PHARMACY

Study results for AstraZeneca drug show positive results in reducing major cardio events

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW ORLEANS Results from a study have shown that a cardiovascular drug by AstraZeneca can reduce major cardiovascular events among men and women with elevated high-sensitivity C-reactive protein but low to normal cholesterol levels.

The results, announced Sunday, found that Crestor (rosuvastatin calcium) in 20 mg doses cut the combined risk of heart attack, stroke, unstable angina, arterial revascularization and death by 44 percent compared to placebo, while the combined risk of heart attack, stroke or death was reduced by 47 percent.

The study, called the Justification for the Use of statins in Primary prevention: an Intervention Trial Evaluating Rosuvastatin, or JUPITER, was a long-term study of 17,802 patients designed to determine whether Crestor in 20 mg doses reduced the risk of the cardiovascular events.

“These results provide new information about Crestor’s effects on CV risk,” AstraZeneca chief medical officer Howard Hutchinson said. “As is appropriate, the medical community, regulators and guideline committees will now carefully consider these data and any implications for treating patients.”

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New collaboration to spotlight diabetes self-management

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON The Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday announced a collaboration with the American Diabetes Association and the Patient Education Research Center at the Stanford University School of Medicine to increase the number of diabetes self-management training programs in the United States.

This collaboration, which will have a particular focus on Hispanic people with Medicare,  supports HHS’ Interagency Hispanic Elder Initiative. That initiative, launched in 2007, seeks to improve the health of Hispanic senior populations, and has identified diabetes as a primary issue of concern for Hispanic seniors.

“Although Medicare covers diabetes self-management training, there is a shortage of programs nationwide, especially for Spanish-speaking seniors, “ stated Kerry Weems, acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “This new collaboration will increase the number of programs, including those focused on the needs of Hispanic seniors.”

Approximately 18 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries have diabetes. Hispanic beneficiaries are particularly susceptible to the disease and are more than four times likely than non-Hispanics age 65 and over to experience a hospital admission due to uncontrolled diabetes. 

Under the new collaboration, the organizations will work with eight communities across the country with high concentrations of Hispanic seniors to implement a new ADA-certified recognized program specifically designed for Spanish-speaking individuals. The communities are: Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, McAllen, Texas; Miami, New York, San Antonio and San Diego.

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Johns Hopkins’ study calls for broader use of HPV vaccines

BY Michael Johnsen

BALTIMORE A call to explore a broader use of human papillomavirus vaccines and the validation of a simple oral screening test for HPV-caused oral cancers are reported in two studies by a Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center investigator, the medical center announced Nov. 3.

Leading HPV expert Maura Gillison, the first to identify HPV infection as the cause of certain oral cancers and who identified multiple sex partners as the most important risk factor for these cancers, reports her latest work in the Nov. 3 journal Clinical Cancer Research and in a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention monograph. The CDC report on HPV-associated cancers appears online Nov. 3 and in the Nov. 15 supplement edition of Cancer.

In the CDC report, Gillison found approximately 20,000 cases of cancer in the United States each year are caused by HPV infection. Oral cancers are the second most common type of HPV-associated cancers and are increasing in incidence in the United States, particularly among men. Add to that anal, penile, vaginal and vulvar cancers that also are linked to HPV infection, and Gillison says these cancers, when combined, equal the number of cervical cancers, the most common and well known of the cancers caused by HPV.

While about one-quarter of HPV-linked cancers occur in men, vaccines currently are approved only for use in girls and young women for cervical cancer prevention. “We need to have a more comprehensive discussion of the potential impact the HPV vaccine could have on cancer rates among men and women in this country,” commented Gillison, associate professor of oncology at Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Currently available HPV vaccines have the potential to reduce the rates of HPV-associated cancers, like oral and anal cancers, that are currently on the rise and for which there no effective or widely-applied screening programs.” Gillison noted, however, that studies are needed to confirm that the vaccine effectively prevents HPV infections that lead to oral and anal cancers.

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