Health Canada Issues Warning On Transdermal Patch.
The Globe and Mail and The Canadian Pressreported, "A transdermal patch used to treat mild to moderate symptoms of dementia could also pose a risk of overdose, leading to nausea, hypertension, slowed heart rate or death." Health Canada on Wednesday "issued a warning" about the patch, called Exelon (rivastigmine), "after 129 cases of misuse of the drug were reported worldwide. Two of the cases caused deaths." Health Canada also "said problems with the Exelon patch occur when it is used incorrectly or erroneously," and consumers and health professionals are being urged "to follow directions, such as making sure only one patch is applied at a time to recommended locations on the body, such as upper arm or lower back. Patches should also not be cut into pieces."
Scientist Says Anti-Aging Drugs May Be Available In Two Years.
The UK's Press Association reported that, "Medicines that can help people live healthy lives to 100 and beyond may be available in as little as two years," according to "Professor Nir Barzilai, one of the world's leading age scientists." The drugs will "involve biological pathways affecting metabolism, cell-death, inflammation and cholesterol." The Press Association notes that a "subsidiary of drug giant GlaxoSmithKline is looking at sirtuins, a family of enzymes associated with a whole range of age-related diseases including type 2 diabetes and cancers," while Merck and Roche are developing drugs that inhibit "cholesterol ester transfer protein," which "affects levels of 'good' cholesterol, or high-density lipoprotein."
Expensive Indigestion Drugs May Be Accompanied By Serious Side-Effects.
The UK's Telegraph reported, "Patients who are prescribed expensive indigestion drugs" known as proton pump inhibitors "unnecessarily are risking serious side-effects." In fact, "between one half and two thirds of prescriptions were found to be inappropriate." According to a paper in BMJ, "they can increase the risk of pneumonia, osteoporosis, broken bones and kidney problems," as well as heighten the likelihood "of infection with the hospital superbug C. difficile."
Drug-Resistant TB Strains Could Overwhelm The World Without "Significant Global Investment," Experts Warn.
The UK's Press Association reported that, "A TB time bomb could explode on the world without major efforts to curb drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis, experts...warned" in a series of papers on the scourge. The "full extent of the spread of resistant TB" has not been adequately measured. "But two doctors writing in The Lancet medical journal argue that the 'superbug' strains could become dominant without significant global investment to tackle the problem."
Presently, "TB remains a deadly scourge that fails to attract as many health dollars, euros, and yen as other diseases claiming as many or fewer victims," AFP (5/19) reports. "'Tuberculosis is unfashionable these days,' said Lesotho Health Minister Mphu Ramatlapeng at a press conference in Geneva, where the report was unveiled at the World Health Organization (WHO)." Accordingly, "40 percent of active infections in" certain "nations still go untreated," and "only a quarter of the estimated 1.4 million people infected with both tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS have been identified." And, "when patients fail to complete a treatment, the Mycobacterium tuberculosis germ that causes the disease develops a resistance to frontline drugs such as isoniazid and rifampicin."
Already, there have been approximately 440,000 cases of MDR-TB, otherwise known as multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. China and India's citizens are most affected, as 50 percent of the current infections were identified in patients residing in those countries. Nine percent of the cases are said to exist inside of Russia. Indeed, such cases can be treated, but at great costs and limited cure rates. But, experts wrote, "The future possibility of strains that are totally resistant to all anti-tuberculosis drugs is not inconceivable."
What's more, "no region is spared -- the Global Project on Anti-Tuberculosis Drug Resistance Surveillance found MDR-TB to be at least 3% of new cases in at least one country in all six WHO regions," MedPage Today reported. Yet, "current technologies could start to turn the tide, if they were properly used." There are, however, "several barriers," including the facts that "most affected countries don't have the laboratories to diagnose drug resistance quickly," and "expensive medications must be used for longer periods of time and in some cases treatment costs can exceed a patient's annual income." Still, "new drugs and new diagnostic technologies are in the pipeline...but unless they are supported by improved public health programs, there is a risk they will be misused and lead to more -- not less -- resistant TB."
"Radical New Approaches" Needed To Fight TB, Experts Say.
For years, the World Health Organization and partners have fought TB largely with a program where health workers watch patients take their drugs -- even though the agency acknowledged in a 2008 report that this treatment program didn't significantly curb TB spread. Now, one paper appearing in "a special tuberculosis edition" of The Lancet quantifies that statement by pointing out that "more than nine million people" were "infected last year." In fact, "officials say there is more tuberculosis now than at any other time in history." Thus, "radical new approaches are needed, experts said Wednesday." These strategies should "go beyond health and include other sectors like housing, education, and transportation."