- Epilepsy Drugs May Cause Skin Reactions in Asian Patients: FDA
- New Gout Drug Backed by FDA Panel
- Medicaid Paying for UnapprovedDrugs: Report
- Infrared Light May Hold Clue to 'Clarifying' Cochlear Implants
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
Epilepsy Drugs May Cause Skin Reactions in Asian Patients: FDA
Some Asian patients may suffer severe skin blisters and bleeding whentreated with certain epilepsy drugs such as Dilantin, Phenytek and Cerebyx,the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.
Preliminary data indicate that people with a gene called HLA-B1502 may be at increased risk of developing skin problems when taking these drugs. Ten to 15 percent of people from China, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines may carry the gene, as well as 2 to 4 percent of South Asians, the Associated Press reported.
Doctors should monitor patients closely, but there isn't enough information yet to recommend genetic testing, the FDA said. Many patientswho develop skin problems do so in the first few months after they starttaking the epilepsy drugs.
Last year, the FDA recommended genetic testing for Asian patients taking the epilepsy drug carbamazepine after reports of skin reactions, theAP reported.
New Gout Drug Backed by FDA Panel
The first new gout drug in 40 years should be approved for sale in theUnited States, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended Monday.
Early trials of the drug Uloric found a higher risk of death and heartproblems among patients taking the drug. But drug maker Takeda Inc.commissioned a larger clinical trial that found no difference in heart risks between patients taking Uloric and those taking the currently available drug allopurinol, the Associated Press reported.
The FDA panel voted 12-0 to recommend approval of Uloric forchronic gout. Though not required to do so, the FDA usually follows therecommendations of its advisory panels.
Gout, a form of arthritis that mainly strikes middle-aged men, affectsabout 5 million people in the United States. The problem is caused by abuild-up of uric acid in the blood. Uloric reduces levels of uric acid, theAP reported.
Medicaid Paying for UnapprovedDrugs: Report
From 2004 to 2007, Medicaid paid nearly $198 million for prescriptions of more than 100 unapproved medications linked to dozens of deaths, according to an Associated Press analysis of federal data.
There's no data available for 2008, but the unapproved drugs are stillbeing sold. Many of the drugs are used to treat common conditions such ascolds and pain and date back decades, before the U.S. Food and DrugAdministration implemented stricter drug review policies, the AP said.
Unapproved prescription drugs account for about two percent (72 million) of all prescriptions filled by pharmacies in the United States, according to the FDA. Private insurance plans also pay for these drugs, the AP reported.
The FDA is trying to remove these unapproved drugs from the market, but conflicting federal laws permit Medicaid to pay for the drugs. Medicaidofficials said they need help from Congress to resolve the problem, the news service said.
"I think this is something we ought to look at very hard, and we ought tofix it," Medicaid chief Herb Kuhn told the AP. "It raises a whole setof questions, not only in terms of safety, but in the efficiency of theprogram -- to make sure we are getting the right set of services forbeneficiaries."
Federal payments for questionable medications are a concern when health-care costs are rising and about 46 million Americans are uninsured. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has asked the Health and Human Services inspector general to investigate the situation, the AP said.
Infrared Light May Hold Clue to 'Clarifying' Cochlear Implants
The cochlear implant, considered a miracle for its ability to give hearing to many deaf people, may be improved by the use of infrared light, according to a report in New Scientist magazine.