Patients with chronic kidney disease may be treated with a class of medications called Renin Angiotensin Aldosterone System inhibitors (RAASI's) but though they protect the heart and kidney, a significant percentage of patients develop a dangerous side effect; high potassium levels in the blood, a condition known as hyperkalemia. 

Elevated potassium puts patients at risk of death from cardiac arrhythmias. Lacking a drug to treat the problem, doctors either stop these beneficial drugs or may use kidney dialysis to quickly lower the potassium.

With each new amyloid-targeting treatment for Alzheimer's disease that has been developed, there has been a corresponding concern about antibodies targeting amyloid-β peptide (Aβ) producing inflammation in the brain in some patients.

Gamma secretase inhibitors tend to produce adverse effects by interacting with Notch, an important pathway for cellular signaling. 

Low back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and osteoarthritis of the hip or knee is the 11th highest contributor to global disability.  A new study found paracetamol is ineffective in reducing pain, disability or improving quality of life for patients who suffer from low back pain or osteoarthritis of the hip or knee, and its use may affect the liver.

Paracetamol is currently recommended by most international clinical guidelines as a first line treatment for low back pain and osteoarthritis but it is no better at treating low back pain than a placebo and its effect on osteoarthritis of the hip or knee is too small to be clinically worthwhile, the study concludes.

Are ancient remedies any good?  In scholarly circles the middle of the 20th Century, they didn’t seem to think so.  For example:

‘Survey the mass of folly and credulity that makes up Anglo-Saxon leechdoms, it may be asked: “Is there any rational element here? Is the material based on anything that we may reasonably describe as experience?” The answer to both questions must be “Very little”.’ [1]

But in the last few days we have been reading

Patients with cancer often adopt lifestyle changes and those include being sold on the benefits of supplements, but there is growing concern about the use of supplements while taking anti-cancer drugs due to possible effect on treatment outcomes. 

A new study has found that consuming  three kinds of fish oils, as well as the fish herring and mackerel, raised blood levels of the fatty acid 16:4(n-3), which experiments in mice have found may induce resistance to chemotherapy used to treat cancer.

Newly published research posits an explanation for why 100 million Americans estimated to be taking prescription and over-the-counter antacid and heartburn medications may be at an increased risk of bone fractures.

A new study in mice notes that stomach acid in the gastrointestinal tract plays an important role in helping the intestines absorb and transfer calcium to the skeletal system and so while the introduction of proton pump inhibitor-based antacids reduces the level of acidity in the stomach to bring relief to patients, that reduction also interrupts and even stops the gut from absorbing much needed calcium.

What are the harms and benefits of long-term use of cognitive-enhancing drugs by healthy individuals?

No one can say, but they are popular. There is growing ‘lifestyle use’ of cognitive-enhancing drugs – such as methylphenidate (Ritalin) and modafinil (Provigil) – by healthy individuals to improve concentration, memory, and other aspects of cognitive performance. But very little is known about the long-term effects of this non-medical use, say the authors.

By Ben Stein, Inside Science - Testing whether a drug is safe and effective usually takes many years and millions of dollars. Now, researchers have discovered a surprisingly simple method that could quickly and inexpensively weed out many toxic drugs early in the testing process. The test simply explores how much a drug alters a cell's outer covering, or membrane.

Rhodiola rosea (R. rosea), or roseroot, may be a beneficial treatment option for major depressive disorder, according to a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, comparison trial of oral R. rosea extract versus conventional antidepressant for mild to moderate major depressive disorder.
Most savvy citizens and policy makers are concerned about the departure of the world's best and brightest researchers from antibiotic discovery - regulations are up and everyone wants generic prices from the moment products are approved - but a paper in BMJ takes the contrarian approach and argues new antibiotics probably wouldn't help with antibiotic resistance anyway.

Associate Editor and Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy Peter Doshi, like many academics, comments academically because the real world is a simple black box - he believes authorities should not be approving drugs unless they are certain they can tackle the problem of antimicrobial resistance.