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Weekly Drug News Round Up - August 8, 2012

Zaltrap Approved for Previously Treated Metastatic Colorectal Cancer

Zaltrap includes a boxed warning that ziv-aflibercept can cause severe or fatal bleeding and gastrointestinal perforation Read More...

Over 50,000 patients will die from colorectal cancer, the fourth leading cause of cancer death, in 2012. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Zaltrap (ziv-aflibercept), an angiogenesis inhibitor to be used in combination with 5-fluorouracil, leucovorin, irinotecan (FOLFIRI) for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) that is resistant to or has progressed following an oxaliplatin-containing regimen. Zaltrap extended overall survival in over 1200 patients with mCRC whose cancer grew despite receiving oxaliplatin-based chemotherapy. Patients receiving Zaltrap plus FOLFIRI lived on average 13.5 months compared to 12 months for patients on placebo plus FOLFIRI.

First Generic Versions of Singulair FDA-Approved

Generic versions of Merck’s Singulair now available in pharmacies Read More...

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first generic versions of Singulair (montelukast sodium), a top-selling asthma and allergy treatment with over $1.2 billion in sales in the second quarter of 2012. Montelukast works by blocking the action of leukotrienes to prevent asthma and allergies. Montelukast is not to be used for immediate relief of asthma symptoms, the way that a rescue inhaler like ProAir might be used. Multiple generic manufacturers will be supplying montelukast in the 4 and 5 milligram chewable tablet, the 10 milligram oral tablet, or 4 mg oral granule packet forms.

Off-Label Use of Antipsychotics for ADHD Increasing in Children, Teens

Antipsychotics can be associated with serious side effects including weight gain, diabetes, and heart problems Read More...

A study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry has found that the use of atypical antipsychotic medications in children has climbed sevenfold, and for teens the rate has risen close to fourfold. Researchers looked at data from over 484,000 patients from 1993 to 2009 and found that most children treated with antipsychotics were diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional behavior and unspecified disruptive behavioral disorders, all off-label uses for this class of drugs. Risperdal (risperidone) was most frequently prescribed to children 13 and under, and Abilify (aripiprazole) was most frequently prescribed to adolescents 14 to 20 years of age.

Breast Cancer Combination Drug Treatment Lengthens Survival

Arimidex plus Faslodex adds a median six month survival time and lengthens progression-free survival Read More...

The combination of Arimidex (anastrozole) plus Faslodex (fulvestrant) compared to anastrozole alone has been shown to lengthen survival in Stage 4, metastatic breast cancer by a median of six months and extend progression-free survival by roughly 1.5 months. The five-year study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, was undertaken in 700 postmenopausal women with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer, which accounts for over half of all cases of breast cancer. Arimidex and Faslodex are both used individually to treat breast cancer, but because they have different mechanisms of action - Arimidex reduces estrogen production by the body while Faslodex blocks the action of estrogen on cancer cells - they can complement each other's effect.

Caffeine Used for Symptoms in Parkinson’s Disease: Study

Caffeine may block A2A adenosine receptors - a similar mechanism of two drugs currently under investigation Read More...

The use of 200-400 milligrams of caffeine in a small study of Parkinson’s disease patients modestly improved motor symptoms, speed of movement and stiffness in the treatment group compared to the placebo group. There was also a modest effect, although not statistically significant, on daytime sleepiness, a common symptom for Parkinson’s disease patients. Researchers state benefits might be more clear-cut with a larger study group. Caffeine’s effect in Parkinson’s disease is believed to be due to inhibition of A2A adenosine receptors, a similar mechanism of other Parkinson's treatments currently under development, including fipamezole. Patients with heart rhythms, uncontrolled blood pressure or active ulcers should discuss the use of caffeine with their healthcare provider.