Glaxo chief: Our drugs do not work on most patients

A senior executive with Britain’s biggest drugs company has admitted that most prescription medicines do not work on most people who take them.

Allen Roses, worldwide vice-president of genetics at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), said fewer than half of the patients prescribed some of the most expensive drugs actually derived any benefit from them.

It is an open secret within the drugs industry that most of its products are ineffective in most patients but this is the first time that such a senior drugs boss has gone public.

“The vast majority of drugs – more than 90 per cent – only work in 30 or 50 per cent of the people,” Dr Roses said. “I wouldn’t say that most drugs don’t work. I would say that most drugs work in 30 to 50 per cent of people. Drugs out there on the market work, but they don’t work in everybody.”

Some industry analysts said Dr Roses’s comments were reminiscent of the 1991 gaffe by Gerald Ratner, the jewellery boss, who famously said that his high street shops are successful because they sold “total crap”. But others believe Dr Roses deserves credit for being honest about a little-publicised fact known to the drugs industry for many years.

Dr Roses said doctors treating patients routinely applied the trial-and-error approach which says that if one drug does not work there is always another one. “I think everybody has it in their experience that multiple drugs have been used for their headache or multiple drugs have been used for their backache or whatever.

“It’s in their experience, but they don’t quite understand why. The reason why is because they have different susceptibilities to the effect of that drug and that’s genetic,” he said.

“Neither those who pay for medical care nor patients want drugs to be prescribed that do not benefit the recipient. Pharmacogenetics has the promise of removing much of the uncertainty.”

Response rates

Therapeutic area: drug efficacy rate in per cent

  • Alzheimer’s: 30
  • Analgesics (Cox-2): 80
  • Asthma: 60
  • Cardiac Arrythmias: 60
  • Depression (SSRI): 62
  • Diabetes: 57
  • Hepatits C (HCV): 47
  • Incontinence: 40
  • Migraine (acute): 52
  • Migraine (prophylaxis)50
  • Oncology: 25

  • Rheumatoid arthritis50
  • Schizophrenia: 60

Read more:  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/glaxo-chief-our-drugs-do-not-work-on-most-patients-575942.html

Newer, Pricier Prostate Cancer Radiation No Better Than Old: Study

MONDAY May 20, 2013 — The costly form of radiation therapy that has become the norm for prostate cancer in the United States may be no better than the older, cheaper variety — at least for some men, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that among more than 1,000 U.S. men who had radiation therapy after prostate cancer surgery, the newer form — known as intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) — had no advantage over the conventional version.

Men who received IMRT were no less likely to be treated for a prostate cancer recurrence over the next few years. And their rates of long-term side effects — such as urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction — were no lower.

“I think the question is, when is the new technology helpful, and when is it not?” Chen said. “We need to be smart about how we use technology.”

The new findings suggest that when it comes to radiation given after surgery, “newer” does not mean “better.”

Read more:  http://www.drugs.com/news/newer-pricier-prostate-cancer-radiation-no-better-than-old-study-44635.html

Veteran local actor Dai Peng dies from same cancer as Huang Wenyong

Two weeks later, while the doctor was extracting bone marrow from Dai Peng, he discovered that the actor was suffering from lymphoma. The doctor said the situation was not optimistic and said chemotherapy had to be done as soon as possible. However, Dai Peng reacted negatively to the chemotherapy drugs, so treatment was stopped after a week.

He died.

Read more: http://www.asiaone.com/News/Latest%2BNews/Showbiz/Story/A1Story20130514-422553.html

Study Finds Radiation Risk for Patients

At least four million Americans under age 65 are exposed to high doses of radiation each year from medical imaging tests, according to a new study in The New England Journal of Medicine. About 400,000 of those patients receive very high doses, more than the maximum annual exposure allowed for nuclear power plant employees or anyone else who works with radioactive material.

Dr. Rita Redberg, a cardiologist and researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, who has extensively studied the use of medical imaging, said it would probably result in tens of thousands of additional cancers. It’s certain that there are increased rates of cancer at low levels of radiation, and as you increase the levels of radiation, you increase cancer.

Dr. Reza Fazel, a cardiologist at Emory University, said the use of scans appeared to have increased even from 2005 to 2007, the period covered by the paper. “These procedures have a cost, not just in terms of dollars, but in terms of radiation risk.”

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/27/health/research/27scan.html?_r=0

Which types of diagnostic imaging procedures use radiation?

•  In x-ray procedures, x rays pass through the body to form pictures on film or on a computer or  television monitor, which are viewed by a radiologist. If you have an x-ray test, it will be performed with a standard x-ray machine or with a more sophisticated x-ray machine called a CT or CAT scan machine.

• In nuclear medicine procedures, a very small amount of radioactive material is inhaled, injected, or swallowed by the patient. If you have a nuclear medicine exam, a special camera will be used to detect energy given off by the radioactive material in your body and form a picture of your organs and their function on a computer monitor. A nuclear medicine physician views these pictures. The radioactive material typically disappears from your body within a few hours or days.

Do magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound use radiation?

MRI and ultrasound procedures do not use ionizing radiation. If you have either of these types of studies, you are not exposed to radiation.

There is no conclusive evidence of radiation causing harm at the levels patients receive from diagnostic xray exams. Although high doses of radiation are linked to an increased risk of cancer, the effects of the low doses of radiation used in diagnostic imaging are not known.

Read more: https://hps.org/documents/meddiagimaging.pdf