affect driving skills. The site also provides specific tips for safe driving, including

  • limiting driving to daytime hours for older adults who have trouble seeing in the dark;
  • scheduling vision checks every one to two years and hearing assessments every three years;
  • avoiding high-traffic areas and times, such as the freeway at rush hour; and
  • reading all medication labels carefully and adhering to cautions against driving while using certain drugs.

FDA Says OTC 'Supplements' Cause Dangerous Drug Interactions

According to an August 22 update(, the FDA is urging physicians and other health care professionals to warn consumers about the potential health risks of two OTC dietary supplement products -- Reumofan Plus and Reumofan Plus Premium -- after receiving "dozens" of adverse event reports -- including death and stroke -- associated with the use of Reumofan Plus.

The FDA issued its first warning on June 1, indicating that the products, which are marketed as a treatment for arthritis, muscle pain, osteoporosis, bone cancer and other conditions, contain several potentially harmful active pharmaceutical ingredients that are not listed on the labels.

In addition to fatality and stroke alerts, the FDA said it also has received reports of liver injury, severe bleeding, sudden worsening of glucose control, weight gain, swelling, leg cramps, withdrawal syndrome and adrenal suppression associated with use of the Reumofan products.

FDA laboratory analyses of Reumofan Plus found that it contains dexamethasone, diclofenac sodium and methocarbamol; a separate FDA lab analysis of Reumofan Plus Premium indicated the product only contained two of the ingredients -- diclofenac sodium and methocarbamol.

Physicians and other health care professionals are urged to ask patients that present with unexplained symptoms that suggest NSAID toxicity, psychiatric changes, or the use or abrupt discontinuation of corticosteroids about use of these and other, similar products marketed as dietary supplements. The FDA also is asking physicians and other health care professionals to evaluate patients who've used the supplements for drug and disease interactions involving diclofenac, methocarbamol and corticosteroids and consider whether a corticosteroid taper regimen may be appropriate.

Physicians and other health care professionals can report adverse events or side effects( related to the use of the supplements or other agents to the FDA's MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program online or by phone at (800) 332-1088.

Employers Planning to Ask Employees to Pay More Toward Health Insurance, Survey Finds

Most large U.S. employers are planning to shift growing health care costs onto employees and are considering incorporating consumer-directed health plans and wellness programs into their employee health insurance plans, according to a new survey( by the National Business Group on Health.

The survey, based on responses from 83 of the nation's largest corporations, found that 53 percent of respondents plan to increase the amount that employees contribute to premiums, 39 percent are looking at increasing in-network deductible amounts, and 22 percent said they plan to increase out-of-pocket maximums next year.

Nearly half of the surveyed employers said they use incentives to encourage participation in wellness programs, and more than four in 10 provide an incentive to encourage people to stop using tobacco products. Three in 10, meanwhile, base incentive amounts on the achievement of certain goals, such as lowering cholesterol levels.