Health & Wellness Real Drug Stories

Sprout Pharmaceuticals Trying Again with “Female Viagra”

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female health

Even though it’s been rejected twice, Sprout Pharmaceuticals is giving their female libido booster another shot at approval by the Food and Drug Administration.

Aided by a recent lobbying blitz by politicians, women’s groups and consumer advocates, Sprout Pharmaceuticals said recently it is refiling its application for the drug, flibanserin, adding new information requested by the FDA about how the drug affects driving ability.

The FDA most recently rejected the drug after nearly 10% of women in company trials reported sleepiness as a side effect.

If approved, the pill would be the first drug for women who report a lack of libido. But, it has already faced an uphill battle to get FDA approval because of lackluster effectiveness and side effects including fatigue, dizziness and nausea.

However, the recent lobbying efforts led by groups sponsored by Sprout and other drugmakers have begun publicizing the lack of a “female Viagra” as a women’s rights issue.

“Women deserve equal treatment when it comes to sex,” states an online petition to the FDA organized by the group Even the Score. The petition garnered almost 25,000 supporters.

The FDA first rejected flibanserin in 2010 after a panel of expert advisers unanimously voted against the drug, saying its benefits did not outweigh its risks. The drug’s initial developer, Boehringer Ingelheim, abandoned work on the drug in 2011 and sold it to Sprout.

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Real Drug Stories

Comedian Takes on Big Tobacco

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Jeff the diseased lung

Comedian John Oliver, host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight, is taking on one of the largest tobacco companies in the world, Philip Morris International.

On his show, Oliver outlined how tobacco companies, including Philip Morris, have sued governments around the world for implementing packaging restrictions and taking other measures to help quell smoking among their citizens.

The comedian also introduced what he hopes will become the new mascot for Marlboro, one of Philip Morris’ most famous brands. Oliver wants Jeff the Diseased Lung in a Cowboy Hat to be the new face of the brand and he invited the brand to adopt the ready-made mascot for its own purposes.

He also invited people to tweet photos of Jeff with the hashtag #JeffWeCan and to upload pictures of Jeff onto Google+ and tag them with “Marlboro.”

You can see Oliver’s attack on big tobacco companies here.

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Health & Wellness

Teen Marijuana Use Linked To Heavy Sleepiness During Daytime

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sleep teenage marijuana use

A new study found a link between sleepiness during the day and marijuana use among teenagers.

According to a team of researchers led by Dr. Mark L. Splaingard of Ohio’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital, use of marijuana by teens could be the culprit for excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), a symptom linked to narcolepsy. The study looked into diagnostic data of more than 380 youngsters to check for possibility of narcolepsy using multiple sleep latency test (MSLT), and cross-checked use of marijuana by the young patients.

Results of the study showed that 43 percent of adolescents who tested positive for cannabis were found to have symptoms of narcolepsy. Because of this, the researchers recommend that drug screening be included as part of the tests for narcolepsy. “Our findings highlight and support the important step of obtaining a urine drug screen, in any patients older than 13 years of age, before accepting test findings consistent with narcolepsy, prior to physicians confirming this diagnosis. Urine drug screening is also important in any population studies looking at the prevalence of narcolepsy in adolescents, especially with the recent trend in marijuana decriminalization and legalization,” Splaingard said in a news item.

Narcolepsy is a chronic medical condition characterized by uncontrolled sleeping patterns even though the individual has had enough sleep. It is usually developed early in life, most commonly during puberty stage. Apart from EDM, other symptoms of narcolepsy include hallucinations, sleep paralysis, and cataplexy.

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Addiction Substance Abuse

Senators Renew Push for Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015

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cocaine addiction

Two United States senators, Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.),  have renewed their push for legislation that would provide incentives and resources designed to encourage both states and local communities to pursue a full array of proven strategies to combat addiction.

The legislation, named the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015, would:

  • Expand prevention and educational efforts—particularly aimed at teens, parents and other caretakers, and aging populations—to prevent the abuse of opioids and heroin and to promote treatment and recovery.
  • Expand the availability of naloxone to law enforcement agencies and other first responders to help in the reversal of overdoses to save lives.
  • Expand resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction disorders promptly by collaborating with criminal justice stakeholders and by providing evidence-based treatment.
  • Expand disposal sites for unwanted prescription medications to keep them out of the hands of our children and adolescents.
  • Launch an evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and interventions program.  While we have medications that can help treat addiction, there is a critical need to get the training and resources necessary to expand treatment best practices throughout the country.
  • Strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs to help states monitor and track prescription drug diversion and to help at-risk individuals access services.
  • The legislation is supported by the National District Attorneys Association, the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD), Faces and Voices of Recovery, the National Council for Behavioral Health, and the Major County Sheriffs’ Association, among others.

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Medical Marijuana

Medical Experts View Marijuana As The Future of Therapeutics

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Medical marijuana has become the answer to illnesses and ailments of many Americans, but debates are still ongoing as to its benefits and hazards.

McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) recently hosted a symposium featuring medical experts in the U.S. the U.K. to delve into the rise in popularity of medical marijuana and how it has changed the world’s perspective on treatment. The gathering was in line with this year’s American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting in California, according to a news release.

A number of doctors may not be able to guarantee the effectiveness of cannabis to treat illnesses, but they say that patients must be informed about their choices. “I don’t think that every physician should prescribe medical cannabis, or that every patient can benefit but it’s time to enhance our scientific knowledge base and have informed discussions with patients,” according to Dr. Mark Ware, who heads the health center’s Alan Edwards Pain Management Unit clinical research.

Ware believes that now is the perfect time to be open-minded about medical marijuana, although he admits that more studies need to be conducted to understand the drug further. “We need to advance our understanding of the role of cannabinoids in health and disease through research and education for patients, physicians and policy-makers,” Ware added.

Dr. Igor Grant, who serves as director of the University of California’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR), sees the potential of medical marijuana to advance neurological treatment. “Despite a commonly held view that cannabis use results in brain damage, meta analyses of extensive neurocognitive studies fail to demonstrate meaningful cognitive declines among recreational users… Bain imaging has produced variable results, with the best designed studies showing null findings,” Grant said.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active potent ingredient of marijuana, is approved as a drug for pharmaceutical purposes in several U.S. states as well as selected countries around the world.

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Health & Wellness

Study: Vegan Diet Lowers Risk Of Cardiovascular Diseases in Obese Kids

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childhood obesity

As we head into Valentine’s Day, let’s focus on matters of the heart — particularly cardiovascular health.

A research team from Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic Children discovered that treating obese children to a diet consisting of plant-based food may decrease their risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. The four-week research was conducted on 28 children between the ages of 9 and 18 and were diagnosed with obesity or hypercholesterolemia. With the consent and participation of the parents, children included in the study must eat only plant-based food such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. They may eat nuts and avocado in limited quantities, and absolutely no animal-based foods and added fat was allowed. Health diagnostics were taken from the kids, such as body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and insulin, among others.

Results of the study showed that kids that followed the vegan diet experienced positive changes in health parameters that would have otherwise become triggers of heart diseases. A significant percentage of the test group also exhibited improved metabolism, waist circumference and waistline measurement.

Study co-author Dr. Michael Macknin said that changing the dietary practices at an early age can make a big difference in preventing cardiovascular diseases. “As the number of obese children with high cholesterol continues to grow, we need to have effective lifestyle modifications to help them reverse their risk factors for heart disease,” Macknin discussed in a news item.

One of the complications encountered during the study was the availability of plant-based foods in the market. “Most families in the study were able to follow these dietary guidelines for the four-week study, but we found that they had difficulty purchasing the food necessary for a balanced plant-based diet. So we know that plant-based diets are effective, but if they are to be widely used, we need to make access to plant-based, no-added-fat foods easier and more affordable,” Macknin added.

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Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Smoking Has Lasting Negative Effects On The Brain

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cigarette health hazard brain cortex

A lot of studies have surfaced regarding the health hazards of smoking tobacco products to human health. Better add this new discovery to the list.

A new study conducted jointly by McGill University’s Montreal Neurological Institute and the University of Edinburgh revealed that smoking is linked to accelerated thinning of the cortex, which is the brain’s outer layer that handles functions such as perception, memory and language. Study lead author Dr. Sherif Karama, who works as assistant professor at McGill University’s psychiatry department, shared the effects of smoking on the brain. “We found that current and ex-smokers had, at age 73, many areas of thinner brain cortex than those that never smoked,” Karama said in a news statement.

The study was larger than any previous research done on the subject matter, this time involving a group of more than 500 test subjects at 73 years old on the average. The participants were included in a Scottish Mental Survey way back in 1947, and were interviewed recently. Their brains were also scanned via MRI to assess the condition of their brains.

The researchers also found out that people who quit smoking were able to grow back the tissues in their cortices. “Subjects who stopped smoking seem to partially recover their cortical thickness for each year without smoking,” said Karama, who also recommends warning smokers about this potential health hazard. “Smokers should be informed that cigarettes could hasten the thinning of the brain’s cortex, which could lead to cognitive deterioration. Cortical thinning seems to persist for many years after someone stops smoking.”

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Health & Wellness

Psychedelic Drug May Help Asthma Patients

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A drug known more for its psychedelic properties than its medicinal properties may help asthma patients.

(R)-DOI has been identified as a drug that can promote powerful anti-inflammatory activity within the body, according to a study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology.

“These drugs are known only for their effects in the brain,” said study author Dr. Charles Nichols. “What we have demonstrated for the first time is that they are also effective in treating physiological diseases outside of the brain, a completely new and exciting role for this class of drug.”

testcountry bannerResearchers found that activating serotonin 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)2A receptors resulted in strong anti-inflammatory activity within gut and vascular tissue. Since (R)-DOI is a known agonist of 5-HT2A receptors, the team decided to test the psychedelic drug in an established mouse model of allergic asthma.

The drug prevented inflammation of the airways, overproduction of mucus and increased levels of airway sensitivity and also deactivated specific genes in the lung associated with the immune response. Together, these effects prevented the development of allergic asthma.

But, patients won’t have to worry about “tripping out” while on the drug, if it becomes available for humans, as researchers achieved these results by administering the drug at a concentration 50-100 times less than that which would influence the recipient’s behavior.


Health & Wellness

Another New Drug Emerges in Fight Against Ebola

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ebola virus africa

Another drug has emerged that shows promising signs of being useful in the battle against ebola.

The experimental drug, currently called AVI-7537, comes from Sarepta Therapeutics Inc. and protected six of eight lab monkeys injected with the ebola virus, scientists from the company and the U.S. Army reported recently.

Thtestcountry banneris is the third drug that has shown signs of being useful for combatting ebola. It joins ZMapp from Mapp Biopharmaceutical and a compound from Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp as agents that have shown to cure non-human primates given otherwise-lethal injections of Ebola virus.

Although the ZMapp and Tekmira drugs protected 100% of lab monkeys in studies, Sarepta’s drug has been formally tested in healthy human volunteers at high doses and has been found to cause no serious side effects.

Also giving Sarepta’s drug a leg up on the competition is its straightforward manufacturing system, said Steve Brozak, an analyst and president of WBB Securities.

AVI-7537 is an antisense molecule, essentially a mirror image of a molecule that carries instructions from Ebola’s genes to its protein-making machinery. The drug binds to the messenger and prevents the virus from reproducing.

Addiction Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

US Schools Switch Focus of Anti-Drug Programs to Prescription Drugs

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Anti-drug programs in United States schools are switching things up, focusing more on prescription drugs than illicit drugs and focusing more on the science of addiction than outright scare tactics.

One such program, Narcotics Overdose Prevention and Education (NOPE) offers high school and middle school students education about prescription opiate painkillers. Developers of the programs emphasize the of use studies and interactive computer programs and focus on the science of addiction and how that affects the teens who abuse these drugs.

testcountry bannerHowever, it still does employ some of those old-fashioned scare tactics, although rooted in reality rather than the ridiculous fried eggs of the past. One tactic is to play a real 911 call for students from a mother who has just discovered her son’s body. His ashes sit in an urn for the students to look at as they listen to the call recording.

NOPE instructors also teach students how to recognize the symptoms of a drug overdose and emphasize the importance of quickly seeking medical attention for overdose victims. The programs also work to teach teens that prescription drugs are not safe to use other than under a doctor’s orders.

The Heroin Prevention Education program, meanwhile, uses interactive software based on the life of a recovering teen heroin addict who began abusing opioid painkillers after having his wisdom teeth removed and gradually started abusing heroin intravenously.