Quick Hits: Benzos, Sleep Drugs and Alzheimer’s, New ADHD Med & More

Benzodiazepines and another class of drugs used for sleep are associated with a modestly elevated risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers in Finland looked at data on more than 350,000 people. Of that number, about 20% had confirmed cases of Alzheimer’s. An analysis found that those who were taking either a benzodiazepine – a class of tranquilizer drug – or a “Z-drug” such as Ambien (zolpidem) had a 6% higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s compared to those who hadn’t taken either type of medication. Results, published in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, also showed that the higher the dose of the medication, the higher the risk of Alzheimer’s. The researchers concluded that benzodiazepines and “Z-drugs” should be avoided in most cases due to the overall adverse event profile of both drug classes. Posted August 13, 2018. Via University of Eastern Finland.

The FDA has approved a new ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) medication for children 6 years old and older that is to be taken at night. Jornay PM is a novel formulation of methylphenidate, the same active ingredient found in other ADHD drugs such as Ritalin, Concerta and Daytrana. Jornay PM has 2 layers, the first of which delays initial release of the drug for up to 10 hours, while the second controls release of the drug throughout the day. Side effects associated with methylphenidate include decreased appetite, weight loss, insomnia and nausea. Other adverse reactions seen specifically with Jornay PM include headache, mood swings and psychomotor hyperactivity. These reactions were found in more than 5% of patients and at twice the rate of children taking a placebo. Posted August 9, 2018. Via Ironshore Pharmaceuticals.

The FDA has approved a first-of-its-kind app that can be used as a contraceptive to prevent pregnancy. The medical app, Natural Cycles, works by using an algorithm that calculates days when a woman is most likely to be able to conceive based on menstrual cycle information and body temperature. This method of contraception is known as fertility awareness. Women are required to take their temperature daily using a basal body thermometer and enter that information into the app. On the days a woman is likely to be most fertile, the app will display the message “Use protection” to advise either using a condom during sex or abstaining from intercourse entirely. Posted August 10, 2018. Via FDA.

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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