Skip to Content

Weekly Drug News Round Up - June 20, 2012

FDA Study: U.S. Kids Getting Fewer Prescriptions

Seven percent fewer prescriptions written for children, but adults see a 22 percent increase Read More...

A study in Pediatrics completed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has shown a notable decrease in the overall number of prescriptions written for American children in the years 2002 to 2010. Seven percent, or 263 million fewer prescriptions were written in 2010 compared to 2002. Antibiotic, cough/cold, allergy, pain and depression prescriptions were among those drug classes with fewer prescriptions, while increases were seen for asthma, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and contraceptives. The study did not analyze the reasoning behind the prescription drops, but experts suggest the declines may be due to efforts to reduce inappropriate antibiotic use, strong warnings on antidepressants, and the switch to over-the-counter status for many allergy medications.

Basal Cell Cancer Drug Shows Early Promise in Pancreatic Cancer

Activation of Sonic Hedgehog signaling pathway may contribute to pancreatic scarring; lead to less effective chemotherapy Read More...

A preliminary study of 21 patients with untreated metastatic pancreatic cancer has shown that the drug GDC-0449, which targets the Sonic Hedgehog signaling pathway led to tumor shrinkage in five patients and stabilized tumor growth in four patients. Patients received four weeks of oral GDC-0449 prior to chemotherapy with gemcitabine. Although the response rate to gemcitabine did not appear to be enhanced, significant toxicities with GDC-0449 were not observed. Researchers suggest that the next step for GDC-0449, currently available as vismodegib (Erivedge) for basal cell cancer, is a randomized clinical trial in pancreatic cancer.

MenHibrix Approved: Combo Meningitis Vaccine for Infants, Toddlers

Vaccination schedule for MenHibrix is a four-dose series given at two, four, six, and 12 through 15 months of age Read More...

Meningitis is a life-threatening disease caused by the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the MenHibrix vaccine that targets two potential sources of meningitis, the Neisseria meningitidis serogroups C and Y and Haemophilus influenzae type b bacteria. Meningococcal disease occurs most frequently in infants and toddlers less than 2 years of age, while Hib disease was previously the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in children less than 5 years old prior to widespread vaccination. MenHibrix clinical trials occurred in over 7,500 infants and toddlers. Study side effects included injection site pain and redness, irritability, drowsiness and loss of appetite.

Study in Twins: Genetics Play A Role in Opioid Side Effects, Addiction

Opioids may one day be added to list of personalized medications Read More...

A study from Stanford University School of Medicine suggests that genetics may play a role in the side effect or addiction potential of the class of pain relievers known as opioids, also called narcotics. Researchers looked at the response from 120 twin pairs and unrelated subjects receiving the opioid alfentanil. Identical twins appeared to be more closely matched in their responses to the drug than non-identical twins, suggesting a genetic link. Side effects that appear to be variable based upon genetics include nausea, itching, dizziness, slowed breathing and drug-liking or disliking, which are measures of addiction risk.

Painkiller Abuse by College Students Related to Depression, Suicidality

College students report nonmedical use of painkillers and other prescription drugs Read More...

Drug abuse on college campuses is usually associated with illegal drugs like marijuana and cocaine. However, a new study suggests that about 13 percent of college students are using prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons. Prescription drugs evaluated in the study included painkillers, stimulants, sedatives, and antidepressants. Prescription drug abuse was higher among those students who reported sadness, hopelessness, depression or thoughts of suicide, and a strong association was seen in female students who reported painkiller use. Experts emphasize the continued need for medical monitoring of outpatient prescription drugs and mental health outreach on college campuses.