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Weekly Drug News Round Up - April 18, 2012

AstraZeneca Launches Dutoprol With Price Similar To Generics

Combination antihypertensive launched with novel price-saving strategies for consumers Read More...

Consumers should not have to pay higher prices for brand name drugs when generics can be bought at a fraction of the price. In an effort to compete against generics, AstraZeneca has launched Dutoprol Extended-Release Tablets (metoprolol succinate ER/hydrochlorothiazide), a once-daily, combination beta-blocker and diuretic blood pressure agent. AstraZeneca, in conjunction with Express Scripts, has created a direct-to-patient mail order program that provides a 90-day supply of medication for $18.33 per month, whether or not patients have insurance. Dutoprol will also be available in pharmacies and is priced competitively with similar generics.

Sexual Side Effects May Linger After Stopping Finasteride

Low sexual desire, ejaculation and orgasm disorders may persist after finasteride is stopped Read More...

Finasteride is approved for treatment of male pattern baldness (Propecia) and benign prostatic hyperplasia (Proscar), and both brands are available generically. Finasteride side effects have been updated due to recent reports of sexual side effects that may not reverse once the drug has been stopped. Finasteride decreases male dihydrotestosterone hormone activity, and both drugs were previously known to cause erectile dysfunction. The latest updates include decreased libido (lowered sexual desire), ejaculation disorders, and orgasm disorders that may persist after Propecia is stopped. Proscar is updated to reflect decreased libido, and both drugs now highlight the possibility of male infertility or poor semen quality that reverses once the drug is stopped.

Off-Label Prescribing Lacks Strong Scientific Evidence

Off-label use of drugs by a physician is common, but most often not backed by scientific data Read More...

Off-label prescribing involves a patient receiving a prescription for a use that is not approved by regulators. Off-label prescribing is legal, but may lack rigorous scientific study, and can put patients at risk for adverse events and health systems at risk for escalating costs. As published in the Archives of Internal Medicine this week, Canadian researchers evaluated over 250,000 electronic prescriptions written by primary care physicians between 2005 and 2009. Roughly 11 percent of medications were prescribed for off-label uses, and almost 80 percent of those off-label uses lacked strong scientific evidence. The highest rate for off-label use involved central nervous system drugs (26%), with anticonvulsants (66%), antipsychotics (44%) and antidepressants (33%) topping the class.

Alternative Therapies Not Shown To Lower Adherence To Standard Asthma Treatment

Adherence to asthma medications already low, but added alternative therapies do not further lower adherence Read More...

Asthma treatment requires regular use of medications, such as inhaled corticosteroids, to control symptoms on a daily basis. However, previous studies have shown daily controller medications have low adherence rates. Researchers evaluated 187 parents of children with asthma taking daily controller medication, as published in Pediatrics this week. Eighteen percent of parents also used some form of alternative or complementary treatment in their children, including herbs, teas, diet changes, breathing exercises, or meditation, among others. While 7.7 percent of daily controller doses were missed each week, it did not appear that these doses were replaced by the alternative therapy. Instead, the parents incorporated the alternative treatment into the standard treatment regimen.

Cocaine Overdose Antidote Shows Promise In Animal Studies

Experimental antidote contains cocaine-binding antibody that prevents death in all mice subjected to lethal cocaine overdose Read More...

Antidotes for drugs of abuse, similar to the way naloxone can reverse an opioid overdose, are lacking. Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have developed an injection that has been shown to protect mice from a lethal cocaine overdose. The vaccine, F(ab’)2-gzk, is developed from genetically engineered mice that can produce human antibodies against cocaine molecules. The F(ab’)2-gzk vaccine contains only the antibody’s cocaine-binding segments, and when injected into mice subjected to a lethal cocaine dose, prevents mortality in all mice within seconds. Because the antibodies stay in the system for weeks, the antidote could potentially be used in drug dependence treatment programs to help prevent cocaine relapses, as well. Researchers note that the vaccine could go into clinical trials once manufacturing issues are resolved.