Date Published: 13 November 2006

AMA policies on mercury pollution, hormone compounds and smoke-free meetings

Health News from the United States of America (USA).

The following new policies were adopted today at the American Medical Association's (AMA) semi-annual policy-making meeting. The AMA policy-making meetings bring together physician-leaders from state and specialty medical societies to help shape the voice of medicine.

Mercury pollution:
The AMA voted today to strengthen its mercury pollution policy because of the global public health threat mercury causes in the environment. This new policy calls on the U.S. to take a leadership role at both the state and federal level to reduce national and global mercury emissions. Industrial and manufacturing processes account for more than half of the annual global mercury burden. The new policy also recognizes that the trading of air pollutants is potentially harmful for vulnerable populations, and that the Clear Air Mercury Rule is inconsistent with the AMA's health protective approach to air pollution.

" More must be done to address the global public health threat of mercury emissions," said AMA Board Member Ardis Hoven, MD.

" As physicians, we call on the U.S. government to take a greater leadership role to reduce harmful mercury emissions. We also encourage manufacturers to reduce mercury use wherever possible, to take advantage of available and emerging technology to reduce mercury emissions, and to better track mercury's current use."

FDA oversight needed for hormone compounds:
The AMA adopted new policy today to help patients and physicians become more aware of the safety and efficacy of "bioidentical hormone" compounds often used by patients in place of FDA-approved hormone preparations for replacement therapy. There is concern that patients are receiving potentially misleading or flawed information about custom-compounded bioidentical hormones, as post-market surveys have found inconsistencies in dosage and quality. The new AMA policy calls on the FDA to conduct surveys for purity and dosage accuracy. It calls for mandatory reporting by drug manufacturers, including compounding pharmacies, of adverse events to create a registry of such events from bioidentical hormone usage. The policy also calls on the FDA to require standard patient information, such as warnings and precautions, in packaging of compounded bioidentical hormone products, and to prohibit the use of the term bioidentical unless the preparation has been approved by the FDA.

" There is no scientific basis for claims that compounded hormone therapies have a different risk-benefit ratio than FDA-approved hormone replacement therapies," said AMA Board Member Ardis Hoven, MD.

" Confidence in the safety and effectiveness of the therapies patients take is absolutely essential for both patients and physicians. New FDA policies that would require manufacturers and compounding pharmacies to provide adverse event information on compounded bioidentical hormones – and share the warnings and precautions with patients on the drug label – will help patients and doctors make better informed decisions on the course of treatment."

Smoke-free AMA meetings:
The American Medical Association today adopted policy that further strengthens its stand against exposure to second-hand smoke. The new policy calls for all AMA meetings and conferences to be held in communities and states that have enacted comprehensive legislation requiring smoke-free worksites and public places, including restaurants and bars. The AMA also called on other medical organization to adopt similar policies.

" Smoking continues to be one of the greatest threats to the health of the public," said AMA Board Chair Cecil Wilson, MD. "As a physician organization, we must set an example for our patients. We hope our action today will help convince states, counties and municipalities to adopt legislation protecting the public from the dangers of exposure to second-hand smoke."


Source: American Medical Association (AMA).

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