COVID Healthcare Changes; Hypertension Risk; and Stable, Long-term Opioid Therapy

Kaitlin Edwards

August 19, 2022

Biden Administration to Stop Buying COVID Vaccines, Tests

The Biden administration will stop buying COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, and tests, initiating a move beyond the crisis phase of the pandemic.

Big shift: Access to the products will shift to regular healthcare systems, with vaccines and treatments available at doctor's offices, hospitals, and pharmacies.

Thoughtful transition: White House COVID-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha, MD, says the transition to commercial access may be complicated. Health officials are trying to be thoughtful about regulatory issues, market dynamics, and fairness.

Commercial access: Some commercial access is set to begin this fall, but most changes will be apparent in 2023.

Rich or Poor, Educated or Not, All Face Risk for Hypertension

Hypertension risk affects poorer countries as much as affluent ones, new research suggests.

Equal risk: Researchers studied a cross-section of 1.2 million adults and found that overall rates of hypertension were similar across all levels of education and wealth.

Wrong assumptions: Traditionally, other health issues like HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria received large government funding owing to hypertension's association with obesity and sedentary lifestyle, which are more prevalent in affluent countries.

Unequal treatment: Treatment rates with blood pressure-lowering drugs were higher in countries with higher GDPs.

"Now that we know that hypertension prevalence is not different in the poorest, the least educated, or the least economically developed countries compared with their wealthier and educated counterparts, we should develop, test, and implement effective strategies to enhance global equity in hypertension care," said Yashashwi Pokharel, MBBS, MSCR, from Wake Forest School of Medicine.

Stable, Long-term Opioid Therapy Safer Than Tapering?

Stable, long-term opioid therapy may be safer than tapering or abruptly discontinuing treatment for patients who show no signs of misuse, new research suggests.

The researchers compared three dosing strategies: abrupt withdrawal, gradual tapering, and continuation of the current stable dosage.

Increased Overdose: Participants who had a tapered dosing strategy had an increased incidence of opioid overdose or suicide vs those with a stable dosage.

Recommendations contradicted: The CDC "recommended tapering opioid dosages if benefits no longer outweigh harms," in their 2016 Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain.

"Policies establishing dosage thresholds or mandating tapers for all patients receiving long-term opioid therapy are not supported by existing data in terms of anticipated benefits even if, as we found, the rate of adverse outcomes is small," the study investigators write.

Kaitlin Edwards is a staff medical editor based in New York City. You can follow her on Twitter @kaitmedwards. For more news, follow Medscape on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.


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