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Weekly Drug News Round Up - August 20, 2014

Genentech’s Avastin Gains New Indication for Late-Stage Cervical Cancer

The NCI estimates that 12,360 American women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2014 Read More...

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new use for Avastin (bevacizumab), specifically to treat patients with persistent, recurrent or late-stage (metastatic) cervical cancer. Avastin, also approved to treat brain tumors and certain types of cancers of the kidney, lung, cervix, colon and rectum, is usually given as part of a combination of cancer medicines. The new indication for cervical cancer is approved for use in combination with chemotherapy drugs paclitaxel and cisplatin or in combination with paclitaxel and topotecan. The new Avastin use was approved in less than four months under the FDA’s priority review program.

Plegridy Gets FDA Thumbs Up for Multiple Sclerosis Treatment

The most common side effects are injection site reactions, flu-like illness, fever, headache, muscle or joint pain, chills, and weakness Read More...

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Biogen Idec’s Plegridy (peginterferon beta-1a), another treatment option for people with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (RMS). Plegridy is a pegylated interferon beta administered subcutaneously once every two weeks with the Plegridy Pen autoinjector or a prefilled syringe. In the ADVANCE study, Plegridy significantly reduced the relapse rate at one year by 36 percent, and reduced the risk of 12-week disability progression by 38 percent, both compared to placebo. Currently, there is no way to prevent or cure multiple sclerosis (MS); MS is a progressive illness that can last for decades.

Genzyme’s Orphan Drug Cerdelga Approved for Gaucher Disease

Type 1 Gaucher disease is estimated to affect about 6,000 people in the United States Read More...

Cerdelga (eliglustat) is an oral ceramide analog approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of Type 1 form of Gaucher disease. Gaucher disease is a rare genetic disorder that occurs in those without enough enzyme called glucocerebrosidase, resulting in fat accumulation in the spleen, liver and bone marrow. The major signs of Gaucher disease include liver and spleen enlargement, anemia, low blood platelet counts and bone problems. In clinical trials, Cerdelga resulted in a greater reduction in spleen volume from baseline to the end of the study (39th week), the trial’s primary endpoint.

Antipsychotic Medications May Lead to Kidney Injuries in Seniors: Study

About 7 percent of adults taking the antipsychotics died from any cause, compared to 3.1 not taking the drugs Read More...

Since 2005, a black-box warning has stated that antipsychotic drugs are not for use in the elderly with dementia-related psychosis due to an increased risk of death. However, this “off-label” use is still initiated -- sometimes inappropriately -- in the elderly. This week, a study published in Annals of Internal Medicine also found that acute kidney injury was 1.5 times more likely in seniors taking the antipsychotics quetiapine (Seroquel), risperidone (Risperdal) or olanzapine (Zyprexa) compared to those not receiving antipsychotics. One percent of 97,000 elderly patients taking the antipsychotics were hospitalized for acute kidney injury, compared to 0.6 percent of elderly not taking the drugs.

Flu Shot in Pregnant Women Can Protect Mother and Baby

The flu virus can be particularly dangerous to pregnant women, and the flu shot protects women and their unborn baby, too Read More...

Studies released in recent years have upheld the safety and effectiveness of flu vaccination during pregnancy. According to the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACOG), all pregnant women should get a flu shot every year, early in the season as soon as flu shots are available, and during any phase of pregnancy. Pregnant women should get the inactivated flu vaccine, which is also safe for women who have just given birth and those who are breast-feeding. However, pregnant women should NOT be given the live attenuated version of the flu vaccine (FluMist), according to guidelines.