Trending News Today: Sending Letters to Physicians Can Reduce Overprescribing

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

On Monday, officials with the FDA announced that the agency will change the way it evaluates new treatments for opioid addiction, STAT reported. According to the article, the FDA will now consider factors such as whether a drug could reduce overdose rates or transmission of infectious diseases, rather than only examining whether a potential treatment reduces opioid use. In its guidance, the FDA said encouraging drug manufacturers to consider outcomes beyond drug use could yield significant health benefits, the article reported.

A new study found that sending letters to physicians curbed overprescribing of the antipsychotic drug Seroquel, which can be dangerous when patients with dementia take the medication, NPR reported. According to the article, the researchers had Medicare send 3 letters over the course of 6 months to approximately 5000 general practitioners who prescribe Seroquel the most. After tracking the physicians’ prescribing habits for 2 years, the researchers found that they cut back on prescribing the drug by approximately 16%, the article reported.

A new app aims to help individuals avoid environmental triggers that may threaten their recovery from an opioid addiction, STAT reported. According to the article, the app, named Hey,Charlie, monitors a user’s contacts and locations, and sends pop-up notifications to caution them about risky acquaintances or neighborhoods. The app is now being piloted by several treatment centers in Boston and Framingham, Massachusetts, the article reported.