Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in the news

Drug shortages aren’t new. The tripledemic just made you look.

By Maryn McKenna Flu meds and prescription drugs have been in short supply all winter—but the problem goes back over a decade. Parents of small children have faced a persistent problem this “tripledemic” winter: They’ve headed out to pharmacies and supermarkets, looking for cold drugs and fever reducers to counter Covid, flu and RSV, and discovered the shelves were bare. And it hasn’t just been over-the-counter drugs in short supply: The antibiotic amoxicillin, used to treat strep throat and scarlet fever, is scarce in the US and the UK. What’s been worse: Discovering this isn’t a one-time interruption that might resolve quickly—with luck, while your child could still benefit. According to records at the US Food and Drug Administration, amoxicillin supplies have been low since the end of October, and pharmacy experts say colleagues were struggling with stock-outs from the beginning of that month. And it's not just treatments for seasonal infections that are out of stock. According to the FDA, 191 drugs—antibiotics, cancer treatments, anesthetics, Adderall, and other pharmaceuticals—are currently in shortage or in the process of being restored to the market. This isn’t a Covid-caused, temporary aberration. Experts have been ringing the alarm since at least 2011. Put another way: The US drives drug innovation for the rest of the world, but it can’t keep what it develops on pharmacy shelves. It’s a stubborn problem—composed of procurement slowdowns, proprietary information, and policy shortfalls—that no one has been able to fix. Coping with drug shortages is such a regular occurrence that “it's almost its own subspecialty in pharmacy now,” says Susan Davis, who is an associate dean for pharmacy at Wayne State University. “It’s something that people have as part of their job description, trying to manage shortages, which is unfathomable.”
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US COVID testing requirement begins for air passengers from China

Beginning Thursday, airline passengers coming to the U.S. from China will need a negative COVID-19 test. It can either be a PCR or an antigen test, but it must be taken within two days of departure. Some say testing is necessary to keep Americans safe. However, Chinese authorities say science doesn't support the requirement. Dr. Paul Kilgore, associate professor in the Wayne State University Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and co-director of the Center for Emerging Diseases, discusses his thoughts on continued COVID testing requirements. “I personally think we should be putting our efforts into other areas. The testing requirement is something we’ve tried in the past, and it didn’t really show or demonstrate great impact or effect.” Kilgore said he doesn’t think countries would be imposing testing requirements if China was more forthcoming with its data. “I view public health as 80% politics and 20% science. Part of public health that’s so important is engagement, communication – the sharing of information. If we can actually get back to that, we may not need the testing of passengers before they get on an airplane…”
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This is what happens to your body when you die

By Jess Thomson  The one universal truth is that every living thing eventually dies.  It may seem like a terrifying prospect, a great unknown, but by learning about every stage of the process, we can take some of the mystery out of our final moments, and what happens to our bodies afterwards. For someone who has been approaching death due to age or ill health, their body will slowly begin to shut down. In the weeks prior, they may experience greater fatigue and lose their appetite, while in the days before, they may lose control of their breathing. Some people have a burst of energy in their final days or hours hours, before growing more tired. "Prior to death, body temperature may increase or decrease depending on the conditions of the patient. The patient may also experience hypostasis, which is the settling of blood in the dependent areas of the body," Mark Evely, director of the mortuary science program at Wayne State University. 
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Gretchen Whitmer wants more Michigan pharmacists to prescribe birth control

By Robin Erb  Birth control pills, patches and vaginal rings could soon be available through more Michigan pharmacists, bypassing a doctor’s appointment. Under “long-standing” authority in Michigan, pharmacists have been able to enter into collaborative practice agreements with doctors to obtain prescribing rights, said Mary Beth O’Connell, a professor of pharmacy practice at Wyane State University. But most community-based pharmacists do not have such collaborative practice agreements in place to cover birth control, she said. O’Connell said that, ideally, the Michigan Pharmacists Association wants a law change that would give pharmacists prescribing authority for birth control without collaborative agreements. For the Pharmacists Association, changing Michigan law would be preferable because it would be less vulnerable to politics and changing administrations. “Bottom line, we want this as a service that can be provided at all community pharmacies,” she said.

Long COVID still a risk, even for vaccinated people

By Jeanna D. Smiley  Long COVID can cause persistent COVID-19 symptoms including loss of smell, fatigue, mood changes, and brain fog in addition to disorders of the heart, kidneys, and lungs. These symptoms emerge or continue at least one month after a SARS-CoV-2 infection. It is estimated that 7.7 to 23 million Americans may have developed long COVID, a condition also called post-acute COVID or chronic COVID. While researchers have observed that vaccines have been effective in fending off some of the worst long COVID symptoms, they also found that mild breakthrough COVID-19 infections can trigger lingering, severe symptoms of long COVID even in vaccinated people. Dr. Joseph A. Roche, an associate professor in health sciences at Wayne State University agreed that vaccines do not replace other risk reduction methods for COVID-19. He pointed to a paper he authored, which urges “continued nonpharmacological risk-reduction measures…to complement vaccination efforts.” In his research, Dr. Roche cited mathematical models which predicted that such measures should stay in place for a year, even after the population reaches ideal vaccination levels.  
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How Biden’s new ‘test to treat’ COVID plan works – and why it might not be enough

This week, the Biden administration is launching a test to treat COVID program. High-risk patients with COVID symptoms will be able to walk into hundreds of pharmacies for a free COVID test and walk out with a free course of pills. The program, according to some experts, is limited in scope. COVID pills are new, and they come with prescribing challenges. Pfizer’s Paxlovid can interfere with many commonly prescribed drugs and cause health problems. Merck’s molnupiravir comes with precautions due to reproductive risks. Independent pharmacies say they can help. “Pharmacists are medication experts. We have been managing drug interactions and dose adjustments routinely for decades. We could handle this,” said Susan Davis, a pharmacy professor at Wayne State University’s Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.  
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Opinion: We're infectious disease specialists at WSU. What COVID-19 has taught us so far

As co-directors of the Wayne State University Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases, Marcus Zervos, M.D., Teena Chopra, M.D., M.P.H., Paul Kilgore, M.D., M.P.H., and Matthew Seeger, Ph.D, share their perspectives on lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. The experts discuss parallels between previous pandemics, exacerbated health disparities, a lack of response and resource coordination, the dangers of misinformation, and ways the public health system can better prepare for future pandemics. Together, the co-directors assert that if we learn from this pandemic, our post-COVID-19 world will be more resilient, health disparities will be reduced, and our public health system will become stronger.  
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Why catching COVID-19 to ‘get it over with’ is a terrible idea

By Nancy Schimelpfening  Many people are tired and worn down from having to be constantly vigilant about the coronavirus, and there is a growing sentiment that COVID-19 is inevitable. Some are seeking to expose themselves to help “get it over with,” despite experts cautioning against it. Intentionally exposing yourself to the coronavirus with the hopes of developing COVID-19 can come with severe complications, including death. Doing so puts yourself and others at risk, and puts more of a burden on the healthcare system. Additionally, you may get sicker than you anticipate, as was the case with Czech singer Hana Horka, intentionally exposed herself to the virus and recently died. “While it can be argued that singer Hana Horka likely had fatal COVID complications because she was not vaccinated, the fact remains that COVID is not trivial,” said Joseph A. Roche, associate professor in the physical therapy program at Wayne State University. “Even though vaccination is proven to be a bulwark against complications and deaths, unfortunately, there are still rare breakthrough cases where the acute and chronic symptoms of COVID are worrisome.”  
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Stressed out at college? Here are five essential reads on how to take better care of your mental health

Nearly 70% of college students say they are experiencing emotional distress or anxiety related to the pandemic. That’s according to a January 2022 survey that also found nearly 9 out of every 10 college students believe U.S. colleges and universities are facing a mental health crisis. The Conversation outlines tips for college students to take better care of their mental health. Christine Kivlen, assistant professor of occupational therapy at Wayne State University, recommends students seek out therapy dogs, citing research that has shown spending just 10 minutes with a therapy dog can reduce college students’ stress levels. “Among other benefits, therapy dogs can help students achieve a stronger sense of belonging and better deal with being homesick and lonely, while also lessening their anxiety and stress,” Kivlen said.  
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Death rituals in Black communities have been altered or forgone in the pandemic

By Ayesha Rascoe  Mortician Stephen R. Kemp, who is an alum of the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and a leader in the Detroit funeral industry, speaks with NPR host Ayesha Rascoe about how the pandemic is affecting the role of funeral homes in Black communities. COVID-19’s death toll in the United States is over 837,000, and it keeps climbing, resulting in a lot of business for funeral homes over the last two years. Funeral homes aren’t necessarily making more money because many Americans went without costly burials, opting for less expensive cremations, which translates to a change in death rituals, especially in Black communities. “…I do see cremation growth because financially, it makes a whole lot of sense. We really – because of the pandemic, we really weren’t prepared with insurances and with the proper amount of money to do that. And cemeteries have increased their prices really, really disproportionately to the inflation rate…you’re beginning to see a lot more funerals here at the funeral home versus traditional places like a church…we have them in parks and tents, in people’s homes, in the backyards. And what traditionally has been the funeral has evolved into a celebration of life. I tell people, get pictures together. Put them on a flash drive. Play the person’s favorite music…” 
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Everything you need to know about newly available COVID-19 vaccines for kids

Dr. Paul Kilgore, associate professor and director of research in the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at Wayne State University, joins Stephen Henderson on Detroit Today in a conversation about the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine for school-age children. "The availability of the vaccine for children is really, really good news. It's definitely a game-changer...Parents have been patient and now is the time that they can actually go in to get their kids vaccinated...the reactions we see include things like soreness after the injection, systemic signs like headache, malaise, and joint and muscle aches - that resolve relatively quickly. Kids are very resilient. In fact, we see very, very few kids needing to follow up at a pediatrician as a result of any adverse events..." said Dr. Kilgore. "I always weigh the risks and benefits of anything, including vaccinations. One of the things we can tell parents is that overall, over the last several months, we've had a relatively conservative rollout of the vaccines. We started with the older adults, working our way down to younger adults and teenagers. And through that experience, we've been able to learn that the mRNA vaccines and the J&J vaccine have been safe for adults, and now we have a lot of additional real-world experience with hundreds of thousands of older children who have been vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine. What this is all telling us is that we haven't seen any unusual signals that would make us worry as we start to vaccinate children ages 5 to 11. The risks of not getting vaccinated are substantial." 

Fast food burgers, fries, and pizza may leave you full of phthalates

By Huanjia Zhang   As Americans devour a fast-food burger in the car or gobble up a chicken burrito in front of the TV, some may bite into phthalates, according to a new study in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology. This is the first study to directly measure the amount of phthalates present in common fast foods in the U.S. and adds to mounting evidence linking phthalate exposure to fast food consumption. Phthalates are a group of synthetic chemicals widely used to make plastic more flexible, and are ubiquitous in a host of plastic products, ranging from toys to personal care products. Phthalates have been shown in human and animal studies to disrupt the endocrine system. Although the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the use of eight phthalates in children’s toys and child-care products in 2017, the plastic industry is able to replace the prohibited phthalates with slightly tweaked plasticizer chemicals. “A chemical isn’t a problem until it’s proven dangerous,” said Douglas Ruden, a toxicologist who studies phthalates at Wayne State University, who noted the ongoing tug-of-war between scientists trying to assess the health and safety of potentially harmful new plasticizers and their evolving successors. 
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Long COVID now has a formal definition from the WHO: What to know 

Long COVID now has a formal definition from the WHO: What to know  On Oct. 6, 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the first official definition of what constitutes long COVID. The medical community has been aware that while most people recover from COVID-19 within a matter of weeks, some will experience lingering symptoms for four or more weeks after developing COVID-19.  Until now, there has not been a formal definition for this condition. Referring to it as “post COVID-19 condition,” the document says that long COVID “occurs in individuals with a history of probable or confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, usually 3 months from the onset of COVID-19, with symptoms that last for at least 2 months and cannot be explained by an alternative diagnosis.” The definition further states that common symptoms may include fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, and several others that can impact daily functioning. Joseph A. Roche, BPT, Dip. Rehab. PT, PhD, associate professor in the Physical Therapy Program at Wayne State University and member of the American Physiological Society who has performed research into the effects of long COVID, said the case had been made that long COVID may resemble a condition known as “myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS),” which can affect some individuals after other viral illnesses.  “What makes post COVID-19 condition more concerning than ME/CFS,” said Roche, “is that there is not just physical and mental fatigue, but also persistent and recurrent problems that affect the lungs, heart, blood vessels, and other organs and tissues.”