PHARMACY

Study indicates that birth control pills can protect against ovarian cancer

BY Drew Buono

LONDON According to a new study in the journal Lancet, birth control pills can protect women against ovarian cancer for 30 years or longer after they discontinue their medication and have so far prevented 100,000 ovarian cancer deaths worldwide, according to Reuters.

The longer a woman stays on the pill, the better her chances of not developing the cancer. The researchers analyzed 45 studies on ovarian cancer in 21 countries, showing that the benefits of the pill outweigh the risks, including increased chances of breast and cervical cancer.

In terms of numbers, taking the pill for 10 years cut the risk of ovarian cancer before the age of 75 from 12 per 1,000 women to 8 per 1,000. It also reduced the risk of dying from the disease from 7 per 1,000 women to 5 per 1,000 before the age of 75, the study found.

The study also showed ethnicity, education, family history and other factors do not seem to make much difference in reducing risk when it comes to using the pill.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, more than 190,000 new cases of ovarian cancer are discovered each year worldwide. But more than 100 million women now take the pill, so it will eventually prevent more than 30,000 ovarian cancer cases annually over the next few decades, the researchers wrote.

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Harvard program seeks to discourage doctors from prescribing pediatric antibiotics

BY Drew Buono

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. A program was conducted at the Harvard Medical School in an effort to change doctors’ prescribing habits for antibiotics and to educate parents of small children about the proper use of antibiotics, according to Reuters.

The program was initiated because of the emergence of microbes that are resistant to antibiotics because doctors prescribed the medications when they weren’t really needed.

Harvard Medical School’s Jonathan Finkelstein and colleagues conducted the program in 16 Massachusetts communities between 1988 and 2003. Finkelstein’s team measured changes in antibiotic prescribing rates among three groups of children: 3 to 24 months, 24 to 48 months, and 48 to 72 months.

By the end of the study, the intervention had not changed the rate of antibiotic use in the youngest group, but for children between 24 and 48 months, the rates decreased by 4.2 percent and for the oldest children, the rates decreased by 6.7 percent.

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Patent office rejects Gilead patents for Viread

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON The Patent and Trademark Office has tentatively rejected four patents for Gilead Sciences’ HIV drug Viread, according to published reports.

The Public Patent Foundation filed a petition in March seeking to revoke the patents for the drug because they felt the drug should never have been patented in the first place, as the technology used to make the drug had been previously disclosed publicly.

The PTO is now re-examining the patents. Industry experts have said that it is common for the federal agency to tentatively rule patents invalid after having been asked by a third party to re-examine them. What would be unlikely would be the patents being permanently revoked, which has only occurred about 10 percent of the time.

Gilead sells Viread under that name and in combination with other drugs as Truvada and Atripla. Taken together, the three HIV treatments generated $3.1 billion in sales last year, according to the company.

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