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Weekly Drug News Round Up - October 17, 2012

Added Compounds Under Investigation in Fungal Meningitis Outbreak

Fungal meningitis cases associated with tainted injectable steroids has now risen to 247, including 19 deaths Read More...

FDA is now advising healthcare professionals to contact patients who were given any injectable medication from or produced by the New England Compounding Center (NECC), including injectable ophthalmic drugs or a cardioplegic solution purchased from or produced by NECC after May 21, 2012. Cardioplegic solution is used to induce cardiac muscle paralysis during open heart surgery to prevent injury to the heart. New cases include two non-fatal peripheral joint infections. An additional steroid, triamcinolone acetonide may have caused meningitis in a patient who received an epidural injection. Previously reported cases of fungal meningitis were associated with a similar steroid, methylprednisolone acetate.

Seizure Treatment May Lead to New Weight Loss Option

Higher-dose zonisamide shows promise as a weight-loss aid, but side effects should be evaluated Read More...

Orlistat (Xenical, Alli) and the newly approved lorcaserin (Belviq) are indicated for longer-term use in obesity, but overall there are limited drug treatments okayed for extended use in weight loss. Zonisamide (Zonegran) is an agent approved for treatment of epilepsy that may have a use in weight loss. Researchers at Duke University conducted a study of over 200 obese men and women that received either 200 or 400 milligrams (mg) of zonisamide, or placebo daily for one year in combination with monthly nutritional counseling. Over one-half of those taking zonisamide 400 mg daily lost five percent or more of their pre-study weight, but only one-third of the 200 mg group lost that amount, the same as placebo. Mild side effects included diarrhea, headache, fatigue, and nausea/vomiting, among other effects.

Prescription Drug Abuse on the Rise Compared to Illegal Drugs

Researchers hope study results will aid physicians and spur patient education Read More...

In a new study looking at rates of drug abuse, there was an eight percent drop in emergency room visits for illicit drugs of abuse, while overall visits for prescription drug abuse increased two percent. The study, conducted from 2007 to 2009 by the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) looked at statistics in major metropolitan areas in the U.S. The data analyzed by DAWN was separated into two types of drug abuse: prescription drugs such as the pain medication OxyContin and illegal street drugs such as heroin and cocaine. Rates were relatively consistent among metro areas with spikes seen in the Houston and Phoenix areas.

Celgene’s Abraxane Receives New Indication for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Abraxane was previously approved for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer Read More...

Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer and the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Abraxane (paclitaxel protein-bound) for first-line treatment of advanced or metastatic NSCLC, in combination with carboplatin, in patients who are not candidates for surgery or radiation. Approval was based on a Phase 3, open-label trial in which over 1,000 patients received Abraxane plus carboplatin or paclitaxel plus carboplatin. A significantly greater response rate was seen for patients in the Abraxane arm (33% vs 25%).

U.S. Heart Health Improving But Still Needs Work

Risk factors for heart disease include obesity, lack of exercise, smoking, excess alcohol intake and type 2 diabetes Read More...

A new study points to trends in the U.S. population of reduced cholesterol and other blood lipids that can lead to heart disease primarily due to an increasing use of cholesterol-lowering drugs known as “statins”, and not due to regular exercise or weight loss. Researchers examined lipids in over 38,000 adults using the National Health and Nutrition Examination surveys from 1988 to 2010. Total cholesterol declined from roughly 206 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) in the 1988-1994 survey to 196 mg/dL in the 2007-2010 survey. Those taking lipid-lowering medications climbed from 3.4 percent to 15.5 percent.