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Weekly Drug News Round Up - November 28, 2012

Flucelvax Approved: Production Utilizes Cell-Culture Technology

Flucelvax has not yet been tested in patients with egg allergy Read More...

Getting vaccinated each year remains one of the best ways to prevent seasonal influenza. Previously, fertilized chicken eggs have been used to grow the virus strains used in the flu vaccine. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now approved Flucelvax for adult, the first seasonal influenza vaccine licensed in the U.S. that is produced using cultured animal cells of mammalian origin instead of fertilized chicken eggs. Advantages of cell-culture technology include the ability of rapid response to urgent needs for vaccine production, such as in a flu pandemic.  Cell-culture technology is successfully used for other vaccines, including H1N1, as well as vaccines for polio, rubella and hepatitis A.

Statins Plus Moderate Exercise Can Further Lower the Risk of Dying

Researchers caution that exercise is not a replacement for statins in those with high cholesterol Read More...

Statin drugs are used by millions of patients at risk for heart disease due high cholesterol and other lipids. Statins include common drugs such as Lipitor (atorvastatin), Lescol (fluvastatin), and Crestor (rosuvastatin). In a new study published in The Lancet, researchers evaluated over 10,000 veterans with high cholesterol levels and judged fitness from the results of standard treadmill exercise tolerance tests. Fewer deaths occurred among participants who were taking statins and were physically fit. The fittest veterans reduced their risk of dying by roughly 60 percent regardless of whether they were taking statins.

More Than 85 Drugs May Have an Interaction with Grapefruit

Liver enzymes can be blocked by compounds in grapefruit or grapefruit juice and may result in elevated blood levels of drugs Read More...

Research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal highlights the dangers of taking certain medications with various citrus fruits or juice. Furanocoumarins are compounds found in grapefruit and grapefruit juice, limes and Seville oranges (often used in orange marmalade). The compounds can block enzymes that are necessary to effectively metabolize (break down for elimination from the body) common medications, including some cholesterol drugs, such as atorvastatin or pravastatin, blood pressure medications like nifedipine, and antibiotics such as erythromycin. Because the enzymes may remain blocked over time, just taking the medication at a different time from the fruit may not eliminate the interaction.

Heart Failure Drugs Warrant Additional Research

Common drugs used in complicated heart failure may need additional studies to deem them as definitive first-line agents Read More...

Close to 5.7 million Americans suffer from heart failure, the heart’s inability to pump blood effectively throughout the body. Two studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association have evaluated heart failure treatments in the elderly, including aldosterone receptor antagonists, such as spironolactone (Aldactone), ACE inhibitors such as enalapril (Vasotec), and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) such as telmisartan (Micardis). While results suggest lowered readmissions for heart failure and lowered all-cause risk of death, experts advise further study is warranted to definitively place the drugs as first-line treatments in heart failure patients with high blood pressure or diabetes.

Drugs.com Releases Q3 Sales for Top 100 U.S. Drugs

Lidoderm, Maxalt and Actoplus Met are the next major brands expected to feel the effect of patent loss before the year's end Read More...

Drugs.com has released third quarter 2012 U.S. prescription sales data for the top 100 drugs. Movements of several drugs were predictable due to patent expirations and first-time generic availability. Singulair drops out of the top five due to patent loss, but Nexium and Abilify hold the top spots, each with over $1.4 billion in sales. Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers Humira and Enbrel both show strong sales gains of close to 13 percent for the quarter. Merck's Singulair drops 20 spots in sales ranking and loses over $800 million in sales due to first-time generic competition, and Pfizer's Lipitor continues to slide, as well.

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