2014 Issues

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December 2014

Partnerships, Drive-Throughs Seek to Increase Veterans’ Flu Immunization

Free Shots Available at Walgreen’s Locations By Annette M. Boyle SAN FRANCISCO – The VA typically has influenza vaccination rates well above the national average but is trying some innovative measures to do even better. As part of... View Article

December 2014

FDA Approves New Abuse-Deterrent Opioid Analgesic

STAMFORD, CT – A new abuse-deterrent opioid analgesic has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Hysingla ER (hydrocodone bitartrate) is an extended-release (ER) opioid analgesic to treat pain severe enough to require daily,... View Article

December 2014

FDA Plans Review of Study on Death Risk with Dual Blood Thinners

WASHINGTON – A clinical trial showing that treatment for 30 months with dual antiplatelet blood-thinning therapy decreased the risk of heart attacks and clot formation in stents, but there was an increased overall risk of... View Article

December 2014

Non-Invasive Technique to Evaluate Arterial Blood Flow Gets OK

REDWOOD CITY, CA – New software has been approved for marketing by the Food and Drug Administration  and is designed to help healthcare professionals evaluate patients showing signs and symptoms of coronary artery disease.  The... View Article

December 2014

Newly Approved Meningococcal Vaccine Offers More Coverage

PHILADELPHIA – The first vaccine licensed in the United States to prevent invasive meningococcal disease caused by Neisseria meningitidis serogroup B in individuals 10 through 25 years of age has been approved by the Food... View Article

Agencies Home

New Treatments Offer More Options, Fewer Side Effects for HIV-Infected Veterans

Clinicians Find Advances ‘Mind-Boggling’ By Annette M. Boyle ATLANTA – Therapeutic options for patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) continue to expand, enabling more veterans to begin treatment with fewer adverse side effects and far... View Article

Clinical Topics Home

Despite High Costs, VA Makes Sure Veterans Have Access to Newest HCV Drugs

By Annette M. Boyle WASHINGTON – While commercial insurers responded to the approval of the breakthrough drug sofosbuvir for hepatitis C (HCV) by implementing prescribing restrictions, limiting use to the sickest patients and charging higher... View Article

Current Issue

Allopurinol Reduces Death Rate in Gout Patients

BOSTON – Despite fears of a rare but potentially fatal adverse reaction with use of allopurinol, the drug modestly reduces risk of death in patients with hyperuricemia and gout, according to a recent study. The... View Article

Clinical Topics Home

Canakinumab Is Option for Patients Intolerant of Other Therapy

SAN DIEGO – Treating gouty arthritis is problematic in patients who have contraindications for, or are unresponsive or intolerant of, nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or colchicine. A new study has found, however, that canakinumab (CAN),... View Article

Clinical Topics Home

High Serum Uric Acid Associated with AF

High Serum Uric Acid Associated with AF MIAMI – What is the relationship between atrial fibrillation (AF) and high serum uric acid (SUA)? Noting that AF is related to oxidative stress, neurohormonal activation and inflammatory... View Article

December 2014

Midterm Elections, Planned Retirements Prompt Key Committee Changes

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON – The November midterm election results that strengthened Republican control of Congress, coupled with planned retirements, will mean significant changes for key committees working on military and VA issues when Congress... View Article

December 2014

DoD Fights Multiple Front War Against Ebola Virus Disease

WASHINGTON - U.S military personnel are battling Ebola virus disease, the dreaded hemorrhagic fever, on two fronts

Agencies Home

Agent Orange-Related Non-Melanotic Skin Cancer Still Affects Veterans

HOUSTON – Decades later, exposure to Agent Orange puts Vietnam War veterans at high risk for certain types of skin cancer. That’s according to a report published earlier this year in Find Your Surgeon Plastic... View Article

Agencies Home

Consensus Report Touts Lasers for Scar Treatment

BOSTON – Patients with disfiguring and debilitating scars suffer poor cosmetic outcomes, restricted motion, pain and itching, despite traditional therapy such as expert wound care. A consensus report published earlier this year in JAMA Dermatology... View Article

December 2014

Skin Cancer Risk High During Deployment

NASHVILLE – Military personnel deployed abroad in climates such as Afghanistan and Iraq have increased risk factors for skin cancer, according to a new study. The increased risk is especially present when servicemembers serve in... View Article

December 2014

Researcher Who Transformed Spinal Cord Injury Care Gets Coveted Award

BRONX, NY - Spinal cord injuries have far more effect than limiting movement, and the vision of William A. Bauman, MD, has transformed the lives of countless patients who have the devastating condition.

December 2014

We fear things in proportion to our ignorance of them.

We fear things in proportion to our ignorance of them. Christian Nestell Bovee (1820-1904) I had the honor of being invited recently to speak at the 39th annual Garland Lecture series at the Boston Medical... View Article

Current Issue

Federal Healthcare Timeline

  1964 S. Medicine publishes its first issue. The new Naval Station Hospital Saigon receives the first American combat casualties directly from the Vietnam War. 1965 A U.S. Marine Corps Hawk air defense missile battalion... View Article

Department of Defense (DoD)

Interview with Former VA Secretary Principi: Future Could Bring Joint VA, DoD Health System

By Sandra Basu  WASHINGTON – Ask former VA Secretary Anthony Principi about his experience as VA secretary, and he’ll tell you his leadership lessons started long before. “Leadership was something I learned from the moment I... View Article

Mental Health

U.S. Medicine Documents Advances in Federal Medicine for a Half-Century

WASHINGTON - A half-century ago this month, the first issue of U.S. Medicine was published and sent to 23,000 physicians practicing within 24 government agencies.


First Metformin, SGLT2 Combination Approved by FDA

RARITAN, NJ – The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first fixed-dose combination of a sodium glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitor and metformin for use in the United States. The drug, Invokamet, is marketed... View Article


Pain Is a Growing Issue for Troops and Veterans; Safer Remedies Sought

WASHINGTON - Trauma-related pain – both acute and chronic -- has always been a universal problem among war-injured troops.

Current Issue

Report Finds ‘Average Care’ by MHS; DoD Officials Not Satisfied

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON – A highly anticipated review of the MHS has found that its care is comparable to average private sector healthcare, but that there is “wide performance variability with some areas better... View Article


Evolution of Pioneer DCVAMC Clinic Tracks AIDS/HIV Treatment Through the Years

By Stephen Spotswood WASHINGTON – When the first Infectious Disease Clinic took place at the Washington, DC, VAMC in 1985, only a handful of HIV-infected patients took advantage. In fact, the disease hadn’t even been... View Article

Current Issue

Computer Model: HCV, Associated Cancer Will Be Rare by 2036

By Brenda L. Mooney PITTSBURGH – Will hepatitis C become a rare disease over the next two decades or so? The answer is yes, according to a computer simulation conducted by the University of Pittsburgh... View Article

Agencies Home

Then and Now: VA Innovates in Epilepsy Treatment and Evaluation

By Annette M. Boyle ALBUQUERQUE – The VA has played a critical role in advancing epilepsy research since 1969, when the first VA unit to study epilepsy — and the first comprehensive epilepsy program in... View Article

Agencies Home

VA’s Home-Based Care Program Reduces Hospitalization for Diabetes, Other Conditions

By Brenda L. Mooney BOSTON – When it comes to providing care to older patients with co-existing diabetes and other chronic illnesses, everything old is new again at the VA. A program offering old-fashioned house calls... View Article

Agencies Home

Discharge to Deployment: Military Diabetes Management Changes Over 50 Years

By Annette M. Boyle WASHINGTON – In 1964, a diagnosis of diabetes led to immediate discharge from the Army. Today, soldiers with well-managed diabetes can continue to have long and successful military careers. “With the... View Article

Department of Defense (DoD)

Military Brings Treatment Closer to Troops to Combat Growing Depression Issues

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON – Recent military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan have put the spotlight not only on PTSD and TBI, but also on depression, which often co-exists with both conditions. “The previously rising... View Article

Department of Defense (DoD)

Complexity, Lack of Approved Therapies Challenges PTSD, TBI Treatment

WASHINGTON - When the American Psychiatric Association first added post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1980, it was quite controversial.


VA’s COPD Knowledge, Treatment Improving, But Still ‘Tip of the Iceberg’

By Stephen Spotswood WASHINGTON – Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is sometimes referred to as the “quiet” or “silent” killer by clinicians trying to treat it. It presents few symptoms in its earliest stages and... View Article

Department of Defense (DoD)

VA, DoD Remain on Front Lines in Ongoing War Against Cancer

FORT LEWIS-MCCHORD, WA - The DoD’s leadership in cancer research started accidentally, but funding from Congress has ensured that both the Army and VA have remained on the front lines in the war on cancer during the past 50 years.

Battlefield Medicine

Military Focuses on Pre-Hospital Care to Further Improve Care of Injured Warriors

WASHINGTON - Despite all of the progress in battlefield medicine during the past 50 years, the greatest challenge remains how to keep critically injured military personnel alive until they can actually get to a hospital.

Cardiovascular Disease

Mortality Rates Drop Dramatically with Wider Use of Anticoagulants

New Formulations Might Be More Effective By Annette M. Boyle BETHESDA, MD – In the last 50 years, the use of anticoagulants has transformed mortality rates for deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolism (PE) and... View Article

Editor in Chief

The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.

“The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.” — Thomas ‘Vince’ Lombardi (1913-1970) On Nov. 30, 2014 at midnight, I will pass on to the retirement rolls of the United States Army after... View Article

Cardiovascular Disease

VA Proposes Physician Pay Increases, Begins Major Recruiting Campaign

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON – The maximum rates of annual pay for incoming VHA physicians and dentists would be increased as much as $35,000, under a VA proposal announced last month. The updated pay tables... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA IG: Wait-Time Manipulation Went Far Beyond VAMCs in Headlines

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON – The problem of wait-time manipulation for patient appointments went far beyond facilities such as the Phoenix VAMC, which became the center of a nationwide controversy,  the VA acting general inspector... View Article

Current Issue

Veterans Appeals Delayed Months; Whistleblower Suggests Leadership Issues

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — A VA whistleblower told lawmakers last month that veterans’ cases waited hundreds of days for a final decision at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, even though some of them required... View Article

Current Issue

What Is the Link Between RA and Peridontal Disease?

OMAHA – Could the periodontal region, much like the joints, be targeted in rheumatoid arthritis (RA)? Or does periodontal disease (PD) set off immune responses that are more severe in some forms of RA? Those... View Article

Current Issue

Effectiveness, Cost Not Linked in Some RA Therapies

SALT LAKE CITY – Dose escalation was higher within the VA for some rheumatoid arthritis therapies, even when greater costs were not accompanied by increases in effectiveness. That’s according to a new study published recently... View Article

Clinical Topics Home

Infection Risk Similar with Non-Anti-TNF Agents for RA

BIRMINGHAM, AL – The comparative risk of infection associated with non-anti-tumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF) biologic agents appeared to be similar to anti-TNF biologic agents in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), according to a new veterans study. TheArthritis... View Article

Department of Defense (DoD)

Better Recruit Screening Probably Won’t Solve Military Suicide Crisis

SALT LAKE CITY - The roots of the rising suicide rates in servicemembers and veterans reach back into childhood home environments and pre-military experiences, according to a quartet of recent reports.

Department of Defense (DoD)

Training Program Prepares Military Pharmacy Techs for Assignment Anywhere

SAN ANTONIO - A newly minted Navy pharmacy technician could find herself working alone on a ship with no pharmacist within hundreds of miles. Daunting?

Agencies Home

Male Breast Cancer at the VA Much Rarer Than the Female Disease, but More Deadly

Annette M. Boyle WASHINGTON – Men are diagnosed with less than 0.1% of all breast cancers, but for those unfortunate few, the disease extracts a high toll — and a 65% increase in mortality risk... View Article

Agencies Home

Increasing Cancer Treatment Delays Have Plagued VAMCs for Nearly a Decade

Some Long Wait Times Attributable to Treatment Modalities by Annette M. Boyle CHICAGO – The news media frenzy of the last six months might suggest otherwise, but concerns about delays in treatment for veterans are... View Article

Department of Defense (DoD)

Who Has PTSD Now? New Definition Creates Challenges for Clinicians

By Brenda L. Mooney SILVER SPRING, MD – A new study raises critical questions about the change in the definition of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual... View Article

Clinical Topics Home

What Is The Best Predictor of Heart Disease in CKD Patients?

BALTIMORE – The best indicator of the risk of heart disease in kidney disease patients appears to be calcium buildup in the coronary arteries as opposed to other risk factors, according to a new study.... View Article

Clinical Topics Home

New Guidelines Published for Renal Artery Stenting

CLEVELAND – Patients traditionally excluded from modern clinical trials could benefit from renal artery stenting to open blockages in the renal arteries, according to new recommendations. The report, published online by the journal Catheterization and... View Article


Too Low Systolic BP Dangerous for CKD Patients

MEMPHIS, TN – Lower is not better when it comes to systolic blood pressure in veterans with chronic kidney disease (CKD). That’s according to a new study published ahead of print recently in JAMA Internal... View Article

Agencies Home

New White House Initiatives Seek to Reduce Military Suicide Rates, Improve Care

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON – A revision in the VA drug formulary and an expansion of suicide prevention training were among 19 new executive actions announced recently by President Barack Obama to improve mental healthcare... View Article