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1.  Unintended Consequences of Health Information Technology: Evidence From Veterans Affairs Colorectal Cancer Oncology Watch Intervention 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2012;30(32):3947-3952.
We evaluated the Colorectal Cancer (CRC) Oncology Watch intervention, a clinical reminder implemented in Veterans Integrated Service Network 7 (including eight hospitals) to improve CRC screening rates in 2008.
Patients and Methods
Veterans Affairs (VA) administrative data were used to construct four cross-sectional groups of veterans at average risk, age 50 to 64 years; one group was created for each of the following years: 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2010. We applied hospital fixed effects for estimation, using a difference-in-differences model in which the eight hospitals served as the intervention sites, and the other 121 hospitals served as controls, with 2006 to 2007 as the preintervention period and 2009 to 2010 as the postintervention period.
The sample included 4,352,082 veteran-years in the 4 years. The adherence rates were 37.6%, 31.6%, 34.4%, and 33.2% in the intervention sites in 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2010, respectively, and the corresponding rates in the controls were 31.0%, 30.3%, 32.3%, and 30.9%. Regression analysis showed that among those eligible for screening, the intervention was associated with a 2.2–percentage point decrease in likelihood of adherence (P < .001). Additional analyses showed that the intervention was associated with a 5.6–percentage point decrease in likelihood of screening colonoscopy among the adherent, but with increased total colonoscopies (all indicators) of 3.6 per 100 veterans age 50 to 64 years.
The intervention had little impact on CRC screening rates for the studied population. This absence of favorable impact may have been caused by an unintentional shift of limited VA colonoscopy capacity from average-risk screening to higher-risk screening and to CRC surveillance, or by physician fatigue resulting from the large number of clinical reminders implemented in the VA.
PMCID: PMC3488268  PMID: 23045582
2.  Underreporting of Hemorrhagic and Thrombotic Complications of Pharmaceuticals to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Empirical Findings for Warfarin, Clopidogrel, Ticlopidine, and Thalidomide from the Southern Network on Adverse Reactions (SONAR) 
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Adverse Event Reporting System (AERS), familiarly known as “MedWatch,” is the nation's primary tool for postmarket pharmaceutical safety surveillance. This system relies on adverse events voluntarily reported by health care providers and consumers either directly to the FDA or to drug manufacturers, which are required to prepare and forward the information to the agency. Little is known about how frequently adverse events are reported. Previous estimates range from 1 to 31% depending on the event, drug, and time period. We used published incidence studies to calculate reporting rates for hemorrhage, emergency hospitalization, and venous thromboembolism (VTE) associated with four drugs. We estimated annual reporting rates of 1.07% for 33,171 emergency hospitalizations of patients older than 65 years associated with warfarin, 0.9% for 13,363 hospitalizations of clopidogrel and ticlopidine, and 1.02% for an estimated 67,200 hemorrhage cases associated with warfarin. We also estimated a 9-year reporting rate of 2.3% for VTE associated with thalidomide. The incidence of these hematologic adverse drug events is high and reporting rates are low, and near the lower boundary of the 1 to 15% range seen for other events.
PMCID: PMC3947536  PMID: 23086541
U.S. Food and Drug Administration; adverse drug events; hemorrhage; venous thromboembolism; warfarin; thalidomide; clopidogrel; ticlopidine
3.  A Review of Safety, Efficacy, and Utilization of Erythropoietin, Darbepoetin, and Peginesatide for Patients with Cancer or Chronic Kidney Disease: A Report from the Southern Network on Adverse Reactions (SONAR) 
The erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) erythropoietin and darbepoetin prevent transfusions among chemotherapy-associated anemia patients. Clinical trials, meta-analyses, and guidelines identify mortality, tumor progression, and venous thromboembolism (VTE) risks with ESA administration in this setting. Product labels advise against administering ESAs with potentially curative chemotherapy (United States) or to conduct risk–benefit assessments (Europe/Canada). Since 2007, fewer chemotherapy-associated anemia patients in the United States and Europe receive ESAs. ESAs and the erythropoietin receptor agonist peginesatide prevent transfusions among chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients; clinical trials, guidelines, and meta-analyses demonstrate myocardial infarction, stroke, VTE, or mortality risks with ESAs targeting high hemoglobin levels. U.S. labels recommend administering ESAs or peginesatide at doses sufficient to prevent transfusions among dialysis CKD patients. For dialysis CKD patients, Canadian and European labels recommend targeting hemoglobin levels of 10 to 12 g/dL and 11 to 12 g/dL, respectively, with ESAs. ESA utilization for dialysis CKD patients has decreased in the United States.
PMCID: PMC3947540  PMID: 23111861
darbepoetin; epoetin; erythropoiesis-stimulating agents; peginesatide
4.  Colony-Stimulating Factors for Febrile Neutropenia during Cancer Therapy 
The New England journal of medicine  2013;368(12):1131-1139.
A 55-year-old, previously healthy woman received a diagnosis of diffuse large-B-cell lymphoma after the evaluation of an enlarged left axillary lymph node obtained on biopsy. She had been asymptomatic except for the presence of enlarged axillary lymph nodes, which she had found while bathing. She was referred to an oncologist, who performed a staging evaluation. A complete blood count and test results for liver and renal function and serum lactate dehydrogenase were normal. Positron-emission tomography and computed tomography (PET–CT) identified enlarged lymph nodes with abnormal uptake in the left axilla, mediastinum, and retroperitoneum. Results on bone marrow biopsy were normal. The patient’s oncologist recommends treatment with six cycles of cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone with rituximab (CHOP-R) at 21-day intervals. Is the administration of prophylactic granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) with the first cycle of chemotherapy indicated?
PMCID: PMC3947590  PMID: 23514290
5.  Linking Drugs to Obscure Illnesses: Lessons from Pure Red Cell Aplasia, Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis, and Reye’s Syndrome. A Report From the Southern Network on Adverse Reactions (SONAR) 
Journal of General Internal Medicine  2012;27(12):1697-1703.
Identification of serious adverse drug reactions (sADRS) associated with commonly used drugs can elude detection for years. Reye’s syndrome (RS), nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF), and pure red cell aplasia (PRCA) among chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients were recognized in 1951, 2000, and 1998, respectively. Reports associating these syndromes with aspirin, gadodiamide, and epoetin, were published 29, 6, and 4 years later, respectively. We obtained primary information from clinicians who identified causes of these sADRs and reviewed factors contributing to delayed identification of these toxicities. Overall, 3,500 aspirin-associated RS cases in the United States, 1,605 gadolinium-associated NSF cases, and 181 epoetin-associated PRCA cases were reported. Delays in FDA regulation of over-the- counter medications and administration of aspirin to children contributed to development of RS. For NSF, in 1996, the Danish Medicine Agency approved high-dose gadodiamide administration to chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients undergoing MR scans. Overall, 88 % of Danish NSF cases were from two hospitals and 97 % of United States’ NSF cases were from 60 hospitals. These hospitals frequently administered high-doses of gadodiamide to CKD patients. Another factor was the decision to administer linear chelated contrast agents versus lower risk macrocyclic chelated agents. For PRCA, increased use of subcutaneous epoetin formulations to CKD patients, in part due to convenience and cost-savings considerations, and a European regulatory requirement requiring removal of albumin as a stabilizer, led to toxicity. Overall, 81, 13, and 17 years elapsed between drug introduction into practice and identification of a causal relationship for aspirin, erythropoietin, and gadodiamide, respectively. A substantial decline in new cases of these sADRs occurred within two years of identification of the offending drug. Clinicians should be vigilant for sADRs, even for frequently-prescribed pharmaceuticals, particularly in settings where formulation or regulatory changes have occurred, or when over-the-counter, off-label, or pediatric use is common.
PMCID: PMC3509314  PMID: 22692632
pure red cell aplasia; nephrogenic systemic fibrosis; Reye’s syndrome
7.  Cost-Effectiveness Comparison of Response Strategies to a Large-Scale Anthrax Attack on the Chicago Metropolitan Area: Impact of Timing and Surge Capacity 
Rapid public health response to a large-scale anthrax attack would reduce overall morbidity and mortality. However, there is uncertainty about the optimal cost-effective response strategy based on timing of intervention, public health resources, and critical care facilities. We conducted a decision analytic study to compare response strategies to a theoretical large-scale anthrax attack on the Chicago metropolitan area beginning either Day 2 or Day 5 after the attack. These strategies correspond to the policy options set forth by the Anthrax Modeling Working Group for population-wide responses to a large-scale anthrax attack: (1) postattack antibiotic prophylaxis, (2) postattack antibiotic prophylaxis and vaccination, (3) preattack vaccination with postattack antibiotic prophylaxis, and (4) preattack vaccination with postattack antibiotic prophylaxis and vaccination. Outcomes were measured in costs, lives saved, quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs), and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs). We estimated that postattack antibiotic prophylaxis of all 1,390,000 anthrax-exposed people beginning on Day 2 after attack would result in 205,835 infected victims, 35,049 fulminant victims, and 28,612 deaths. Only 6,437 (18.5%) of the fulminant victims could be saved with the existing critical care facilities in the Chicago metropolitan area. Mortality would increase to 69,136 if the response strategy began on Day 5. Including postattack vaccination with antibiotic prophylaxis of all exposed people reduces mortality and is cost-effective for both Day 2 (ICER=$182/QALY) and Day 5 (ICER=$1,088/QALY) response strategies. Increasing ICU bed availability significantly reduces mortality for all response strategies. We conclude that postattack antibiotic prophylaxis and vaccination of all exposed people is the optimal cost-effective response strategy for a large-scale anthrax attack. Our findings support the US government's plan to provide antibiotic prophylaxis and vaccination for all exposed people within 48 hours of the recognition of a large-scale anthrax attack. Future policies should consider expanding critical care capacity to allow for the rescue of more victims.
Rapid public health response to a large-scale anthrax attack would reduce overall morbidity and mortality, but what is the optimal cost-effective response strategy for timing of intervention, public health resources, and critical care facilities? Using a hypothetical large-scale anthrax attack on the Chicago metropolitan area, this study compared response strategies that would begin either 2 days or 5 days after the attack and would consist of administering prophylaxis and vaccine in various combinations. The findings support the government's plan to provide antibiotic prophylaxis and vaccination for all exposed people within 48 hours of the recognition of a large-scale anthrax attack.
PMCID: PMC3440066  PMID: 22845046
9.  Amiodarone-Associated Optic Neuropathy: A Critical Review 
The American Journal of Medicine  2012;125(5):447-453.
Although amiodarone is the most commonly prescribed antiarrhythmic drug, its use is limited by serious toxicities, including optic neuropathy. Current reports of amiodarone associated optic neuropathy identified from the Food and Drug Administration's Adverse Event Reporting System (FDA-AERS) and published case reports were reviewed. A total of 296 reports were identified: 214 from AERS, 59 from published case reports, and 23 from adverse events reports for patients enrolled in clinical trials. Mean duration of amiodarone therapy before vision loss was 9 months (range 1-84 months). Insidious onset of amiodarone associated optic neuropathy (44%) was the most common presentation, and nearly one-third were asymptomatic. Optic disc edema was present in 85% of cases. Following drug cessation, 58% had improved visual acuity, 21% were unchanged, and 21% had further decreased visual acuity. Legal blindness (< 20/200) was noted in at least one eye in 20% of cases. Close ophthalmologic surveillance of patients during the tenure of amiodarone administration is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3322295  PMID: 22385784
amiodarone; vision loss; optic neuropathy
10.  Gadolinium-induced nephrogenic systemic fibrosis: the rise and fall of an iatrogenic disease 
Clinical Kidney Journal  2012;5(1):82-88.
In 2006, nephrologists in Denmark unexpectedly identified chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients with a new syndrome, nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF). Subsequently, 1603 NSF patients were reported to the Food and Drug Administration. Sixty hospitals in the USA account for 93% of these cases, and two hospitals in Denmark account for 4% of these reports. We review Denmark’s identification and subsequent rapid eradication of NSF.
NSF reports from clinicians, the Danish Medicines Agency (DMA) and gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs) manufacturers were reviewed (2002–11).
In 1994, the DMA approved a non-ionic linear GBCA, gadodiamide (0.1 mmol/kg), for magnetic resonance imagings (MRIs), with a renal insufficiency contraindication. In 1996, 0.3 mmol/kg dosing received DMA approval. In 1998, the DMA removed renal contraindications. In 1997 and 2002, radiologists at Skejby Hospital and Herlev Hospital, respectively, began performing gadodiamide-enhanced magnetic resonance angiography scans (0.3 mmol/kg) of CKD patients. In 2005, Herlev clinicians requested assistance in evaluating etiological causes of NSF occurring among 10 CKD patients who had developed NSF. This investigation, focusing on infectious agents, was inconclusive. In 2006, Herlev clinicians reported that of 108 CKD patients who had received gadodiamide-enhanced MRI, 20 had developed probable NSF. Herlev radiologists voluntarily discontinued administering gadodiamide to all patients and no new NSF cases at Herlev Hospital developed subsequently. After meeting with Herlev radiologists, Skejby radiologists also discontinued administering gadodiamide to all patients. In 2007, the European Medicines Agency and the DMA contraindicated gadodiamide administration to CKD patients. In 2008, in response to these advisories, radiologists at the other 36 Danish hospitals discontinued administering gadodiamide to all patients, following on practices adopted at Skejby and Herlev Hospitals. In 2009, clinicians at Skejby Hospital reported that a look-back survey identified 33 CKD patients with NSF developing after undergoing GBCA-enhanced MRIs between 1999 and 2007. In 2010, an independent review, commissioned by the Minister of Health, concluded that the DMA had erred in rescinding gadodiamide’s renal insufficiency contraindication in 1998 and that this error was a key factor in the development of NSF in Denmark. In 2011, three NSF cases associated with macrocyclic GBCA-associated NSF and three NSF patients with Stages 3 and 4 CKD disease from Skejby Hospital were reported.
A confluence of factors led to the development and eradication of NSF in Denmark.
PMCID: PMC3341839  PMID: 22833806
chronic kidney disease; gadodiamide; gadolinium; magnetic resonance angiography; nephrogenic systemic fibrosis
11.  Cancer patients’ use of pharmaceutical patient assistance programs in the outpatient pharmacy at a large tertiary cancer center 
Community oncology  2012;8(6):279-286.
To report on the use of pharmaceutical patient assistance programs (PAPs) in the outpatient pharmacy at the largest tertiary cancer center in the United States.
We conducted a retrospective (July 1, 2006–Dec 31,2007) cross-sectional analysis of outpatient pharmacy, medical, and cancer registry records at the cancer center. The cancer center identified 104 medications available through PAPs. Study-eligible patients received at least one of these medications, either as a PAP case patient or as a PAP control non-user. Binary logit regression models predicted PAP use, and descriptive statistics compared PAP user and non-user medication fills.
Of 25,552 cancer patients at who received an outpatient medication during the study period, 1,929 met study criteria (n=950 PAP users, 979 PAP non-users). In comparison to controls, PAP users were more likely to be uninsured (odds ratio (OR)=4.60, 95% confidence interval (CI): 2.118, 9.970), indigent (OR=16.95, 95% CI: 6.845, 41.960), and < 65 years old (OR=2.31, 95% CI: 1.517, 3.509). Of the most frequently dispensed medications to PAP users from PAPs (n=5,271), 88% (n=4,936) were for supportive care (e.g., nausea/vomiting). PAPs provided 35% (n=842) of the most common anticancer agents administered to PAP users (n=1,296), accounting for a monthly mean of $55,000 in pharmaceutical expenditures.
In the cancer center’s outpatient pharmacy, PAPs provided financial support for about a third of the most commonly used therapies, primarily for supportive care indications, for a small percentage of eligible cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC3413301  PMID: 22879815
cancer; supportive care; medication assistance; anticancer agents; outpatient pharmacy
12.  Acquired Idiopathic ADAMTS13 Activity Deficient Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura in a Population from Japan 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33029.
Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) is a type of thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA). Studies report that the majority of TTP patients present with a deficiency of ADAMTS13 activity. In a database of TMA patients in Japan identified between 1998 and 2008, 186 patients with first onset of acquired idiopathic (ai) ADAMTS13-deficient TTP (ADAMTS13 activity <5%) were diagnosed. The median age of onset of TTP in this group of patients was 54 years, 54.8% were female, 75.8% had renal involvement, 79.0% had neurologic symptoms, and 97.8% had detectable inhibitors to ADAMTS13 activity. Younger patients were less likely to present with renal or neurologic dysfunction (p<0.01), while older patients were more likely to die during the TTP hospitalization (p<0.05). Findings from this cohort in Japan differ from those reported previously from the United States, Europe, and Korea with respect to age at onset (two decades younger in the other cohort) and gender composition (60% to 100% female in the other cohort). We conclude that in one of the largest cohorts of ai-TTP with severe deficiency of ADAMTS13 activity reported to date, demographic characteristics differ in Japanese patients relative to those reported from a large Caucasian registry from Western societies. Additional studies exploring these findings are needed.
PMCID: PMC3299727  PMID: 22427934
13.  Quality of Reporting of Serious Adverse Drug Events to an Institutional Review Board 
Clinical Cancer Research  2009;15(11):3850-3855.
Serious adverse drug event (sADE) reporting to Institutional Review Boards (IRB) is essential to ensure pharmaceutical safety. However, the quality of these reports has not been studied. Safety reports are especially important for cancer drugs that receive accelerated Food and Drug Administration approval, like imatinib, as preapproval experience with these drugs is limited. We evaluated the quality, accuracy, and completeness of sADE reports submitted to an IRB.
Experimental Design
sADE reports submitted to an IRB from 14 clinical trials with imatinib were reviewed. Structured case report forms, containing detailed clinical data fields and a validated causality assessment instrument, were developed. Two forms were generated for each ADE, the first populated with data abstracted from the IRB reports, and the second populated with data from the corresponding clinical record. Completeness and causality assessments were evaluated for each of the two sources, and then compared. Accuracy (concordance between sources) was also assessed.
Of 115 sADEs reported for 177 cancer patients to the IRB, overall completeness of adverse event descriptions was 2.4-fold greater for structured case report forms populated with information from the clinical record versus the corresponding forms from IRB reports (95.0% versus 40.3%, P < 0.05). Information supporting causality assessments was recorded 3.5-fold more often in primary data sources versus IRB adverse event descriptions (93% versus 26%, P < 0.05). Some key clinical information was discrepant between the two sources.
The use of structured syndrome-specific case report forms could enhance the quality of reporting to IRBs, thereby improving the safety of pharmaceuticals administered to cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC3296235  PMID: 19458059
14.  Intersecting Guidelines: Administering Erythropoiesis-Stimulating Agents to Chronic Kidney Disease Patients with Cancer 
Seminars in Dialysis  2008;22(1):1-4.
There has been a dramatic sea change in the use of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) for anemic persons with chronic kidney disease (CKD) or cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. An important area that has not been addressed previously is a CKD patient who also has a malignancy. Clinical guidelines exist that outline recommended treatments for each disease, but the intersection of the two disease processes presents difficult decisions for patients and physicians. Herein, we review the background underlying recent revisions in clinical alerts and guidelines for ESAs, and provide guidance for treating anemia among CKD patients who are receiving no therapy, chemotherapy with curative intent, or chemotherapy with palliative intent. The guiding principle is that comprehensive assessment of risks and benefits in the relevant clinical setting is imperative.
PMCID: PMC3296236  PMID: 19175532
15.  Proxy Assessment of Health-Related Quality of Life in African American and White Respondents With Prostate Cancer 
Medical care  2009;47(2):176-183.
An emerging issue in the proxy literature is whether specifying different proxy viewpoints contributes to different health-related quality of life (HRQL) assessments, and if so, how might each perspective be informative in medical decision making. The aims of this study were to determine if informal caregiver assessments of patients with prostate cancer differed when prompted from both the patient perspective (proxy-patient) and their own viewpoint (proxy-proxy), and to identify factors associated with differences in proxy perspectives (ie, the intraproxy gap).
Research Design and Methods
Using a cross-sectional design, prostate cancer patients and their informal caregivers were recruited from urology clinics in the Jesse Brown Veterans Affairs Healthcare System in Chicago. Dyads assessed HRQL using the EQ-5D visual analog scale (VAS) and EORTC QLQ-C30.
Of 87 dyads, most caregivers were female (83%) and were spouses/partners (58%). Mean difference scores between proxy-patient and proxy-proxy perspectives were statistically significant for QLQ-C30 physical and emotional functioning, and VAS (all P < 0.05), with the proxy-patient perspective closer to patient self-report. Emotional functioning had the largest difference, mean 6.0 (SD 12.8), an effect size = 0.47. Factors weakly correlated with the intraproxy gap included relationship (spouse) and proxy gender for role functioning, and health literacy (limited/functional) for physical functioning (all P < 0.05, 0.20 < r < 0.35).
Meaningful differences between proxy-patient and proxy-proxy perspectives on mental health were consistent with a conceptual framework for understanding proxy perspectives. Prompting different proxy viewpoints on patient health could help clinicians identify patients who may benefit from clinical intervention.
PMCID: PMC3215256  PMID: 19169118
quality of life; proxy; prostate cancer; Veterans
16.  Two Mechanistic Pathways for Thienopyridine-Associated Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura 
We sought to describe clinical and laboratory findings for a large cohort of patients with thienopyridine-associated thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP).
The thienopyridine derivatives, ticlopidine and clopidogrel, are the 2 most common drugs associated with TTP in databases maintained by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Clinical reports of TTP associated with clopidogrel and ticlopidine were identified from medical records, published case reports, and FDA case reports (n = 128). Duration of thienopyridine exposure, clinical and laboratory findings, and survival were recorded. ADAMTS13 activity (n = 39) and inhibitor (n = 30) were measured for a subset of individuals.
Compared with clopidogrel-associated TTP cases (n = 35), ticlopidine-associated TTP cases (n = 93) were more likely to have received more than 2 weeks of drug (90% vs. 26%), to be severely thrombocytopenic (84% vs. 60%), and to have normal renal function (72% vs. 45%) (p < 0.01 for each). Compared with TTP patients with ADAMTS13 activity >15% (n = 13), TTP patients with severely deficient ADAMTS13 activity (n = 26) were more likely to have received ticlopidine (92.3% vs. 46.2%, p < 0.003). Among patients who developed TTP >2 weeks after thienopyridine, therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE) increased likelihood of survival (84% vs. 38%, p < 0.05). Among patients who developed TTP within 2 weeks of starting thienopyridines, survival was 77% with TPE and 78% without.
Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura is a rare complication of thienopyridine treatment. This drug toxicity appears to occur by 2 different mechanistic pathways, characterized primarily by time of onset before versus after 2 weeks of thienopyridine administration. If TTP occurs after 2 weeks of ticlopidine or clopidogrel therapy, therapeutic plasma exchange must be promptly instituted to enhance likelihood of survival.
PMCID: PMC3167088  PMID: 17868804
17.  Surgery and Adjuvant Chemotherapy Use Among Veterans With Colon Cancer: Insights From a California Study 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2010;28(15):2571-2576.
US veterans have been shown to be a vulnerable population with high cancer rates, and cancer care quality in Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals is the focus of a congressionally mandated review. We examined rates of surgery and chemotherapy use among veterans with colon cancer at VA and non-VA facilities in California to gain insight into factors associated with quality of cancer care.
A retrospective cohort of incident colon cancer patients from the California Cancer Registry, who were ≥ 66 years old and eligible to use VA and Medicare between 1999 and 2001, were observed for 6 months after diagnosis.
Among 601 veterans with colon cancer, 72% were initially diagnosed and treated in non-VA facilities. Among veterans with stage I to III cancer, those diagnosed and initially treated in VA facilities experienced similar colectomy rates as those at non-VA facilities. Stage III patients diagnosed and initially treated in VA versus non-VA facilities had similar odds of receiving adjuvant chemotherapy. In both settings, older patients had lower odds of receiving chemotherapy than their younger counterparts even when race and comorbidity were considered (age 76 to 85 years: odds ratio [OR] = 0.18; 95% CI, 0.07 to 0.46; age ≥ 86 years: OR = 0.17; 95% CI, 0.04 to 0.73).
In California, older veterans with colon cancer used both VA and non-VA facilities for cancer treatment, and odds of receiving cancer-directed surgery and chemotherapy were similar in both systems. Among stage III patients, older age lowered odds of receiving adjuvant chemotherapy in both systems. Further studies should continue to explore potential health system effects on quality of colon cancer care across the United States.
PMCID: PMC2881731  PMID: 20406940
19.  Costs and Cost Effectiveness of a Health Care Provider–Directed Intervention to Promote Colorectal Cancer Screening 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2009;27(32):5370-5375.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) screening remains underutilized in the United States. Prior studies reporting the cost effectiveness of randomized interventions to improve CRC screening have not been replicated in the setting of small physician practices. We recently conducted a randomized trial evaluating an academic detailing intervention in 264 small practices in geographically diverse New York City communities. The objective of this secondary analysis is to assess the cost effectiveness of this intervention.
A total of 264 physician offices were randomly assigned to usual care or to a series of visits from trained physician educators. CRC screening rates were measured at baseline and 12 months. The intervention costs were measured and the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) was derived. Sensitivity analyses were based on varying cost and effectiveness estimates.
Academic detailing was associated with a 7% increase in CRC screening with colonoscopy. The total intervention cost was $147,865, and the ICER was $21,124 per percentage point increase in CRC screening rate. Sensitivity analyses that varied the costs of the intervention and the average medical practice size were associated with ICERs ranging from $13,631 to $36,109 per percentage point increase in CRC screening rates.
A comprehensive, multicomponent academic detailing intervention conducted in small practices in metropolitan New York was clinically effective in improving CRC screening rates, but was not cost effective.
PMCID: PMC2773222  PMID: 19826133
20.  Evaluation of a Potential Clinical Interaction between Ceftriaxone and Calcium▿  
In April 2009, the FDA retracted a warning asserting that ceftriaxone and intravenous calcium products should not be coadministered to any patient to prevent precipitation events leading to end-organ damage. Following that announcement, we sought to evaluate if the retraction was justified. A search of the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System was conducted to identify any ceftriaxone-calcium interactions that resulted in serious adverse drug events. Ceftazidime-calcium was used as a comparator agent. One hundred four events with ceftriaxone-calcium and 99 events with ceftazidime-calcium were identified. Adverse drug events were recorded according to the listed description of drug involvement (primary or secondary suspect) and were interpreted as probable, possible, unlikely, or unrelated. For ceftriaxone-calcium-related adverse events, 7.7% and 20.2% of the events were classified as probable and possible for embolism, respectively. Ceftazidime-calcium resulted in fewer probable embolic events (4%) but more possible embolic events (30.3%). Among cases that considered ceftriaxone or ceftazidime and calcium as the primary or secondary drug, one case was classified as a probable embolic event. That patient received ceftriaxone-calcium and died, although an attribution of causality was not possible. Our analysis suggests a lack of support for the occurrence of ceftriaxone-calcium precipitation events in adults. The results of the current analysis reinforce the revised FDA recommendations suggesting that patients >28 days old may receive ceftriaxone and calcium sequentially and provide a transparent and reproducible methodology for such evaluations.
PMCID: PMC2849391  PMID: 20086152
21.  Czech health two decades on from the Velvet Revolution 
Lancet  2009;375(9710):179-181.
PMCID: PMC2925692  PMID: 19913289
22.  A Health Services Research Agenda for Cellular, Molecular and Genomic Technologies in Cancer Care 
Public Health Genomics  2009;12(4):233-244.
In recent decades, extensive resources have been invested to develop cellular, molecular and genomic technologies with clinical applications that span the continuum of cancer care.
In December 2006, the National Cancer Institute sponsored the first workshop to uniquely examine the state of health services research on cancer-related cellular, molecular and genomic technologies and identify challenges and priorities for expanding the evidence base on their effectiveness in routine care.
This article summarizes the workshop outcomes, which included development of a comprehensive research agenda that incorporates health and safety endpoints, utilization patterns, patient and provider preferences, quality of care and access, disparities, economics and decision modeling, trends in cancer outcomes, and health-related quality of life among target populations.
Ultimately, the successful adoption of useful technologies will depend on understanding and influencing the patient, provider, health care system and societal factors that contribute to their uptake and effectiveness in ‘real-world’ settings.
PMCID: PMC2844634  PMID: 19367091
Genomics; Health services research; Emerging technologies; Translational research
23.  Beyond the black box: drug- and device-associated hypersensitivity events 
Drug- and device-associated hypersensitivity reactions are serious toxicities that can result in respiratory failure or acute cardiac ischemic events, or even severe hypersensitivity syndromes such as Stevens–Johnson syndrome. These toxicities are usually poorly described in the “black box” warnings section of the product labels.
Adverse event reports contained in databases maintained by the Project on Medical Research on Adverse Drug Events and Reports (Med-RADAR), product labels, safety advisories disseminated by pharmaceutical manufacturers, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were reviewed.
Adverse event reports identified three health care workers who developed nevirapine-associated Stevens–Johnson syndrome following occupational exposure to HIV-infected blood or blood products; four persons with localized hypersensitivity and fatal cardiac events associated with rapamycin- or paclitaxel-coated coronary artery stent placements; and six persons with breast cancer who developed severe or fatal anaphylaxis after receiving adjuvant chemotherapy with Cremophor-EL containing paclitaxel. Safety advisories from the FDA, CDC, and the relevant pharmaceutical manufacturers were ambiguous in their description in “black box” warning sections of package inserts describing these serious and potentially fatal toxicities.
Improvements are needed in pharmacovigilance and subsequent dissemination of safety advisories for drug/device-associated hypersensitivity reactions.
PMCID: PMC3108706  PMID: 21701613
adverse events; hypersensivity; toxicity; drug
25.  Gadolinium–associated nephrogenic systemic fibrosis 
Community oncology  2008;5(6):325-326.
The authors explain why physicians should refrain from ordering MRIs for patients with renal dysfunction unless the test is essential to provide diagnostic information. A possibly class-wide toxicity from the contrast agent gadolinium has been reported.
PMCID: PMC2777717  PMID: 19920874

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