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Drug Use Trends Remain Stable or Decline Among Teens

The 2015 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey shows decreasing use of a number of substances, including cigarettes, alcohol, prescription opioid pain relievers, and synthetic cannabinoids ("synthetic marijuana"). Other drug use remains stable, including marijuana, with continued high rates of daily use reported among 12th graders, and ongoing declines in perception of its harms.

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The MTF survey measures drug use and attitudes among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders, and is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health. The survey has been conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor since 1975. For the first time, daily marijuana use exceeds daily tobacco cigarette use among 12th graders. Daily marijuana use for this group remained relatively stable at 6%, compared to 5.5% reporting daily cigarette smoking (down from 6.7% in 2014). "We are heartened to see that most illicit drug use is not increasing, non-medical use of prescription opioids is decreasing, and there is improvement in alcohol and cigarette use rates," said Nora D. Volkow, MD, director of NIDA. "However, continued areas of concern are the high rate of daily marijuana smoking seen among high school students, because of marijuana's potential deleterious effects on the developing brains of teenagers, and the high rates of overall tobacco products and nicotine containing e-cigarettes usage."


New Report on Health Information Exchange

The full impact of electronically exchanging health information on patient outcomes needs additional research, according to a new Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality systematic review. The electronic exchange of health information has increased over time and is used most in hospitals and the least in long-term care settings. However, the practice of exchanging health information electronically remains low overall. Some evidence suggests electronically exchanging health information may reduce duplicative laboratory and radiology testing, lower emergency department costs, reduce hospital admissions, improve public health reporting, increase ambulatory quality of care, and improve disability claims processing. Barriers to electronically exchanging health information include lack of participation, inefficient workflows, and poorly designed features. To advance our understanding of how to better exchange health information electronically, future studies need to address comprehensive questions, use more rigorous designs, and be part of a coordinated, systematic approach to studying the electronic exchange of health information.


Women's Healthcare: Key Findings of the 2014 Quality and Disparity Report

The report demonstrates that the Nation has made clear progress in improving the healthcare delivery system to achieve the three aims of better care, smarter spending, and healthier people, but there is still more work to do, specifically to address disparities in care.

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* Access improved.


* After years without improvement, the rate of uninsurance among adults ages 18 to 64 decreased substantially during the first half of 2014.


* Through 2012, improvement was observed across a broad spectrum of access measures among children.


* Quality improved for most National Quality Safety priorities.


* Patient Safety improved, led by a 17% reduction in rates of hospital-acquired conditions between 2010 and 2013, with 1.3 million fewer harms to patients, an estimated 50,000 lives saved, and $12 billion in cost savings.


* Person-Centered Care improved, with large gains in provider-patient communication.


* Many Effective Treatment measures, including several measures of pneumonia care in hospitals publicly reported by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, achieved such high levels of performance that continued reporting is unnecessary.


* Healthy Living improved, led by doubling of selected adolescent immunization rates from 2008 to 2012.


* Few disparities were eliminated.


* People in poor households generally experienced less access and poorer quality.


* Parallel gains in access and quality across groups led to persistence of most disparities.


* At the same time, several racial and ethnic disparities in rates of childhood immunization and rates of adverse events associated with procedures were eliminated, showing that elimination is possible.


* Many challenges in improving quality and reducing disparities remain.


* Performance on many measures of quality remains far from optimal. For example, only half of people with high blood pressure have it controlled. On average, across a broad range of measures, recommended care is delivered only 70% of the time.


* As noted above, disparities in quality and outcomes by income and race and ethnicity are large and persistent, and were not, through 2012, improving substantially.


* Some disparities related to hospice care and chronic disease management grew larger.


* Data and measures need to be improved to provide more complete assessments of two National Quality Strategy priorities, Care Coordination and Care Affordability, and of disparities among smaller groups, such as Native Hawaiians, people of multiple races, and people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.



The full report is available at


Nurses' Health Study 3

The Nurses' Health Studies are among the largest and longest running investigations of factors that influence women's health. Started in 1976 and expanded in 1989, the information provided by the 238,000 dedicated nurse participants has led to many new insights on health and disease.

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The Nurses' Health Study phase 3 is now enrolling both male and female nurses (registered nurses and licensed vocational/practical nurses) and nursing students between the ages of 19 and 46. The recruitment goal is 20,000 men and 100,000 women for this important health study. Spread the word! To join, visit


New NIH-Funded Memory Drug Moves Into Phase 1 Clinical Study

An experimental drug that may improve memory is now being tested in a Phase 1 safety trial. The compound, BPN14770, was developed by Tetra Discovery Partners, with support from the NIH Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Network, a program designed to facilitate the discovery and development of novel neurological treatments. It is the first compound funded by the program to reach a Phase 1 clinical trial. "We are pleased that BPN14770 has moved into a clinical study and we are eagerly awaiting the outcomes of the safety trial," said Amir Tamiz, PhD, program director at the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). The Phase 1 study is being funded by the NINDS and the NIH's National Institute on Aging.

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The compound is a first in class phosphodiesterase 4D negative allosteric modulator (PDE4D-NAM). PDE4D is an enzyme that plays a role in the formation of connections between brain cells. In addition, blocking PDE4D increases activity of cyclic adenosine monophosphate, a protein that enhances learning and memory. Rolipram is a different type of PDE4 inhibitor that has been shown to improve cognitive performance in mouse models of Alzheimer disease, stroke, and traumatic brain injury. Although rolipram has been effective in animal studies, it is not used clinically due to serious side effects. BPN14770 may be a possible treatment for dementia and Alzheimer disease with less potential for side effects than rolipram. The Phase 1 trial will test the safety and pharmacokinetics (what happens to the drug inside the body) of the compound in 48 healthy volunteers. If deemed safe, the next phase of testing will examine its effects on long-term memory and other aspects of cognition.