Entries in Pills (7)


More American Pets Are Being Prescribed Psychiatric Drugs

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Psychiatric medications such as Prozac are being prescribed more often to man's best friend to help treat a variety of conditions and behaviors usually found in humans.

In the United States, where people have left fortunes to their pets, spend extravagantly on their grooming, and even buy them plane tickets, pet meds are flying off pharmacy shelves, from Anipryl for sharper memory to Zoloft to ward off anxiety.

Just like their owners, dogs, cats and other pets can suffer from anxiety, depression and compulsive disorders. Last year, Americans spent nearly $7 billion dollars on pills for their pets and the sales growth is dramatic -- up 35 percent in just four years, according to David Lummis, a senior pet market analyst for Packaged Facts.

Dr. Nicholas Dodman, a pioneer in treating mental health of animals, is a veterinary version of a psychiatrist and a leading advocate of mind-altering drugs. He founded the Animal Behavior Center at Tufts University near in North Grafton, Mass., where he has treated a variety of conditions, including dogs who chase shadows or spin in dizzying circles, with the help of prescription medication.

"There's absolutely no doubt that psychiatric medicines that work on people also work on pets. I mean we've shown it over and over again, ad nauseum," he said.

Horses led the way to prescribing medicine for domestic animals. About 30 years ago, Dodman said he and a colleague discovered they could treat compulsive behaviors with medicine known to change human brain chemistry. Dodman called it his "eureka moment."

"I went, 'now I've found that thing that I want to hold on to and I want to do for the rest of my life,'" he said. "You can control animals' behavior."

And Dodman has seen a parade of troubled animals since opening his center.

"I only use medicines if I think it will help," he said. "Some people will say, 'but I really wanted medicine,' and I say, 'your animal, your pet doesn't need it.'"

However, animal trainer Cesar Milan, better known as the "dog whisperer" on National Geographic's hit show, said he is skeptical of using psychiatric medicines on pets.

"Unfortunately, everybody is looking for the quick fix, for the 'I want to see dramatic change in my dog,'" he said.  "Often it's the human that's obsessive and it's the dog that's just imitating the behavior."

In most cases, Milan claimed, exercise, proper diet and tough love -- showing your pet who's boss -- can cure psychological problems in pets.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


How to Lower Cholesterol Without Pills

Plustwentyseven/Digital Vison/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A nutrient-poor diet filled with added sugars and unhealthy trans fats is known to cause high cholesterol, so it makes sense try and fix the problem with healthy food. Although 25 percent of adults over the age of 45 take cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins, which can sap your energy and cause problems for your sex life, research reveals that changes to your diet might actually do a better job—without the energy-sapping, sex-killing side effects.

The researchers, whose study appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, followed 345 people with high cholesterol who were placed on one of two vegetarian, low-cholesterol diets for six months. The first was a low-saturated-fat diet and participants were told simply to eat low-fat dairy and get more fruits and vegetables into their meals. The second group had help from nutritionists to incorporate specific cholesterol-lowering foods into their meals, including soy proteins, nuts, oats, peas, and beans. That group saw a drop in cholesterol three times higher than the group on the regular low-saturated-fat diet, and both diets proved to be at least as successful as early trials of statins.

If you've been battling high cholesterol, try some of these swaps for a tasty, low-cholesterol diet:

The low-fat group ate Raisin Bran cereal for breakfast, but the second group ate oat-bran cereal with strawberries and jam. For a seasonal twist, try this recipe for a Peachy Oat Breakfast and chase it down with a glass of soy milk, as those in the study did.

For a cholesterol-lowering hunger fix, grab another peach (or some cantaloupe, grapes, nectarines, or apricots—also in season now) and a handful of almonds when hunger strikes, and chase them down with another glass of soy milk. Or throw all your fruit, soy milk, and nuts, along with a little ice, into a blender to make an immunity-building smoothie.

For lunch, the low-cholesterol group downed sandwiches made with oat-bran bread, tofu slices, lettuce, tomato, and cucumber, accompanied by Spicy Black Bean Soup. The tofu slices provided the soy protein that proved so successful at lowering cholesterol, but if that doesn't tempt your palate, replace tofu with avocado, as in this Roasted Bell Pepper and Avocado Sandwich and have another glass of soy milk instead.

The healthy dieters had more almonds and fresh fruit in the afternoon, but with an added dose of psyllium, a form of soluble fiber made from ground up psyllium seeds. Psyllium may not be very appetizing, so to get your fill of fiber, try these Banana, Yogurt, and Walnut Muffins; the bananas and oatmeal both contain high levels of soluble fiber.

Dieters who shed the most cholesterol swapped pasta for pearled barley and an omelet for a tofu bake with ratatouille. To jazz up plain barley, make a Creamy Barley Risotto or add asparagus and cucumbers and top with a yogurt-dill dressing. Then add some tofu to this recipe for Easy Ratatouille. Just be sure your tofu is organic; nonorganic tofu has been found to contain high levels of cancer-causing hexane.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Pill-Popping Americans Making Wrong Decisions, Study Finds

Comstock/Thinkstock(LEBANON, N.H.) -- Many Americans aren't making informed decisions about many of the medications they're taking, according to a new study by the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.

For instance, the research finds 40 percent of respondents believe that the Food and Drug Administration only approves "extremely effective drugs," which isn't necessarily true.

Another 25 percent mistakenly think that the FDA only allows drugs to reach the market once it's shown that they don't have serious side effects.  A perfect example of that is the controversial arthritis pill Vioxx, which caused heart problems in people long after the drug gained FDA approval.

The bottom line, according to the authors, is that people often wrongly eschew tried-and-true drugs for newer, expensive drugs because "there's a widespread perception that newer is better."

Apparently doctors, just like the rest of us, will fall prey to drug company marketing that suggests something that hasn't been available before is somehow more effective in treating a patient's ills.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


New Lung Cancer Pill Highlights Improved Way of Treating Patients

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new drug to combat a certain type of lung cancer is being hailed Tuesday as an "amazing development" by medical experts.

The drug crizotinib (Xalkori), manufactured by Pfizer and approved last week by the Food and Drug Administration, is intended for a small number of patients.

The twice-daily capsules are meant for patients with non-small cell lung cancer who have a unique gene known as an abnormal anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK). An ALK gene causes cancer growth and development.

Pfizer held a panel Tuesday to discuss the implications of the new drug.

"What we've seen from studies to date is that this pill does have significant activity," said Dr. Alice Shaw, a thoracic oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, who took part in crizotinib studies. "For about 60 percent of patients, they will have a significant shrinkage in their tumors and what the preliminary studies have also shown is that the median or average duration of response is on the order of 10 months."

Crizotinib works by blocking the proteins produced by the ALK gene. The FDA also approved a diagnostic test by Abbott Laboratories that screens for the gene. Patients found to have the gene would be able to be prescribed the pill, although chemotherapy and radiation therapies would remain options.

The most common side effects, according to Medpage Today, reported in patients taking crizotinib were vision disorders, nausea and edema.

"For many patients, this drug has been a lifesaver," Massachusetts General's Shaw told ABC News. "For many patients, they experienced a very immediate and significant relief in their symptoms, sometimes within the first week."

Dr. Roy S. Herbst, chief of medical oncology at Yale Cancer Center, said that crizotinib's FDA approval was a "pivotal milestone" in lung cancer treatment.

"It's another example of how we are using molecular medicine to effectively treat a subset of cancer patients," Herbst told ABC News via email.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Anti-Radiation Pills Bought as US Fears Rise

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With fears growing of a nuclear disaster in Japan, Americans are taking their own steps to protect themselves from radiation.

There's a run on iodide pills, Geiger counters and emergency kits on Never mind that Japan is on the other side of the world; even Midwesterners are preparing.

Potassium iodide tablets protect the thyroid gland from radioactive material by overloading it with nonradioactive iodine.

"There is no increased risk of harmful levels of radiation exposure in the United States based on the situation to date at the nuclear power complex in Japan," said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, Los Angeles' director of public health. "Residents who ingest potassium iodide out of concern of possible exposure from this situation are doing something which is not only ineffective, but could also cause side effects."

Dan Sprau, who teaches radiation safety at East Carolina University, said, "Potassium can lead to heart problems."

Dr. Tim Jorgensen, an associate professor of radiation medicine at Georgetown University, said that giving an adult dose of potassium iodide to an infant would be toxic.

In Redding, Calif., Whitney's Vitamin and Herb Shop is stocking up on potassium iodide tablets after the store said it was overwhelmed with calls this weekend from people seeking the anti-radiation medicine. But Jorgensen says Californians have no reason to panic.

Radiation is all around us and it's perfectly normal and safe. Bananas are radioactive. So are microwave ovens, cell phones and X-rays, even people. Every year, just walking around on the planet, each of us is exposed to about 3.5 millisieverts (mSv) of radiation. That is the equivalent of approximately 94 chest X-rays.

In order to get radiation sickness you need to be exposed to 1,000 mSv at once. For most people radiation would be fatal at about 5,000 mSv.

To put this in perspective, the radiation levels at the nuclear plant in Japan are about 400 mSv. That means you would have to sit there for two and a half hours to get sick.

Even in the worst-case scenario, if there is a full meltdown doctors said the radiation levels would be so low by the time they reached America they couldn't hurt anyone. Which is why, despite the scary pictures coming out of Japan, experts are telling ABC News that there is no need to panic and no need to run out for Geiger counters or potassium iodide pills.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Elders Confused By Too Many Medications

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Many elderly Americans take various types of pills every day, and remembering which pill combats which ailment, or the proper dosages, can become trying.

"There are a lot of patients who see multiple specialists, and nobody is coordinating their care," said Barbara Paris, director of geriatrics at Maimonides Medical Center. "And they get into dangerous situations where the right hand doesn't know what the left is doing."

Nearly one-third of Americans ages 57-85 take at least five prescription drugs, while people with chronic illnesses may take more than 20. Sixty-eight percent of Americans are also taking over-the-counter medicines or supplements, according to a 2008 article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. These combinations may lead to dangerous and often unmonitored interactions.

"There are over 100,000 deaths per year related to polypharmacy and medication misuse and adverse reactions, which brings it to one of the leading causes of death in this country," Paris said.

Seniors can experience polypharmacy not only when they are prescribed numerous medications, but also when they start taking the medications of other family members as well.

Family members can watch for signs of polypharmacy at home, according to ABC's chief health and medical editor, Dr. Richard Besser. These signs can include weight loss, depression, or lack of interest in normal activities.

Also, there are forms an elderly patient can fill out, which will allow family members to discuss the care of their loved ones with the doctor. Filling out HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) release forms beforehand can assure you'll be included in conversations about your loved one's care, Besser said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Toddlers Poisoned by Prescriptions? Bottles Not Child-Proof

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Children under age five make up most of the 100,000 Americans treated in the emergency room after accidently swallowing medications, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. And about 90 percent of child poisonings happen at home, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The poison can turn out to be any common household product children can get their hands on, according to Dr. Kevin Osterhoudt, emergency medicine pediatrician at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

"Children are curious by nature," said Osterhoudt. "The most common things are things they find in the home -- cosmetics, cleaning substances, but also our medicines and pharmaceuticals in the house."

ABC News' senior health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser tested three different types of medicine containers among six toddlers, to find out how fast they could open the containers. All six of the kids were able to break into the flip-top medicine containers -- some kids only took 10 seconds to open them. Four out of the six kids got into the easy-open bottles in less than 30 seconds. None of the six were able to open the child resistant prescription bottles, however. But that doesn't mean it can't be done.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio