Pharmacology

Where is Mel Brooks when you need him?

Ever since Chipotle's self-righteous claim (which isn't even true) that the company was removing GM ingredients from its food because "it doesn't align with [the company's] position," just about everything conceivable went wrong.  It's now a bit of a novelty to find a news day when they haven't poisoned someone.

A cannabinoid neuropathic treatment that provided pain relief in rats for a period of eleven days after the oral administration of a single dose has received a patent and signed an intellectual property license with GB Sciences, Inc. 

Next up, they will work on formulations based on polymer nanoparticles with active ingredients developed by GB Sciences for the treatment of chronic pain in hopes it will be suitable for humans.

Alternative medicine frauds like Dr. Allan Spreen of the ironically named Institute of Health Sciences (they claim their supplement can cure cancer in 6 weeks) may be rejoicing about a new study showing Vitamin D can protect against asthma attacks but the attacks were only reduced when people took standard asthma medication. 

Asthma affects more than 300 million people worldwide and is estimated to shorten lifespan for up to 400,000 people annually. Asthma deaths are primarily due to viral upper respiratory infections which cause asthma attacks. 

Although 29 states and the District of Columbia allow marijuana use for medical purposes, there is no evidence it is medicine. Obviously some of the reason for that is because it's illegal and therefore hard to study, but regardless of the past it seems odd that scholars at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis surveyed medical school deans, residents and fellows, and examined a curriculum database maintained by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), and lament that medical marijuana is not being addressed in medical education.

Licorice roots have a diverse history, having been used throughout history as a flavoring agent and as an ingredient in some licorice candies, while in ancient Egyptian times it was a tea and the Chinese used it for medicinal purposes.

One trend in the alternative medicine movement, which seeks to replace approved pharmacology with essentially untested natural products (as long as they carry a disclaimer FDA has not verified their efficacy or safety), is for women to take licorice extracts as supplements to treat hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms.

Cancer is a leading cause of illness and death worldwide. In 2015, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recorded 8.8 million cancer-related deaths and nearly twice that are diagnosed each year. Since people are living longer, cancer diagnoses is likely to continue to increase by about 70% for at least the next two decades.

Given that more cancers are likely in the developing world, the search is on for treatments  that are simple and inexpensive to manufacture. The answer may lie in herbal medicine. The problem, as always, is that while there are numerous anecdotes about those, there are few studies. 
A new study from the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine has found a connection between common household chemicals, quaternary ammonium compounds or "quats,", and birth defects, despite the fact that experts have never found evidence of harm.

Quats are often used as disinfectants and preservatives in household and personal products such as cleaners, laundry detergent, fabric softener, shampoo and conditioner, and eye drops. The research declared a link between quats and neural tube birth defects in both mice and rats and immediately sent out a press release, hoping mainstream journalists who love weak correlational studies will believe that mice are little people.
It's manna from heaven for sue-and-settle law firms; a new paper links common antibiotics, such as macrolides, quinolones, tetracyclines, sulfonamides and metronidazole, to an increased risk of miscarriage in early pregnancy.

The association was weak, but juries won't know that, because Dr. Anick Bérard, Faculty of Pharmacy, Université de Montréal, declared, "our investigation shows that certain types of antibiotics are increasing the risk of spontaneous abortion, with a 60% to two-fold increased risk." That's important, since baseline risk of spontaneous abortion is 30 percent, but the women who miscarried in this study were more likely to be older, living alone and to have multiple health issues and infections. 
The opioid epidemic has exploded into the national consciousness in the last two years. While anti-medicine groups seek to lay blame on pharmaceutical companies and doctors who give out prescriptions too easily, other groups wonder why the crack epidemic, which was far worse, got less attention, and suggest it is because addiction is exculpatory when the victims are white.
Betel quid is areca nuts mixed with betel, and sometimes tobacco, leaves. It creates a sense of euphoria so many of the 600 million users are addicted, even though it can cause harm. Quids are prepared by mixing sliced areca nuts with slaked lime (calcium hydroxide), spices, sweets and in some cases tobacco, and wrapping the concoction in leaves from the betel vine.

Quid chewing turns users' teeth bright red and forces them to spit out a lot of red saliva, which discolors local sidewalks and buildings. Quid use is addictive and leads to serious health effects including oral cancer and cardiovascular issues.