September 13, 2011 |
U.S. consumers might put a little too much faith in the FDA's role as a gatekeeper for marketable drugs, according to a new study -- but giving patients a little bit of information about such drugs can actually help people make better treatment choices. For the study published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine, two researchers surveyed 2,944 people and tested which hypothetical cholesterol drug they would choose: one that had a "patient outcome" (reduced heart attacks) or one that only had a "surrogate outcome" (lower cholesterol)
September 8, 2011 |
Your doctor gives you an expensive new drug to control your cholesterol, or recommends a certain brand of artificial hip, or says you need a stent to open a clogged artery. He's the expert. But how do you know his expertise is untainted? The makers of the drug, the replacement hip or the stent may have paid your doctor to deliver promotional talks extolling the virtues of the product. Or they could be paying him, or her, to consult on marketing plans. It doesn't necessarily follow, of course, that this kind of moonlighting influences the treatment you receive.
August 23, 2011 |
Psoriasis medications, such as Enbrel and Remicade, are often effective but have been linked with reports of heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems. An analysis published Tuesday suggests that the medications do not raise the risk of cardiovascular side effects. But the authors of the study cautioned that more research is needed Researchers at Baylor Research Institute in Dallas, examined data from 22 studies to look at side effects related to treatment of chronic plaque psoriasis with biological therapies called anti-IL-12/23 agents.
August 11, 2011 |
In a potential breakthrough in cancer research, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have genetically engineered patients' T cells — a type of white blood cell — to attack cancer cells in advanced cases of a common type of leukemia. Two of the three patients who received doses of the designer T cells in a clinical trial have remained cancer-free for more than a year, the researchers said. Experts not connected with the trial said the feat was important because it suggested that T cells could be tweaked to kill a range of cancers, including ones of the blood, breast and colon.
July 7, 2011 |
The stop-smoking drug Chantix and common-as-candy pain relievers are both making headlines this week. And they both offer a reminder of something most people ignore: Drugs, even seemingly benign ones, aren’t -- they can all have side effects. Don’t believe us? Pick a drug, any drug. The FDA warned last month that the quit-smoking drug Chantix might increase the risk of heart problems, and a larger study this week found that Chantix increased the risk of heart attack or arrhythmia by 72% in smokers and smokeless tobacco users.
June 29, 2011
Even Clarence Thomas, the Supreme Court justice who wrote the majority opinion saying that makers of generic drugs don't have to warn patients about newly discovered dangers, agreed that the idea made little sense. How is it that the maker of a brand-name pharmaceutical has to provide information about potential side effects but the companies that produce identical drugs don't? If this is the price the public is expected to pay for cheaper drugs, it's far too high. In a 5-4 decision issued last week, the court rejected lawsuits by two women who suffered serious side effects from generic versions of a medication used for stomach ailments.
June 29, 2011 |
Looks like Charlie Sheen isn't the only drug Charlie Sheen has been on. In the new issue of Sports Illustrated the actor admitted to using anabolic steroids during the shooting of the 1989 film "Major League," in which he portrayed a baseball player named Ricky Vaughn. Sheen said he used the performance-enhancing illegal substance for about two months to improve his game, and claims his fastball went from about 79 to 85. While we hear much about the long-term effects of anabolic steroids, are there risks for taking the drug short term?
June 5, 2011 |
A drug already used to treat breast cancer can reduce the risk of tumors in high- and moderate-risk post-menopausal women by 65% over a three-year period, researchers reported Saturday. Two other drugs are already approved for reducing the risk of breast tumors in healthy women: Generic tamoxifen reduces the risk by 50% over a five-year period and raloxifene (Evista) reduces the risk by 38% over a similar period. But both drugs are associated with an increased risk of potentially fatal uterine cancer and blood clots.
May 11, 2011 |
A cocktail of four chemotherapy drugs improves average survival by more than 60% in people with pancreatic cancer, French researchers reported Wednesday. The drugs had a variety of side effects, but did not impair the quality of life for the survivors. Because survival is so poor with the disease, many patients are happy to accept the side effects of the drug to gain a few months of life. Pancreatic cancer, which strikes 43,000 Americans annually, killing 36,800 of them, is one of the most deadly forms of cancer.
May 2, 2011 |
By Amanda Leigh Mascarelli As we age, our bones become thinner and more porous. No one disputes that. For the first four decades of life, men and women's bones undergo a continual renewal, shedding collagen and then rebuilding through mineralization — a process that plateaus in midlife for both men and women. But whereas men's bone density typically declines gradually over their lifetimes, bone loss accelerates rapidly for women during menopause because of the lack of estrogen.