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Weekly Drug News Round Up - May 29, 2013

FDA Approves Two Skin Cancer Drugs with Companion Genetic Test

The National Cancer Institute estimates 9,480 Americans will die from melanoma in 2013 Read More...

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved GlaxoSmithKline’s Tafinlar (dabrafenib), an oral BRAF inhibitor, and Mekinist (trametinib), an oral MEK inhibitor, for patients with metastatic (advanced) or unresectable (cannot be removed by surgery) melanoma. Tafinlar and Mekinist are being approved as single agents. In clinical trials, patients who took Tafinlar had a delay in tumor growth that was 2.4 months later than those receiving dacarbazine, and patients receiving Mekinist had a delay in tumor growth that was 3.3 months later than those on chemotherapy. FDA also approved the companion THxID BRAF genetic test to determine the mutation type. Studies for the two-drug combination are also ongoing.

Resistance to Tamiflu Found in New H7N9 China Bird Flu

Researchers state it is concerning that H7N9 may mutate around Tamiflu easily Read More...

A new report published in The Lancet details the first cases of resistance to the flu drug Tamiflu in a person infected with the emerging H7N9 avian flu virus. Viral samples from three of 14 patients treated for H7N9 in a Shanghai hospital tested positive for resistance to Tamiflu (oseltamivir). All 14 patients developed pneumonia, but three patients were severely ill -- two died, and the third was on mechanical ventilation. There have been 131 confirmed human cases of the new "bird" flu in China so far, including 36 deaths. No new cases have been identified in over two weeks.

Rates of Pediatric Marijuana Poisonings Up in Colorado

Eighteen states and Washington, D.C., have legalized medical marijuana; CO. and WA. states have also legalized recreational use Read More...

Researchers are reporting more severe symptoms than typically associated with marijuana in pediatric patients who have accidentally ingested medical marijuana, according to the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center in Denver. Since medical marijuana was legalized in Colorado, more than a dozen children have been unintentionally poisoned with the drug. About half the cases resulted from kids eating marijuana-laced cookies, brownies, sodas or candy, but grandparents’ medical marijuana stash was also to blame. Symptoms of marijuana poisoning in children include sleepiness and balance problems while walking. Researchers advise to treat marijuana like any other drug and keep it out of children’s reach.

Main Street Pharmacy, Tennessee: Possible Steroid Contamination

An investigation into the exact source of the adverse events is still ongoing Read More...

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reporting on seven adverse events with steroid injections compounded by Main Street Family Pharmacy, LLC (Main Street) of Newbern, Tennessee. As with other recent cases, the reports of adverse events are from patients who received preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate (80 mg/mL) by injection. Clinical information about these patients is pending; at least one infection appears to be fungal. The FDA recommends that healthcare providers not give any products labeled as sterile from Main Street and quarantine any products. Report adverse events or quality problems to FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program.

Some Cholesterol-Lowering Statins May Up the Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

Certain statins may impair insulin secretion or release, which could help explain the mechanism Read More...

A new study published in BMJ suggests that certain statins -- the popular cholesterol-lowering drugs used by millions in the U.S. -- may increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Studying over 500,000 patients, researchers in Canada found the overall risk is still low; however, the risk was greatest for patients taking atorvastatin (Lipitor), rosuvastatin (Crestor) and simvastatin (Zocor). People taking Lipitor had a 22 percent higher risk of new-onset diabetes, Crestor users had an 18 percent increased risk and those taking Zocor had a 10 percent increased risk, relative to those taking pravastatin (Pravachol). In other studies, pravastatin has been shown to lower the risk of developing diabetes by up to 30 percent.