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Weekly Drug News Round-Up: November 9, 2016

FDA Approves Expanded Enbrel Use for Pediatric Psoriasis

About one-third of psoriasis cases are pediatric

Roughly 100 million people worldwide have plaque psoriasis. Psoriasis is a serious, chronic inflammatory disease that causes raised, red, scaly patches on the skin, commonly the elbows, knees or scalp. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now expanded the use of Enbrel (etanercept) to treat pediatric patients (ages 4-17) with chronic moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis. Enbrel is the first systemic therapy and biologic approved for plaque psoriasis in this age group. Approval was based on a Phase 3, one-year study and its five-year open label study. Effectiveness was demonstrated, as well as similar side effects as in adults with moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis.

Vitamin D Levels and Bladder Cancer: Study

The body produces vitamin D through exposure to sunshine Read More…

Researchers conducting a retrospective review of several studies has found evidence that low levels of vitamin D may lead to elevated risk for bladder cancer. From experiments, it appears the cells lining the bladder can activate vitamin D leading to an immune response. In turn, this immune system effect may help to fight the cancer. Because the study looked back at previous research, it could not prove that inadequate vitamin D levels cause bladder cancer. Previous studies have also linked vitamin D deficiency with heart disease, mental impairment, autoimmune conditions and cancer.

Baby Powder and Ovarian Cancer: Is There a Link?

Talcum powder is a magnesium and silicon mineral used to help absorb skin moisture Read More...

The question still remains: does baby powder cause ovarian cancer? Now, some legal cases have awarded millions of dollars to women who said they have used Johnson’s Baby Powder as a hygiene product, which they say resulted in their ovarian cancer. Currently, there are roughly 1,700 state and federal lawsuits alleging that Johnson & Johnson failed to warn the public of research linking talc-containing powders to ovarian cancer. But is there really a risk? Experts in cancer and women's health say a risk, if one exists, is very small and that data are inconclusive. Plus, obstetrician-gynecologists do not recommend use of douches, vaginal sprays or talcum powder.

New Immunotherapy Drugs May Cause Rare Heart Risks

The instances of heart damage are rare, less than 1 percent at this point Read More...

As reported this past week in the New England Journal of Medicine, two cases describe patients with advanced melanoma who died of heart trouble two weeks after receiving their first doses of Opdivo (nivolumab) and Yervoy (ipilimumab). These possibly life-saving immunotherapy drugs are newer options for cancer treatment. In both cases, patients had serious heart side effects - sudden cardiac arrest and rapid heartbeat with organ failure. Other newer immunotherapies - Tecentriq (atezolizumab) and Keytruda (pembrolizumab) - may pose similar concerns. The risk seems to be highest when two of these drugs are used at the same time.

Beware of Fraudulent Diabetes Medications: FDA

More than 29 million people in the United States have diabetes, including about 7 million who are undiagnosed Read More...

November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and reports are available of illegally marketed products promising to prevent, treat, and even cure the chronic condition where blood sugars are too high. FDA is warning consumers that products that sound too good to be sure, probably are. These over-the-counter (OTC) products may contain harmful ingredients, foreign pharmaceuticals, or even potent prescription drugs that could result in dangerous drug interactions. Also, the FDA warns consumers to be vigilant when ordering products online, as many fraudulent online pharmacies illegally market drugs that are not FDA-approved in the United States.