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Selenium Could Shield Against Diabetes in Men

From BusinessWeek:

Scientists have found evidence that older men with higher levels of selenium are less likely to suffer from dysglycemia, or improper blood-sugar metabolism.

Tasnime Akbaraly, from the University of Montpellier in France, and colleagues studied 1,162 French adults for nine years, checking their levels of selenium and monitoring whether they developed blood-sugar problems.

According to their report, published online in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism, elderly men whose selenium concentrations were in the top one-third had a significantly lower risk.
Posted: 3/23/2010 1:14:00 PM

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Unintentional Poisoning: CDC Research & Activities

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

CDC has developed an issue brief that summarizes the most recent information about deaths and emergency department visits resulting from drug overdoses. This brief includes information on overdose trends, the most common drugs involved, and the regions and populations most severely affected. Recommendations on how health care providers, private insurance providers, and state and federal agencies can work to prevent unintentional drug overdoses are also included.

During 1999–2006, the number of poisoning deaths in the United States nearly doubled, largely as a result of deaths involving prescription opioid painkillers. CDC researchers found that, in 2006, the rate of poisoning involving opioid painkillers in Washington state was significantly higher than the national rate. Methadone was involved in almost two -thirds of these deaths.

While types of drugs involved in prescription drug overdose deaths can be determined from medical examiner and emergency department data, the patterns of prescription use leading up to these overdoses have not been described. To help in this effort, CDC Injury Center scientists are conducting a study is to compare the prescriptions used among people who died of drug overdoses with the prescription use of a control group of other users of controlled substance prescription drugs (CSPD). This project will link information from the New Mexico prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) and the New Mexico state medical examiner. Risk factors to be examined will include prescriptions for specific drugs, the number of prescriptions, providers, and pharmacies, and overlapping prescriptions. Study results are expected in 2010.

Posted: 3/23/2010 12:04:00 PM

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Gene test cuts complications from blood thinner warfarin

From USA Today:

Doctors who used a genetic test to personalize treatment with warfarin, the world's most widely prescribed blood thinner, cut their patients' hospitalization rates by almost a third, researchers said Tuesday.

The study marks the first nationwide attempt to incorporate genetic testing into the routine use of a drug whose effects vary so much from one person to another that it carries a "black box" warning, the government's most urgent safety alert.

Roughly one in five patients are hospitalized for bleeding within six months of starting the drug. Others develop life-threatening blood clots. Doctors must monitor their patients regularly; it may take weeks for them to settle on a safe and effective dose.

Despite its risks, warfarin, sold as Coumadin and Jantoven, is a mainstay of heart treatment. It's prescribed to 2 million new patients in the USA each year to guard against strokes, second heart attacks and blood clots.

The new findings are the result of a unique partnership between Medco, which administers drug benefits for 65 million beneficiaries, and the Mayo Clinic.

The study involved 896 patients who were tested early for their sensitivity to warfarin, which is governed by two genes. An additional 2,688 patients who weren't tested served as controls. Those who were tested were 31% less likely to land in a hospital bed for any cause and 28% less likely to be hospitalized for bleeding or a clot, Epstein reported at a meeting here of the American College of Cardiology.

Medco and the health plans it serves also will benefit from testing, he says, because safer alternatives to warfarin now being developed are likely to be much more expensive.

Posted: 3/18/2010 12:04:00 PM

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Combined Sertraline, Naltrexone Treatment May Benefit Depressed, Alcohol-Dependent Patients

From Business Week:

Combined treatment with the antidepressant Zoloft (sertraline) and the alcoholism drug naltrexone improves the likelihood that people with both major depression and alcohol dependence will be able to stop drinking, U.S. researchers report.

Their 14-week study of 170 patients found that 54 percent of those who received the combined treatment were able to stop drinking, compared with 21 to 28 percent for patients who received a placebo, Zoloft only, or naltrexone only.

The patients who received the combined treatment also went for a longer period of time before they started drinking again -- 61 days compared with 15 days for patients in the other groups.

The findings may prove an important advance in the treatment of patients with alcohol dependence and depression, said the University of Pennsylvania researchers.

The study was published March 15 in the The American Journal of Psychiatry.

Posted: 3/16/2010 1:24:00 PM

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New Drug Trials Have A Catch

From the Kentucky Post:

Traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of death and disability for people under the age of 44, according to Dr. Arthur Panioli of the UC Neuroscience Institute.

Until now, there has been no effective medical treatment.

Researchers are looking at progesterone as a possible solution to that problem.

Preliminary data suggests there could be a 5 to 10 percent drop in mortality using the hormone.

National clinical trials are to begin soon, but Dr. Pancioli says there is a caveat to the research.

Normally, he says, researchers ask for permission from the patient. "Unfortunately, these patients are injured and not able to answer for themselves and family may not be available."

"This drug has to start really fast," Pancioli continues. "So, in some situations this drug will have to be started before we can ask for consent from the patient or family."

Because of this, UC is required to let the public know about the trials in advance.

UC's Neuroscience Institute will be conducting the trials in the Tri-State area.

Posted: 3/8/2010 9:12:00 AM

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New drug surfaces in Vicksburg (MS) area, police make arrest


A man is in custody in Warren County for possession of a new drug that has surfaced in the Vicksburg area.

Officers with the Narcotics Division of the Vicksburg Police Department arrested the man for possession of a controlled substance.

It has been identified as dimethyltryptamine or DMT.

This is the first known arrest for DMT in Vicksburg.

Posted: 3/4/2010 8:34:00 AM

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Overdoses extend wait after death

From the Athens Banner-Herald:

When a county coroner sends a body to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's Crime Lab, it takes an average of 84 days to determine the cause of death - but if drugs are involved, the time can stretch to six months.

During the three to six months a family is left waiting for the death certificate that allows them to access life insurance and Social Security benefits, bills pile up, homes are lost and loved ones are left in emotional limbo.

Some county coroners get around the wait by issuing pending death certificates to families, but those papers can't be used to claim life insurance or Social Security benefits.

Others, trying to expedite the autopsy process, have resorted to paying private medical examiners and labs to perform necessary autopsies and toxicology tests, but most counties can't afford the services.

Barrow County Coroner David Crosby is dealing with a growing number of cases in which drugs may be a factor in the cause of death, he said.

Crosby records an average of 30 accidental overdoses a year, he said.

These cases are increasing across the state and account for about 20 percent of the 4,000 or so autopsies the crime lab performed in 2009.

Suspected overdose deaths take longer to investigate because of the complexity of figuring out which drug killed the person, said GBI spokesman John Bankhead.

The GBI's crime lab has been cash-strapped since the late 1990s, but the state's recent budget cuts have exacerbated staffing shortages that have led to backlogs in all services - from toxicology tests for DUI cases, to DNA testing for rape investigations, to firearms testing.

Posted: 3/1/2010 11:20:00 AM

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