Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Clinical Spotlight: Hepatitis C

by Pablo Bolanos on October 19, 2017

Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis C Virus (HCV) and a leading cause of liver cancer and transplants. An estimated 2.7-3.9 million people in the United States are infected with the virus. Nicknamed “a silent disease,” the vast majority—at least 50%— of HCV cases go undiagnosed and many result in fatalities that could have been prevented. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if undiagnosed, the condition can escalate from a treatable to a chronic infection in 70-85% of those infected.

One subset of the population is particularly at risk; Baby Boomers. This generation—born between 1945 and 1965—is 5 times more likely to have hepatitis C than other adults. To put it in perspective, of all people diagnosed with the disease, approximately 3 in 4 are boomers. The reason for their higher susceptibility is not entirely known. One theory suggests baby boomers had greater exposure to contaminated blood and blood products before widespread screenings were the norm in the medical industry.

Health officials estimate that one-time testing of all Baby Boomers could prevent more than 120,000 hepatitis C virus-related deaths. Timely diagnosis, therefore, is critical to beginning treatment early.  Once diagnosed, patients have various options for treatment based on the stage of the disease as well as therapies that can help limit further disease.

Guidelines recommend screening for HCV for anyone who:

  • Was born between 1945 and 1965
  • Was or is currently an injection drug user
  • Received transfusions or organ transplants prior to July 1992
  • Has additional risk factors or medical conditions

In the end, there is hope and reason to believe that taking proactive action may have long-term positive consequences on the future of the disease, especially because, if it is caught in time, Hep C is preventable. Dr Bruce Bacon, Professor of Internal Medicine, Saint Louis University of School and Medicine, is optimistic about the future of hepatitis C virus management saying, “If we find the patients and treat them appropriately, we could essentially eradicate hepatitis C.”

For patient and physician resources about hepatitis C, visit our website.

To set up a nationwide hepatitis C screening program, contact our dedicated team.

2017 National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

by Pablo Bolanos on April 14, 2017

An ambulance blazes by a sea of idling cars in the midst of evening rush-hour. Weaving through traffic, the EMT’s singular goal is to arrive at the emergency room as quickly as possible. The passenger is a victim of accidental prescription drug poisoning. This scenario plays out daily in cities across the country. In fact, the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project estimates that from 2005 to 2014 opioid-related emergency department visits increased 99%, from 89.1 to 177.7 per 100,000 people.

Sadly, many of these emergency department visits are fatal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 183,000 people died from overdoses related to prescription opioids from 1999 to 2015. One of these lethal opioids is fentanyl, a powerful drug prescribed to treat the severe, chronic pain associated with cancer and other diseases. In the past two decades, the Federal Drug Administration has received more than 30 reports of accidental exposure to the powerful pain medication found in fentanyl patches – most were children younger than two years old.

In an effort to avoid accidental prescription drug poisoning and other incidents of unintended exposure, all too often our first, well-meaning inclination may be to simply throw away or to flush old medications down the toilet. Although both options seem like reasonable solutions, if not done properly, these actions can have unintended consequences to the environment and may add to the circulation of unused medication.

For that reason, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) introduced the National Drug Take-Back Day in 2010. This semi-annual program provides safe disposal areas throughout the country for anyone to turn in their unused prescription medications, no strings attached. Nearing its 12th event, the initiative has successfully resulted in the disposal of an astonishing 3,208 tons of unused prescription drugs in more than 5,000 cities. The only way to do justice to the awesome amount of returned medications through this program is by looking at the numbers in a slightly different way:

Participating in programs like this can literally help save lives. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 7.1% of the population aged 12 or older misused prescription drugs in the past year. More than half (53.7%) of those individuals reported that they obtained the prescription pain relievers from a friend or relative. The most eye-opening statistic may be that our country faces a historic opioid epidemic that claimed more than 33,000 lives in 2015, the highest one-year toll on record.

If you’re unable to make it to an official drug take-back location, home disposal is always an option. That said, specific steps need to be taken for the safety of those in the home and the environment. For that reason, we’ve created a step-by-step guide for proper home disposal of unwanted or expired prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

To learn more about the Prescription Drug Take-Back Initiative and to locate a DEA approved disposal location collection site near you, visit the DEA’s event website.

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

October 14, 2016News

Many people use prescription medications as part of their daily routine to help treat disease and improve their health. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that the most frequently prescribed drugs fall in the “therapeutic class,” which includes Analgesics, Antiheperlipidemic agents,  and Antidepressants like Zoloft and Lexapro. Prescription painkillers are […]

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Ten Most Dangerous Jobs in America

September 8, 2016Drug Testing

Certain professions come with inherent dangers and compel employees to directly face life-threatening situations. Other jobs require employees to spend entire workdays on roads and highways or in environments with heightened exposure to risk, elevating their chances of accidents. In “America’s Most Dangerous Jobs in 2016,” Forbes journalist Karsten Strauss highlights fields associated with danger […]

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Spotlight on the Prescription Drug Epidemic

June 16, 2016News

Autopsy results released earlier this month confirmed that a fentanyl overdose was the cause of death for 57 year old, multi-platinum recording artist – Prince. The death of such a prominent pop culture figure generated media headlines across the world, helping to bring public awareness about the prescription drug epidemic our country is facing. MarketWatch […]

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CDC Proposes Limitation on Prescription Opiates

March 16, 2016News

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of opioid-related deaths in 2014 increased 14 percent from the previous year. The CDC also reports that drug overdoses now exceed car crashes as the leading cause of unintentional deaths in the U.S. – most of which involve prescription opioids like OxyContin […]

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Curbing Drunk Driving

August 31, 2015Alcohol

According to a recent study completed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 4.2 million people – or 2 percent of the U.S. population – operated a motor vehicle while being under the influence of alcohol at least once in the past month. Analyzing data from a 2012 government survey that asked […]

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CDC Report Reveals Dramatic Rise In Heroin Use

July 21, 2015News

Heroin use is increasing across all demographics, according to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The report reveals that more women and middle-class users are becoming addicted, while the largest increase is among those already dependent on prescription opiates. These results are consistent with the findings from the Quest […]

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The Prescription Drug Misuse Epidemic

July 13, 2015News

For people with chronic and reoccurring pain, prescription opioids – like Hydrocodone and Oxycodone – not only relieve suffering, but can help support a normal lifestyle, alleviate stress and improve sleep. However, prescription opioids can be just as addictive and dangerous as illicit drugs. While data from the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ revealed recent […]

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Prescription Opioids: A Dose of Reality

July 29, 2014Drugs & Alcohol

For people with chronic and reoccurring pain, opioids, such as Hydrocodone and Oxycodone, not only relieve suffering, but can help support a normal lifestyle, alleviate stress and improve sleep. But there is a downside – prescription opioids can be just as addictive and dangerous as illegal drugs. Prescription drug abuse is the nation’s fastest-growing drug […]

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