What We're Reading: Asbestos Testing in Talc; Polypharmacy Use; Coronavirus Emergency Use Authorization

February 5, 2020
AJMC Staff

The FDA reexamines asbestos testing for talc powders and cosmetics; elderly patients with HIV have high polypharmacy use; the government issues an emergency use authorization for a coronavirus diagnostic.

Conflicting Findings Spur Debate on Asbestos Testing for Talc-Containing Products

On Tuesday, for the first time in almost 50 years, the FDA reviewed its policies on asbestos testing in products that contain talc, according to Reuters, with recent data from the federal agency showing trace amounts of the known carcinogen in several products. Again at the center of this often controversial debate is Johnson & Johnson, which has defended the safety of its products for years, despite reports dating as far back as the 1970s showing “rather high” levels of the carcinogen in its talc and a recent JAMA study showing no cancer link. Advocates, meanwhile, want stricter safety regulations for the largely unregulated cosmetic talc industry and are calling for warning labels on talc products.

Polypharmacy Use Likely Among Older, HIV-Positive Individuals

The results of a recent study show that polypharmacy use is more common among HIV-positive adults aged 65 or older compared with those younger than 65, according to Infectious Disease Advisor. With innovations in antiretroviral therapy helping to transform the disease into a more manageable chronic condition and enabling HIV-positive patients to live longer, these older individuals are developing more age-related conditions that they need to manage with other medications. All of this increases the possibility of drug-drug interactions from classes that include benzodiazepines and hypnotics. The researchers stress the need for continuous education and medicine review to reduce risk for this vulnerable population.

The FDA Issues an Emergency Use Declaration for Coronavirus Diagnostic

On the heals of the coronavirus being declared a public health emergency, the FDA has issued an emergency use authorization for the CDC’s 2019-nCoV Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel, according to a press release from the agency. This tool was previously restricted to CDC laboratories only. With the number of new cases seeming to increase every day from this sometimes deadly respiratory infection, this test uses nasal or oral swabs to detect possible infection with 2019-nCoV. The FDA recommends that negative results should be confirmed with healthcare providers.