News in Brief: Week of March 30-April 3

April 03, 2015 09:30 am News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

[News in Brief]

FDA Warns of Risks Tied to Homeopathic Asthma Products

Despite being commonly labeled as "natural" and "safe and effective," the FDA is warning consumers and health care professionals about the health risks posed by homeopathic products marketed for asthma management. In a March 19 safety alert,( the agency advised patients not to rely on these OTC products, which have not been evaluated by the FDA for safety and effectiveness.

The homeopathic products, which may include indications that range from treatment for acute asthma episodes to temporary relief of minor asthma symptoms, are sold at many retail outlets and also may be purchased online, said FDA officials. Typically, the word "HOMEOPATHIC" (or "HOMŒOPATHIC") is displayed on the product label and active ingredients are listed in terms of dilution (e.g., "LM1," "6X" or "30C").

Health care professionals and patients are encouraged to report adverse events or side effects related to use of these products to the FDA's MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program online.(

USPSTF Says Evidence Insufficient for Thyroid Dysfunction Screening

On March 24, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) published its final recommendation( on thyroid dysfunction screening in adults, finding that the current evidence is insufficient to make a recommendation for or against screening for thyroid dysfunction in adults who are not pregnant and who show no signs or symptoms of a thyroid problem.

Thyroid dysfunction encompasses a range of thyroid gland disorders, and includes hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. The thyroid gland produces hormones that help control the body's metabolism.

"While screening and treating asymptomatic adults for thyroid dysfunction is common, there is very limited evidence that evaluates whether these practices lead to improved health outcomes," said USPSTF member Jessica Herzstein, M.D., M.P.H., in a news bulletin.(

Check Out New National Clinician Scholars Program

A new National Clinician Scholars Program( -- an outgrowth of the original Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Clinical Scholars Program in place for nearly 40 years -- has launched and is accepting applications( for its first class, which is set to begin in July 2016.

The four sponsoring institutions -- the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; and Yale University in New Haven, Conn. -- have served as training sites for the flagship RWJF program since 2002.

The original Clinical Scholars Program prepared physicians for health services and health policy research; a separate national program prepared nurse faculty leaders. The newly created national program is different in that nurses and physicians will train together in an effort to create team-based approaches to health care.

Up to 20 clinician scholars will be selected for the inaugural class. The early application deadline is May 15; the regular admissions deadline is Sept. 1. Applicants will be notified of final decisions in November. Selected applicants agree to participate for two years; new classes, selected yearly, begin each July.

Take Part in Open Payments National Provider Call

The Medicare Learning Network is offering a free national provider call on April 15 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. EDT to help physicians better understand the federal government's Open Payments transparency program that was developed in accordance with the Sunshine Act.

Space is limited, so register today.(

Participants are advised to visit( the Open Payments website before the call to become more familiar with the program and submit questions in advance. CMS will post the slide presentation( for the call at least one day before the call takes place.

Graham Center Launches Redesigned Website

The Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care has redesigned its website( to improve the site's useability on mobile devices and tablets.

The redesign also offers better search functions, improves access to the data-based mapping resources of HealthLandscape( and organizes content by topic.

The Robert Graham Center is affiliated with the AAFP but conducts research independently to improve individual and population health by enhancing the delivery of primary care. Its activities support and inform the Academy's policy development and advocacy efforts.