Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Morning Drill: February 23, 2012

Good Morning!

On to today's dentistry and health headlines:

All Ages Should Get Tdap Shots, Says CDC Panel

An advisory panel to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today took the last step toward making the tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine a shot for Americans of all ages.

The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted 14-1 in favor of immunizing adults 65 years or older with Tdap on a routine basis. Before, the ACIP had recommended such shots for seniors only if they had close contact with an infant less than 12 months of age, and had not been vaccinated with Tdap before.

According to current ACIP guidelines, individuals aged 11 through 18 years should get a single booster dose of the vaccine after receiving Tdap or diphtheria, tetanus, and whole-cell pertussis (DTP) vaccine as part of their childhood vaccination series. In addition, the ACIP recommends a single dose for adults aged 19 through 64 years who have not gotten Tdap already. With today's vote by the ACIP, the recommendation for Tdap vaccination becomes universal.

Singing dentist keeps audience smiling

Harvey Cooperberg loves to play to the crowd. Whether it be patients in his dentist chair or a captive audience while he’s belting it out on stage, nothing makes Dr. Cooperberg pleased like bringing a smile to people’s faces.

“You have to endear yourself to the audience,” he said. “[Much in the same way] patients want to be put at ease.”

For 30 years, Dr. Cooperberg has been serving two crowds: the one of his livelihood and the one of his passion. “I love doing dentistry,” he said. “But I’m addicted [to theatre].”

Upon walking into his office on Markham Main St. you notice this odd dichotomy in Dr. Cooperberg’s life. On the left is his secretary of 30 years, Peggy Kavanagh, answering the phones.

On the right, the wall is adorned with pictures of Dr. Cooperberg performing in Fiddler on the Roof, Wizard of Oz, Beauty and the Beast and whole host of other productions.
The monument is about to add another bust.

The 61-year-old dentist is a cast member in Way Off Broadway, an all new original TV series the premieres on Bravo March 2 at 8 p.m.

The 13-episode series details the behind-the scenes scenes stories from auditions to rehearsals to the coming together of an inexperienced cast as they prepare for a one-night performance of the classic musical Wizard of Oz.

Local dentist has hiked mountains in Nepal to provide dental care

When he’s not helping locals alleviate their tooth ailments, Dr. Ed Weiss is trekking through remote parts of the world to provide volunteer dental care to those who wouldn’t have access otherwise.

For nearly 20 years, the Auburn dentist has traveled to remote communities all over the world to offer humanitarian services in his specialty. Friday, Weiss will share his adventures at AAUW’s International Dinner.

He began with a group that came to Auburn in 1993, the Flying Doctors.

In one of his recent adventures, Weiss went to Nepal.

“That last trip we flew to Kathmandu, flew from Kathmandu to the town of Fablu at 8000 feet and hiked for two days to the village where we worked,” Weiss said.

The team had to overcome obstacles like navigating washed out roads and hiking at mountain altitudes with dental equipment.

“We have portable dental units that run off a compressor,” Weiss said. “All (of) that has to be brought in. If we don’t bring it in, we don’t have it. Delightful folks, living a hard life, so we are able to do a little bit for them, eliminate a sore tooth and make life a little bit better for them.”

Although he has been to other exotic destinations, like Papua New Guinea and The Marshall Islands Weiss said since his wife Barbara, an AAUW member, went to Nepal also, it would be the best one to share about at the international dinner. His travels and volunteer dental work have enabled him to see places he might not have otherwise gone and make interesting friends all over the world.

FDA Panel Votes in Favor of Qnexa

An FDA advisory panel has voted 20-2 to recommend approval of the weight-loss drug Qnexa, but urged the agency to require a post-approval trial to monitor for cardiovascular side effects.

Members of the Endocrinologic and Metabolic Drugs Advisory Committee voting in favor of the phentermine/topiramate combination, expressed concerned about the increased risk of an elevated heartbeat and birth defects -- specifically oral clefts -- in infants born to women taking the drug, but were swayed by the fact that the drug's two ingredients are already on the market and can be prescribed off-label.

Those same concerns prompted the panel to recommend against approval in 2010 and the FDA to reject the drug shortly thereafter. Last Friday, FDA staff reviewers raised the same concerns in briefing documents prepared for Wednesday's meeting.

In the current vote, the panel seemed inclined to go with the devil they knew.

"It seems much better to come into the monitoring that's going to come with approval" of the drug, rather than have people taking it off-label with no monitoring, said panel member Erica Brittain, PhD, a statistician at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in Bethesda, Md.

"It's already on the market with the potential of high-dose misuse, and, also, we can't doubt the benefit of weight loss," said panelist Jessica Henderson, PhD, of Western Oregon University, who was the committee's consumer representative.

The FDA does not have to follow the advice of its advisory committees, but often does.

The drug's maker, Vivus, is seeking approval for a once-daily pill for obese men and women with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, or for those with a BMI of 27 or higher who also have weight-related comorbidities such as hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia, or central adiposity.

The drug combines low doses of phentermine, an appetite suppressant that was the most widely prescribed obesity drug in 2009, and topiramate, an anti-seizure medication that increases the feeling of being full and satisfied.

During the meeting, the company presented data showing the drug was effective in helping patients lose 6% to 10% of their body weight, and also lowered blood pressure.

Enjoy your morning!

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