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Weekly Drug News Round-Up: May 17, 2017

Merck’s Keytruda Wins Nod for First-Line Use in Lung Cancer

Keytruda is the only anti-PD-1 approved as first-line for both monotherapy and combination therapy for metastatic NSCLC Read More…

This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Merck’s Keytruda (pembrolizumab), the company’s anti-PD-1 therapy, in combination with the chemotherapy regimen pemetrexed (Alimta) and carboplatin (pem/carbo) for the first-line treatment of metastatic nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), irrespective of PD-L1 expression. In KEYNOTE-021, the objective response rate (ORR) of the combined regimen with Keytruda was nearly double the ORR of pem/carbo alone (55% vs. 29%, respectively). All responses were partial responses. The duration of response was 6 months or longer in 93% of the group treated with the Keytruda regimen, compared to 81% who received pem/carbo alone.

New Amputation Risk Warnings for Canagliflozin (Invokana, Invokamet)

Providers should consider risk factors for amputations in patients before prescribing canagliflozin Read More...

FDA is now requiring label updates and new warnings, including a Boxed Warning, to be added to the canagliflozin (Invokana, Invokamet, Invokamet XR) drug labels to describe an elevated risk of leg and foot amputations. Canagliflozin is a type 2 diabetes medication and belongs to a class of drugs called sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors. In 2 clinical trials, leg and foot amputations occurred about twice as often in patients treated with canagliflozin compared to patients treated with placebo. Patients taking canagliflozin should notify their doctor immediately if they develop new pain or tenderness, sores or ulcers, or infections in the legs or feet.

USPSTF Update: Hormones Not Advised for Disease Prevention After Menopause

The public can comment on this draft posted on the task force's web site until June 12 Read More...

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is issuing an updated draft recommendation based on current evidence reaffirming its 2012 statement that hormone therapies with estrogens and progestins should be avoided in postmenopausal women to prevent health issues such as heart disease and bone loss. In 2002, the Women's Health Initiative study abruptly halted a look at the benefits and harms of hormone therapy because it appeared to raise the risks of breast cancer, heart attack, stroke and blood clots. The updated draft does not apply to hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms, to younger women who've gone through early menopause or had their ovaries removed before they reached menopause.

Omit Steroid Shots for Long-Term Knee Arthritis: Study

Researchers noted clinicians should be cautious about using steroid injections in people without severely arthritic knees Read More...

Steroid shots are commonly given to patients for temporary pain relief from knee osteoarthritis; however, a new study says their long-term use is ineffective and may even reduce cartilage over time. In the new study, researchers tracked 140 patients over 45 years with knee arthritis and synovial membrane swelling who randomly received intra-articular triamcinolone injections (Kenalog) or saline every 12 weeks for 2 years. Patients also underwent MRI scans and answered questions about their pain. Researchers found regular steroid injections did not reduce long-term pain or lower disease progression. In addition, patients in the injection group lost significantly more cartilage thickness than those in the saline group.

Delaying Blood Thinners in Atrial Fibrillation May Boost Dementia Risk

Researchers looked at information from more than 76,000 atrial fibrillation patients who had no history of dementia Read More...

Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a common heart condition that results in abnormal heart rhythms and a risk of blood clots leading to a possible stroke. Blood thinners like warfarin, rivaroxaban (Xarelto) and apixaban (Eliquis) are often given to lower this risk of stroke. Researchers have now found that even a short delay in giving blood thinners to patients determined to be at low risk for stroke increases the risk for dementia. AFib can cause dementia by damaging the tiny blood vessels in the brain due to small clots or bleeds. In patients considered at low-risk for stroke, delaying blood-thinning treatment increased the risk for dementia 30 percent. In high-risk patients, a delay increased the risk 136 percent.