Family Medicine in the News

Richard D. Blondell, MD, professor of family medicine and vice chair of addiction medicine, is interviewed about a letter in the journal Pain Medicine that urges U.S. policymakers to develop guidelines for tapering patients off opioids that are not “aggressive and unrealistic”. "Whether it's a fast taper or a slow taper, the big question is -- well, what do you do after that?" he said. "What we really need is better science, not more politics . . . In my experience, when you have global recommendations based on expert opinions and you try to apply those to individual patients at individual clinics there's a lot that gets lost in translation."
An article in reports the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences will use a $600,000 grant from the New York State Department of Health to support the expansion of primary care residency and medical student training in ambulatory settings throughout Western New York. Interviewed is Andrew B. Symons, MD, clinical associate professor of family medicine and vice chair for medical student education in the Department of Family Medicine. “All of the focus is really concentrating on promoting primary care in underserved areas,” Symons said.
Everyday Health quotes Richard D. Blondell, MD, professor of family medicine and vice chair of addiction medicine, about a recent decline in the number of opioid overdose deaths in the United States. “It’s a little light at the end of the tunnel. We know that fewer people are dying of drug overdoses but what we don’t know is why,” said Blondell, an opioid addiction expert.
Richard D. Blondell, MD, professor of family medicine and vice chair of addiction medicine, was interviewed about legalizing marijuana and what it could mean for employers and drug testing. Blondell said that just because marijuana may become legal in New York State doesn’t mean that people won’t face repercussions in the workplace for using it. "We're now in new territory, we haven't thought through what we are going to do so employers are going to have to make up policies as they go along," he said. "So it's still illegal federally and it's not legal in every state. So let's just say you're an employer and you run a trucking business, and your trucks now go across state lines. what kind of policies are you going to have for your drivers."
A special issue of Buffalo Magazine focusing on the opioid epidemic includes interviews with local experts about the future of the crisis, among them, Richard D. Blondell, MD, professor of family medicine and vice chair of addiction medicine, who said the most critical issue in the local opioid crisis is the over-prescription of opioid medications. “Physicians and other clinicians now prescribe three to four times more opioids than they did 20 years ago. There is a direct correlation between the level of prescriptions with the number of opioid overdose deaths and with admissions to drug addiction treatment programs,” he said. An additional article about the locations of medication drop boxes in Erie County includes Bissell Hall on the UB North Campus.
An article about the financial toll of the U.S. opioid epidemic, which has cost the country more than $1 trillion since 2001, interviews Richard D. Blondell, MD, professor of family medicine and vice chair of addiction medicine. “Prescription drugs are gateway drugs to heroin,” he said. “Doctors and other physicians inadvertently prescribe their patients into addiction, but when they stop the prescriptions, patients turn to the illicit market for their drugs. As such, these prescribers make things worse by converting a licit drug problem into an illicit problem.”
An article about the singer Demi Lovato, who was hospitalized recently for an apparent drug overdose, and the enduring struggle of addiction and relapse, interviews Richard D. Blondell, MD, professor of family medicine and vice chair of addiction medicine, who said a number of risk factors make relapses perilous, but the major culprit is often losing tolerance. “When a relapse occurs, someone may take a dose that they think is going to be effective — and it may even be half of what they were taking before — but because they’ve lost their tolerance, those tend to be lethal,” he said.
A story reports UB has received a $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to help doctors translate proven medical research into patient care, and interviews Ranjit Singh, MB BChir, MBA, associate professor of family medicine. “Clinical trials demonstrate that the drug works,” he said. “Our job once they have discovered that it can work under ideal conditions with specific types of patients, is to figure out how to get practicing physicians out in the real world to use this drug to help their patients.”
A new UB study has shown that an at-home cognitive therapy that requires little contact with a medical specialist appears to relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome as well or better than traditional therapy. “Our research shows that patients can learn ways to recalibrate these brain-gut interactions in a way that brings them significant symptom improvement that has eluded them through medical treatments,” said Jeffrey M. Lackner, PsyD, professor of medicine in the Division of Behavioral Medicine and director of the Behavioral Medicine Clinic.
“12 Voices in 12 Hours,” a daylong broadcast on WBEN-AM focusing on the opioid epidemic, interviews Richard D. Blondell, MD, professor of family medicine and vice chair of addiction medicine. “I think the crisis has been getting worse. It’s not getting as bad as quickly, but I don’t think we’ve turned the corner at all,” he said.
A story about a new study that analyzes the costs of treating torture victims and the economic advantages of helping suffering refugees recover interviews Kim Griswold, MD, MPH, associate professor of family medicine and medical director of the Center for Survivors of Torture, who said the value of hosting refugees is supported by hard data. “Rehab after torture often allows individuals to enter the workforce, contribute to local economies and incur less health care costs over time,” she said.
Richard D. Blondell, MD, professor of family medicine and vice chair of addiction medicine talks about the availability of medication-assisted treatment for people dealing with opioid and other chemical dependency issues and whether there are enough qualified physicians to treat them. “Right now, the physician workforce is the limiting step,” he said. “It’s relatively easy to build buildings and make more beds, and relatively easy to hire nurses to staff them. But a lot of agencies in Western New York are hamstrung in their ability to provide enhanced services by the lack of physician resources.”
A section called “Meet Your Doctor” in the magazine In Good Health interviews David M. Holmes, MD, clinical associate professor of family medicine and director of global health education, about the relationship between spirituality and health. He discussed the sensitive nature of bringing faith up with patients. “I mean, we’re trained to ask all kinds of personal questions about a person’s sexual history, but for some reason when it comes to someone’s spiritual history, it’s kind of taboo. But now there’s some movement in medical schools to train physicians to take a student’s spiritual history. It’s just a few simple questions that can give you a quick idea of where the patient is at.”
Richard D. Blondell, MD, professor of family medicine and vice chair of addiction medicine, talks about a new marijuana-based drug to help children battling severe forms of epilepsy that is one step closer to FDA approval. Blondell is hopeful that after 40 years of testing the FDA will approve a cannabis-based oil to treat two rare forms of the disease. "What we really need to do is reclassify marijuana and turn the drug companies loose on it so they can begin to isolate these chemicals, study it and find drugs that might help with chronic pain, depression, sleep disorders, seizures, but I think we need to do it in a measured, scientific, medical way, and not some, on a political whim," he said.
A report on research by Jessica A. Kulak, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in the Primary Care Research Institute housed in the Department of Family Medicine, shows that public health officials may need to consider broadening their tobacco prevention efforts beyond traditional cigarettes to include hookah use. “It may be the case that hookah appeals to youths and young adults who really do not experiment with nicotine products overall because of the perception that hookah is ‘safer’ or that it does not contain nicotine,” Kulak said.