Saturday October 20, 2018

Drugs That Suppress Immune System May Protect Against Parkinson’s

Immunosuppresive drugs likely to keep Parkinson's at bay

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People who are on drugs to suppress their immune system are less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease — a neurological disorder characterised by tremors, slow movements, stiffness and difficulty walking, a new study claimed.

The results, published in the journal Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, showed that people with several types of autoimmune diseases, including ulcerative colitis were less likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s than the general population.

The investigators noted that many autoimmune diseases have one common thing, that is, they are treated with drugs that dampen immune activity.

“We’ve found that taking certain classes of immunosuppressant drugs reduces the risk of developing Parkinson’s. One group of drugs in particular looks really promising and warrants further investigation to determine whether it can slow disease progression,” said Brad Racette from Washington University-St. Louis in the US.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

The study showed that people taking corticosteroids — used for treating inflammatory diseases — such as prednisone were 20 per cent less likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s, while those on inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase (IMDH)– an enzyme — inhibitors were about one-third less likely.

While, immunosuppresive drugs may keep Parkinson’s at bay, it may ,however, increase the chances of developing infectious diseases and cancer.

The benefits of these drugs outweigh the costs for people with serious autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis but doctors would probably hesitate to prescribe risky drugs to healthy people to stave off Parkinson’s, especially since there is no reliable way to predict who is on track to develop the disease, the team explained.

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“What we really need is a drug for people who are newly diagnosed, to prevent the disease from worsening. It’s a reasonable assumption that if a drug reduces the risk of getting Parkinson’s, it also will slow disease progression, and we’re exploring that now,” Racette said.

For the study, the team analysed prescription drug data on 48,295 people diagnosed with Parkinson’s and 52,324 people never diagnosed with Parkinson’s and developed an algorithm to predict which people would be diagnosed with the disease. (IANS)

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Low Quality Drugs, Medicine Costs More Than Just Money

Even in high-income countries, purchasing cheaper medicines from illegitimate sources online could result in obtaining substandard or falsified medicines.

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Medicines
A seized counterfeit hydrocodone tablets in the investigation of a rash of fentanyl overdoses in northern California is shown in this Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). VOA

About one in eight essential medicines in low- and middle-income countries may be fake or contain dangerous mixes of ingredients that put patients’ lives at risk, a research review suggests.

Researchers examined data from more 350 previous studies that tested more 400,000 drug samples in low- and middle-income countries. Overall, roughly 14 percent of medicines were counterfeit, expired or otherwise low quality and unlikely to be as safe or effective as patients might expect.

“Low-quality medicines can have no or little active pharmaceutical ingredient [and] can prolong illness, lead to treatment failure and contribute to drug resistance,” said lead study author Sachiko Ozawa of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Or it may have a too much active ingredient and cause a drug overdose,” Ozawa said by email. “If it is contaminated or has other active ingredients, then the medication could cause poisoning, adverse drug interactions or avertable deaths.”

Much of the research to date on counterfeit or otherwise unsafe medicines has focused on Africa, and about half of the studies in the current analysis were done there.

 

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One in five medications tested in Africa were fake. Pixabay

 

Almost one in five medications tested in Africa were fake or otherwise potentially unsafe, researchers report in JAMA Network Open.

 

Another third of the studies were done in Asia, where about 14 percent of medicines tested were found to be counterfeit or otherwise unsafe.

Antibiotics and antimalarials were the most tested drugs in the analysis. Overall, about 19 percent of antimalarials and 12 percent of antibiotics were falsified or otherwise unsafe.

While fake or improperly made medicines undoubtedly harm patients, the current analysis couldn’t tell how many people suffered serious side effects or died as a result of falsified drugs.

Researchers did try to assess the economic impact of counterfeit or improperly made medicines and found the annual cost might run anywhere from $10 billion to $200 billion.

While the study didn’t examine high-income countries, drug quality concerns are by no means limited to less affluent nations, Ozawa said.

Medicines
Different vaccines. Pixabay

“Even in high-income countries, purchasing cheaper medicines from illegitimate sources online could result in obtaining substandard or falsified medicines,” Ozawa said. “Verify the source before you buy medications, and make policymakers aware of the problem so they can work to improve the global supply chain of medicines.”

The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how counterfeit or poorly made medicines directly harm patients, however. And the economic impact was difficult to assess from smaller studies that often didn’t include a detailed methodology for calculating the financial toll.

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The report “provides important validation of what is largely already known,” Tim Mackey of the Global Health Policy Institute in La Jolla, California, writes in an accompanying editorial.

“It is important to note that although the study is comprehensive, its narrow scope means it only provides a snapshot of the entire problem, as it is limited to studies conducted in low- and middle-income countries and to those
medicines classified as essential by the World Health Organization.” (VOA)