Wednesday, January 16, 2008

New drugs not always new

Many "new" drugs offered by drug companies are not new at all. For example, this press release from the FDA: FDA Approves Tysabri to Treat Moderate-to-Severe Crohn's Disease is really about a drug that is already used for relapsing multiple sclerosis.

This cross-over of medications isn't unusual at all. Often, doctors will prescribe a medication off-label, meaning that the medical community knows that a certain medication will work for your problem, but it isn't officially approved for that use.

Off-label use worries many people because of the unknowns. Clinical studies haven't been done as to how the drugs will affect the new target group. However, off-label use doesn't happen just because a doctor decides he or she wants to try a drug to see what will happen.

What usually happens is a medication is given for its usual use but someone notices that it also helped with other symptoms or illnesses. As more doctors notice this, news spreads and articles are written. Often, off-label use is a last resort because the usual medications haven't been any use or have been used until they can't be used any more.

News for Today:

FDA Approves Tysabri to Treat Moderate-to-Severe Crohn's Disease

Cancer study finds adolescents don't get same access to latest treatments as younger patients

Lack of training for children's medicines prescribing may increase risk of error

Popular osteoporosis drugs triple risk of bone necrosis

Mothers' stress may increase children's asthma

Fish oil may not be helpful for some heart patients: study

Hot spots warn of diabetic foot ulcers

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