On to today's dentistry and health headlines:
FDA to review safety of inhalable caffeine product
Food and Drug Administration officials plan to investigate whether a form of caffeine sold in lipstick-shaped containers is safe for consumers.
The inventor touts AeroShot as caffeine without the coffee, soda, tea or a pill, but a U.S. lawmaker questions whether it's safe.
The product comes in a lipstick-shaped dispenser that puffs out a powdery mixture of caffeine and B vitamins into your mouth, where it dissolves and is swallowed.
Pre-filled devices can be purchased online or in convenience stores in New York and Boston for about $3.
"No calories. No liquid. No limits," its website says. "Hitting the books. Hitting the gym. Taking a roadtrip. Staying awake at your desk after devouring a bacon double cheeseburger at lunch. AeroShot is specifically designed with you in mind."
In Massachusetts, one in six residents lives in an area with a shortage of dental care, including parts of central and western Massachusetts, Cape Cod and many low-income urban communities. In addition, almost 750,000 low-income residents on MassHealth have coverage to get their teeth cleaned or pulled, but nothing more. Health care advocates are pressing the Legislature to restore full dental benefits.
Dr. Charles Silvius, president of the Massachusetts Dental Society, says dental therapists are not the answer for patients who can’t get care.
“We’re almost setting up a two-tier system of care,” he warns. “People who are geographically located near a dentist or have the ability to pay for it will be treated by dentists. And those who are more remote or possibly don’t have health care coverage are going to be treated by non-dentists, and I don’t think that’s moral or ethical.”
Silvius says the idea that some procedures are routine and others aren’t is misguided.
“Talking about a routine extraction can be oxymoronic,” Silvius says with a short laugh. “If you’re just trained as a technician and you get outside those parameters you may be without a rudder and not know which way to go.”
That’s a taste of the debate we can expect in Massachusetts if this idea of dental therapists — which is on the table in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and seven other states — comes to Massachusetts.
Following word last week of a federal investigation into how Minnesota finances its public health insurance programs, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann said Monday that more audits might be needed for the Medicaid program.
The Minnesota Republican held a news conference Monday at the Capitol to say she plans to introduce federal legislation related to questions raised last week about the state's version of Medicaid, a health insurance program for low-income and disabled residents that is jointly funded by the federal government.
Last Tuesday, the commissioner of the state's Department of Human Services told a legislative committee that the federal government is investigating whether Minnesota has wrongly received excess federal funds by manipulating the rate certification process for Medicaid.
The state has contracts with nonprofit HMOs to manage the care for most Medicaid recipients in Minnesota.
New supplies of two currently hard-to-find cancer drugs are on the way, according to the FDA.
As Dow Jones Newswires reports, the FDA said it would allow the temporary importation of Lipodox, made by Sun Pharma Global FZE and distributed by Caraco Pharmaceutical Laboratories, as a substitute for Johnson & Johnson’s Doxil. The drugs have the same active ingredient.
Doxil has been in short supply since about mid-2011. New supplies of Lipodox are “expected to end the shortage and fully meet patient needs in the coming weeks,” the FDA says.
The FDA also said it had approved a new manufacturer — APP Pharmaceuticals — of preservative-free methotrexate, a drug that is used to treat a type of children’s leukemia and has also been in short supply. The drug should be available in March, the agency says.
Hospira has also “expedited release of additional supplies” of preservative-free methotrexate — 31,000 vials worth, enough to cover a month’s worth of demand, the FDA says. The agency “is actively working with other manufacturers … including Mylan and Sandoz Pharmaceuticals” to meet patient needs, it says.
Enjoy your morning!