Pharmacology

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.
The first phase 1 trial of an Ebola vaccine based on the current (2014) strain have shown it to be safe and provoke an immune response.  The big question, whether it can protect against the Ebola virus, remain unanswered for now.

A team of researchers led by Professor Fengcai Zhu, from the Jiangsu provincial center for disease prevention and control in China, tested the safety and immunogenicity of a novel Ebola vaccine, based on the 2014 Zaire Guinea Ebola strain, and delivered by a virus-like structure (known as a recombinant adenovirus type-5 vaccine). The experimental vaccine was developed by Beijing Institute of Biotechnology in Beijing, China, and Tianjin CanSino Biotechnology in Tianjin, China.


By Benjamin Plackett, Inside Science

There is an ongoing competition of bureaucratic one-upmanship between the U.S. government and renegade pharmacists. The government is playing defense. When they ban a variation of a drug, pharmacists then quickly create a newly formulated and therefore legal variation.

Insulin has been in use since 1923 so why isn't it generic?

It is a corporate conspiracy, say government-funded academics. It is constantly being improved because so many people rely on it, which leads to a new patent, say companies.
In the world of technology, tools can be fast, cheap or easy to use - but you only get to pick two of those three.

Everyone knows that, it is common across all product development, yet a surprising number of people think medicine is somehow exempt - they want new, better drugs fast, they want them to be safe, and they want them to cost $4.

We want to keep smart people developing, not milking old technology cows, so we have a patent on drugs that eventually expires. Then the drugs can be made by someone else. Since they did no research, and incur no clinical trial expenses, these generic companies will produce them much cheaper and the high-end market can move on to solving new problems.

High prices for cancer drugs are affecting patient care in the U.S. but there are no magic buttons to push to make that go away. Development takes longer than ever and is under more government rules than ever, while the patent window remains small and lawsuit judgments if things go wrong are unlimited.

Writing in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, a group of oncologists say they have answers. Unfortunately, their simplistic take on economics would mean pharmaceutical development will become the modern generation's version of the steel industry and leave the country and never come back. 

New Hepatitis C drugs are terrific - but like every new drug they cost a lot of money to develop and took a lot of time to navigate the regulatory system and as a result they are not cheap. Most cost-benefit analyses have found that these new treatments save a lot more than treatment without them would cost, but with the Affordable Care Act already straining under gigantic expenses that politicians didn't consider when approving it, it may be more economical to force people to do without the best treatment in the short term and incur more costs later, after the economy has time to inflate away the ballooning costs of today.