November 18, 2011 |
The cancer drug Avastin should not be used to treat breast cancer that has spread to other organs because it doesn't help patients enough to justify its risky side effects, the Food and Drug Administration ruled Friday. The decision comes five months after an FDA advisory committee recommended that the federal agency withdraw its approval of Avastin for breast cancer patients. Clinical trial results have fueled doubts for years about its value for treating breast cancer. Still, FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg said the choice was difficult because so many women and their doctors have put their faith in the drug and lobbied hard on its behalf.
October 14, 2011 |
How and why potentially — and historically — life-saving vaccinations, especially those mandated for children, have become a 21st century medical and political tinderbox is deftly examined by producers and co-directors Kendall Nelson and Chris Pilaro in their provocative documentary "The Greater Good. " The filmmakers put human faces on this polarizing issue by focusing largely on three American children devastated, it is believed, by post-vaccine side effects. They include Gabi Swank, an inspiring teen who suffered neurological damage after taking the much-hyped HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer (this same vaccine put advocate Gov. Rick Perry in the cross hairs during a recent GOP presidential debate)
October 10, 2011 |
It's getting harder for me to deny that I've reached middle age, and the most obvious sign is that the men in my life are losing their hair. Many men struggle to come to terms with hair loss and yearn for a way to turn back the clock. Although I'm no expert on the subject, I've suggested they look into Propecia, a medication used to treat male pattern hair loss. Invariably, they're intrigued. It works by preventing testosterone from turning into another hormone that causes hair loss.
October 3, 2011 |
I recently had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from my breast and will soon be starting chemotherapy. I was surprised by the amount of medication I was told to take before I begin chemo, including anti-nausea and allergy medications. I'm wondering if this is common. How are patients typically prepared for chemo treatment? Anti-nausea and anti-allergy medications are routinely given to breast cancer patients preparing for chemotherapy, says Dr. Christy A. Russell, co-director of the breast center at USC Norris Cancer Hospital and past president of the California division of the American Cancer Society.
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.