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Weekly Drug News Round-Up: February 17, 2016

Popular Drug Class Tied to Elevated Risk of Dementia

However, patients shouldn’t stop their PPI treatment if their doctor says they need it Read More...

A widely used class of drugs, available both over-the-counter (OTC) and by prescription, has been linked with the development of dementia. The drug class, known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), includes drugs such as Zegerid, Prilosec, Nexium and Prevacid. They are often used - and sometimes overused - to treat heartburn and reflux. As reported this week in JAMA Neurology, researchers looked at German insurance claims in roughly 74,000 seniors, 2,950 of whom regularly used PPIs. Regular users had a 44 percent increased risk of dementia compared with those not receiving PPIs. However, to prove a true cause-and-effect relationship a randomized, controlled trial is needed.

Immunotherapy Treatment Leads to Complete Remission in Leukemia

Investigators called the results unprecedented

Immunotherapy continues to make tremendous strides in the treatment of cancers. Newly approved agents like Opdivo, Yervoy and Keytruda are lengthening survival in difficult-to-treat diseases such as advanced melanoma (skin cancer) and lung cancer. This week, another report was made on an investigational immunotherapy drug that led to a complete remission in 94 percent of terminally ill patients with leukemia, a type of blood cancer. Therapy involves removing immune system T-cells from patients, loading them with anti-cancer molecules, and placing them back in the body. The altered T-cells then seek and destroy the cancer, effectively making the T-cells a “living drug”.

Morphine Injection Recalled Due to Potency Concerns

The recalled product was distributed to two medical facilities – one in Indiana and one in Illinois Read More...

FDA is alerting healthcare professionals of a voluntary recall of morphine sulfate 0.5 mg/mL preservative free in 0.9% sodium chloride, 1 mL syringe, for intravenous use by Pharmakon Pharmaceuticals. The product has been found to be super-potent via laboratory investigation. Three serious adverse events in infants have occurred. The recalled product was made on February 3, 2016, with an expiration date of March 19, 2016, and labeled with lot E52418EV11C and NDC 45183-0322-78. Injecting a patient with super-potent morphine could result in serious consequences including respiratory depression, coma, and death.

Effexor Tied to Possible Increased Risk of Bleeding After Labor: Study

SNRIs work by altering serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the body, which may affect postpartum bleeding Read More...

The antidepressant Effexor (venlafaxine) is a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). Researchers say they have detected over a 70% higher risk of postpartum hemorrhage in 300,000 Canadian pregnancies of women who mainly took Effexor. However, the more commonly used class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) was not associated with a similar risk. SSRIs include well-known drugs such as citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), and sertraline (Zoloft). As reported in Obstetrics & Gynecology, researchers found no increased bleeding risk from either SSRIs or SNRIs in mid-pregnancy, but taking Effexor later in pregnancy was linked with the higher risk.

Coca-Cola May Benefit Patients Taking Lung Cancer Drug

“Things Go Better With Coke" according to a 1960’s TV ad Read More...

Now, it seems, taking a cancer medication may actually ‘go better with Coke’, too. The effectiveness of lung cancer drug Tarceva (erlotinib) relies on the normally acidic pH of the stomach. However, many patients taking Tarceva have gastritis and also take proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) that raise the stomach pH. Researchers found that taking a PPI with Tarceva lowered blood concentrations of Tarceva by 61 percent. However, when roughly eight ounces of acidic Coke, instead of water was used to take the drug, a clinically relevant and statistically significant increase in Tarceva absorption was seen in patients also taking Nexium.