Maybe you’ve seen this story, but it certainly caught my attention: Tons of kids are taking the “little purple pill” we hear about all the time.
The Associated Press reported Oct. 4 that young children’s use of heartburn drugs has surged 56 percent from 2002-06.
The story rightly put the blame on obesity and overuse.
A survey by Medco Health Solutions, a New Jersey-based pharmacy benefits management company, examined U.S. prescription data from 2002-06. The survey suggested more than 2 million children used drugs for digestive or gastrointestinal complaints last year, The AP reported.
Medco estimated 3 percent of children 4 years old and younger were taking these drugs last year. This was a 56 percent increase, the highest among any child age group.
Acid-reducing drugs, called proton pump inhibitors, are the most commonly prescribed drugs for GI problems, The AP reported. They are used for acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease. Heartburn and acid reflux is common in children and often goes away with time or lifestyle changes.
The story dealt only with prescription drugs, not those available over the counter, which many are.
Jeff Raymond, Medical Writer
Here’s a window into why tuberculosis is so devilishly hard to treat and eradicate.
The Sept. 7 “Bulletin of the World Health Organization” explains how researchers in Tomsk, Siberia, studied success and adherence to treatment among a group of 237 Siberians.
The Russian Federation has been hit hard by TB, and Tomsk had one of the world’s highest rates of multi-drug-resistant TB.
Substance abuse was strongly correlated with non-adherence to treatment, researchers found.
No surprise to me, but this is documented, not conjecture.
Patients who began treatment in the hospital or were hospitalized during their treatment were more likely to develop drug-resistant TB. Researchers speculated the patients harbored a drug-resistant strain that emerged upon treatment or contracted the strain while hospitalized.
I’m sure there are similar studies published elsewhere, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they say the same thing.
Drug-resistant TB and sloppy adherence or lack of adherence to treatment go hand in hand. While this study was interesting for looking at the correlation with alcohol use and other substance abuse, the same likely would apply to many of Americans who are most vulnerable to TB — especially IV drug users.
Although researchers are working in quicker-course TB drugs, the current drugs take months and must be taken regularly. In the past, sufferers were locked in sanatoriums. Today, they’re followed by health department personnel, not an easy task when the person is transient.
A positive point emerged from the study, too: Most patients completed treatment, and relatively few contracted drug-resistant TB.
Something to think about.
Jeff Raymond, Medical Writer
OU Medical Center and OU Physicians will offer free prostate cancer screenings Saturday for men ages 40 to 70.
The screenings will be at the OU Physicians Building, 825 NE 10th St. Registration is required and is available by calling 271-5000.
The screening consists of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood tests, funded by the Medical Center Volunteers Inc. and Digital Rectal Exams (DRE) performed by urologists.
Prostate cancer is the number one cancer affecting men in Oklahoma and is the second leading cause of death due to cancer in the United States. Each year, more than 500 Oklahoma men die from prostate cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends men 50 years old and older should have a screening once a year.
I got this release from the Lupus Foundation of America yesterday and felt a bit of serendipity because I had spoken to an Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation lupus scientist-physician the other day about similar stuff.
The big picture: Potential cures for debilitating diseases are hindered because not enough people participate in clinical trials. I don’t know how widespread this is, but I’m fairly confident it’s common.
When people think of clinical trials, they (I include myself on this one) often think of last-ditch efforts to save cancer patients with some new wonder drug. While this certainly happens, clinical trials are more widespread than most people realize and go well beyond cancer. And they are needed for approval of new drugs.
In comes the lupus release, in which the foundation calls for greater participation in lupus drug trials.
The Food and Drug Administration has not approved a new lupus medicine in more than 40 years. Treatments instead are “borrowed,” to use the release’s term, from other disorders, definitely not the best way to deal with the autoimmune disorder that afflicts anywhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of Americans. This is common practice in medicine and sometimes is done “off the book” in which a treatment is given that hasn’t been approved for a particular use.
“Hope is on the horizon, however, as there are more than two dozen potential new lupus therapies in various stages of development and clinical evaluation,” according to the release. “Unfortunately, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies are finding it increasingly difficult to identify enough eligible people with lupus at experienced clinical trial centers to participate in their studies. This shortage of well-informed patients could slow the momentum which has been building for lupus drug development.”
For more information, visit www.lupus.org. The LFA will conduct a live chat on its Website on Wednesday, September 12 at 2 p.m. to answer questions from individuals interested in lupus clinical trials. Kenneth A. Getz, a senior research fellow at the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, will be the featured guest.