Tuesday, July 24th, 2012
An article published in the journal Pediatrics is criticizing recent government recommendations that 9-11 year-old children have tests to screen their cholesterol levels. The Associated Press reports that one of the major critiques is that members of the government panel that made the recommendations have ties to the drug industry.
Eight of the 14 guidelines panel members reported industry ties and disclosed that when their advice was published in December. They contend in a rebuttal article in Pediatrics that company payments covered costs of evaluating whether the drugs are safe and effective but did not influence the recommendations.
It also is not uncommon for experts in their fields to have received some consulting fees from drug companies.
Even so, the ties pose a conflict of interest that “undermines the credibility of both the guidelines and the process through which they were produced,” says the commentary by researchers at the University of California at San Francisco. The authors are Dr. Thomas Newman, a researcher and former member of a Food and Drug Administration pediatrics advisory committee, and two heart disease researchers, Drs. Mark Pletcher and Stephen Hulley.
Pletcher has received research funding from drug and device makers; the other authors said they had no relevant industry ties.
Other criticism was published earlier this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association. That critique raised concerns about putting children on cholesterol drugs called statins, noting the medicine has been linked with a rare muscle-damaging condition in adults. Those authors were heart specialist Bruce Psaty and pediatrician Frederick Rivara, both of the University of Washington in Seattle.
Image: Child getting blood drawn, via Shutterstock.
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Friday, June 22nd, 2012
A new study has found that over the past decade, more medications for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are being prescribed to U.S. children and teenagers, while fewer antibiotics are being prescribed. One-quarter of all prescriptions given to children are still for antibiotics, the study reports, but overall the number of antibiotics prescriptions has fallen 14 percent during the years 2002-2010. Yahoo News reports on the study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics:
Overall, prescriptions for kids ages 0-17 dropped seven percent during that time period, while prescription drugs dispensed to adults rose 22 percent, it said.
“Children are experiencing fewer serious medical problems than perhaps they had in the past,” said Victor Fornari, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System in New York.
The report tracked the number of prescriptions dispensed for the youths, not the number of patients, and was based on two major US commercial prescription databases.
A key rise was seen in stimulant medications for ADHD, which the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes as one of the most common neurobehavioral conditions of childhood, affecting about five million children.
Image: Toddler taking medicine, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, May 1st, 2012
As many as one baby per hour is born already addicted to opiate painkillers, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. CNN.com reports:
By 2009 there were more than 13,000 babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, a withdrawal syndrome that occurs in some babies after being exposed to a class of painkillers, called opiates, while in utero, according to the study published Monday.
“That’s about one baby per hour,” said Dr. Stephen Patrick, lead author of the study, which was published online in the Journal of American Medical Association. “We were surprised by it. That’s a startling increase.”
Perhaps more startling – that one baby per hour figure marks about a three-fold increase in the number of babies born with NAS since 2000; and during the same time period, opiate use among expectant mothers was also jumping, increasing nearly five-fold.
“There has been an incredible increase in the number of opiate pain relievers prescribed in the U.S.,” said Patrick, a fellow in the University of Michigan’s Division of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine. ”We think that might be part of the increase we are seeing.”
Image: Pregnant belly, via Shutterstock.
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Friday, April 27th, 2012
An experimental drug that inhibits a receptor in the brain has been found in mice to reduce behaviors commonly associated with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), including social problems and repetitive behaviors. CBSNews.com has more:
For the study, published in the April 25 issue of Science and Translational Medicine, researchers from the National Institutes of Health bred a strain of mice to display autism-like behaviors. Similar to how children with autism have social deficits and engage in repetitive behaviors, these mice did not interact and communicate with each other and spent an inordinate amount of time engaging in repetitive behavior – in this case self-grooming.
Cue the experimental drug called GRN-529. The drug was designed to inhibit a type of brain cell receptor that receives the neurotransmitter glutamate. Glutamate is typically involved in learning and memory processes and stimulates other areas of the brain and nervous system.
When mice with the autism-like behaviors were injected with the experimental compound, they reduced the frequency of their repetitive self-grooming and spent more time around strange mice, even sniffing them nose to nose. When tested on a different strain of mice, the experimental compound stopped all repetitive jumping behavior.
“These new results in mice support NIMH-funded research in humans to create treatments for the core symptoms of autism,” Dr. Thomas R. Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, said in a statement. “While autism has been often considered only as a disability in need of rehabilitation, we can now address autism as a disorder responding to biomedical treatments.”
Image: Lab researcher, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
A new review of published and unpublished research is raising questions about whether certain antidepressants can help children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) control repetitive behaviors and manage other symptoms. Reuters reports:
The drugs, which include popular selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are sometimes used to treat repetitive behaviors in people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
“The main issue to emphasize is that SSRIs are perhaps not as effective at treating repetitive behaviors as previously thought. Further research will help confirm these findings in the long run,” said Melisa Carrasco, the study’s lead author, in an email.
For their analysis, Carrasco, a researcher at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and her colleagues examined PubMed and ClinicalTrials.gov for randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled trials — considered the gold standard in medical research — supporting the use of SSRIs and similar antidepressants in children with autism.
Image: Prescription pad, via Shutterstock.
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