PHARMACY

Study suggests common drugs for elderly could lead to decreased function

BY Drew Buono

CHICAGO According to a new study, elderly people who took commonly prescribed drugs for incontinence, allergy or high blood pressure walked more slowly and were less able to take care of themselves than others not taking the drugs, according to Reuters.

The researchers said people who took drugs that block acetylcholine—a chemical messenger in the nervous system critical for memory—functioned less well than their peers.

“The effect is essentially that of a three-to-four-year increase in age. So someone who is 75 in our study and taking at least one moderately anticholinergic medication is at a similar functional level to a 78 to 79-year-old,” according to Kaycee Sink of Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina, who led the study of 3,000 people of whom 40 percent were taking more than one anticholinergic drug.

Some of the most common such drugs in the study included the blood pressure drug nifedipine (sold as Bayer’s Adalat or Pfizer’s Procardia), the stomach antacid ranitidine or Zantac, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, both with mild or moderate anticholinergic properties, and Pfizer’s incontinence drug tolterodine or Detrol, which is highly anticholinergic.

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PHARMACY

Hormone deemed effective in male birth-control pill

BY Drew Buono

TORRANCE, Calif. According to published reports, one of the two government-funded research centers in the U.S. for male contraceptives has discovered hormone pills that block sperm production in men and has found them to be safe and reversible.

The hormone combination that proved most successful halts testosterone production in the testicles, but fakes the body into believing that testosterone levels are the same, according to the study. The progestin, typically a female hormone, speeds the process and improves the effectiveness of the drug, research shows. The hormones can be taken in a pill or injection form.

As with female birth control, the male contraceptives don’t prevent sexually transmitted disease. But they have proven as effective as female pills in preventing pregnancy, according to the study.

The next goal is to find pharmaceutical companies that want to conduct final development of the drug, but so far companies have been unwillingly to take part because of the regulatory requirement involved in manufacturing a contraceptive.

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Federal appeals court lets Washington state Plan B ruling stand

BY Drew Buono

LOS ANGELES A federal appeals court on Thursday left in place a lower court’s ruling that allowed Washington state pharmacists to refuse to sell Duramed’s emergency contraceptive pill Plan B on religious grounds, according to Reuters.

A federal judge in Seattle suspended state rules that required pharmacies to dispense the drug and other emergency contraceptives that prevent fertilized eggs from implanting, which some people believe is the same as abortion.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton found that the state rules force pharmacists into an unconstitutional choice between their religious beliefs and their work.

State officials and several women had asked the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to suspend the judge’s preliminary injunction, which bars them from enforcing the law, while they appeal his ruling.

In a split decision, the appeals court denied that request, finding that the state and the women did not show that they would suffer irreparable harm if the injunction stayed in place pending the appeal.

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