FDA approves faster, easier treatment for hepatitis C
A new medication for chronic hepatitis C that can be paired with other drugs to make treatment of the liver-damaging disease faster, easier and more effective got approval from the Food and Drug Administration Friday.
The new medication, called sofosbuvir and made by Gilead Sciences Inc., is part of a “revolution in treatment,” says Douglas Dieterich, a specialist in liver disease at Mt. Sinai Hospital, New York. Dieterich is a consultant to Gilead and other drug companies.
"The upshot is that over the next year to the next 18 months there will be a series of medications approved that will vastly simplify the treatment of hepatitis C for nearly everyone and increase the cure rate beyond 90%," says David Thomas, a liver specialist at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore. Thomas says he has no current financial ties to drug makers.
More than 3 million people in the USA are infected with the hepatitis C virus, the nation’s leading cause of liver cancer and liver transplants. Most have no symptoms until their livers start to fail, causing jaundice, fatigue and other problems. Up until now, standard three-drug treatments have taken 24 to 48 weeks and required self-injections of interferon, an immune therapy that can cause difficult-to-tolerate flu-like symptoms and mood swings.
Sofosbuvir, which has the brand name Sovaldi, will be the first treatment that some patients will be able to take for just 12 weeks with just one additional drug and no interferon. The FDA approved the no-interferon combination for patients with two strains of the virus, known as genotypes 2 and 3. For most patients with a more common strain, genotype 1, sofosbuvir is approved to be taken with interferon and an older drug called ribavirin. Some patients still will have to be treated for 24 weeks.
(Photo: Gilead Sciences Inc.)
Most people are in favor of requiring chain restaurants to list calorie counts on menus (67%) and most also support a ban on advertising unhealthy food during children’s television programming (55%). But majorities oppose a limit on soda size in restaurants and convenience stores (67%) as well as higher taxes on unhealthy foods and soft drinks (64%). Read more.
Pills of the Future: Nanoparticles; Researchers Design Drug-Carrying Nanoparticles That Can Be Taken Orally
Nov. 27, 2013 — Drugs delivered by nanoparticles hold promise for targeted treatment of many diseases, including cancer. However, the particles have to be injected into patients, which has limited their usefulness so far.
Now, researchers from MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have developed a new type of nanoparticle that can be delivered orally and absorbed through the digestive tract, allowing patients to simply take a pill instead of receiving injections.
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) cause 63 percent of all cases of death in the world. That is equal to 36 million people per year. Nine million people die prematurely every year — even before the age of 60 — because of NCDs.
People from developing countries suffer the most: 90 percent of the people who die before the age of 60 come from middle and low income countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that without preventive measures 52 million people will die because of NCDs before the year of 2030.
In India, the second largest country of the world, non-communicable diseases are responsible for two thirds of the total burden of disease (66.7 percent in 2010, 53 percent of all death). Not only a country’s people but also its economy is affected: According to a WHO report $236 billion of the national income of India between 2005 and 2015 will be lost because of the incidence of NCDs.
Public health experts provide various reasons for the increase of NCDs: In developing countries the standard of living has become more and more similar to that in the developed world. Social class also influences disease risk. The lower the social class the higher the disease risk — in developed and countries. Poor food choices and high tobacco and alcohol consumption occur more often with people from lower social classes. Lastly, many people from developing countries have no form of health insurance—and therefore little access to healthcare.
Read more of Pulitzer Center grantee Martina Merten’s reporting on non-communicable diseases.
A team led by Brent Ponce, M.D., orthopaedic surgeon at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, performed one of the first surgeries using virtual augmented reality technology, developed at UAB, and Google Glass—a giant leap for practical telemedicine.
For World AIDS Day 2013, WHO launches new HIV recommendations to increase testing, counselling, treatment and care for this neglected group
25 November 2013 | Geneva - More than 2 million adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 years are living with HIV, and many do not receive the care and support that they need to stay in good health and prevent transmission. In addition, millions more adolescents are at risk of infection.
The failure to support effective and acceptable HIV services for adolescents has resulted in a 50% increase in reported AIDS-related deaths in this group compared with the 30% decline seen in the general population from 2005 to 2012.
Great video from The California Endowment on how Oakland Unified School District is moving away from unhealthy, frozen meals to healthy, tasty, and fresh food in their cafeterias
The Health Department today unveiled a new anti-obesity campaign educating New Yorkers on the potential health risks, for both children and adults, of consuming too many sugary drinks. The ads highlight how sugary drinks can bring on obesity and diabetes, both of which can lead to serious health problems like heart disease and stroke. Accompanying these ads is a new Health Department Epi Data Brief on diabetes and its complications. According to the new report, in 2011, there were over 20,000 hospitalizations for diabetes and nearly 5,500 adults on dialysis due to diabetes, a 65% increase in the number of adults on dialysis due to diabetes since 2000.
The ads warn New Yorkers of the potential harmful consequences of excessive sugary drink consumption. The new ads also encourage New Yorkers to take a “sip in the right direction” and replace sugary drinks with water, seltzer, unsweetened teas, fat-free milk and fresh fruit.
New Yorkers can call 311 to get a Healthy Eating packet with more information and tips on how to cut back on sugary beverages.