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Weekly Drug News Round Up - May 13, 2015

Bayer’s Avelox Approved for Plague

Approval includes treatment of pneumonic plague (infection of the lungs) and septicemic plague (infection of the blood) Read More...

It may seem surprising that a drug would be approved for plague, a potentially fatal bacterial infection many associate with death from the middle ages. However, plague still rarely occurs in the world -- including the U.S. -- with roughly 1,000 to 2,000 cases each year. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the fluoroquinolone Avelox (moxifloxacin) to treat patients with plague, which can be acquired from infected fleas, contact with infected animals or humans, or laboratory exposure. The plague bacteria Yersinia pestis is also considered a biological threat agent. Common side effects are nausea, diarrhea, headache and dizziness.

Blood Thinner Warfarin May Up Bleeding Risk in the Obese

Warfarin is a blood thinner used by millions, but safety and effectiveness rely on regular tests to monitor blood levels Read More...

Warfarin is often prescribed for patients with atrial fibrillation -- an abnormal heart rhythm -- because the condition puts these patients at an increased risk for stroke. In a new study, researchers followed 900 people taking warfarin for one year. Of the study participants, 41 percent were considered obese. Researchers found that 71 people experienced stomach bleeding; one-third were major, and two-thirds were minor bleeding episodes. Researchers found that the obese group had an 84 percent higher risk of a serious bleeding event. Experts suggest new research to see if other blood thinners like Xarelto, Eliquis, or Pradaxa yield the same increased risk of bleeding in obese people.

Environmental Concerns Fuel Price Hikes in Asthma Rescue Inhalers

Copays and cash prices have both increased, and generics for the new formulation may not be available until 2023 Read More...

A study in JAMA Internal Medicine reviews why Americans have seen the continued price increase in asthma inhalers. In 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned asthma inhalers containing chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Doing so lead to a reformulation of all asthma inhalers with the more environmentally-safe hydrofluoroalkane (HFA). Previously affordable generics like inhaled albuterol were replaced with brands like ProAir HFA, Proventil HFA, Ventolin HFA, and prices jumped over 100%. Researchers believe public pressure should be brought to bear upon the FDA, to force the agency to get rid of the brand-name status now held by HFA asthma inhalers. Cash prices for brand name albuterol inhalers now range from $60 to $75 per inhaler.

Codeine Use Declining in New Mothers Who Breastfeed

Codeine was long considered the safest narcotic painkiller for women who are breast-feeding, according to the FDA Read More...

As reported this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 2007 warnings about the harms of codeine use in breastfeeding moms is having an impact, but prescriptions still need to decline. Codeine can lead to a rare risk of overdose for breastfed babies. In 2006, a 13-day old infant died from a morphine overdose because the mother had been using codeine, which is converted to morphine in the body. Tests later revealed that the mother had unusually high levels of morphine in her breast-milk due to an uncommon gene variant that made her an "ultra-rapid" metabolizer of codeine.

Need To Know: Top 9 Facts About Gabapentin

If you take gabapentin, do you know what’s involved if you need to stop the drug? Read More...

You know gabapentin has been used for seizures for years, but are you aware of the more recent approvals for this versatile drug? Gabapentin has become the FDA-approved workhorse for many patients who suffer from the nerve pain from postherpetic neuralgia after shingles, and for those who have restless leg syndrome. What are the various dosage forms it comes in, do you know the differences between the immediate-release and extended-release forms, and can you get a break on price by buying a generic? Browse through the slideshow to learn 9 fast clinical facts for gabapentin use.