What We’re Reading: Safety of COVID-19 Booster, Pneumonia Vaccine; 3.5 Million Cancer Deaths Prevented; Dental Problems Linked to Opioid Addiction Drug

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine booster can be safely administered alongside a pneumonia vaccine; 3.5 million cancer deaths were prevented in recent decades, but disparities persist; the FDA warns of dental problems linked to a drug to treat opioid use disorder.

Combined Administration of COVID-19 Booster and Pneumonia Vaccine

Pfizer said that booster doses of its COVID-19 vaccine can be safely administered along with its pneumonia vaccine after a late-stage study produced strong safety and immune response results in people aged 65 years and older, as reported by Reuters. The study tested the company’s pneumococcal conjugate vaccine with a third of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in 570 participants. The results provide evidence supporting the potential to administer both vaccines simultaneously, reducing the number of visits people make to physicians or pharmacies for recommended immunization. The pneumonia vaccine was approved by the FDA in June 2021.

3.5 Million Cancer Deaths Prevented

A report found that 3.5 million cancer deaths were prevented in recent decades, largely due to declines in smoking rates as well as advances in treatments and cancer detection methods, according to USA Today. The authors stressed that pandemic-related impacts to cancer detection and treatment are not known yet. However, the paper called out the persistent racial and geographic disparities in cancer rates, finding that risk of cancer death is 33% higher for Black Americans and over 50% higher in Native American populations compared to White Americans. The authors said that the disparities stem from longstanding inequalities in wealth resulting in different risk factors and access to health care. A rise in the rates of breast and advanced-stage prostate cancer were also noted as concerning.

FDA Warns of Dental Problems Linked to Opioid Use Disorder Drug

The FDA put out a new warning for patients and prescribers regarding the risk of potential dental problems stemming from the use of buprenorphine medicines for the treatment of opioid addiction and pain. The agency said the treatment had been reported to cause tooth decay, infection, and, in some cases, total tooth loss in patients who had no history of dental issues. The drug was approved by the FDA as a tablet to be placed under the tongue in 2002 and as a film to be placed on the inside of the cheek in 2015. Patients may be able to lessen their risk by taking preventative measures, including waiting for at least 1 hour to brush their teeth after using the product.