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Weekly News Round Up - August 24, 2011

FDA Sets New Limit on Celexa Maximum Dose Due to Abnormal Heart Rhythms

Popular SSRI antidepressant found to have dose-related risk of QT-interval prolongation, possible risk of Torsades de Pointes Read more...

Based on post-marketing surveillance and a QT-prolongation study, the FDA has revised the maximum daily dose of Celexa (citalopram) from 60 mg to 40 mg per day. Citalopram doses above 40 mg per day may lead to abnormal, and potentially deadly, heart rhythms due to prolongation of the QT interval. The QT interval is part of the ECG that measures cardiac electrical activity. Life-threatening arrhythmias, including Torsades de Pointes, may occur. Additionally, studies have not shown an antidepressant benefit with doses higher than 40 mg per day. Patients at higher risk for QT prolongation include those with heart disease and with low blood levels of potassium and magnesium.

Dangerous Sibutramine Found in “All-Natural” Herbal, OTC Weight-Loss Supplements

Growing trend suggests “all natural” weight-loss dietary supplements may contain dangerous prescription drugs Read More...

Sibutramine, a drug that was withdrawn from the market in October 2010 due to an increased risk for heart attack, stroke and death has been found recently in several dietary supplements. Pai You Guo, Slim Forte Slimming Capsules, Slim Forte Slimming Coffee, and Botanical Slimming Soft Gel are all recalled products nationwide. However, many of these products have been found available to consumers through the internet and local dietary supplement stores. Pai You Guo was recalled in 2009, but a recent study revealed that 25% of surveyed women (n=550) had or were using the product. Consumers should be wary of over-the-counter dietary supplements, sometimes marketed as “all natural”. A growing trend suggests many of the products contain prescription pharmaceuticals that may be dangerous.

Adcetris Approved For Lymphoma Treatment After Accelerated FDA Review

New treatment effective in both Hodgkin lymphoma and rare systemic anaplastic large cell lymphoma Read more...

A new treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma has not been approved in over three decades. But this week the FDA approved Adcetris (brentuximab vedotin), an antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) for the treatment of relapsed or refractory Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) and systemic anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL). The attached antibody targets the drug to the CD30 site on lymphoma cells found in both HL and ALCL. In HL (n=102) and ALCL (n=58), 73% and 86% of patients, respectively, had a partial or complete response to Adcetris treatment. The FDA accelerated approval program can speed access to new drugs for serious illnesses.

Antipsychotics Work Better Than Mood-Stabilizers for Acute Mania in Bipolar Disorder

First generation antipsychotic haloperidol ranks with newer antipsychotics for treatment of acute manic episodes Read more...

Bipolar disorder can alternate between abrupt bouts of depression and mania. Researchers have found in a meta-analysis of more than 68 studies that the first generation antipsychotic haloperidol was significantly more effective for acute manic episodes than 10 other bipolar medications, including mood stabilizers such as lithium, valproate and carbamazepine. Risperidone, olanzapine and quetiapine were the most well-tolerated of all studied drugs, and were more effective than lithium, lamotrigine, topiramate and gabapentin. The authors conclude that haloperidol, olanzapine and risperidone should be considered among the best of the available options for treatment for manic episodes. The results may help provide an evidence base for bipolar disorder treatment algorithms and clinical practice guidelines.

Young Children Can Get Equal Benefit From Flu Shot or Nasal Spray

Selected route does not alter effectiveness of influenza (flu) vaccine in small children Read More...

Yearly flu shots are not a big-ticket item for a fun afternoon activity for kids. But the flu shot, recommended by the CDC for everyone over the age of 6 months, can be especially unnerving for the younger recipients who must receive 2 protective doses during their first season of vaccination. A new study has shown that any combination of the required two flu vaccines, whether in shot or nasal spray form, provides equal protection from the virus. However, children younger than two years experienced more wheezing with the nasal spray. The flu nasal spray, FluMist, is not currently approved for children less than two years of age in the US.