Author Interviews, Prostate Cancer / 22.06.2020 Interview with: Dr Hayley Schultz Research Associate BPharmSci(Hons), PhD UniSA Clinical and Health Sciences University of South Australia Adelaide SA What is the background for this study? Response: Zytiga is a blockbuster medication for treating prostate cancer containing the active ingredient abiraterone acetate, however the formulation is incredibly inefficient. Patients must take 1000 mg per day and fast for 2 hours prior to and 1 hour following its administration. This is because the drug is very water insoluble and has an oral bioavailability of less than 10%. This means only up to 10% of the dose is absorbed from the intestine and enters systemic circulation where it can have a therapeutic effect. The rest of the drug, at least 90% of the dose, moves through the gastrointestinal tract undissolved and is wasted down the toilet. Patients are required to fast when taking the medication as the drugs absorption is heavily and unpredictable increased in the presence of fatty and oily food. We developed a more efficient oral formulation for abiraterone acetate with a greater oral bioavailability, to reduce the dose of the drug and its side effects. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Memory, Pharmacology / 12.09.2019 Interview with: James O’Donnell, PhD Dean and professor Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy Ying Xu, MD, PhD Research associate professor University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical SciencesYing Xu, MD, PhD Research associate professor University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences What is the background for this study? Response: We have been studying cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase (PDE), an enzyme, for quite a while as a potential target for neuropsychiatric disease.  One aspect involves the effects of PDE inhibitors on memory.  This was prompted by our earlier finding that one form of the enzyme, PDE4, is in the NMDA receptor signaling pathway in neurons; this pathway has been implicated in memory.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Hepatitis - Liver Disease, JAMA, Kaiser Permanente, Pharmacology / 10.06.2019 Interview with: Elizabeth A. McGlynn, PhD Vice President for Kaiser Permanente Research Executive Director Kaiser Permanente Center for Effectiveness and Safety What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: A report from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices based on FDA data and observations from a Kaiser Permanente physician leader raised questions about whether direct acting antiviral medications for the treatment of Hepatitis C posed any significant safety risks for patients. Since the decision to take medications requires making tradeoffs between benefits (which had been clearly established in clinical trials) and risks (which are often harder to ascertain until drugs are in widespread use in the real world) we decided this was an important question to pursue.  We found no evidence of increased risks of significant side effects associated with taking these drugs.  In this cohort study of 33,808 patients in three large health systems we found lower adjusted odds of experiencing the following adverse events:  death, multiple organ failure, hepatic decompensation, acute-on-chronic liver event, and arrhythmia.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, Statins / 08.03.2019 Interview with: Fariba Ahmadizar, PharmD, MSc, PhD Department of Epidemiology Erasmus University Medical Centre Rotterdam, the Netherlands What is the background for this study? Response: Several observational studies and trials have already reported an increased risk of incident type 2 diabetes in subjects treated with statins; however, most of them lack details, meaning that there were limited studies on the association of statin use with glycemic traits. Studies on this association underestimated type 2 diabetes incident cases due to including either questionnaire-based data, short follow-up time or lack of a direct comparison between different statin types, dosages and duration of use with respect to diabetes-related outcomes. (more…)
ALS, Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Cognitive Issues, JAMA, Multiple Sclerosis / 08.01.2019 Interview with: Michael Fralick, MD, FRCPC, SM, PhD (Cand) Clinical Associate, General Internal Medicine St Michael’s Hospital Phillipson Scholar, Clinician Scientist Program, University of Toronto PhD Candidate, IHPME, University of Toronto Affiliated Faculty, Program On Regulation, Therapeutics, And Law, Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: This medication is a pill that combines two ingredients: dextromethorphan (the active ingredient in cough syrup) and quinidine (used to increase the concentration of dextromethorphan). The medication was primarily studied and evaluated in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)   or (multiple sclerosis) MS, but anecdotal evidence suggested it was being prescribed to patients with dementia. We used data from two nationwide healthcare databases to understand how the medication was being used in routine care. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, CMAJ, Pharmacology / 26.11.2018 Interview with: Jennifer Watt, PhD Clinical Epidemiology and Health Care Research Institute of Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation University of Toronto What is the background for this study?   Response: Behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (e.g. aggression, agitation) are common among persons living with dementia. Pharmacological (e.g. antipsychotics) and non-pharmacological (e.g. reminiscence therapy) interventions are often used to alleviate these symptoms. However, antipsychotics are associated with significant harm among older adults with dementia (e.g. death, stroke). Regulatory agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Health Canada issued black box warnings to advise patients and clinicians of this potential for harm. And initiatives were championed to decrease the use of antipsychotics in persons living with dementia. In response, we have seen a rise in the use of other pharmacological interventions, such as trazodone (an antidepressant). Its potential to cause harm in older adults with dementia is largely unknown. (more…)
ALS, Author Interviews, Pharmaceutical Companies / 27.09.2018 Interview with: RetrotopeRobert J Molinari, Ph.D. President and CEO Retrotope, Inc. What is the background for this study? How does RT001 differ from other treatments for neurodegenerative diseases?  Response: Lipid peroxidation in critical cell and mitochondrial membranes represents a common pathway of cell death in many neurodegenerative diseases, regardless of the initiating trigger of original damage, e.g. aberrant gene expression, misfolded proteins such as tau and amyloid, environmental insults, etc. This hypothesis was supported by work showing that stabilizing lipids (using virtually indistinguishable isotopic variants of the original dietary molecules) was able to mitigate disease-related cell dysfunction, and reverse disease in a variety of animal models, and more recently, in human patients enrolled in clinical trials. It has been known for decades that lipid peroxidation detritus of oxidized membrane fats are present in most all diseases of degeneration and aging, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, atherosclerosis, ALS, Huntington’s, and fatal inborn genetic errors resulting in neurodegenerative diseases (among others). The hypothesis that controlling such oxidation could provide therapeutic benefit was abandoned when numerous formal trials of classical antioxidants, e.g. Co-enzyme Q, Vitamin E, and others failed to provide meaningful benefit. We believed that the antioxidant mechanism used to attempt control of the membrane oxidation was flawed, but that the target itself was correct. Indeed, by using a new class of oral drugs that are lipids fortified against damage at the key susceptible bonds, we observed reduction in lipid peroxidation damage that halted, and even reversed neurodegenerative disease progression. Dosed in amounts and forms similar to omega 3 and 6 supplements, these drugs exhibited profound disease modification across a broad range of diseases in animal models, placebo controlled- and open label- human trials. (more…)
Author Interviews, HIV, Pharmaceutical Companies / 16.08.2018 Interview with: TaiMed BiologicsStanley Lewis, M.D. TaiMed Biologics Irvine, CA 92614 What is the background for this study? Response: The phase III clinical trial was conducted to assess the efficacy and safety of Trogarzo™ (ibalizumab-uiyk) injection in patients with multidrug resistant HIV-1. The study design was approved by the FDA. Results obtained were included in the New Drug Application submitted to the FDA which approved Trogarzo™ on March 6, 2018. The phase III, open-label study, enrolled 40 patients with multidrug-resistant (MDR) HIV-1 in whom multiple antiretroviral therapies had failed. All patients at baseline were experiencing viral failure. After a seven-day control period, patients received an intravenous 2000 mg loading dose of Trogarzo™ which was the only change made to their antiretroviral regimen. Through the 24-week treatment period of the study, patients were given a maintenance dose of 800 mg of Trogarzo™ every two weeks along with an optimized background regimen that included at least one additional fully active agent. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gastrointestinal Disease, Pharmaceutical Companies / 15.08.2018 Interview with: RedHill Biopharma LtdMr. Gilead Raday, MPhil, MSc Chief Operating Officer RedHill Biopharma Ltd What is the background for this study? Would you briefly explain what is meant by Crohn's disease?  How common is it and whom does it affect?  Response: Crohn's disease (CD) is a chronic, relapsing inflammatory gastrointestinal disorder characterized by a variety of symptoms, including severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, bleeding, bowel obstruction, fever and weight loss. The underlying cause of Crohn's is unknown; however, CD is believed to arise secondary to genetic and environmental stimuli. More than 1.5 million people suffer from CD globally and it is prevalent in the U.S., affecting more than 200 people per 100,000. The current standard of care for Crohn's disease is limited to anti-inflammatories, immuno-suppressants and biologics that treat auto-immune disorders. These therapies target symptomatic improvement in the inflammation associated with CD, are widely considered to be of limited efficacy in the long term, and are associated with numerous side effects. This speaks to the great unmet need for an effective therapy for this debilitating disease. Additionally, there is no current therapy that treats the suspected underlying cause of Crohn’s disease. We have developed RHB-104 with the MAP hypothesis in mind, which posits that Crohn's disease is caused by infection by a bacteria, Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP). This is similar to peptic ulcer disease, a condition that was initially associated with stress, smoking, NSAIDs and other behavioral factors, yet was found to be caused by H. pylori bacterial infection in the 1980s, revolutionizing the field of ulcer treatment. Validation of this theory would revolutionize how Crohn's disease is viewed and treated by the medical community and RHB-104 is the only therapy in development targeting MAP infection.  (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Boehringer Ingelheim, McGill, Pharmacology / 19.07.2018 Interview with: Samy Suissa, PhD Director, Centre for Clinical Epidemiology, Lady Davis Institute Professor, Departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and of Medicine McGill University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Sulfonylureas are widely used oral antidiabetic drugs that are recommended as second-line treatments after first-line metformin to treat patients with type 2 diabetes. While their safety has been studied extensively, studies in patients with poorly controlled diabetes in need of pharmacotherapy escalation have been sparse and limited. Our study evaluated whether adding or switching to sulfonylureas after initiating metformin treatment is associated with increased cardiovascular or hypoglycaemic risks, compared with remaining on metformin monotherapy. Using a large cohort of over 77,000 patients initiating treatment with metformin monotherapy, we found that adding or switching to sulfonylureas is associated with modest increases of 26% in the risk of myocardial infarction and 28% in the risk of death, as well as an over 7-fold major increase in the risk of severe hypoglycaemia leading to hospitalisation. In particular, we found that switching from metformin to sulfonylureas was associated with higher risks of myocardial infarction and death, compared with adding sulfonylureas to metformin.  (more…)
Allergan, Author Interviews, Bipolar Disorder, Brigham & Women's - Harvard / 20.12.2017 Interview with: allerganGary Sachs, MD Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry Harvard Medical School What is the background for this data milestone? Response: Bipolar disorder affects about 5.7 million adults in the United States.  It is a common, often disabling condition in which abnormal mood states impair a person’s ability to carry out everyday tasks. Bipolar disorder touches nearly every family and community in America, because periods of illness, a patient’s symptoms often impact their family, their friends, and their community. There are a limited number of products approved to treat bipolar depression and even fewer products that have been studied and approved to treat the full spectrum of bipolar disorder, from mania through depression. Having another product proven to treat the full range of bipolar disorder would be a welcome addition to the treatment options currently available to the psychiatry community and patients. (more…)
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, Pharmaceutical Companies / 17.12.2017 Interview with: Alexander S Hauser, PhD student MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology Cambridge UK Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology, University of Copenhagen Copenhagen, Denmark What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The prevalence and impact of genetic variation among all human G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) that are targeted by FDA-approved drugs remain unknown. In this study, we present a comprehensive analysis and map of the pharmacogenomics landscape of GPCR drug targets. The key highlights are: - GPCRs targeted by drugs show extensive genetic variation in the human population - Variation occurs in functional sites and may result in altered drug response - Understanding GPCR genetic variation may help reduce global healthcare expenses (more…)
Author Interviews, Parkinson's, Pharmacology / 14.12.2017 Interview with: Dr. Youcef Mehellou PhD Lecturer in Medicinal Chemistry Cardiff School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Cardiff University What is the background for this study? Response: Over the last decade or two, there has been many reports linking genetic mutations to the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Among the proteins that have been found to be mutated in PD is a protein called PINK1. Indeed, PINK1 mutations that disturb its function in cells were found to be causal of PD in humans. Subsequent studies showed that PINK1 is a major player in maintaining healthy neurons. This is because it is one of the components involved in controlling the quality of the mitochondria, an organelle within the cell, and it does this by triggering the disposal of unhealthy mitochondria. Overall, studies into PINK1 indicated that the activation of PINK1 as a plausible strategy for maintaining health neurons and hence slowing down the development and progress of Parkinson’s disease. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Cost of Health Care, JAMA, OBGYNE / 03.10.2017 Interview with: Andrew L. Beam, PhD Instructor in Biomedical Informatics Department of Biomedical Informatics Harvard Medical School What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: This study is one piece of a larger story regarding the use of 17-alpha-hydroxyprogesterone caproate (17P) to treat recurrent preterm birth. This drug was originally only available in a compounded form, but since receiving an orphan drug designation in 2011, a branded and manufactured form was marketed under the name "Makena". This branded form was then sold for a much higher price than the compounded version, but a study that provided concrete data on pricing and outcomes had not been done. (more…)
Author Interviews, HIV, Merck, Pharmacology / 25.07.2017 Interview with: Dr. Pedro Cahn Chief of the infectious disease unit at Juan A. Fernandez Hospital Buenos Aires, Argentina, and ONCEMRK lead study investigator What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? The ONCEMRK Phase 3 study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy and safety of once-daily ISENTRESS (raltegravir) HD 1200 mg (given as two 600 mg oral tablets) compared to twice daily raltegravir 400 mg, each in combination therapy with emtricitabine plus tenofovir disoproxil fumarate in previously untreated adults with HIV-1 infection with levels of HIV-1 RNA ≥ 1,000 copies/mL.
  • Week 96 data showed:
    • 5 percent of the 531 patients taking once-daily raltegravir 1200 mg (2 x 600 mg) achieved viral suppression of less than 40 copies/mL of HIV-1 RNA, compared to 80.1 percent of the 266 patients taking twice-daily raltegravir 400 mg, both in combination therapy with emtricitabine plus tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, with a treatment difference of 1.4 percent.
    • Increases in CD4+T-cell counts from baseline were comparable for the two treatment regimens, with an average increase of 261.6 cells/mm3 for once-daily raltegravir (1200 mg) and 262.2 cells/mm3 for twice-daily raltegravir (400 mg).
    • Efficacy was consistent across a variety of patient populations, including those with high viral load at baseline (HIV-1 RNA >100,000 copies/mL).
    • Treatment-emergent viral mutations leading to any drug resistance were detected in less than 1 percent of patients in both treatment arms, with 4/531 (0.8 percent) in the once-daily raltegravir (1200 mg) treatment arm, and 2/266 (0.8 percent) in the twice-daily raltegravir (400 mg) treatment arm through 96 weeks.
    • The rate of discontinuation of therapy due to adverse events through 96 weeks was low (1.3 percent in patients receiving once-daily raltegravir (1200 mg) and 2.3 percent in patients receiving twice-daily raltegravir (400 mg).
Author Interviews, JAMA, Pharmacology, UCLA / 03.05.2017 Interview with: Ian Larkin, PhD Assistant Professor of Strategy UCLA Anderson School of Management What is the background for this study? Response: The study examined whether restrictions put in by medical centers on salesperson visits to physicians, known as “detailing,” affected subsequent physician prescribing behavior. Detailing represents the most prominent form of pharmaceutical marketing. Detailing visits allow the sharing of scientific information, but they also often involve small gifts for physicians and their staff, such as meals. Pharmaceutical companies incur far greater expenditures on detailing visits than they do on direct-to-consumer marketing, or even on research and development of new drugs. Specifically, the study examined detailing restrictions put into place by 19 academic medical centers (AMCs) in five states in the U.S. It compared changes in prescribing by thousands of AMC physicians whose practices limited typical elements of detailing visits, such as provisions of meals and educational gifts, to a carefully matched control group of similar physicians practicing in the same geographic regions but not subject to such detailing restrictions. The study, which included more than 25,000 physicians and all 262 drugs in eight major drug classes — from statins to sleep aids to antidepressants, representing more than $60 billion in aggregate sales in the United States — was, to date, by far the most comprehensive to examine the impact of detailing restrictions. The comprehensive and quasi-experimental methodology, which compared prescribing behavior before and after implementation of policies, and which included a large matched control group of physicians not subject to policy changes, was an important innovation relative to prior research. The study used prescription data from CVS Caremark, one of the largest pharmacy benefit managers in the United States. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, Pharmacology / 24.02.2017 Interview with: Prof. Dr. med. Kristian Reich Dermatologie, Allergologie Psoriasis- und Neurodermitis-Trainer Hamburg What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Ustekinumab is an antibody against the p40 molecule shared by IL-12 and IL-23. The antibody shows a favorable benfit-risk profile in the treatment of psoriasis. IL-23 is regarded a key driver in psoriasis pathology. It is speculated that antibodies against the IL-23-specific subunit p19 may produce even higher levels of clinical response than ustekinumab or the anti-TNF antagonist adalimumab. Guselkumab is the first IL-23p19 antibody to publish phase III data in psoriasis.    (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, JAMA, Pharmacology, Yale / 23.02.2017 Interview with: Adam Chekroud PhD Candidate Human Neuroscience Lab Department of Psychology Yale University What is the background for this study? Response: We know that depression includes a wide range of symptoms, from low mood and feeling worthless, to problems sleeping, slowed thinking, and suicidal ideation. We wanted to know whether antidepressants work well in treating all of these symptoms, or whether they are primarily effective on certain kinds of symptoms. (more…)
Author Interviews, HIV, Pharmacology / 20.02.2017 Interview with: Kati Vandermeulen Senior Director, Global Regulatory Leader and Compound Development Team Lead IDV Janssen What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response:  SWORD is the first large trial program specifically conducted to look at the combination of dolutegravir and rilpivirine as a complete, two-drug antiretroviral regimen. Results of the two identical Phase III SWORD studies have been positive and demonstrate that the two-drug regimen of dolutegravir and rilpivirine is as effective, with comparable tolerability, to traditional three- or four-drug (integrase inhibitor-, non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor-, or boosted protease inhibitor-based) antiretroviral regimens for the maintenance treatment of HIV. (more…)
Author Interviews, Columbia, Mental Health Research, Nature, PTSD / 14.02.2017 Interview with: Christine Ann Denny, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Department of Psychiatry Columbia University Division of Integrative Neuroscience Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene, Inc. New York, NY 10032-2695 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the most common psychiatric illnesses, affecting about 8 million adult Americans, and an annual prevalence of about 3.5% worldwide. At-risk populations such as soldiers and veterans are at a higher risk to develop PTSD. Stress exposure is one of the major risk factors for PTSD and major depressive disorder (MDD), a disorder which is often co-morbid with PTSD. There are currently very limited treatments for PTSD and MDD. In addition, these disorders are treated in a symptom-suppression approach, which only mitigate symptoms and work in only a small fraction of patients. Prevention is rarely an approach considered except in the form of behavioral intervention. However, pharmacological approaches to preventing psychiatric diseases has not yet been developed. Our laboratory has previously found that ketamine, a general anesthetic and rapid-acting antidepressant, administered sub-anesthetically prior to stress can prevent against stress-induced depressive-like behaviors. We decided to delve into the literature to determine whether ketamine has any effects on PTSD in the clinic. We found numerous reports linking ketamine to PTSD, but the results were varied. We realized that the main difference in all of these studies was the timing of administration. We decided to systematically test the efficacy of ketamine in mice at various time points relative to a stressor to determine when would be the most effective window to buffer against heightened fear expression. We found that ketamine administered 1 week, but not 1 month or 1 day, prior to a stressor was the most effective time point to administer the drug to buffer fear. This is critical, as it suggests that a pharmacological approach to enhance resilience can be more effective at protecting against PTSD symptoms than attempting to mitigate symptoms after it has already affected an individual. (more…)
Annals Thoracic Surgery, Author Interviews, Diabetes, Duke, Heart Disease, Hepatitis - Liver Disease, Pharmacology / 04.01.2017 Interview with: Matthew J. Crowley, MD, MHS Assistant Professor of Medicine Member in the Duke Clinical Research Institute Duke University Medical Center What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Although metformin is widely considered to be the first-line drug for type 2 diabetes, concerns about lactic acidosis have traditionally limited its use in some populations. However, FDA now indicates that metformin may be used safely for patients with mild-moderate chronic kidney disease and other historical contraindications like congestive heart failure. With the lactic acidosis question addressed for these groups, this review asked “what do we know about how metformin affects mortality and other outcomes for patients with historical contraindications and precautions?” The main take-home message is that metformin appears associated with lower mortality in patients with mild-moderate chronic kidney disease, congestive heart failure, and chronic liver disease. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Lipids, Pharmacology / 16.12.2016 Interview with: Dr. Eli M. Roth MD, FACC President, Medical Director Sterling Research Group Cincinnati, OH What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: At this year’s AHA 2016, we presented a pharmacodynamics analysis of ODYSSEY CHOICE I, which evaluated the effects of Praluent 300 mg administered every four weeks (Q4W) for 24 weeks in hypercholesterolemia patients at moderate to very high cardiovascular risk who were on maximally tolerated statin or no statin and/or other lipid-lowering therapies. The pharmacodynamic analysis of CHOICE I in patients on statins supports the use of Praluent 300 mg Q4W as an alternative starting dose for patients who prefer a Q4W dosing regimen and demonstrates the value of LDL-C based dosing interval adjustment. The findings from this analysis were consistent with prior ODYSSEY Phase 3 studies, showing that Praluent substantially reduced circulating free PCSK9 concentration, resulting in significant LDL-C reductions. Additionally, Praluent was generally well tolerated. (more…)
Author Interviews, FASEB, Heart Disease, Imperial College, Pain Research, Pharmacology / 17.10.2016 Interview with: Dr Nicholas Kirkby BHF Intermediate Fellow | Vascular Biology National Heart & Lung Institute | Imperial College London London What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We know drugs like ibuprofen, called ‘non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs’ cause an increase in the risk of heart attacks. These side effects cause very real concerns for the many millions of people who rely on them. They are also the reason why there are no new drugs in this class and why they have been withdrawn (2011) for use as a preventative treatment for colon cancer. Previous research from our group suggests that L-arginine supplements may prevent the cardiovascular side effects caused by these drugs. Our findings here suggest that a particular formulations of ibuprofen, called ibuprofen arginate, which is already available in many parts of the world, can act like an L-arginine supplement and that this could potentially protect the cardiovascular system. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Pharmacology / 04.10.2016 Interview with: Kevin Bowen MD MBA Senior Health Outcomes Researcher Prime Therapeutics LLC 1305 Corporate Center Drive Eagan, MN 55121 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? • Autoimmune specialty drugs now account for about one of every 10 dollars of combined drug expense through the medical and pharmacy benefits in a commercially insured population. • The autoimmune drug class is one of the fastest growing, with this study finding a doubling in autoimmune drug expenditures and a 38 percent increase in utilization, in the most recent four years. • Integrated analysis of medical and pharmacy claims is essential for this category of drugs because more than 25 percent of autoimmune specialty drug use is paid through the medical benefit and medical claims diagnosis coding provides a means of determining what conditions were treated with drugs covered by pharmacy claims. (more…)
Asthma, Author Interviews, NEJM, Pediatrics, Pharmacology / 01.09.2016 Interview with: David A Stempel, MD Medical Affairs Lead US Medical Affairs GlaxoSmithKline What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Long-acting beta-agonists (LABAs) have been shown to increase the risk of asthma-related death among adults and the risk of asthma-related hospitalization among children. It is unknown whether the concomitant use of inhaled glucocorticoids with LABAs mitigates those risks. This trial prospectively evaluated the safety of the LABA salmeterol, added to fluticasone propionate, in a fixed-dose combination in children. (more…)
Author Interviews, Lipids, Pharmacology / 23.08.2016 Interview with: Prof. Dr. Ioana Gouni-Berthold MD Center for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Preventive Medicine (ZEDP) University of Cologne Cologne, Germany What is the background for this study? Response: In Europe, up to half of the population aged between 35 and 64 has hypercholesterolemia (high levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol [LDL-C]), putting them at risk of heart disease. Despite increased treatment rates in recent years, many patients still do not receive adequate therapy, and heart disease remains the biggest cause of death in the USA and most European countries. Two drugs, alirocumab and evolocumab, have recently been approved for lowering LDL-C in patients with hypercholesterolaemia as an ‘add-on’ therapy to other lipid-lowering medication, or for use alone in patients unable to tolerate statins. These drugs have a unique mode of action– they inhibit proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9), a protein that binds to LDL receptors and targets them for degradation. In the absence of PCSK9, the LDL receptor recycling is restored and the receptors are able to remove LDL from the blood. Both alirocumab and evolocumab have been tested in numerous patient populations in phase 3 trials; albeit evolocumab has an additional indication of homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia. We therefore felt that there was a need to collate the available data to assess the efficacy and safety of each agent. We chose reduction in LDL-C as our outcome of interest, because this was the primary endpoint of the pivotal clinical trials. (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, Compliance, Opiods, Pharmacology / 23.08.2016 Interview with: F. Leland McClure III, MSci, PhD, F-ABFT Medical science liaison director Quest Diagnostics What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Many physicians associate Quest Diagnostics with their lab service needs because of our leadership in laboratory testing. But Quest is more than a lab, which is why we refer to ourselves as a diagnostic information services provider. This means that we help providers, health plans and even patients use the insights we derive from our lab testing data to deliver better care, quality and outcomes, both for the patient and the managed population. Our 2016 Quest Diagnostics Health Trends(TM) Prescription Drug Monitoring Report is an example of how we provide important health insights from Quest's laboratory data. Prescription drug misuse is a major epidemic in the United States. Laboratory testing can help identify if a patient is using or misusing prescribed medications. For instance, lab tests can show evidence of additional medications and other drugs in a patient’s urine specimen, suggesting potentially dangerous drug combinations. Earlier this year, the CDC issued guidelines that call for laboratory testing for patients prescribed certain medications, such as opioids, that carry a risk of abuse. Quest's prescription drug monitoring services help the physician identify if a patient is taking or not taking up to about four dozen drugs, such as oxycodone, Adderall XR® and Percocet®. For the Quest analysis, we analyzed more than 3 million de-identified lab test results. In this report, we found that 54 percent of patients’ results tested in 2015 showed evidence of drug misuse, slightly above the 53 percent misuse rate in 2014. That is certainly unacceptably high, but it’s a significant decline from the high of 63 percent we observed in 2011. We also found that an increasing proportion of patients who misuse medications combine their prescription medication with non-prescribed drugs. Among patients with inconsistent test results, forty-five percent of these patients showed evidence of one or more other drug(s) in addition to their prescribed drug regimen. That’s much higher than our findings of 35 percent in 2014 and 2013, 33 percent in 2012, and 32 percent in 2011. Finally, we were alarmed by the data showing the connection between heroin and benzodiazepines misuse. Our data showed one in three heroin users combine their drug use with benzodiazepines, the vast majority of which were unprescribed. This is an extremely dangerous practice given that benzodiazepines can have strong respiratory depressant effects when combined with other substances. Drug combinations, but particularly of heroin with benzodiazepines, can be potentially very dangerous, leading to coma and even death in some cases. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Heart Disease / 19.08.2016 Interview with: Leo F. Buckley, PharmD Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, Virginia What is the background for this study? Response: As the prevalence and costs of heart failure are expected to increase through the year 2030, significant efforts have been devoted towards devising alternatives to inpatient hospitalization for the management of heart failure decompensations. Since loop diuretics are the mainstay of treatment during the majority of hospitalizations, administration of high doses of loop diuretics in the outpatient setting has increased in popularity. We intended to answer two questions with his study: first, can a patient-specific dosing protocol based on a patient’s usual diuretic dose achieve safe decongestion? and second, does this strategy alter the usual course of heart failure decompensation, which oftentimes culminates in inpatient hospitalization? (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, Pharmacology / 15.08.2016 Interview with: Kin F. Chan, PhD Executive Vice President of Research and Technology BioPharmX Corporation What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There were two studies in this series.  The purpose is to get a better understanding of the blood plasma and skin levels of minocycline in a relevant animal model (minipig) for both the oral form of minocycline (Solodyn) and topical BPX-01, and to elucidate the same for oral minocycline only in a clinical study. The results provided valuable guidance and assurance to our upcoming Clinical Phase 2b dose-ranging study design. (more…)