The number of serious adverse events and deaths attributed to prescription medications has nearly tripled since the Food and Drug Administration initiated a system in 1998 to make it easier to report significant side effects, researchers said Monday.
Twenty percent of drugs accounted for 87.1 percent of adverse effects, and the biggest offenders were painkillers and drugs that modify the immune system to treat arthritis, according to the report in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
One-quarter of the increase could be attributed to a boost in prescriptions and another 15 percent to the introduction of new biotechnology drugs since 1998, but the rest of the increase could not be explained, said drug safety expert Thomas Moore.
Five of the top six drugs causing deaths were painkillers: Oxycontin, Fentanyl, morphine, acetaminophen and methadone. The sixth was the antipsychotic drug Clozapine.
D.C.: VA and medical wait time
The Department of Veterans Affairs repeatedly understated wait times for injured veterans seeking medical care, an internal investigation shows. The review by the VA inspector general’s office, released Monday, found that the Veterans Health Administration in recent months falsely reported to Congress that nearly all of its appointments — about 95 percent — were scheduled within 30 days of a patient’s requested date. In fact, only three in four veterans — 75 percent — received such timely appointments.
Clinton returning Hsu funds
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign said Monday it will return $850,000 in donations raised by Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu, who is under federal investigation. Clinton, D-N.Y., previously had planned only to give to charity $23,000 she received from Hsu for her presidential and senatorial campaigns and to her political action committee, HillPac. The FBI is investigating whether Hsu paid so-called straw donors to send campaign contributions to Clinton and other candidates, a law enforcement official said Monday.
Minn.: Craig seeks to pull plea
Sen. Larry Craig filed court papers in Minneapolis on Monday seeking to withdraw his guilty plea in an airport sex sting, arguing that he entered the plea under stress caused by media inquiries into his sexuality. Craig, R-Idaho, pleaded guilty in August to disorderly conduct following his June arrest in a sting operation in a men’s bathroom at the Minneapolis airport. A police report alleged that Craig had solicited sex from a male officer at the airport, which the senator has denied.
California: Terror conviction
A Lodi man was sentenced to 24 years in federal prison Monday for attending an al-Qaida terrorist training camp in Pakistan and plotting to attack targets in the United States. Hamid Hayat, a 25-year-old U.S. citizen, was convicted in April 2006 of providing material support to terrorists and lying about it to FBI agents.
Illinois: Five guilty in mob trial
A federal jury found five aging men guilty Monday in a racketeering conspiracy that involved decades of extortion, loan sharking and murder aimed at rubbing out anyone who dared stand in the way of the ruthless Chicago mob known as The Outfit. Alleged mob boss James Marcello, 65; alleged mob capo Joseph “Joey the Clown” Lombardo, 78; convicted loan shark Frank Calabrese Sr., 70; and convicted jewel thief Paul Schiro, 70, could now face up to live in prison. The fifth man, retired Chicago police officer Anthony Doyle, 62, was the only one among the five not accused of carrying out at least one murder.