Pharmacology

Over 10 percent of patients using aspirin therapy for primary cardiovascular disease prevention shouldn't be doing so, according to a recent paper. 

They were likely either inappropriately prescribed it or do it over the counter, according to a new study that examined practice variations in aspirin therapy by accessing data from the National Cardiovascular Disease Registry Practice Innovation and Clinical Excellence (PINNACLE) Registry. The authors examined a nationwide sample of 68,808 patients receiving aspirin for primary cardiovascular disease prevention and evaluating aspirin guidelines by the American Heart Association, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, and other organizations.


Autism spectrum disorders affect 1 percent of children in the United States and hundreds of genetic and environmental factors have been implicated in increasing the risk. 

Scientists have previously reported that suramin, a drug used for almost a century to treat trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) reversed environmental autism-like symptoms in mice and now a new study in Molecular Autism suggests that a genetic form of autism-like symptoms in mice are also corrected with the drug, even when treatment was started in young adult mice. 
A new white paper finds little to no evidence for the effectiveness of opioid drugs in the treatment of long-term chronic pain, despite the explosive recent growth in the use of such drugs. 

The paper, which constitutes the final report of a seven-member panel convened by the National Institutes of Health  last September, finds that many of the studies used to justify the prescription of these drugs were either poorly conducted or of an insufficient duration. That makes prolific use of these drugs surprising, says Dr. David Steffens, chair of the psychiatry department at the University of Connecticut and one of the authors of the study. When it comes to long-term pain, he says, "there's no research-based evidence that these medicines are helpful." 

By Josh Bloom and Henry Miller

The development of new drugs is among the riskiest of business ventures. It now takes 10-15 years for a pharmaceutical company to get a new drug approved, and on average the cost exceeds $2.5 billion. To establish its safety and effectiveness, a candidate drug or vaccine undergoes a lengthy process of laboratory, animal and clinical studies, and then regulatory review is conducted by the highly risk-averse FDA.

It is well-known that “huffing” - inhaling organic solvents or propellants to achieve a “high” - is extremely dangerous, but less well known is that newer replacement products primarily used by homosexual men, called “poppers”, actually contain harmful solvents and propellants and pose the same health risks as huffing. 

The original poppers, based on alkyl nitrites and related to the medication amyl nitrite, got the name from their glass vials that “popped”, and they have been popular among gay men due to mild psychoactive effects and relaxing of smooth muscle, used to enhance sexual experience. 
A small pilot study has shown that most of the children in a new oral immunotherapy treatment program were able to eat 100 grams of wheat bread without side effects, a promising way to mitigate the risk of accidental ingestion by people with this allergy. 
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently warned that statins could affect the memory, attention span and other cognitive abilities of people who it drug to control high cholesterol.

Despite cultural claims in the US that the FDA is too liberal in approval, a new review found that they were instead being far too conservative. It was the precautionary principle becoming a vice, according to a systematic review of 25 clinical trials incorporating nearly 47,000 people, led by Brian R. Ott, M.D., professor at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

Food for drug-resistant bacteria. AthanArk, CC BY-NC-ND

By Angelika Gründling, Imperial College London

Hypertension - high blood pressure - affects up to 80 million people in the United States and cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death so lowering blood pressure has the potential to save lives.

For most people, exercise and diet are enough and a new study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics finds that daily consumption of blueberries for eight weeks resulted in significant reductions of both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
A 12-year study of two measles-containing vaccines has found that seven main adverse outcomes were unlikely after either vaccine.

The study conducted by the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center included children ages 12 to 23 months from January 2000 through June 2012 who received measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMRV) or separately administered, same-day measles-mumps-rubella and varicella (MMR + V) vaccines.

A total of 123,200 MMRV doses and 584,987 MMR + V doses were evaluated.