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Weekly Drug News Round-Up: August 16, 2017

KITE-585 IND Submitted as Anti-BCMA CAR T Therapy for Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myeloma is a blood cancer formed by cells that fight infection and will cause over 12,000 deaths in 2017 Read More...

CAR T cell therapy is the latest type of biologic immunotherapy under FDA review for blood cancers like leukemia and lymphomas. This past week, Kite Pharma announced the submission of an Investigational New Drug (IND) application to initiate a Phase 1 trial of KITE-585, a CAR-T cell therapy engineered to target B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA) in patients with advanced multiple myeloma. BCMA is expressed on the surface of malignant plasma cells in most patients with multiple myeloma, and is also found on normal plasma cells and certain mature B-cell lineage cells, but is absent from other tissues. Kite Pharma has also developed, KTE-C19, also known as axicabtagene ciloleucel, a CAR T-cell therapy that targets the CD19 tumor antigen in leukemia and lymphoma blood cancers.

Peptide Immunotherapy Shown Safe in Early Type 1 Diabetes Clinical Trial

It's not clear if this type of immunotherapy could benefit people who've had type 1 diabetes for a while Read More…

In Type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks the pancreatic beta cells and not enough insulin is produced to meet the body's needs. The result is that exogenous insulin, either from a pump or through daily shots, is required. Researchers are now studying ways to stop the beta cell attack using immune cells called T-regs (regulatory T cells). Investigators developed a type of treatment called peptide immunotherapy using disease-related auto-antigens which re-educates the immune system not to attack the beta cells. In an early phase placebo-controlled trial, researchers found the treatment was safe, and insulin use remained stable by the active group, but went up in the placebo group.

Routine Rotavirus Vaccine Cut Hospitalization, Medical Costs in Kids

Routine rotavirus vaccination began in 2006

Rotavirus is an infection that commonly causes diarrhea in infants and children. But the routine rotavirus vaccine has made a significant impact, not only in a lower number of cases, but in dollars saved, too. As published in the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society this week, between 2008 and 2013 there was a 31% to 55% decline in diarrhea-related hospitalizations among young children. More than 380,000 diarrhea-related hospitalizations were prevented during that time, saving about $1.2 billion in direct medical costs. According to researchers, savings are even greater when the decreased number of doctor’s office or emergency room visits are included.

Steep Price Hikes Can Decrease Drug Utilization at Hospitals

This study disproves claims that price increases do not reduce patient access to certain medications Read More...

Nitroprusside (Nitropress) and isoproterenol (Isuprel) are two critical heart drugs commonly used in hospitals and have been available for decades. However, a new study from the Cleveland Clinic and published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that prices hikes have affected utilization of the medications. From 2012 to 2015, the price of isoproterenol in the United States increased nearly 70-fold -- from $26 to $1,790 and use dropped by 35% in 47 hospitals nationwide. The cost of nitroprusside rose 30-fold, from $27 to $880, and the number of patients treated with the drug fell 53%. These drugs are used to stabilize blood pressure or heart rate and often there are no other alternatives.

Cannabidiol May Alter Seizure Drug Levels in Epilepsy Patients

Drug interactions can also occur plant-based compounds

A new study posted in the journal Epilepsia has found that the non-psychoactive marijuana compound cannabidiol (CBD), an experimental agent used to treat severe seizure activity in children and adults, can affect drug levels of some seizure medications. Drugs that the participants were taking included clobazam (Onfi), topiramate (Topamax), rufinamide (Banzel), zonisamide (Zonegran), valproate and eslicarbazepine. While drug levels changed, most did not deviate from normal ranges except for clobazam (Onfi), and may have caused extra sedation in some patients. Liver enzyme tests also increased in participants taking valproate and CBD.