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Weekly Drug News Round Up - May 22, 2013

Sunscreens: Revised Labels Should Make Choices More Clear

Sunscreens labeled with sun protections factors (SPFs) higher than 50 may not offer more protection, and may mislead consumers Read More...

New sunscreen labels required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must now provide information about skin cancer prevention, sunburn protection, and amount of water-resistance, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). If the sunscreens do not pass FDA testing, they will be required to state their limitations on the label. To reduce the risk of skin cancer and early aging, the AAD recommends using a broad spectrum sunscreen (UVB and UVA ray protection) with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 to 50, and one that is water-resistant for up to either 40 or 80 minutes.

Investigational Drug May Help Immune System in Fighting Cancer

Anti-PD-1 drugs are in rapid development; at least four other companies are working on trials, but toxicity research is needed Read More...

A protein called PD-L1 sits on the surface of cancer cells and hides them from the immune system, blocking any cancer-fighting power that the immune system can offer. A new experimental drug developed by Genentech/Roche blocks this protein allowing the immune system to see and destroy the cancer cells. The drug seems to work on a wide range of tough cancers, including non-small cell lung cancer, melanoma, colorectal cancer, and kidney and stomach cancer. Provenge (sipuleucel-T), approved in 2010 to treat prostate cancer, and Yervoy, approved in 2011 to treat metastatic melanoma skin cancer are the first round of new drugs to treat cancer via the immune system.

Antidepressants May Be Helpful for Some Heart Patients: Study

Participants underwent physical and mental health stress tests and were assigned to either Lexapro or a placebo (sugar) pill Read More...

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association notes that the antidepressant Lexapro (escitalopram) appears to help prevent mental stress-induced myocardial ischemia, a serious heart condition. At two separate times, participants underwent stress tests and were assigned to take either Lexapro or a placebo. As the participants performed the tasks, they underwent heart tests, and had blood pressure and heart rates followed. Researchers found those who took Lexapro were nearly three times less likely to develop stress-linked cardiovascular trouble during the mental stress tests compared to those taking placebo. Other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) include Celexa, Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft.

Simponi Approved for Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis, affects roughly 620,000 Americans and causes inflammation and ulcers in the large intestine Read More...

Simponi (golimumab) injection, a tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blocker made by Janssen Ortho Biotech, has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat adults with moderate-to-severe ulcerative colitis. Simponi, originally approved in 2009, is also labeled to treat psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. The most common side effects reported in studies with Simponi were upper respiratory infection and redness at the injection site. People treated with the drug are at greater-than-average risk of contracting several types of infection, lymphoma, heart failure, nervous system disorders and allergic reactions.

Omega-3-Fatty Acids Found in Fish Oil May Lower Diabetes Risk

Although research is ongoing, omega-3-fatty acids may positively affect glucose control and fat metabolism Read More...

Researchers at Harvard are studying another use for omega-3-fatty acids found in fish oil supplements -- possible prevention of type 2 diabetes.  Omega-3-fatty acids increase levels of a hormone called adiponectin that is linked to insulin sensitivity; adiponectin is also linked to a lower risk for heart disease. In a meta-analysis of 14 clinical trials, researchers looked at 682 people who took fish oil supplements and 641 who were given placebos. Adiponectin levels increased by 0.37 micrograms per milliliter of blood in those treated with fish oil. Investigators stated certain groups of type 2 diabetes patients might benefit most from fish oil but more research is needed.