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Viagra Use Associated With Melanoma Risk

Thursday April 17, 2014
Viagra package Wikipedia

A retrospective study published in JAMA Internal Medicine suggests there may be an association between sildenafil (Viagra) use and melanoma, but the authors point out that a cause-and-effect relationship hasn't been established.

The report is based on an analysis of more 25,000 men who were enrolled in Harvard Medical School's Health Professionals Follow-up Study over a 10 year period. The study found those who had taken sildenafil had almost twice the incidence of melanoma than those who didn't take it. There wasn't a significant association between erectile function alone and melanoma. Previous studies have shown that sildenafil promotes the synthesis of melanin which may promote the development of melanoma.

Cialis and Levitra, the other leading erectile dysfunction drugs, were not included in the analysis since they had not been on the market when the study began in 2000.

In a guest editorial about the study written in Dermatology, a JAMA sister publication, June Robinson of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago and Dermatology editor, recommended that physicians give patients a skin cancer check when prescribing the drug.

Manufactured by Pfizer, Viagra was approved in 1998 for erectile dysfunction and quickly became a global blockbuster drug. It has been prescribed for over 22 million American men.

Report: Specialty Drugs Driving Increase in Drug Spending - By A Lot

Friday April 11, 2014
Drug costs

After a one-year lull in 2012, prescription drugs are going up again.

Prescription drug prices grew 3.8% in 2013 compared to a 0.1% growth rate in 2012, according to a report by CVS Caremark which fills prescriptions for 22.9 million people covered through commercial health plans, Medicare Part D and Medicaid. CVS Caremark is also a leader in the growing specialty pharmacy industry.

While the price increases are due to several factors -- traditional branded drug price hikes, and more people seeking medical treatment as the economy improves -- the most significant driver of the increase is due to the rise in specialty drugs, according to CVS Caremark.

Specialty medications that treat serious diseases like cancer, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and hepatitis C grew by 15.6 percent. Spending on specialty drugs grew more than 10% between 2012 and 2013, and now represents about 30% of total drug spending among CVS Caremark customers. The report authors predict half of all drug spending will be on specialty drugs by 2018.

The full CVS Caremark report can be downloaded at: http://info.cvscaremark.com/insights2014/INSIGHTS%20Trend%202014-v2.pdf.

Another report released this month by Express Scripts stated that specialty drug spending will grow 63% between 2014 and 2016, led by an "unprecedented" 1,800% increase in spending on hepatitis C drugs.

ADA Supports Research of Cavity Preventing Chewing Gum

Monday March 31, 2014

The dental medical community is investing in the development of an experimental chewing gum that can prevent plaque from eroding tooth enamel and prevent cavity formation or progression according to research supported by the American Dental Association Foundation. The gum contains containing α-Ca3(PO4)2, a calcium phosphate.

Researchers at the Foundation's Dr. Anthony Volpe Research Center are also developing other calcium phosphate-based technologies that can remineralize hard tooth tissues or at least slow down demineralization. Previous studies have shown that separate calcium and phosphate compounds, incorporated into gums and candies, are effective in promoting remineralizing conditions in the mouth.

The American Dental Association and its foundation have supported research in ADA and ADAF research scientists have engaged in cooperative dental and medical materials research with government scientists since 1928.

Neos Therapeutics Meets Fundraising Target for Time Release Technology

Monday March 31, 2014
Drug capsule Wellcome Images

Dallas-based Neos Therapeutics announced it has raised $15.5 million in venture capital to finance the development of its time release technology for ADHD drugs.

"There's a real need for these dosage forms, for controlled-release," said Mark Tengler, inventor of the technology and Neos's co-president and chief technology officer.

The company believes time release ADHD medications benefit pediatric patients who are in school for much of the day where staff are not permitted to dispense medications. Neos has five patents for the technology and 10 applications pending.

Statins Might Aid Erectile Dysfunction

Monday March 31, 2014

A drug prescribed for the prevention of heart attacks might also help men with erectile dysfunction (ED), according to a study presented at the American College of Cardiology's annual meeting in Washington, DC, on March 29.

An analysis of 11 studies in which statins were given to men who had both high cholesterol and ED found that erectile function scores increased by 3.4 points in men who took statins (from 14.0 to 17.4, a 24.3 percent increase.

Erectile dysfunction is common in older men. Common causes include heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, tobacco use, depression and stress.

Study: Older Blood Pressure Drug Aids Heart Attack Patients

Monday March 31, 2014

Metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL), a drug commonly used alone or with other drugs to treat high blood pressure and abnormal heartbeat, was found to be a very successful early interventional therapy for heart attack patients.

Patients who were treated with metoprolol by ambulance staff while en route to a hospital tended to suffer much less (60%) heart muscle damage than those who were not given the drug. Early treatment with metoprolol also reduced the incidence of hospital readmission for chronic heart failure, and massively reduced the need to implant a cardioverter-defibrillator, according to study authors with Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares (CNIC) in Spain.

Results of the study were presented March 30 at the meeting of the American College of Cardiolgy (ACC) in Washington, DC.

AAN Offers Evidence-Based Recommendation on Cannabis for MS Pain

Monday March 31, 2014
Cannabis Plant Wikipedia

In a development that is sure to please advocates of increased research into the medicinal uses of cannabis, the American Academy of Neurology has issued new guidelines stating that oral cannabis extract, tetrahydrocannabinol or cannabinoid spray can help relieve muscle stiffness and pain for multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. The consensus statement on "Complementary and alternative medicine in multiple sclerosis" was developed by the AAN's Guideline Development Subcommittee and published in the association's journal, Neurology.

As 13 states currently grapple with proposed bills to legalize the use of medical marijuana, public and private institutions are moving forward with numerous cannabis-based research studies.

Health Social Site Chatter More Critical of Drugs Than Google+, Twitter

Monday March 31, 2014
Social media word cloud Wikipedia

Here's something for pharmaceutical marketers responsible for digital strategy: The tone of discussions of pharmaceutical drugs are influenced by the format and commenting rules of different social media networks, according to a quantitative and qualitative analysis of more than 1 million drug-related posts on over 100 of the most commonly prescribed drugs.

Computer scientists at the University of California, Riverside, and Zhejiang University in China examined how pharmaceutical drugs were being discussed on 10 different social media platforms and found that the frequency of positive, negative or objective posts was influenced by the sites' focus (health focused or general), whether it was moderated, whether registration was required, and whether the discussion was structured in a Q&A format.

Among the findings: Posts on health-specific networks (DailyStrength, Drugs.com, DrugLib.com, EverydayHealth.com, MediGuard.org, WebMD, Medications.com) were twice as likely to have negative comments compared to those made on general social sites (Google+, Twitter, Pinterest). Facebook was not included in the assessment because it's content isn't public.

Pharmaceutical drugs chatter on Online Social Networks. J Biomed Inform. 2014 Mar 15. pii: S1532-0464(14)00063-X. doi: 10.1016/j.jbi.2014.03.006. [Epub ahead of print]

Europe Issues Recs for Managing Drug-Resistant TB

Monday March 31, 2014
Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria. Michigan Dept. of Community Health

Treating drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) has become a major challenge worldwide. Efforts by global health officials and pharmaceutical researchers to develop newer MDR-TB therapies has started paying off. However, experts caution that mistakes of the past, namely incomplete and inadequate treatments, that led to the emergence of MDR-TB strains in the first place, cannot be repeated. European physicians responsible for treating patients with multidrug- and extensively drug-resistant TB have published a consensus statement on management of the conditions in the European Respiratory Journal.

The statement includes expert advice for managing MDR-TB where scientific evidence remains inconclusive. It covers first- and second-line drugs as well as the newest drugs and their relative success rates in treating MDR-TB.

"The current management of patients with multidrug- and extensively drug-resistant TB is complex, very costly for healthcare systems and burdensome for those who are affected," said lead author Christoph Lange, head of the Respiratory Infections Assembly at the European Respiratory Society. "We have harmonised individual expert opinions on the management of multidrug- and extensively drug-resistant TB in adults and children to ensure that consensus is available where clinical evidence is still lacking. As clinicians we hope to improve the treatment of multidrug- and extensively drug-resistant TB and the life of our patients who suffer from these difficult-to-treat conditions."

About 450,000 new cases with MDR-TB occur each year, according to the World Health Organization.

FDA Approves Impavido for Infectious Disease Spread by Sand Flies

Monday March 24, 2014
More illustrations depicting leishmaniasis are found in A.D.A.M. Health Topics.

The FDA has approved Montreal, Canada-based Paladin Therapeutics' new drug Impavido (miltefosine) to treat leishmaniasis, an infectious disease caused by the bite of a sand fly.

Impavido was approved under orphan drug and priority review status. As part of the approval, Paladin received a Tropical Disease Priority Review Voucher as it met the criteria of a new drug to prevent and treat certain priority tropical diseases.

Impavido, taken orally, is approved for treating three types of leishmaniasis: visceral leishmaniasis (which affects internal organs), cutaneous leishmaniasis (which affects the skin) and mucosal leishmaniasis (which affects the nose and throat.

The drug is intended for patients 12 years of age and older.

Leishmaniasis cases have been identified on all continents except Australia and Antarctica, according to the National Institutes of Health. It has also been found in military personnel returning from the Persian Gulf.

Read more on pharmaceutical industry efforts to treat infectious tropical diseases:

Pharmas Pledge Help to Eradicate Tropical Diseases

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