HEALTH

Child’s weight may cause drugs to metabolize differently, study suggests

BY Michael Johnsen

ANAHEIM, Calif. Researchers from the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy have provided the first evidence-based data on changes in drug metabolism in obese children as compared with healthy-weight children.

The study, conducted by L’Aurelle Johnson and Manoj Chiney in the Department of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacy, evaluated drug metabolism in 16 healthy weight children and nine obese children.

“We have known for years that drugs metabolize differently in obese adults as compared to healthy weight adults,” stated Johnson. “But, there has been very little, if any, information available that specifically addresses the consequences of obesity on drug metabolism in children. Without this information, our ability to identify optimal drug dosing in children often relies on trial and error approaches.”

In the study, Johnson and Chiney examined drug metabolizing enzyme activity in healthy weight and obese children, ages 6 to 10 years old. Specifically, they looked at how the children metabolized caffeine and dextromethorphan, an over-the-counter cough suppressant.

They found that obese children metabolized both drugs at different rates than healthy-weight children.

Johnson said this finding is the first of many steps in determining the overall effect of obesity on drug absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination in children. She plans to conduct additional research to define the activity of other drug metabolizing enzymes that may also be altered in the pediatric population as a result of obesity.

“Collectively, such knowledge concerning key factors that impact activity of drug metabolizing enzymes in children will have a significant positive impact on the development of optimal drug dosing regiments in children in order to maximize efficacy, while minimizing potential adverse drug effects, in the treatment of serious diseases such as cancer,” Johnson said.

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Regulators express concerns over cargo thefts

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. An increase in cargo thefts of prescription and over-the-counter drugs and other products has regulators worried, according to a letter sent to several companies Wednesday.

Michael Chappell, acting assistant commissioner for regulatory affairs at the Food and Drug Administration, wrote in the letter that agency was “very concerned” about the increase in cargo and warehouse thefts of drugs, vaccines, medical devices and infant formula.

“These crimes threaten the public health because product that has left the legitimate supply chain poses potential safety risks to consumers,” Chappell wrote.

The letter comes in the wake of a sophisticated theft of $75 million in drugs from an Eli Lilly warehouse in Enfield, Conn. The agency said it hoped the letter would encourage companies to review and strengthen security.

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New anti-meth campaign targets Native American community

BY Michael Johnsen

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. White House Office of National Drug Control Policy director Gil Kerlikowske on Wednesday unveiled a new anti-methamphetamine ad campaign that launched in New Mexico and in 14 other states with the largest Native American populations.

According to national data, meth use rates for American Indian/Alaska Native populations remain among the highest of any ethnicity — almost two times higher than other groups, according to the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Specifically, American Indians or Alaska Natives almost are twice as likely to have used meth in the past year than whites (1.1% vs. 0.6%) or Hispanics (1.1% vs. 0.6%), and approximately five times more likely to have used meth than African Americans (1.1% vs. 0.2%).

“The data about methamphetamine abuse in the Native American community are troubling,” Kerlikowske said. “This ad campaign will supplement the important work for prevention and treatment already being done by the Native American community, local prevention groups, law enforcement, and treatment providers.”

The Native American Anti-Meth Campaign, in its third year coordinated by ONDCP’s National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, is the only national anti-meth advertising campaign tailored to reach both youth and adults in Indian Country and Alaska Native lands. The campaign includes TV commercials, print and radio ads, and billboard advertising in 15 states: Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Wyoming, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin, and Utah. The ads will run until August, and Native groups and others will be able to download and use the ads as free PSAs in their local communities.

“This ad campaign is very important to Indian Country,” stated Larry Echo Hawk, Assistant Secretary — Indian affairs for the U.S. Department of the Interior. “Drug abuse is always a disturbing issue to confront for any community, and methamphetamine abuse is something we need to address with an aggressive approach.”

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