Pharmacology

It’s about time. The FDA is cracking down on the sale of a natural substance that most of us consume every day. It is the chemical caffeine, and it’s the “energy” in energy drinks. (This is a misnomer. They should be called “drinks that do nothing until a chemical stimulant is added.”)

Hospira has announced that Inflectra, (infliximab), the first monoclonal antibody (mAb) biosimilar therapy, has been registered in Australia. This registration paves the way for the Federal Government to reduce the cost of some of the most expensive medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). A biosimilar is a biologic medicine that has been developed to treat the same diseases as the originator product and the marketing hope is that it will deliver a 20-30 percent reduction in the price paid for the therapy.


"Carbonated drinks linked with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest of cardiac origin"

Right away, this looks suspicious. 

"Linked with" is a standard junk science term that translates roughly into: "Let's see if I can get some headlines by manipulating people into thinking that there is a nebulous relationship between something stupid, and their health, even though I know damn well that it isn't real."
A man goes into a butcher shop to buy some steak.

Man: "How much is your steak?"
Butcher: "$4.99 a pound."
Man:       "That's ridiculous! The butcher across town sells steak for $3.99 a pound!"
Butcher: "Then buy it from him."
Man:       "I tried, but he's all out."
Butcher:  "Well, when I'm out, I'll sell it for $1.99 per pound!"

Pretty good joke, but even better when it's applied to what's going on now with generic drug prices. That is, assuming you can figure it out.

But, one thing is clear: They are going up, and really fast.

The introduction of a new prescription smoking-cessation aid, varenicline, in 2006 has had no significant impact on the rate at which Americans age 18 and older successfully quit smoking, according to a new study in Tobacco Control which suggests that the primary effect of varenicline (marketed as Chantix) has only been to displace the use of older tobacco addiction therapies, such as nicotine patches and the antidepressant, bupropion (Zyban).


Dosing obese teens with vitamin D shows no benefits for their heart health or diabetes risk, and could have the unintended consequences of increasing cholesterol and fat-storing triglycerides. These are the latest findings in a series of Mayo Clinic studies in childhood obesity.

Seema Kumar, M.D., a pediatric endocrinologist in the Mayo Clinic Children's Center, has been studying the effects of vitamin D supplementation in children for 10 years, through four clinical trials and six published studies. To date, Dr. Kumar's team has found limited benefit from vitamin D supplements in adolescents. The latest study, Effect of Vitamin D3 Treatment on Endothelial Function in Obese Adolescents, appears online in Pediatric Obesity.


I tend not read the news because journalists have no clue what they are talking about, especially when it comes to science. However, I came across some controversy over giving children OxyContin, which is an opioid. The FDA has approved the use of OxyContin for 11-16 year olds because palliative care doctors were already giving it off-label to children. Palliative care doctors prescribe a lot of off-label drugs because they are dealing with sick, near death patients. Typically, these are cancer patients. Giving off-label drugs is difficult because insurance companies/Medicare/Medicaid may not reimburse the cost.

The FDA, following the advice of their advisory panel, voted yesterday to approve Addyi, aka "Female Viagra," or "Pink Viagra." Good move? Bad? Keep reading...

So, I get in a pissy mood once in a while. Before you judge, you try taking the Times Square-Grand Central Station shuttle every day. See what kind of mood you end up in:

Then I read something so infuriatingly stupid in the Huffington Post — which is of questionable value even on a good day — that my already-sour disposition headed even further south.

Adding the price tag to prescription medicines worth more than £20 in England is just a "headline grabbing gimmick" which could mislead patients into believing that cheaper drugs are less important, according to an editorial in Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin.

On July 1st this year, health secretary for England Jeremy Hunt announced plans to print the indicative cost of medicines on all packs of those worth more than £20 alongside the phrase "funded by the UK taxpayer." The initiative aims to encourage more people to take personal responsibility for the use of finite public resources, added to which the health secretary claimed that the move would help cut waste and improve patient care as more people would be inclined to take their meds.