Quick Hits: Antipsychotic May Treat Chemo Side Effects, Increasing Availability of Opioid Overdose Med, & More

The antipsychotic medication Zyprexa (olanzapine) appears to be effective in preventing the nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy. The trial enrolled 380 patients with cancer, the majority of whom had breast cancer. Patients received either chemotherapy plus Zyprexa, or chemotherapy and a placebo. Results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that while 74% of patients in the chemo/Zyprexa group did not have nausea or vomiting after the first day of treatment, the figure was only 45% in the other group. In addition, many patients in the chemo/Zyprexa arm did not experience chemo side effects up to 5 days after chemotherapy. Posted August 10, 2016. Via New England Journal of Medicine.

The FDA is looking at ways to make a prescription drug used for opioid overdoses available over-the-counter (OTC). The drug, naloxone (brand names: Narcan, Evzio), is currently available as a self-injection or a nasal spray, and is typically given when someone is in the midst of an acute, potentially life-threatening overdose. The FDA has created a model, consumer-friendly Drug Facts Label for OTC manufacturers to use for their naloxone products that would also include a pictogram corresponding to written instructions on proper administration of the drug. In 2014, about 28,000 people died in the US from prescription and illicit opioid deaths. Posted August 10, 2016. Via FDA Voice.

At least 10,000 pregnant women in France were prescribed an epilepsy drug even though the medication has been linked to irreversible birth defects. The drug, Depakene (sodium valproate), is known to increase babies’ risk of cleft palate and spina bifida. More recent research has suggested that babies exposed to Depakene run a high risk of developing mental problems. About 40% of children whose mothers took the drug have neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism. In France, a group representing parents whose children have been harmed by Depakene has for years criticized the French government and Sanofi, the manufacturer of the drug there, for not providing enough warning about the dangers of Depakene in pregnant women. Posted August 9, 2015. Via The Telegraph.

Jonathan Block

Jonathan Block is a freelance writer and former MedShadow content editor. He has been an editor and writer for multiple pharmaceutical, health and medical publications, including BioCentury, The Pink Sheet, Modern Healthcare, Health Plan Week and Psychiatry Advisor. He holds a BA from Tufts University and is earning an MPH with a focus on health policy from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy.

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