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Weekly Drug News Round Up - April 15, 2015

FDA Approves Amgen’s Corlanor (ivabradine) to Treat Heart Failure

Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can't pump enough blood to meet the body's needs Read More...

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Amgen’s Corlanor (ivabradine) to reduce hospitalization from worsening heart failure. Heart failure is a common condition affecting over 5 million people in the United States. Corlanor is approved for use in certain people who have long-lasting (chronic) heart failure caused by the lower-left part of their heart not contracting well. The drug is indicated for patients who have symptoms of heart failure that are stable, a normal heartbeat with a resting heart rate of at least 70 beats per minute and are also taking beta blockers at the highest dose they can tolerate.

Osteoporosis Drug Does Not Improve Outcomes in Frail Seniors

Although hip and spine bone density was increased, the inherent risk of falls may explain why fracture rates did not decline Read More...

The osteoporosis drug Reclast (zoledronic acid) improved bone strength in older and more frail seniors and in younger and more robust seniors, but there was no association between increasing bone density and reducing fractures. In the study, reported in JAMA Internal Medicine, 181 women with osteoporosis, aged 65 and older, were assigned to a single infusion of Reclast or a placebo. Researchers found no significant difference in the number of fractures, heart problems or deaths among women who received the drug or the placebo. Among women treated with Reclast, 20 percent had fractures and 16 percent died. In women receiving placebo, 16 percent had fractures, and 13 percent died.

Cannabidiol Shows Promise For Severe Epilepsy: Study

Some patients had Dravet syndrome or Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, which can cause lifelong seizures Read More...

In a recent 12-week study, 213 pediatric and adult patients with severe epilepsy took a liquid form of medical marijuana extract, called cannabidiol. Cannabidiol contains very low levels of THC which leads to the “high” that people experience when marijuana is consumed or smoked. In the 137 people who completed the study, the number of seizures fell by an average of 54 percent. However, side effects caused some people to drop out of the study. The types of side effects seen in more than 10 percent of the patients included drowsiness (21%), diarrhea (17%), tiredness (17%) and decreased appetite (16%). Larger, formal, placebo-controlled trials are needed.

Blood Thinners Overprescribed for Low-Risk Irregular Heartbeat: Study

Atrial fibrillation is a common irregular heartbeat that can lead to the formation of blood clots that lead to stroke Read More...

A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine notes that as many as 25% of people with atrial fibrillation who have a low risk of stroke are given blood-thinning drugs they may not need, against current guidelines. Oral anticoagulants - examples include warfarin, Pradaxa (dabigatran), Eliquis (apixaban) and Xarelto (rivaroxaban) - can be associated with excessive bleeding and generally aren't recommended for people with atrial fibrillation who have the lowest risk for stroke. Researchers state the findings show that doctors may not be fully aware of the potential risks of these drugs, or the particularly low risk of stroke in certain atrial fibrillation patients.

Pharmacists Boost Patient Adherence to Blood Thinners

Study shows that pharmacist counseling boosts proper use of newer types of blood thinners Read More...

Pradaxa is one of several important new oral anticoagulants used to lessen the risk of blood clots and stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation. Unlike warfarin, regular lab monitoring is not required; however, adherence can still be tricky. A new study from Stanford University found that of 5,400 Veterans Administration (VA) patients who got a prescription for Pradaxa (dabigatran), 28 percent failed to take the drug as instructed. However, for patients whose prescriptions were filled by a VA pharmacist who also educated and monitored them on a regular basis, 80 percent were more likely to take the drug correctly and without missed doses compared to those who didn't receive pharmacist counseling.