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Weekly Drug News Round-Up: August 10, 2016

Flonase Sensimist is GSK’s Latest Rx-to-OTC Switch

Flonase Sensimist is an allergy nose spray that is alcohol-free and scent-free Read More...

For many of us, allergies tend to go year-round. This past week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new over-the-counter (OTC) product, Flonase Sensimist (fluticasone furoate, 27.5 mcg spray) Allergy Relief, from GSK Consumer Healthcare. Flonase Sensimist, available as Veramyst in prescription form, is an OTC corticosteroid nasal spray indicated for the treatment of symptoms associated with seasonal and year-round allergies in adults and children ages 2 years and older. GSK expects to commercially launch OTC Flonase Sensimist in early 2017.

Merck’s Keytruda Approved for Advanced Head and Neck Cancer

Immune-mediated side effects, such as pneumonitis, colitis, or hepatitis may occur with Keytruda Read More...

The immune checkpoint inhibitor group of medications has been a breakthrough development in advanced, metastatic cancer treatment. This week, the FDA approved another new use for Keytruda (pembrolizumab), a PD-1 (programmed death receptor-1)-blocking antibody that belongs to this group. In addition to treatment of metastatic melanoma and metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), Keytruda can now be used for recurrent or metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma with disease progression on or after platinum-containing chemotherapy. The approval is based on data from the KEYNOTE-012 study, with responses of six months or longer observed in 82 percent (n=23/28) of the responding patients.

Refills and Longer-Acting Opioids Up Addiction Risk: Study

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines recommend limiting opioid therapy to 3 to 7 days for most patients Read More...

New data out this past week shows that patients who are first-time users of painkiller medications like Oxycontin and Vicodin have a greater risk of addiction if given prescription refills and longer-acting opioids. The new study suggests patients should be prescribed a small dose, with shorter-acting agents without refills to reduce the risk of long-term use and possible addiction. Researchers analyzed data from nearly 537,000 patients in Oregon who were prescribed opioids for the first time. The investigators found that 5 percent of those who received six or more refills within a year became long-term users. This addiction trend was higher among rural patients and those who were older, too.

Fentanyl-Laced, Counterfeit Xanax Leading to Fatalities

Music legend Prince died of a fentanyl overdose in April Read More...

Counterfeit prescription drugs sold on the streets have been an ongoing concern in the U.S. This past week, a case report was published in JAMA Internal Medicine describing Xanax tablets fabricated to look like the real thing but laced with fentanyl, an opioid painkiller 100 times more potent than morphine. Xanax (alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine sedative normally prescribed to treat anxiety and panic disorders. These street drugs showed up in San Francisco in 2015 and resulted in multiple deaths and injuries. Streets drugs can be “cut” with any number of dangerous substances, to stretch the amount of product for sale, and users put themselves at unknown, possibly fatal risks.

Roche’s Tamiflu Now FDA-Approved In Generic Form

Tamiflu (oseltamivir) does not take the place of receiving a flu vaccination Read More...

Flu season is not far away, and within weeks the U.S. will start offering flu vaccines in local communities. This past week the FDA approved the first generic (and eventually less costly) version of the widely used influenza antiviral Tamiflu (generic name: oseltamivir). Oseltamivir, from India’s Natco Pharma and U.S. marketing partner Alvogen, is used in patients with influenza A and B symptoms for no longer than 48 hours, and for prevention of flu, too. Generic oseltamivir will be available in 30 mg, 45 mg and 75 mg capsules, and sales should start before February 2017, although a specific launch date is not yet known.