PHARMACY

Gout drug may ease hypertension in teens

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK A drug normally prescribed to treat gout may also help lower high blood pressure in teenagers, a study has found.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Wednesday, gave 30 teenagers aged 11 to 17 the drug allopurinol. The teenagers, recently diagnosed with stage I essential hypertension, were instructed to take 200 mg of the drug or a placebo twice a day for a month. After a month, the test and control groups were switched.

The teenagers experienced declining levels of uric acid—a cause of hypertension—while taking allipurinol and had normal blood pressure.

The researchers conducting the study, however, warned this was not a reason to prescribe allipurinol to teenagers with high blood pressure. The drug can have serious side effects, including Stevens-Johnson syndrome, an allergic reaction that can cause severe pain and death.

Allopurinol is the generic name for Prometheus Laboratories’ Zyloprim.

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FDA requests additional information from J&J on schizophrenia drug

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON The Food and Drug Administration has requested additional data from Johnson & Johnson for determining whether to approve an experimental drug for schizophrenia, J&J announced Tuesday.

The FDA is not requiring new clinical trials for the drug, paliperidone palmitate, but it can’t comment on the contents of the complete response letter it sent to J&J.

The drug uses Ireland-based Elan’s NanoCrystal technology.

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Codeine use by nursing mothers may harm babies

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Medicinal use of codeine by breast-feeding mothers may harm their babies’ health, according to a recent Canadian study.

In some women, genetic factors cause their bodies to metabolize codeine into morphine faster than others, increasing the babies’ risk of morphine overdose. Over time, buildup of morphine in the babies’ bodies can cause sleepiness, breathing problems and death.

The study, published online Aug. 20 in the journal Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, looked at DNA samples from 72 Canadian mothers who used codeine after giving birth between 2004 and 2007 and also administered a telephone survey of the mothers to determine their health and their children’s health before, during and after the use of codeine. Almost a quarter of the babies experienced nervous system depression, evidenced by reduced alertness, while their mothers used codeine.

Two of the mothers had the genetic predisposition to overproduce morphine, and one of their babies died.

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