America’s Most Common Drug Ingredient Could Be Making You Less Empathetic

Every week, a quarter of Americans take a painkiller that could be dampening our collective feelings of empathy. In a paper published online this week, scientists claim that acetaminophen, Tylenol’s main ingredient, makes people more likely to think that other people’s pain isn’t a big deal.

Source: America’s Most Common Drug Ingredient Could Be Making You Less Empathetic

Whatever! 😉

Scientists Have Come Up With a ‘Vaccine’ Against Designer Drugs

Scientists from the Scripps Research Institute have just published the results of a study done on a special kind of vaccine in the journal Angewandte Chemie. This vaccine does not guard against a virus. Instead, it blocks the effects of synthetic designer drugs.

Source: Scientists Have Come Up With a ‘Vaccine’ Against Designer Drugs

I know a few who’ve lost loved ones to fentanyl overdoses, so similar to the ability to reverse heroin overdoses – this can be divisive.

Brand-Name Drugs Increase Cost—But Not Patient Satisfaction

In recent days, presidential candidates and even the American Medical Association have griped about rising drug prices, pointing to brand-name blockbusters with splashy ad campaigns.

Source: Brand-Name Drugs Increase Cost—But Not Patient Satisfaction

On a related note, I reported about the price of medication affecting efficacy in the past.  And we know that the price of a buffet can affect our perception of taste…  So really, it makes sense why people would be happier about spending less for the same medication.

Some Supplements Are Basically Drugs

Natural, herbal over-the-counter supplements seem like they should be safe—but they can contain as much active ingredient as some prescription drugs.

Source: Some Supplements Are Basically Drugs

The article actually only specifically about Yohimbe, but I’ve got lots of posts that highlight how supplements should generally be avoided for actual sources:

Sleep Drug Modafinil Affirmed by Scientists as a Safe and Effective Brain Booster

Off-license users of modafinil—a drug developed to treat various sleep disorders—have known for some time that it doubles as a surprisingly effective cognitive enhancer, and with very few side effects. A new systematic review shows it’s true, raising some important ethical questions about the use of smart drugs.

Source: Sleep Drug Modafinil Affirmed by Scientists as a Safe and Effective Brain Booster

Interesting news, but I can’t help but think of one of my favourite books: Flowers for Algernon

The FDA Just Lost a Lawsuit That Could Change How Drugs Are Regulated

A small drug company has won an early fight in its case against the FDA, which will allow it to promote its fish-oil pill for treatments not explicitly approved by the agency. The federal case has huge implications for the future of prescription drugs in the US and could weaken the FDA’s power to regulate how drugs are marketed.

Source: The FDA Just Lost a Lawsuit That Could Change How Drugs Are Regulated

The ruling has nothing to do with consumer focused advertising. It has to do with informing and promoting off label uses of the drug to doctors. Pharmaceutical companies are free to share any research with doctors that support uses of the drug not specifically approved by the FDA.

Also, the ruling is incredibly specific to Amarin and outlines exactly what is a truthful and non-misleading in the context of Vascepa only. So in response to the article headline, yes this could change how the FDA regulates drugs but in reality it hasn’t and won’t.

The Wrong Drug Reaction Could Literally Make Your Skin Peel Off

…get ready to get a bad case of internal shivers! This morning’s body horror is provided by toxic epidermal necrolysis, which can be induced by… so many things. So many things.

Source: The Wrong Drug Reaction Could Literally Make Your Skin Peel Off

Grapefruit is a well known issue with medications, and can be responsible for this kind of reaction.  No laughing matter.

There’s word suggesting that toxic epidermal necrolysis was induced to deal with flesh eating bacteria.  That is incredibly extreme, but then flesh eating bacteria is generally very fast acting.

Studies Aren’t Everything We Know: Some Drug Trials Never Get Published

Six years ago, I wrote a story for Bloomberg News about an interesting research review that looked at which studies of antidepressants such as Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft got published in medical journals and which didn’t. The review found that almost every clinical trial that got published in a medical journal—a whopping 94 percent of them—had positive findings, meaning they showed the drugs worked. Those were the studies that got published; those were the studies that doctors and patients could turn to for guidance.

But did they accurately represent the conclusions of all the studies of a particular drug that had been conducted? Hardly. The psychiatrist who led the review, a former FDA medical officer named Erick Turner, knew about another source of information on completed studies: the application packet that drugmakers submit when they seek to get a medication approved. This trove encompassed all completed studies assessing a drug’s effectiveness, including those that were never published in journals.

Source: Drug companies aren’t telling you the whole truth

It’s old news, but a new analysis on anti-anxiety medications shows the bias still exists, even though drug trial results are now required to be reported on clinicaltrials.gov. Only 13% of registered trials made their results available within a year of the trial’s conclusion. As a patient, you probably can’t know whether unpublished studies would explain problems you’re having with a drug, so consider this just a PSA about what’s going on behind the scenes.

The US Is Finally Getting Access to a Promising Cancer Drug From Cuba

Tourism isn’t the only industry eager to benefit from the relaxing of the decades-long trade embargo against Cuba. Medical researchers on both of sides of the Straits of Florida now have the chance to collaborate with previously off-limits colleagues. Of particular interest to the U.S. is a Cuban lung cancer drug that took 25 years to develop.

Source: The US Is Finally Getting Access to a Promising Cancer Drug From Cuba

This Is The Drug In The Rolling Stones’ Song “Mother’s Little Helper”

When The Rolling Stones sang “Mother’s Little Helper” back in 1966, they weren’t talking about drugs. They were talking about a specific drug that was prescribed for everything from severely ill mental patients to recovering alcoholics to comfortable middle class people who sometimes felt anxious. It was called “Miltown.”

Source: This Is The Drug In The Rolling Stones’ Song “Mother’s Little Helper”

There’s some thought that the article isn’t correct, that the song is about Valium/Diazapam because the song lyrics mention a yellow pill.  Valium comes in a yellow pill, while Miltown was only ever white.

Either way, in those days the alternative treatment was a lobotomy.  We wince about historical treatments, but consider that this snippet is about 50 years old.

The withdrawal symptoms describes most anti-depressants on the market today.  To the point that there’s a name for the condition: Antidepressant Discontinuation Syndrome.  If a doctor tries to prescribe you any of these drugs: citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac and others), fluvoxamine (Luvox), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft) or chlompramine (Anafranil), venlafaxine (Effexor) and desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), be very wary and quiz him/her on a discontinuation plan before you ever start taking them.  I’m not saying you should not take the medication, just that you have a strategy for discontinuation of the medication.