Drug Restores Hair in Patients with Alopecia
  

August 2014 -- A drug used to treat a rare type of bone marrow cancer restores hair in patients with an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss, a new study found.
Columbia University Medical Center researchers found that the drug ruxolitinib (brand name: Jakafi) restored hair growth in a small number of patients with alopecia areata, a disease in which immune cells destroy hair follicles. Alopecia areata can occur at any age and affects men and women. Patients typically lose patches of hair on the scalp.
First, the researchers identified the immune cells that destroy hair follicles in people with alopecia areata. They also discovered that ruxolitinib -- which is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat a bone marrow cancer called myelofibrosis -- eliminated these immune cells.
The study team first tested the drug in mice and then in a small number of people with moderate to severe alopecia areata (more than 30 percent hair loss). Within five months of starting treatment, three patients had total hair regrowth.
Still there is a need to do more testing to establish that ruxolitinib is effective and safe.

Reference:
Xing L, Dai Z, Jabbari A, Cerise JE, Higgins CA, Gong W, et al. Alopecia areata is driven by cytotoxic T lymphocytes and is reversed by JAK inhibition. Nat Med. 2014 Aug 17.

 

Some Antipsychotic drugs linked to Kidney Problems in Elderly

August 2014 -- Kidney injury can be added to the list of possible harms related to use of three antipsychotic medications often prescribed to treat behavioral symptoms of dementia in older adults, a new study finds.
Quetiapine (Seroquel), risperidone (Risperdal) and olanzapine (Zyprexa) are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other serious mental disorders.

The study, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, found that acute kidney injury was one and a half times more likely in older adults taking Seroquel, Risperdal or Zyprexa compared to similar adults not taking these medications.
It also found that the risk of low blood pressure and acute urinary retention (the inability to empty the bladder) doubled, and the risk of death from any cause more than doubled in older adults taking these drugs. The antipsychotics were linked to an increased risk of pneumonia and heart attack as well.

Although the study doesn't prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship between these drugs and kidney damage, experts say it adds to existing concerns.

Using health care database records from 2003 to 2012 in Ontario, researchers looked at the rates of acute kidney injury and other conditions among more than 97,000 adults, aged 65 and older, in the first three months after they began taking Seroquel, Risperdal or Zyprexa. These rates were compared to those among an equal number of adults not taking the medications and matched to the first group by age, sex, living arrangements and similar health or medical conditions. One percent of adults taking the antipsychotics were hospitalized for acute kidney injury, compared to 0.6 percent of adults not taking the medications. And 6.8 percent of adults taking the antipsychotics died from any cause, compared to 3.1 percent of adults not taking the drugs.

Reference
Hwang YJ, Dixon SN, Reiss JP, Wald R, Parikh CR, Gandhi S, et al. Atypical antipsychotic drugs and the risk for acute kidney injury and other adverse outcomes in older adults: a population-based cohort study. Ann Intern Med. 2014 Aug 19;161(4):242-8.

•August 2014 -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Belsomra (suvorexant) tablets for use as needed to treat difficulty in falling and staying asleep (insomnia).
 
•Belsomra is an orexin receptor antagonist and is the first approved drug of this type. Orexins are chemicals that are involved in regulating the sleep-wake cycle and play a role in keeping people awake. Belsomra alters the signaling (action) of orexin in the brain.

•Belsomra should be taken no more than once per night, within 30 minutes of going to bed, with at least seven hours remaining before the planned time of waking. The total dose should not exceed 20 mg once daily.

•The most commonly reported adverse reaction was drowsiness. Medications that treat insomnia can cause next-day drowsiness and impair driving and other activities that require alertness. People can be impaired even when they feel fully awake.

•Belsomra was not compared to other drugs approved to treat insomnia, so it is not known if there are differences in safety or effectiveness between Belsomra and other insomnia medications.

 

 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Orbactiv (oritavancin), a new antibacterial drug to treat adults with skin infections in August 2014.
 
•Orbactiv is approved to treat patients with acute bacterial skin and skin structure infections (ABSSSI) caused by certain susceptible bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus (including methicillin-susceptible and methicillin-resistant strains), various Streptococcus species and Enterococcus faecalis. Orbactiv is administered intravenously.

•Orbactiv is the third new antibacterial drug approved by the FDA in 2014 to treat ABSSSI. The agency approved Dalvance (dalbavancin) in May 2014 and Sivextro (tedizolid) in June 2014.

•Orbactiv was as effective as vancomycin for the treatment of ABSSSI.

•The most common side effects are headache, nausea, vomiting, the formation of skin and soft tissue abscesses on arms and legs and diarrhea.

 

 

 •The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Jardiance (empagliflozin) tablets as an addition to diet and exercise to improve glycemic control in adults with type 2 diabetes in August 2014.

•Jardiance is a sodium glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitor. It works by blocking the reabsorption of glucose (blood sugar) by the kidney, increasing glucose excretion, and lowering blood glucose levels in diabetics who have elevated blood glucose levels. The drug’s safety and effectiveness were evaluated in seven clinical trials.

•Jardiance has been studied as a stand-alone therapy and in combination with other type 2 diabetes therapies including metformin, sulfonylureas, pioglitazone, and insulin. Jardiance should not be used: to treat people with type 1 diabetes; in those who have increased ketones in their blood or urine (diabetic ketoacidosis); and in those with severe renal impairment, end stage renal disease, or in patients on dialysis.

•Jardiance can cause dehydration, leading to a drop in blood pressure (hypotension) that can result in dizziness and/or fainting and a decline in renal function. The elderly, patients with impaired renal function, and patients on diuretics to treat other conditions appeared to be more susceptible to this risk.

•The most common side effects of Jardiance are urinary tract infections and female genital infections.