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Medical News You May Have Missed-Week of January 21st


FDA Approves New Flu Vaccine: Drug Trio Increases Kidney Risk; Spotting Problem Drinkers; Migraines and Blood Clots; New Class of Diabetes Drug

FDA Approves New Type of Flu Vaccine

The FDA recently announced the approval of a new seasonal influenza vaccine called Flublok. Flublok is set apart from other flu vaccines because it is a trivalent vaccine made using an insect virus expression system and recombinant DNA technology.

“This approval represents a technological advance in the manufacturing of an influenza vaccine,” Karen Midthun, MD, Director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in a press release. “The new technology offers the potential for faster start-up of the vaccine manufacturing process in the event of a pandemic, because it is not dependent on an egg supply or on availability of the influenza virus.”

The efficacy of Flublock was studied at various sites in the US: 2300 people received the new vaccine and a control group received placebo. Flublok was about 44.6% effective against all circulating influenza strains, not just the strains that matched the strains included in the vaccine.

Flublok can be used in patients aged 18 years to 49 years.

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Diuretics + Antihypertensives + NSAIDs = Increased Risk of Kidney Injury

Patients who take a combination of medications that include diuretics, ACE inhibitors or angiotensin receptors blockers, and NSAIDs may be at an increased risk for acute kidney injury, according to the results of study published last week in BMJ.

The authors of this study conducted a retrospective cohort analysis using data on almost half a million antihypertensive drug users taken from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink.

In the cohort, 2,215 cases of acute kidney injury were identified. Results indicated that use of 2 of the 3 drugs-diuretics, antihypertensive, and NSAIDs, was not associated with an increased risk for kidney injury. However, the combination of the 3 drugs significantly increased risk, with a rate ratio of 1.31.

Read the full results of the study here.

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Clinical Suspicion Fails to Identify Patients with Drinking Problems

A new study supports primary care physicians’ routine use of a systematic screening tool to identify alcohol problems in patients. Published recently in Annals of Family Medicine, the study assessed the accuracy of clinical suspicion compared with screening-detected alcohol problems in patients.

Ninety-four primary care clinicians’ offices participated. Both physicians and patients completed questionnaires after a patient visit. Patients were screened for hazardous and harmful drinking, and physicians were asked if they thought each patient had a drinking problem.

Of the patients screened, 10% (n=171) screened positive for hazardous drinking and 4% (n=64) for harmful drinking, according to the validated screening instruments. In contrast, physicians identified only 5% (n=81) of patients with hazardous or harmful drinking behaviors. Of those 81 patients, 50 screened positive for harmful or hazardous drinking behavior.

Read the full article here.

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Migraines in Women Linked to Heart Attack, Blood Clots

A preview of studies to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 65th Annual Meeting in March indicates that women who have migraines with aura may be at increased risk for blood clots. Two studies that will be presented at the meeting have shown a link between the conditions.

The first study, by Kurth and colleagues, used data from more than 27,000 women in The Women’s Health Study. During the 15-year study, 1,435 women had migraine with aura and 1,030 women had heart attack, stroke, or death from cardiovascular disease. After high blood pressure, migraine with aura was the second leading cause of heart attack and stroke.

The second study, by Joshi and colleagues, looked at women with migraine who are also taking hormonal contraceptives. This study found that women with migraine with aura were more likely to have experienced a blood clot complication, such as deep vein thrombosis, with all types of contraceptives compared with women who have migraine without aura.

Read the abstracts here and here.

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FDA Panel Backs Canagliflozin-- New Class of Diabetes Drug

Johnson & Johnson recently announced that it has received a positive recommendation from the FDA Endocrinology Metabolic Drugs Advisory Committee on canagliflozin, its oral once-daily medication for type 2 diabetes. The panel voted 10 to 5 to approve the drug. The FDA usually takes the panels’ recommendation into consideration when deciding whether to approve a new drug.

If approved, canagliflozin would be the first selective sodium glucose co-transporter inhibitor approved for diabetes. The drug blocks the reabsorption of glucose by the kidney, increasing glucose excretion, and lowering blood glucose levels.

Read more details here.

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