PharmedOut Newsletter, March 2014

Recent Project News

  • In late February, PharmedOut launched a new survey, "What Are Your Top 20 Drugs?". We're seeking to find out what drugs healthcare providers would prescribe if they could only pick twenty. We have already received hundreds of responses from 23 different countries, and are excited to analyze the results!

    The survey is open through March 7th and is available at If you are interested in receiving the results, please send Nicole an email at with "survey results" in the subject line.
  • On February 6, Dr. Fugh-Berman was interviewed on The Diane Rehm Show about "The Risks and Benefits of Prescribing Testosterone" along with Roni Caryn Rabin of The New York Times and "Is It Low-T?" urologist Dr. Harry Fisch. The audio and transcript of the show is available here...
  • ...Which leads us to a new newsletter segment, "PharmedOut Fodder", highlighting a hot topic or recurring story in the news the previous month. We hope you like it!
February's PharmedOut Fodder: Testosterone and Opioids (a tie)
February began with FDA's announcement that they will be evaluating cardiovascular risks of approved testosterone products, in the wake of evidence that this may be a major side effect of the hormone treatment. Four days later, it was announced that five men are suing Androgel maker Abbott Labs after experiencing heart attacks and strokes while using the gel. Concerns about the drug are clearly rising and receiving media attention. PharmedOut continues to work on several papers about testosterone and are glad that our longtime questions about its safety are starting to be addressed.

Also this month, actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman's death of an apparent heroin overdose sparked coverage of opioid addiction, which very often begins with prescription painkillers. Some local governments, and now the Drug Enforcement Administration, have recently taken steps to reclassify hydrocodone and other opioids as Schedule II instead of Schedule III. But problems remain when physicians are rightfully reluctant to give painkillers to addicted patients, who then seek out heroin. We will see if this renewed interest in curbing opioid addiction will lead to action.

PharmedOut's Resource of the Month: Want to learn more about off-label promotion, ghostwriting and more? Check out PharmedOut's publication list.

News Round-Up 
(for more, please follow @pharmed_out on Twitter!)

Testosterone News:

January 31: FDA: "FDA evaluating risk of stroke, heart attack and death with FDA-approved testosterone products

February 3: The New York Times "Well": "Weighing Testosterone’s Benefits and Risks"

February 3: The New York Times "Opinion Pages": "Don’t Ask Your Doctor About ‘Low T’

February 5: Bloomberg News"Abbott Labs Sued by Five Men Claiming Androgel Injuries

February 10: CBCRadio: "Study shows testosterone therapy doubles the risk of heart attack"

Opioid News: 

February 3: news@JAMA: "Pain Medication Abuse Likely Driving Heroin Resurgence"

February 1: American Family Physician: "AFP's Conflict of Interest Policy: Disclosure Is Not Enough"

February 10: The New York Times: "Prescription Painkillers Seen as a Gateway to Heroin"

February 15: NPR: "When A Prescription For Pain Pills Becomes A Gateway To Addiction"

February 24: The Huffington Post: "How A Big Drug Company Inadvertently Got Americans Hooked On Heroin"

In Other News: 

February 5: Bloomberg News via "J&J destroyed thousands of files on vaginal mesh implants, judge says"

February 7: Pharma Marketing Blog: "A Pharma Marketing 'Bait-and-Switch' Scheme: Sales Reps Disguised as Medical Science Liaisons"

February 10: Regulatory Focus: "What's Holding up FDA's Electronic Drug Labeling Rule?"

February 11: The New York Times: "Vast Study Casts Doubts on Value of Mammograms"

February 14: National Geographic: "Three Ways to Make Cancer Care More Affordable

February 18: Consumerist: "FDA May Trim Some Of Those Lengthy Warnings In Prescription Drug Ads"

February 19: Bloomberg News: "Glaxo Memo Shows Drug Industry Lobbying on E-Cigarettes

February 19: The Washington Post: "‘Female Viagra’ finds difficult path at FDA"

February 20: Yahoo! Finance: "NY settles probe of generic drug manufacturers"

February 24: The Washington Post: "How to find out if your doctor is in good standing. It takes some digging."

February 26: CNN: "New pain pill's approval: 'Genuinely frightening'"

February 27: Bloomberg Businessweek: "The FDA Opens Its Vast Files on Drug Side Effects to the Public"

Check These Out!

Public Citizen has petitioned the FDA asking for black box warnings on testosterone products. Read more about it from Public Citizen founder and senior advisor Sidney Wolfe.

Two neat infographics: 
Prescription Drugs Are Fastest Growing Healthcare Cost and Over-Medicated America.

Ed Silverman has left the popular Pharmalot blog to blog about the pharmaceutical and biotech industries for the Wall Street Journal. Make sure to follow him there!

Don't forget: PharmedOut's Top 20 Drugs survey closes Friday, March 7th at midnight. Please help us by sending the link to any physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and pharmacists that you know. Thank you!

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