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Weekly Drug News Round Up - October 22, 2014

New Labeling for Abuse-Deterrent Embeda Released

Naltrexone is a special narcotic drug that blocks the effects of other narcotic medicines and alcohol Read More...

Embeda (morphine and naltrexone) extended-release (ER) is potent opioid (narcotic) painkiller that has properties that are expected to reduce, but not totally prevent, abuse of the drug when crushed and taken orally or snorted. This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved new labeling for Embeda’s abuse-deterrent properties. When crushed, naltrexone blocks some of the euphoric effects of morphine but can lead to withdrawal in those addicted or tolerant of narcotics. When swallowed whole, Embeda can still be abused because the naltrexone won’t substantially block the euphoric effects of the morphine. Abuse of Embeda, first approved in 2009, can cause overdose and death.

Ebola Vaccines Possible by Year’s End

Vaccination in West Africa could start soon

Ebola anxiety has skyrocketed, but the World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that tens of thousands of doses of a promising new Ebola vaccine could be available for "real-world" testing in West Africa by January. Vaccines developed by both Canadian and American manufacturers are undergoing testing, and the Canadian vaccine, now under volunteer testing in Switzerland, could be shipped soon to West Africa. The two vaccines both aim to create immunity to Ebola through the use of a simpler, less harmful virus into which Ebola genetics have been spliced. Experts state that health care workers likely will be the first people in West Africa to receive inoculations, and then a rotation through entire African villages would probably occur.

Parkinson’s Drugs Boost Risk of Compulsions: Study

Impulse control disorders found in roughly 10 percent of patients on dopamine agonists Read More...

Impulse control disorders include compulsive gambling, compulsive shopping, and/or hypersexuality. These side effects are associated with a class of Parkinson’s disease drugs called dopamine agonists, confirmed after a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review of 10 year’s worth of data. The study authors analyzed FDA data on 2.7 million domestic and foreign adverse drug events reported between 2003 and 2012. Parkinson’s disease is not the only condition this class is used for; dopamine agonists are also prescribed for restless leg syndrome and high levels of prolactin. Awareness of the side effects is important because dopamine agonists are one cornerstone of treatment for Parkinson’s disease.

Vancomycin Still Useful for Serious Staph Blood Infections

Common vancomycin side effects include nausea, rash, and chills Read More...

Staphylococcus aureus infections are among the most common types of health care-associated infections, and staph bloodstream infections are among the most deadly. A new study published in the Oct. 15 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) finds that the older antibiotic vancomycin is still an effective treatment for serious blood infections involving S. aureus. Researchers analyzed roughly 8,300 cases of S. aureus, in which the death rate was 26 percent. Using newer antibiotics may be effective, but also increase the risk of developing antibiotic resistance to those agents, which may be needed later on.

Med Errors Occurred Every 8 Minutes in U.S. Children: Study

Twenty-five percent of these children were under one year old Read More...

An astounding statistic from a study published in Pediatrics confirms the prevalence of medications errors: roughly 700,000 children under 6 years old experienced an out-of-hospital medication error between 2002 and 2012. Pain relievers, cough and cold meds, and antihistamines made up the majority of errors. The most common mistake was surprising: a dose of medicine was mistakenly given by two different caregivers to the same child, doubling the dose. To avoid these errors, researchers recommend that parents use a smartphone app to check doses and schedules and to use only the measuring tool that comes with a medication.