CDC Web Page Provides Up-To-Date Information on Monkeypox
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has devoted a page of their Web site to monkeypox (www.cdc.gov/ncidod/monkeypox/index.htm). The site provides information for physicians, the public, veterinarians, public health lawyers, and pet owners and animal handlers, and contains news and information regarding the current case count, case definition, infection control and management, treatment, and vaccinations. It also contains links to reference materials, including Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reportdata on the current outbreak of monkeypox in the United States. Resources for physicians include fact sheets on the smallpox vaccine and monkeypox, and interim infection control and exposure management guidance in the health care and community settings for patients with possible monkeypox virus infection. Physicians can register for free e-mail updates containing real-time information to help them prepare for, and possibly respond to, terrorism and other emergency events.
HHS Streamlines FDA Regulations for Generic Drug Approvals
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy G. Thompson recently announced new regulations of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) designed to streamline the process of making safe, effective generic drugs available to the public more rapidly. The new regulations will limit pharmaceutical companies to only one 30-month “stay” on a generic drug's entry into the market for resolution of a patent challenge, and will change the FDA's review procedures to improve the speed and reduce the cost of determining that a new generic drug is safe and effective. The FDA estimates that these changes will save consumers $35 billion over 10 years. President Bush's fiscal year 2004 budget request includes a $13 million increase for the FDA's generic drug program. This increase in funds will allow the FDA to hire 40 experts in its generic drug program to review generic drug applications more quickly and initiate targeted research to expand the range of generic drugs that are available to consumers. The FDA also will provide additional guidance to assist manufacturers of generic drugs in preparing and submitting high-quality, complete applications. The new resources and reforms are expected to reduce the total time to approval for most generic drugs by at least three months during the next three to five years. The new regulations will take effect August 18, 2003. For more information on these new regulations go online towww.fda.gov/oc/initiatives/generics.
AHRQ Releases Men's Health Brochure for Screening Tests and Staying Healthy
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) recently released a new pocket-size brochure designed for men to take with them on visits to their health care professionals to track their medical screening tests. The health tool, “A Checklist for Your Next Checkup,” includes the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations for medical screening tests such as those for cholesterol checks, high blood pressure, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, depression, diabetes, and sexually transmitted diseases. The checklist includes a chart for men to note their screening test history and schedule their next appointments. It also provides tips about ways to stay healthy, such as eating a healthy diet and exercising. The brochure is available on the AHRQ Web site in English atwww.ahrq.gov/ppip/healthymen.htmand in Spanish atwww.ahrq.gov/ppip/healthymensp.htm. Copies may be ordered from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse at 800-358-9295.
Coalition Announces Agenda for Addressing the Issue of Low Health Literacy
The Partnership for Clear Health Communication, a coalition of 19 organizations, has unveiled its agenda for addressing the issue of low health literacy among Americans. The first part of the agenda is the introduction of Ask Me 3 (www.askme3.org), which helps clinicians bring clarity to their communications with their patients. One of the major initiatives of this site is to encourage patients and physicians to ask/answer three important questions: What is my main problem?; What do I need to do?; and Why is it important for me to do this? The partnership also has launched the following efforts: the American Medical Association Foundation's continuing medical education-accredited kit on health literacy for physicians; the National Medical Association's cultural competency primer to help physicians ensure that their communications are relevant for varying patient audiences; and the National Health Council's series of regional clear health communications training for its membership of 115 voluntary health organizations. Future goals of the partnership include working to incorporate health literacy curricula at schools of medicine, pharmacy, nursing, and other health professions; educating policy makers about the importance of clear health communication and increased support for health literacy policy and funding; examining ways to incorporate health literacy principles into Health Employer Data Information Set; and offering additional free and low-cost resources and programs that deliver information, medical education, and practice management tools to health care and information professionals.
Scholarship and Educational Grant Opportunities Available to Residents
The deadline is August 15 for family practice residents to apply for scholarships and educational grants to attend the 25th Annual Conference on Patient Education, November 20 to 23 in San Antonio. Awards will be based on several criteria, including the applicant's patient education activity, program director recommendations, and American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) chapter membership. The scholarships cover conference registration, and the grants cover registration and limited travel expenses. The conference, which targets family physicians, residency faculty, residents, physician assistants, patient educators, nurses, dietitians, and other health professionals, is sponsored by the AAFP and the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine. For more information on the scholarships and the conference, go online towww.aafp.org/pec.xml.