Posted tagged ‘health’

Diabetes Drugs Avandia and Actos Linked to Vision Problems

June 14, 2012

(June 13, 2012) – A recent study published on June 11th in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that use of thiazolidinediones (TZDs), a class of drug used to treat Type 2 diabetes, which includes Avandia and Actos, may include the risk of vision problems. The study followed 103,000 people for ten years and found that:


–       Participants taking one of the medications were two-to-three times more at risk of developing macular edema, a swelling in the central part of the retina, which can lead to blindness (although the likelihood of developing the disease was small).


–       1.3 percent of participants taking one of the medications developed macular edema, compared to a rate of 0.2 percent among participants not taking either medication.


–       Combining the drugs with insulin further increased the risk.


Dr. Iskander Idris, one of the study’s authors and a consultant in diabetes and endocrinology at Sherwood Forest Hospitals Foundation Trust in England, speculated one reason the drugs may cause damage to the retina is because of greater sodium and fluid retention or changes in the blood vessels.  Dr. Idris suggests that people who take one of these drugs should have their vision checked regularly, especially if they are also taking insulin or have a history of visual issues.


Macular edema occurs when fluid and protein deposits collect on or under the macula of the eye, which is an area on the retina, and causes it to thicken and swell, causing distortion of vision.


This is not the first time Avandia and Actos have been scrutinized. Recent studies have confirmed links between Actos usage and bladder cancer. Avandia usage has been linked to an increase in heart attacks.  Consumer Reports says Actos, made by Takeda Pharmaceuticals, is linked to congestive heart failure, bone fractures, and bladder cancer and is a danger to all patients. If you are taking these drugs for diabetes, the publication suggests you ask your doctor if there are safer drugs that would do the same job such as metformin, glipizide or glimepiride, which have been around longer and have fewer consumer complaints.


Unfortunately, the risks diabetic drug users are faced with as a result of their prescription medications, continues to grow.


Many of the people affected by this have said that if they had just been told about the complications and risks, they would have saved their lives and their vision and taken some of the older, more reliable diabetic medications.


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FDA Approves Breast Cancer Medicine

June 9, 2012

(June 9, 2012) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new anti-HER2 therapy, called Perjeta (pertuzumab) to treat patients with HER2-positive late-stage (metastatic) breast cancer.  Perjeta is combined with trastuzumab, another anti-HER2 therapy, and docetaxel, a type of chemotherapy.


HER2 is a protein involved in normal cell growth, and is found in increased amounts on some types of cancer cells (HER2-positive), including some breast cancers. The increased amount of HER2 protein in these HER2-positive breast cancers contributes to cancer cell growth., as well as survival.


Perjeta is intended for patients who have not received prior treatment for metastatic breast cancer with an anti-HER2 therapy or chemotherapy.


Perjeta is administered through an IV, and is a humanized monoclonal antibody, manufactured through biotechnology methods.


Currently, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death among women. In fact, an estimated 226,870 women will be diagnosed this year, and 39,510 will die from the disease.


Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said,  “given the need for additional treatments for metastatic breast cancer, we made the decision to approve this drug today and not to delay its availability to patients pending resolution of the production issues relating to future supply.”


Richard Pazdur, M.D., director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug and Research, said, “since trastuzumab was first approved more than a decade ago, continued research has allowed us to better understand the role HER2 plays in breast cancer. This research provided the background to combine two targeted drugs – trastuzuman and Perjeta with docetaxel to slow disease progression in breast cancer.”


In a study designed to measure the length of time a patient lived without the cancer progressing, progession-free survival (PFS), those treated with the combination containing Perjeta had a median PFS of 18.5 months, whereas those treated with the combination containing placebo had a median PFS of 12.4.


Common side effects are diarrhea, hair loss,  a decrease in infection-fighting white blood cells, nausea, fatigue, rash, and nerve damage.

Smoking Hookah May Be More Harmful Than Smoking Cigarettes

June 8, 2012



(June 7, 2012) One in three college students has smoked hookah. The hookah is a beautiful, decorative piece of polished brass. It is used for smoking when friends get together, and to relax and socialize.


Hookah is also known as narghile, shisha, and goza. It is a water pipe with a smoke chamber, a bowl, a pipe, and a hose. Specifically-made tobacco is heated, and the smoke passes through water and is then drawn through a rubber hose to a mouthpiece. The tobacco is no less toxic in a hookah pipe, and the water in the hookah does not filter out the toxic ingredients in the tobacco smoke. Hookah smokers may actually inhale more tobacco smoke than cigarette smokers do because of the large volume of smoke they inhale in one smoking session, which can last as long as 60 minutes.


Hookah bars have become popular around the country for the last decade. “It usually attracts 18-20 year olds”, says Lance Freeman, of The Egyptian Café and Hooka Bar in Indianapolis, Indiana. “We are a place to come for people who can’t go to bars.”


The problem is that smoking hookah is still dangerous because it delivers the same chemical compounds as smoking cigarettes. One session (from 45-60 minutes) delivers about 100 times the smoke as a single cigarette, with 40 times the tar and 10 times the carbon monoxide. While research about hookah smoking is still emerging, evidence shows that it poses many dangers.


Hookah smoke contains high levels of toxic compounds, including tar, carbon monoxide, heavy metals, and cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens). In fact, hookah smokers are exposed to more carbon monoxide and smoke than are cigarette smokers.


As with cigarette smoking, hookah smoking is linked to lung and oral cancers, heart disease, and other serious illnesses.


Hookah smoke delivers about the same amount of nicotine as cigarette smoking does, possibly leading to tobacco dependence. Hookah smoke poses dangers associated with second hand smoke. Hookah smoking by pregnant women can result in low birth weight babies.


Hookah pipes used in hookah bars and cafes may not be cleaned properly, risking the spread of infectious diseases.


Dr. Brian Primack conducted a study which was published in the June issue of the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, which found that 1 in 3 current college students has smoked hookah at some point; more than 50% of those students were not cigarette smokers.


Primack said that while he was giving a lecture on the dangers of smoking at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, a student interrupted him. “He said, ‘No offense, but nobody really smokes anymore – we all do this hookah thing instead.’” That very moment started Primack’s research into the hookah world. “It’s a very interesting public health puzzle. The same chemicals – in one form are reviled by many people; but the same people will go across the street and take it in this difficult format.”


Better education is needed, Primack has said, to show similarities between hookah smoking and cigarette smoking. In a previous study, the research found 92% of videos on You Tube showed hookah in a positive light, compared to just 24% of cigarette videos. The population that participates in hookah smoking tends to be younger, male and white, but is found across all characters.


The researchers do not know yet if hookah is addictive. Smokers inhale twice the amount of nicotine in one hookah session as they do with a single cigarette, but long-term studies need to be done to see if it interferes with their life in the same way.

Plague Medication Approved by the FDA

June 7, 2012

(June 7, 2012) At the end of May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a drug to treat patients with plague, a rare and potentially life-threatening bacterial infection.


In addition, Levaquin (levofloxacin) was also approved to reduce the risk of getting plague after exposure to a bacterium, which causes the disease, known as Yersinia pestis.


Although plague is extremely rare in most parts of the world (only 1,000 to 2,000 cases per year), and is primarily an animal disease, plague may be spread to humans from an infected flea, contact with infected animals, or laboratory exposure.


The three most common forms of plague are bubonic plague (infection of the lymph nodes), pneumonic plague (infection of the lungs), and septicemic plague (infection of the blood).


The Director of the Office of Antimicrobial Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Edward Cox, M.D., M.P.H., said that this “approval broadens the available therapeutic treatments for plague. It also further demonstrates the usefulness of animal model studies to collect needed efficacy data in cases where human trials are not ethical or feasible.”


The agency approved Levaquin under the Animal Efficacy Rule, which allows research on animals in cases where it is not feasible or ethical to conduct trials in humans, so long as the studies are adequate and well-controlled.


The study was conducted on African green monkeys infected with the plague bacterium in a lab setting. Animals were randomly selected to receive a 10-day regimen of Levaquin or placebo within six hours of the onset of fever after being infected. 94 percent of the 17 monkeys (roughly 16) treated with Levaquin survived, but none of the seven monkeys treated with the placebo survived.


Common side effects of Levaquin, reported in more than three percent of patients, were nausea, headache, diarrhea, insomnia, constipation, and dizziness. In addition, such rare but serious side effects include tendinitis and tendon rupture, worsening of muscle weakness in people with the neuromuscular disorder myasthenia gravis, allergic reactions, liver damage, abnormalities of the blood, effects on the nervous system, and abnormal heart rhythm.


As always, when dealing with these FDA-approved drugs, is to determine if taking this medicine is worth it in your situation, and decide if the risks in not taking the medication outweigh the benefits that the medication provides. Since plague is a very serious, potentially deadly condition, it would almost always seem that taking Levaquin outweighs any risk of its side effects.


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Cymbalta May Relieve Chemo-Induced Pain and Tingling, But At What Cost?

June 6, 2012



(June 5, 2012) – The anti-depressant Cymbalta (duloxetine) is the first drug that has been shown to relieve the nerve pain and discomfort that affects up to one third of cancer patients treated with certain chemotherapy drugs, researchers report.


In a study of more than 200 people who suffer from the condition known as chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, 59 percent of those given Cymbalta reported a decrease in pain, compared with 39 percent given placebo.


Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy is caused by damage to nerves, most often in arms and legs. Besides shooting pain, symptoms include burning, tingling, numbness, problems with balance, dropping things, and cold and heat sensitivity.


“Peripheral neuropathy is a chronic, debilitating problem, with some patients enduring pain, numbness, and tingling for months, possibly years, after completion of chemotherapy,” says researcher Ellen M. Lavoie Smith, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the School of Nursing at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.


“Until now, we knew of nothing that was effective in treating the condition,” she said. The drug was generally “well tolerated.” The most common side effect was mild fatigue, reported by 11 percent of people taking Cymbalta and 3 percent on placebo. Twelve patients (11%) dropped out of the study due to drug associated side effects.


Cymbalta is thought to work by changing levels of brain chemicals linked to pain and nerve function. Cymbalta, which is approved for the treatment of depression and painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy, costs about $150 for a one-month supply.


This is great news for patients being treated with chemotherapy drugs. However, Cymbalta has been classified as “Do Not Use” for any form of depression, as well as for all other uses for which it has been approved (such as generalized anxiety or any form of pain, including fibromyalgia). The conclusion that duloxetine should not be used for any purpose also was reached in February 2009 by Prescrire, the French journal of drug safety and efficacy, which stated, “Duloxetine: to be avoided in all circumstances.”


The FDA issued a Black Box Warning, which is the strongest type of safety alert the FDA can demand of drug manufacturers, and can be required when there is evidence of serious injuries or death with a drug.


Liver toxicity and liver failure, sometimes fatal, have been reported in patients treated with duloxetine.


On October 17, 2005, Eli Lilly expanded its warning about potential liver-related problems with Cymbalta and cautioned doctors against prescribing it to patients with chronic liver disease, U.S. health regulators announced. The new label for the drug also contained reports of hepatitis, jaundice, and other liver-related problems in patients using Cymbalta.


Soon thereafter, the FDA had issued a warning about the potential for suicidal thinking in adults taking anti-depressants, but the agency specifically singled out Cymbalta because of a higher than expected rate of suicide attempts in recent studies. Cymbalta was a relatively new anti-depressant manufactured by Eli Lilly that had been associated with suicide risk since its clinical trials.


The warning came after a review of Cymbalta by Eli Lilly, which found that 11 of nearly 9,000 women taking it for urinary incontinence tried to commit suicide. The fact that these patients were suffering from urinary incontinence and not depression is significant because the drug companies have long argued that anti-depressants are used by depressed people who have a higher likelihood of committing suicide.


Cymbalta has been associated with suicidal behavior since Traci Johnson, a healthy volunteer involved in a trial at Eli Lilly’s clinic at Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis, killed herself in one of the clinic’s showers. She did not suffer from depression and was taken off the drug and given a placebo four days before she hung herself in the clinic’s showers on February 7, 2004. She was the 5th patient to commit suicide after taking Cymbalta in clinic trials. After her death, 1/5 of the volunteers quit the Cymbalta trial.


Many patients who have been treated with Cymbalta today complain that it is almost impossible to go through the withdrawals of this drug. It makes them feel so sickly, some complaints are of “brain surges” or “zaps” that cause dizziness and a shock like feeling. Some patients say this drug should be illegal. There are several complaints of feeling emotionless, gaining weight even though the side effects state “possible weight loss”, making your heart feel like it is coming out of your chest, constant nightmares, and some complaints of manic behavior. There are many that say that after taking just one Cymbalta pill they experienced terrible side effects that took weeks to dissipate. One woman stated that her husband could not take the horrific side effects and his doctor was of no help, so he put a gun to his heart and killed himself.


There is currently a Cymbalta Petition , which is demanding that Eli Lilly make the consumers aware of all the terrible side effects and withdrawal complications patients in the U.S., as well as worldwide, have experienced since taking this medication.  It is still not taken off the market and no changes have been made.


If Eli Lilly was aware of these terrible side effects, why haven’t the physicians and the consumers been made aware of them? Why is this drug still on the market?


So, even though this medication may relieve the pain and discomfort caused by chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, are these horrible side effects really worth it? Before these cancer patients are given this “wonder drug,” they are entitled to the risks this drug can cause, after all, haven’t they been through enough?


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Children Receive $6.41 Million in Malpractice Lawsuit

June 4, 2012

(June 4, 2012) – The five children of a man who died due to his misdiagnosis at Temple University Hospital were awarded $6.41 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit.


According to an article in, the 38-year-old man was diagnosed with pneumonia after he collapsed with chest pain while playing basketball on May 31, 2009. He was taken to Temple University Hospital, diagnosed with pneumonia, prescribed Motrin and antibiotics, and was released. Three months later, he again collapsed from severe chest pain while playing basketball, suffering a massive heart attack. He died on November 12, 2009.


An attorney for the victim’s five children said that the hospital and two doctors who treated him were named in the lawsuit.


Frequently, heart attacks are thought to be symptoms of G.E.R.D. (gastroesophageal reflux disease), anxiety attacks, angina, gallstones, as well as several unrelated cardiac issues. Early diagnosis and treatment of heart disease is beneficial in the prevention of more serious conditions and life-threatening complications, such as myocardial infarction (heart attack) or death. Misdiagnosis is dangerous because instead of receiving the necessary treatment for the heart muscle and surrounding arteries, more damage can occur, ultimately resulting in death. Receiving the proper treatment and medications is crucial. Unfortunately, this father of five children was misdiagnosed and never received the proper diagnosis and treatment.


I am certain that the victim’s children would much rather their father still be alive than any amount of money. But someone needs to be accountable for his untimely death. This never should have happened. Hopefully, this will help the hospital and physicians be more thorough and careful when diagnosing patients.


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Salmonella Found In Diamond Pet Foods, Leads to Nine-State Recall

June 1, 2012

(June 1, 2012) A Diamond Pet Foods salmonella scare has led to a nine-state recall. A New Jersey couple filed a lawsuit last week after their infant son was sickened by the contaminated dog food, which was made in a Gaston, South Carolina plant in April. Their son spent three days in a hospital, and suffered gastrointestinal injuries, as well as diarrhea and pain.


In addition to this couple, fifteen other people have become sick after coming into contact with this tainted dog food. As a result, Diamond Pet Foods is recalling several varieties of dry dog food that may also contain salmonella.


The company claims that no pets got sick, but one woman begs to differ. She claims that all three of her dogs have gotten sick since February, after eating Diamond Pet Food’s “Kirkland Signature” brand chicken and rice formula. She says that her pets have been vomiting, diarrhea, bloody stool, and acting lethargic.


Unfortunately, Diamond Pet Foods is no stranger to recalling their products. In 2005, they killed dozens of dogs after producing food that was contaminated with toxic mold. They later offered a $3.5 million settlement after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined that the deadly fungus entered the plant because of Diamond’s failure to test twelve shipments of corn.


This most recent incident of pet food contamination has not yet been identified as salmonella by the FDA, but the facility was cited for poor contamination prevention efforts, as well as messy food storage areas, so salmonella may not be too far-fetched.


If you buy pet food manufactured by Diamond Pet Foods, you may want to return it, or look on their website to see if the food you have has been recalled. Salmonella is not the type of food-borne illness you want to endure, and the same goes for your pets. Especially when you will be the one cleaning up after them.


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