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Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Post-Menopausal Veterans Frequently Prescribed Long-term Opioid Therapy

The VA has focused on reducing the risk of opioid abuse and addiction by issuing guidance that strongly recommends against the use of the painkillers for chronic pain since the implementation of the Opioid Safety Initiative in 2013.

Agencies Home

VA Clinicians Might Be Switching Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients to Biologics Too Quickly

The development of multiple biologic agents for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in recent years has given patients and clinicians more options for therapy.


Aspirin Appears to Be Safe for Some Heart Failure Patients

SAN FRANCISCO – Does use of aspirin increase heart failure (HF) hospitalization or risk of death in patients with reduced ejection fraction receiving an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor or angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB)? That was the question... View Article

Cardiovascular Disease

Previous VA Research Borne Out: PCI Provides No Symptom Relief in Stable Angina

In a move that reanimated a long-standing controversy in cardiology, a recently published study supports and extends the findings of landmark research done by the VA more than a decade ago.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Regional Anticoagulation Clinic Improvement Methods Bring Benefits Across VA

By Annette M. Boyle BEDFORD, MA—A program launched in eight VA New England medical center anticoagulation clinics not only achieved its goals of improving delivery of anticoagulation care, it also continues to pay dividends in... View Article


Aspirin Appears to Be Safe for Some Heart Failure Patients

SAN FRANCISCO – Does use of aspirin increase heart failure (HF) hospitalization or risk of death in patients with reduced ejection fraction receiving an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor or angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB)? That was the question... View Article


Methylphenidate Improves Apathy in Veterans with Alzheimer’s

Apathy is a common behavioral problem in Alzheimer’s disease and can lead to everything functional impairment to higher medical costs to increased mortality.

Late Breaking News

Procedure Determines How Long Post-Surgical Patients Should Receive Opioids

Study Uses MHS Data to Create Guidelines for Painkillers BOSTON – How long should patients use opioids after common surgical procedures? Until now, there hasn’t been much consensus on the answer. A new study analyzing... View Article

Late Breaking News

Be Aware of New Clinical Recommendations on Diabetes, Back Pain, PTSD, Amputation, Opioids

Diabetes Guidelines Don’t Include Specific Pharmacotherapy Advise By Annette M. Boyle WASHINGTON —The VA and DoD Evidence-Based Practice Work Group has recently released five updated clinical practice guidelines. They cover common conditions such as Type... View Article

Cardiovascular Disease

INVESTED Trial Tests High-Dose Flu Vaccine for Veterans With Cardiovascular Disease

Influenza hits veterans hard, and older veterans with cardiovascular disease face a substantially increased risk of complications and death from the common ailment.

Clinical Topics Home

Lipoic Acid Promising in VA-Funded MS Study

PORTLAND, OR—While not many treatment options exist for patients with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, a new study is suggesting that an over-the-counter remedy might improve quality of life. Research published in the journal Neuroimmunology &... View Article

August 2017

Is Aspirin Really a Wonder Drug for Cardiovascular Prevention?

VA Researcher Questions Daily Use of Drug in Many Patients By Brenda L. Mooney GAINESVILLE, FL—Since the mid-1980s, aspirin has been used as a preventive drug for cardiovascular disease. In fact, the U.S. Preventive Services... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Phoenix VA Partners With CVS MinuteClinic to Provide In-Pharmacy Healthcare

When CVS Health became an authorized provider under the Veterans Choice Program, several VAMCs considered using the company’s retail medical clinic, MinuteClinic, to help relieve long waits and offer routine medical services nearer to veterans’ homes.

Department of Defense (DoD)

Army Pharmacy Pilots New Service Model at Four Sites

Four Army pharmacy sites have taken the lead in shifting the patient experience from a transactional paradigm to a service-oriented model the Army hopes to replicate across all facilities.

Agencies Home

VA Offers Pharmacy Staff Free Diabetes Management Certificate Course

A free online certificate course on diabetes made available at the VA and DoD earlier this year already has had more than 550 enrollments and awarded 15 certificates.

December 2016

TRICARE Switches to Walgreens Pharmacy Network from CVS

At the beginning of this month, the TRICARE retail pharmacy network changed to Walgreens from CVS as a result of a new contract with Express Scripts, TRICARE’s pharmacy contractor. The new network has more than 58,000 locations nationwide.

Clinical Topics Home

Antipsychotics Increase Death Risk in Veterans With Parkinson’s Disease

PHILADELPHIA — Parkinson’s disease patients prescribed antipsychotics are significantly more likely to die in the short-term, according to a new veterans study.

Air Force

59th Medical Wing Pharmacies Reduce Patient Wait Times by 700 hours a Day

By Annette M. BoyleJOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, TX — Process improvement efforts oftentimes frustrate staff and irritate patients, but the 59th Medical Wing pharmacies at Joint Base San Antonio have implemented 65 process improvements during... View Article

March 2016

Medications Slow Progression As Well As Reduce Symptoms in MS

African-Americans 50% More Likely to Experience Significant Disability.

February 2016

Long-Term Opioid Use Increases Depression Risk

LOUIS — While opioids can cause short-term improvement in mood as patients experience pain relief, long-term use of the drugs increases risk of new-onset depression, according to a new study.The research, published recently in the... View Article


CDC Opioid Guidelines Could Cause Problems for VA Patients, Clinicians

VA clinicians and their patients might find themselves in a difficult position related to proposed opioid prescribing guidelines from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

October 2015

New Therapy Extends Life for Advanced Colorectal Cancer

PRINCETON, NJ — A new combination pill has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for patients with an advanced form of colorectal cancer who are no longer responding to other therapies.Lonsurf, manufactured by... View Article

FDA News

FDA Approves Option for Schizophrenia, Bipolar Treatment

JERSEY CITY, NJ – A new option for treating schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in adults has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.The drug Vraylar, cariprazine in capsule form, is manufactured by Forest Laboratories... View Article

August 2015

VA/DoD Recommend More Moderate Approach to Treating High Cholesterol

New Guidelines Significantly Different from AHA/ACC Document

Agencies Home

Pharmacist Role Expanded with Success in Managing Polypharmacy Patients

FALLS CHURCH, VA – The DoD has successfully reversed a trend toward increased use of opioids by engaging pharmacists in oversight and management of polypharmacy patients in Warrior Transition Units.

Current Issue

Danger of Pneumonia Increases with Veterans’ Worsened Health Status

Higher Pneumonia Vaccine Rates Urged By Brenda L. Mooney PROVIDENCE, RI – With influenza season each year comes an even greater challenge for VA hospitals — a spate of pneumonia cases in older veterans. Recent... View Article

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

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

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Statins Reduce Barrett’s Esophagus; Cancer Precursor Affects About 10% of Veterans

By Annette M. Boyle BETHESDA, MD – Veterans on statins have another good reason to continue to take their medication, according to new research. Statins not only reduce cholesterol, combat cardiovascular disease and potentially reduce... View Article

Agencies Home

Azithromycin Saves Lives of Older Pneumonia Patients Despite Cardiac Risks

By Brenda L. Mooney DALLAS – The suspected link between azithromycin and an increased incidence of cardiovascular events was borne out in a recent VA study of veterans hospitalized with pneumonia, but that was only... View Article

August 2014

Milwaukee VA Develops Reversal Protocol for Novel Oral Anticoagulants

By Annette M. Boyle MILWAUKEE – Many patients prefer the devil they know. When asked whether they want to go on or switch to a novel oral anticoagulant (NOAC) that requires little monitoring, has few... View Article

2014 Compendium of Federal Medicine

Rare Lymphoma Challenges VA Clinicians from Diagnosis to Treatment

An estimated 5-10% of all cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) diagnosed each year occurs in veterans treated by the VA. The cancer, classified as presumptively caused by Agent Orange exposure, is notoriously difficult to diagnose and... View Article

2014 Issues

Gene Sequencing Helps Target Therapies for Metastatic Breast Cancer

By Annette M. Boyle DURHAM, NC — Women initially diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer have only a 23% overall five-year survival rate — and will spend most of their lives battling their cancer with a... View Article

2014 Issues

Consolidated Pharmacy Services in New DHA to Save $2B by 2019

WASHINGTON — The consolidation of 10 functions that have been performed separately by the Army, Navy and Air Force under the Defense Health Agency is projected to save $2 billion by 2019.

2014 Issues

New VA Initiative Seeks to Reduce Opioid Use

MINNEAPOLIS — A new initiative to reduce the use of opioids at the VA already is demonstrating some success at eight launch sites in Minnesota, where high-dose use of the painkillers has been reduced more than 50%.

2014 Issues

Approval of Topamax for Migraines Extended to Adolescents

TITUSVILLE, NJ — Food and Drug Administration approval of Topamax (topiramate) for migraine headaches prophylaxis has been extended to adolescents ages 12 to 17. It was the first FDA approval of a drug for migraine... View Article

2014 Issues

New Treatment Option Approved for Leishmaniasis; Affects U.S. Troops

MONTREAL — The Food and Drug Administration has approved Impavido, for the tropical disease leishmaniasis, which has plagued U.S. troops deployed to areas such as Iraq. Leishmaniasis is caused by Leishmania, a parasite which is... View Article

2014 Issues

FDA Approves Otezla for Active Psoriatic Arthritis

SUMMIT, NJ — Clinicians have a new tool in their arsenal to treat active psoriatic arthritis. The Food and Drug Administration recently approved Otezla (apremilast) to treat adults with active psoriatic arthritis (PsA). The drug... View Article

April 2014

VA’s Mail-Order Pharmacy Ranked Top in Nation – Again

Highest Customer Satisfaction for Fourth Year in A Row By Annette M. Boyle MILWAUKEE — For the fourth year in a row, the VA’s Consolidated Mail Outpatient Pharmacy (CMOP) received the highest customer satisfaction score... View Article

April 2014

Marketing Allowed for First TENS Device to Prevent Migraines

WASHINGTON — For the first time, the Food and Drug Administration is allowing marketing of a device as a preventive treatment for migraine headaches. The transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) device, marketed as Cefaly, also... View Article

April 2014

FDA Approves Another Lower-Dose NSAID for Moderate Pain Control

PHILADELPHIA — A new nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of mild to moderate pain in adults. Iroko Pharmaceuticals, LLC, announced that its product Tivorbex... View Article

April 2014

FDA: Use Doripenem Cautiously in Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia

WASHINGTON — Label changes on Doribax (doripenem), an antibacterial drug used to treat ventilator-associated pneumonia, have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA said the drug carries an increased risk of death... View Article

2014 Issues

VA Pharmacy Reengineering Project Plagued by Ongoing Problems

By Annette M. Boyle WASHINGTON — Originally launched in March 2003 and restarted in October 2009, the Pharmacy Reengineering (PRE) software development project continues to miss deadlines, stumble in deployment and suffer from project management... View Article

2014 Issues

First Gel Approved for Sealing Corneal Incision in Cataract Surgery

BEDFORD, MA — The first gel sealant has been approved to stop leaking fluid through the corneal incision after cataract surgery with intraocular lens placement. Until the Food and Drug Administration approved the ReSure Sealant... View Article

2014 Issues

Fast-Track Approval for New Melanoma Combination Treatment

PHILADELPHIA — Accelerated approval has been granted by the Food and Drug Administration to a combination therapy for unresectable or metastatic melanoma with a specific mutation. Approval was announced of a trametinib-dabrafenib combination for use... View Article

2014 Issues

FDA Reviewing Low-T Therapy After Second Study Shows CV Issues

WASHINGTON — With a second study showing increased risk of cardiovascular events among men using testosterone replacement therapy, the Food and Drug Administration announced that it is reassessing the safety of those products. The agency... View Article

2014 Issues

Controversy Surrounds FDA Approval of New Opioid Analgesic

SAN DIEGO — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new opioid analgesic but not without controversy. In approving Zohydro ER (hydrocodone bitartrate extended-release capsules), the FDA went against an 11-2 recommendation by a... View Article

2014 Issues

FDA Allows Marketing of First Device for Migraine Headache Pain

SUNNYVALE, CA — For the first time, the Food and Drug Administration is allowing marketing of a device to relieve pain caused by migraine headaches that are preceded by an aura. The device, the Cerena... View Article

2014 Issues

New SGLT2 Inhibitor Approved to Treat Type 2 Diabetes

WASHINGTON — A new sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitor has been approved to treat type 2 diabetes. The Food and Drug Administration approved Farxiga (dapaglifozin) tablets to improve glycemic control, along with diet and exercise,... View Article