HEALTH

Drug abuse among young people declines in United States

BY Michael Johnsen

ANN ARBOR, Mich. U.S. students in 8th, 10th and 12th grades are continuing to show a gradual decline in their use of certain drugs, including methamphetamine, according to the 34th annual national survey in the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Monitoring the Future series released last week.

“These certainly are positive developments and the longer term decline in the use of methamphetamine, which continued this year in grade 12, is particularly important,” stated Lloyd Johnston, the study’s principal investigator. “The use of this highly addictive drug is now down by about two thirds among teens since 1999, when its use was first measured.”

There was also a decline in the number of teens abusing dextromethorphan, a popular cough suppressant, the survey found. While the annual prevalence rate was the same for 10th graders as in 2006, abuse among 8th and high school seniors had declined. Eighth graders’ prevalence fell by 0.6 percentage points to 3.2 percent and reported abuse among high school seniors’ dropped 1.3 percentage points to 5.7 percent. “It thus appears that attempts to discourage misuse of dextromethorphan have proven somewhat successful,” Johnston said, though there’s more work yet to be done.

Overall, according to the survey, 3.6, 5.3 and 5.5 percent of 8th, 10th and 12th graders, respectively, reported abusing over-the-counter cough medicines to get high.

“We are encouraged by this progress but remain steadfast in our efforts to reduce the number of teens abusing these medicines to get high,” stated Linda Suydam, president of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. CHPA has developed a number of programs in recent years in an effort to address teen abuse of OTC medicines.

“CHPA and the leading makers of OTC cough medicines, along with our partners and experts in the substance abuse field, are engaged in a multi-pronged public health education campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of medicine abuse,” Suydam said. “The association’s initiatives include educational programming for parents, schools, pharmacists and retailers , law enforcement, health professionals, community leaders and online.”

“It’s encouraging to see that fewer 8th and 12th graders are abusing over-the-counter cough medicines since NIDA began tracking this issue in 2006,” said Gen. Arthur Dean, chairman and chief executive officer of the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America. “Cough medicine abuse is an issue that CADCA has worked diligently on over the past few years in collaboration with [CHPA], which represents the makers of these products, and I have no doubt that these reductions are a sign that our efforts are working.”

The survey is conducted by scientists at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research.

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Mexican product released in U.S. may prevent erectile dysfunction

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN FRANCISCO Hispanic men between the ages of 20 and 50 are two and a half times as likely as men of other races and ethnicities to develop erectile dysfunction, according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2005.

A product on the market in Mexico since 2004 and recently introduced in the United States might address the problem. CRB Ventures said the product, The Sensual Tea, has a rate of effectiveness of 87.3 percent in treating erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation and has no side effects.

“It is possible to prevent sexual problems from ever occurring,” CRB Ventures president Christian Beasley said in a statement. “The Sensual Tea overcomes low libido and sexual fatigue and enhances the pleasure and intensity of sex.”

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Valeant pays $285 million for derm drug maker

BY Rob Eder

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. Valeant Pharmaceuticals has agreed to buy Dow Pharmaceutical Sciences—which makes drugs to treat acne and other skin conditions, primarily for other pharmaceutical companies—for $285 million, according to several reports.

The deal, set to close in the next few weeks, considerably expands Valeant’s presence in the dermatological space.

The privately held Dow Pharmaceutical Sciences—no connection to Dow Chemical—recently received FDA approval for a new prescription topical acne medication, Acanya, which is expected to hit the market early next year and is projected to reach sales of $70 million.

Valeant also will inherit the rest of Dow’s considerable new product development pipeline, including several other drugs for treating rosacea, fungal infections and warts.

The Dow acquisition comes close on the heels of Valeant’s November purchase of Australian skin care remedy maker DermaTech Pty Ltd., for a little more than $12 million. DermaTech makes drugs for treating acne, psoriasis, warts, head lice and nits, both prescription and OTC.

Analysts are regarding the recent moves as a bit of a “turnaround story,” for the northern California-based company formerly known as ICN Pharmaceuticals, which last year reemerged as Valeant Pharmaceuticals following a considerable restructuring.

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