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Weekly Drug News Round Up - September 12, 2012

Is Daily Corticosteroid Use Always Needed in Asthma?

Compliant patients may be able to track their symptoms, use inhalers less frequently and reap cost-savings Read More...

Current asthma guidelines recommend use of a twice-daily inhaled anti-inflammatory corticosteroid to prevent asthma symptoms. New research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests daily treatment may not be needed in all asthma patients. In a study of 340 adults with mild-to-moderate, persistent asthma, patients were assigned to one of three groups: physician-monitored care; continuous care based on nitric oxide breath tests; or care based on symptoms with steroids given only as flare-ups occurred. No measurable differences in any of the outcomes, regardless of treatment approach, were seen. However, some patients experienced treatment failures due to fluctuation of symptoms in the fall and winter seasons.

Strep Throat Guidelines Recommend Cost-Effective Treatment

Research shows that each year one-half of the 15 million people with a sore throat receive an unneeded antibiotic Read More...

You know the drill - go to the clinic with a sore throat and you may get swabbed to detect streptococcus pyogenes bacteria, the causative agent of strep throat. But only 20 percent of us actually end up having strep throat - the rest have a viral sore throat that does not require antibiotic treatment. Updated guidelines published by the Infectious Diseases Society of America now recommend that confirmed strep throat should be treated with penicillin or amoxicillin in nonallergic patients. Penicillin and amoxicillin are effective and cheap - and using more potent antibiotics, such as cephalosporins, may lead to antibiotic resistance and unwanted cost.

NSAIDs May Increase the Risk for Recurrent Heart Attacks

Patients with a previous heart attack should consult with their doctor before using NSAIDs Read More...

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), naproxen (Aleve) or Celebrex are some of the most commonly used pain drugs in the U.S. Many NSAIDs are easily available over-the-counter without a prescription. A new observational study suggests that patients with a history of heart attack are at a greater risk of another heart attack or death if they continue to use NSAIDs after their first heart attack. Researchers found that patients who had filled a prescription for an NSAID after a heart attack had a 59 percent higher risk of dying from any cause within one year after their heart attack.

Study: Ginkgo Does Not Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

Five year study concludes the herbal extract has no protective effect against Alzheimer’s Read More...

Alzheimer’s disease has no effective cure - only symptomatic treatments. A new study provides more data that use of the herbal extract ginkgo biloba offers no protection against the eventual occurrence of Alzheimer’s, either. According to research published in The Lancet Neurology, more than 2,800 people over the age of 70 with memory complaints were randomly assigned to take either ginkgo biloba extract or placebo. After five years, four percent of the ginkgo group developed Alzheimer’s disease, as did five percent of the placebo group - the results were not statistically significant. A U.S. study published in 2009 also found that ginkgo had no protective effect.

Cancer Risk with Rheumatoid Arthritis Biologics Reviewed

Biologics are introduced earlier in therapy to control inflammation and slow down disease progression Read More...

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association adds to the controversy over whether rheumatoid arthritis treatments known as biologics may increase the risk of cancer. The biologic medications include abatacept (Orencia), adalimumab (Humira), anakinra (Kineret), certolizumab (Cimzia), etanercept (Enbrel), golimumab (Simponi), infliximab (Remicade), rituximab (Rituxan), and tocilizumab (Actemra). Researchers reviewed over 63 studies involving roughly 29,500 patients with follow-up of at least 24 weeks. No additional risk of cancer was detected compared to other drugs used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. However, some experts suggest additional studies are needed to evaluate the longer-term risk of cancer.