The Week in Review: November 14-18

From the cardiac adverse effects of lithium to the road to over-the-counter naloxone, here are highlights from the week in Psychiatric Times.

This week, Psychiatric TimesTM covered a wide variety of psychiatric issues and industry updates, from the cardiac adverse effects of lithium to the road to over-the-counter naloxone. Here are some highlights from the week.

Harnessing the Power of AI Technology for Drug Discovery Treatments

The buzz about the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to either save or doom humanity is rather deafening. A way to explain what people mean by AI is that it comprises the technologies we employ to have computers comb through large datasets using programs (“algorithms”) to find and extract patterns, help humans understand those patterns, suggest decisions regarding future choices, and predict future events or suggest outcomes not previously conceived.

Although some expect AI to mimic human intelligence, some AI systems show performance superior to that of humans (eg, AlphaGo). On the other hand, unlike humans, most AI systems need considerable data and training to achieve acceptable performance (eg, we only need to taste strawberries once to know if we like them or not). Continue Reading

The Road to Over-the-Counter Naloxone: FDA Releases Federal Register Notice

To encourage sponsor application for over-the counter naloxone, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today issued a Federal Register notice, “Safety and Effectiveness of Certain Naloxone Hydrochloride Drug Products for Nonprescription Use,” that could help facilitate the development and potential approval of nonprescription naloxone drugs.

“Today’s action supports our efforts to combat the opioid overdose crisis by helping expand access to naloxone,” said FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, MD. “The agency will keep overdose prevention and reduction in substance use disorders as a key priority and area of intense strategic focus for action as rapidly as possible.” Continue Reading

Lithium: Cardiac Adverse Effects and When to Get an ECG

A recent consultation motivated an evaluation of the evidence on when one should monitor electrocardiograms (ECGs) in patients taking lithium. Opinions vary and tend to be vague about when and how often to measure the ECG. Mogens Schou, MD, who was perhaps the world’s foremost expert on lithium and a passionate advocate for its use, observed that lithium occasionally changes the function or electrical activity of the heart, but the presence of heart disease rarely should prevent lithium treatment. 

If heart disease was present, however, he recommended a consultation with a cardiologist and serial ECGs might be considered. Much more recently, The Maudsley Prescribing Guidelines in Psychiatry from the United Kingdom recommended getting an ECG if there are risk factors for, or preexisting, cardiac disease—but offered no further details. Continue Reading

The Race Is On to Nurture Resilient People for a Resilient Planet

The scale and devastation of climate change is increasingly apparent. As we witness tenuous and inadequate movement toward effective responses, one thing is clear: People are also falling apart, in addition to the places where they live. The rapidly growing human emotional suffering from climate change is alarming from more than a humanitarian perspective: Social and emotional bandwidth is vital to tackle climate change itself.

People must adapt, care, endure, transform, and find hope through these challenges if we are to humanely and effectively make it through at all. The emotional and social challenges of these tasks—our psychiatric work—have been a neglected part of climate efforts. Continue Reading

See more recent coverage from Psychiatric TimesTM here. And be sure to stay up-to-date by subscribing to the Psychiatric TimesTM E-newsletter.

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