Tag Archives: Drug

Charlie Gard: fresh hope as US hospital offers to ship experimental drug to UK

A US hospital has offered to ship an experimental drug to the UK to help treat critically ill Charlie Gard.

The New York hospital also offered to admit the 11-month-old if legal hurdles could be cleared.

The hospital’s statement on Thursday is the latest intervention after offers of help came from the US president, Donald Trump, and Pope Francis.

Charlie’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, are at the centre of a lengthy legal battle with doctors at Great Ormond Street hospital (Gosh) in London, who say the treatment would not help the boy.

The US hospital said it would treat Charlie with an experimental drug pending approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a government regulator.

It said it had “agreed to admit and evaluate Charlie, provided that arrangements are made to safely transfer him to our facility, legal hurdles are cleared, and we receive emergency approval from the FDA for an experimental treatment as appropriate”.

It added: “Alternatively, if approved by the FDA, we will arrange shipment of the experimental drug to Great Ormond Street hospital and advise their medical staff on administering it if they are willing to do so.”

Charlie has a rare genetic condition affecting his mitochondria and doctors argued life support should be switched off because there was no chance of his condition improving.

A US specialist told judges a small chance of a meaningful improvement in Charlie’s brain function would be provided by therapy.

The high court, court of appeal and supreme court all ruled in favour of Gosh doctors.

Charlie’s parents, from Bedfont in west London, have been spending the last days of his life with him.

Charlie Gard: fresh hope as US hospital offers to ship experimental drug to UK

A US hospital has offered to ship an experimental drug to the UK to help treat critically ill Charlie Gard.

The New York hospital also offered to admit the 11-month-old if legal hurdles could be cleared.

The hospital’s statement on Thursday is the latest intervention after offers of help came from the US president, Donald Trump, and Pope Francis.

Charlie’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, are at the centre of a lengthy legal battle with doctors at Great Ormond Street hospital (Gosh) in London, who say the treatment would not help the boy.

The US hospital said it would treat Charlie with an experimental drug pending approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a government regulator.

It said it had “agreed to admit and evaluate Charlie, provided that arrangements are made to safely transfer him to our facility, legal hurdles are cleared, and we receive emergency approval from the FDA for an experimental treatment as appropriate”.

It added: “Alternatively, if approved by the FDA, we will arrange shipment of the experimental drug to Great Ormond Street hospital and advise their medical staff on administering it if they are willing to do so.”

Charlie has a rare genetic condition affecting his mitochondria and doctors argued life support should be switched off because there was no chance of his condition improving.

A US specialist told judges a small chance of a meaningful improvement in Charlie’s brain function would be provided by therapy.

The high court, court of appeal and supreme court all ruled in favour of Gosh doctors.

Charlie’s parents, from Bedfont in west London, have been spending the last days of his life with him.

Fresh hope for Charlie Gard as US hospital offers to send experimental drug to UK

A US hospital has offered to ship an experimental drug to the UK to help treat critically ill Charlie Gard.

The New York hospital also offered to admit the 11-month-old if legal hurdles could be cleared.

The hospital’s statement on Thursday is the latest intervention after offers of help came from the US president, Donald Trump, and Pope Francis.

Charlie’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, are at the centre of a lengthy legal battle with doctors at Great Ormond Street hospital (Gosh) in London, who say the treatment would not help the boy.

The US hospital said it would treat Charlie with an experimental drug pending approval from government regulators, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

It said it had “agreed to admit and evaluate Charlie, provided that arrangements are made to safely transfer him to our facility, legal hurdles are cleared, and we receive emergency approval from the FDA for an experimental treatment as appropriate”.

It added: “Alternatively, if approved by the FDA, we will arrange shipment of the experimental drug to Great Ormond Street hospital and advise their medical staff on administering it if they are willing to do so.”

Charlie has a rare genetic condition affecting his mitochondria and doctors argued life support should be switched off because there was no chance of his condition improving.

A US specialist told judges a small chance of a meaningful improvement in Charlie’s brain function would be provided by therapy.

The high court, court of appeal and supreme court all ruled in favour of Gosh doctors.

Charlie’s parents, from Bedfont in west London, have been spending the last days of his life with him.

May cause drowsiness: how to make sense of drug instructions

Do you read the medicine information leaflet before you take medication? Most of us don’t, probably because the list of side-effects of even the humble paracetamol is scary as hell and the yards of print make you lose the will to live. But given that about 1 in 20 prescriptions contains an error, ranging from the harmless to the dangerous, we should really read the leaflet before popping the pill. And a major new report by the Academy of Medical Sciences that includes a recommendation to improve the information leaflets is very welcome. In the meantime, here’s a guide to speed-reading the current pamphlets.

What is drug X and what is it used for?

You should already know this. But prescribers can get your name wrong, mix up drugs and give you a drug for constipation when you said you had diarrhoea. Pharmacists are great at picking up errors, but it’s your health on the line, so check.

What you need to know before you take drug X

Read this, especially the first subsection, “Do not take drug X if …” It includes warnings about allergic reactions, other conditions such as diabetes or epilepsy that may worsen if you take the drug, and potentially dangerous interactions with other medication. “Warnings and precautions” are less likely to flag up serious problems but are still worth a read. Lots of drugs are labelled as not being suitable for kids and pregnant or breastfeeding women – often because they haven’t been tested in those groups rather than because they are known to be dangerous. Ask the pharmacist or visit the British National Formulary website for detailed, accurate information. Read the bit about “driving and using machines” because to ignore it is dangerous and potentially illegal. There’s one more little bit about “drug X with food and drink”; some drugs need to be taken with or after food to avoid stomach ulcers; others need to be taken on an empty stomach to make sure they are fully absorbed.

How to take drug X

This tells you when and how often, but this information is written on the packet so you can skip this section.

If you take more drug X than you should

You don’t need to read this unless you do.

Possible side-effects

This is the section that deters many people from taking the drug. I wouldn’t read it at all unless I developed unexplained, new, worrying symptoms after starting the drug. If it seemed clear to me that the symptom only began after starting the drug, with no other likely explanation, I would assume it’s a side-effect, whether it appears on the list or not.

How to store drug X

Most drugs should be in a cupboard, out of reach of kids and pets. Not in the fridge, or oven or wet place. Give surplus stuff back to a pharmacist.

What drug X contains

The chemical composition; for chemists, geeks and the bored.

Breast cancer drug that can extend lives approved for NHS use

A drug that can extend the lives of women with advanced breast cancer has been approved for routine use on the NHS.

Charities and campaigners reacted with huge disappointment when the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) rejected the drug, Kadcyla, on cost grounds in 2016.

But a deal has now been struck between NHS England and the manufacturer Roche, backed by Nice, to make the drug available to around 1,200 women a year in England. Until now, the drug has been funded only through the cancer drugs fund.

In clinical trials, Kadcyla, which has a full list price of £90,000 a year per patient, was shown to extend the lives of people with terminal cancer by an average of six months. It also dramatically improves quality of life, compared with other treatments, and reduces side effects.

Details of the price agreed between Roche and the NHS are being kept confidential.

Kadycla is for people with Her2+ breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body and cannot be removed through surgery. Previous treatments, usually Herceptin, must have failed for patients to receive the drug.

Kadcyla, also called T-DM1, combines Herceptin with a potent chemotherapy agent. It works by attaching itself to the Her2 receptor on cancer cells, blocking signals that encourage the cancer to grow and spread. The chemotherapy element also goes inside the cell and causes it to die from within.

Kadcyla is given intravenously once every three weeks.

The chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, speaking at the NHS Confederation conference in Liverpool, said: “NHS cancer survival rates are now at record highs, and this year we’re going to be making major upgrades to modern radiotherapy treatments in every part of England.

“NHS England is also taking practical action to drive greater value from taxpayers’ growing investment in modern drug treatments, and that work is beginning to bear fruit.

“Today’s announcement on Kadcyla shows that for companies who are willing to work with us, there are concrete gains for them, for the NHS and, most importantly, for patients able to get new and innovative drugs.

“In this case, tough negotiation and flexibility between the NHS and Roche means both patients and taxpayers are getting a good deal.”

Richard Erwin, general manager at Roche, said: “This is a positive example of how solutions can be reached when all parties show flexibility.”

Delyth Morgan, chief executive of the research charity Breast Cancer Now, said: “We are absolutely delighted that tough negotiation and flexibility by Nice and NHS England, and the willingness of Roche to compromise on price, have ensured that thousands of women with incurable breast cancer will be given precious time to live.

“We want to congratulate and thank the hundreds of thousands of women, men and families across the country for their relentless campaigning to ensure this crucial lifeline drug is routinely available to those that need it.

“However, this news comes at a time when there is a real possibility that Perjeta, the first-line treatment for this group of patients, could soon be removed from NHS use, with a decision imminent.

“Perjeta’s benefits are extraordinary, offering nearly 16 additional months of life to women with incurable breast cancer, and it is imperative that a solution is found to save this drug, at a cost affordable to both the NHS and the taxpayer.”

Prof Carole Longson, director of the centre for health technology evaluation at Nice, said: “The committee acknowledged the comments received from patients during the consultation on the draft recommendations for trastuzumab emtansine [the generic name for Kadcyla], in particular that 115,000 people had signed a Breast Cancer Now petition urging Nice and the company to ensure that it remains available.

“We are therefore very pleased that the company and NHS England have been able to agree a deal that will achieve this.”

As overdose deaths hit record levels, drug and alcohol services face massive cuts | Caroline Turriff

Kevin Jaffray had been addicted to heroin for 20 years when he finally sought help in prison. “I was in prison more than out. I’d been living in a tent in Bournemouth. I’d lost everything, I was broken. I was overdosing once or twice a week. I was dicing with death every day. Prison was a relief.”

He approached a Luton-based 12-step recovery organisation for help and spent 11 weeks in residential rehabilitation. “I’d got to the point where my body couldn’t take it any more. We had groups and individual therapy. They helped me with my health and criminal charges. I was living with old friends. They had got clean and it inspired me to change.”

This was back in 2006, when drug funding was at its height under the Blair government. Jaffray was accepted for treatment after a single phone call. Now clean for 11 years, Jaffray, 49, has rebuilt his life. He was employed as a drug worker in Bedford between 2008 and 2015 and now works for the national Naloxone Action Group as an advocate for Naloxone, a drug that reverses opiate overdoses.

He says he was “very lucky” to have been trying to get clean when he was. At one time, he’d been given just three months to live by his doctors.

By 2015, Jaffray says his caseload in Bedford had gone up to 60 people a fortnight compared to 20 people three years earlier. He said access to treatment had completely changed. “Only one or two people in each area was getting awarded the funding to go into rehab and a hell of a lot more people than that were requesting it.” That year, drugs deaths in England and Wales reached their highest levels since records began in 1993.

The UK is now officially the drugs overdose capital of Europe with almost one in three of the continent’s overdose deaths, mainly related to heroin and other opioids, according to the European monitoring centre for drugs and drug addiction. Its 2016 annual report, published last week, which also aggregates data from Turkey and Norway, found the UK also had the highest proportion of heroin addicts. About eight in every 1,000 Britons are high-risk opioid users. Yet despite drug overdoses hitting record levels, an investigation by the Guardian has found that 11 local authorities in England, both those who were projected to cut most and least, have made average cuts of 17% between 2015-16 and 2016-17, more than £15m in total.

Collective Voice, an umbrella group of leading UK addiction charities, including Addaction and Turning Point, fears however that cuts to council drug treatment services funded by central government are far worse in some parts of the country. “Local authority funding has seen cuts of 25%, 30% or 40%: this has an impact on councils’ ability to fund drug and alcohol treatment,” says Paul Hayes, chief executive of Collective Voice. “At the same time, the needs of the drug-addicted population are increasing, particularly among the frail and ageing cohort of heroin addicts who started using in the 80s and 90s.”

Staffordshire county council has made cuts of 45% to its drug and alcohol treatment budget over the past twoyears. Local drug services campaigners claim 1,500 fewer addicts will receive treatment every year as a result. Alan White, Staffordshire council’s cabinet member for health, said it was left with no choice after its local clinical and commissioning group pulled an expected £15m of NHS funding for drug and alcohol services. “In 2015-16 we had to make some very difficult decisions on funding in order to protect services we have a statutory duty to provide,” he says. “We have worked with providers to help ensure a safe service can still be provided with the budget we have available.”

In Barnsley, where seven people this year have already died of drug overdoses (possibly due to contaminated heroin), the council cut its drugs and alcohol services budget by more than a third between 2015-16 and 2016-17. The authority’s own documents make it clear that some services will be “unavailable” after the cuts and that a number of drug workers will be made redundant. Jayne Hellowell, Barnsley council’s head of commissioning, healthier communities, says that services have merely been “reorganised.”


The cuts are the legacy of the ending of what had been an effective ringfence on drug treatment in 2013

Even in Middlesbrough, which has the third highest level of drug-related deaths in England and the highest level of heroin use in England, drug misuse services haven’t been spared. The council cut the budget by £1m last year. Rachel Burns, Middlesbrough council’s health improvement specialist, says: “Our financial position has meant that we have actually reduced our overall substance misuse budget from £5.39m to £4.39m”.

“We were recommissioning our drug treatment services so we realised substantial savings by combining our youth and adult services, and housing all the substance misuse services into one building.” She added that redundancies were kept to a minimum and no frontline staff have lost their jobs.

The cuts are the legacy of ending what had been an effective ringfence on drug treatment funding in 2013 and the transfer of responsibility for funding drug and alcohol treatment from the NHS to local authorities. Deaths involving heroin and morphine more than doubled between 2012 and 2015. Government figures show that in 2015 more than twice as many people were killed by fatal drug overdoses in England, Wales and Scotland, in total 4,380 than in traffic accidents at 1,732.

Vanessa Fearn, a researcher at the Office for National Statistics, has said that age is a factor in the record level of drug deaths “as heroin users are getting older and they often have conditions such as lung disease and hepatitis that make them particularly vulnerable”. But Hayes insists that although the relationship between funding and drug-related deaths is complex, there is a connection. “The most important thing we can do to prevent further increases in drug-related deaths and to get a grip on recent increases is to continue to invest in treatment,” he says. “The more we disinvest in treatment, as we are doing at the moment, the more we will put increasing numbers of people at risk of early avoidable deaths.”

Jaffray says that because of the pressure on treatment providers to get good results, those who are most in need are being turned away. “The more desperate and chaotic you are, particularly if you have underlying mental health problems, which 75% of addicts do, the less chance you have of getting support because you’ll be a burden on their statistics and on their books for a long time. This is having an effect on the most chaotic people in the community: they are dying.”

Modified antibiotic brings fresh hope to battle against drug resistance

An antibiotic has been modified to make it more potent against bacteria, in an advance which researchers hope will help fight the threat of antibiotic-resistant infections.

The medicine, vancomycin, has been prescribed by doctors for 60 years and bacteria are only now becoming resistant to it.

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in the US have now modified the drug so it works in three separate ways on bacteria, making it much harder for them to develop resistance.

The researchers said doctors could use the modified form of vancomycin without fear of resistance emerging.

The World Health Organisation warns antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security and development, with major diseases becoming harder to treat because the drugs used on them are becoming less effective.

The length of time it has taken for bacteria to become resistant to vancomycin suggests they have had a hard time overcoming the way the original drug worked, disrupting how bacteria form cell walls, the researchers said.

Previous studies by the team showed it was possible to add two modifications to vancomycin, a drug they labelled “magical” because of its strength against infection, to make it even more potent and reduce the amount of the medicine needed to have the same effect.

The new study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveals another modification which interferes with bacteria cell walls in a different way.

Combined with the previous alterations, the latest modification gives vancomycin a 1,000-fold increase in activity, so doctors could use less of the antibiotic to fight infection, the researchers said.

It was tested on Enterococci bacteria and killed both vancomycin-resistant Enterococci – considered by the WHO to be one of the drug-resistant bacteria that pose the greatest threat to human health – and the original forms of Enterococci.

The research was led by Dale Boger, co-chair of TSRI’s department of chemistry, who said the discovery made the new version of vancomycin the first antibiotic to have three independent “mechanisms of action” to kill bacteria.

“This increases the durability of this antibiotic,” he said. “Organisms just can’t simultaneously work to find a way around three independent mechanisms of action. Even if they found a solution to one of those, the organisms would still be killed by the other two.”

Modified antibiotic brings fresh hope to battle against drug resistance

An antibiotic has been modified to make it more potent against bacteria, in an advance which researchers hope will help fight the threat of antibiotic-resistant infections.

The medicine, vancomycin, has been prescribed by doctors for 60 years and bacteria are only now becoming resistant to it.

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in the US have now modified the drug so it works in three separate ways on bacteria, making it much harder for them to develop resistance.

The researchers said doctors could use the modified form of vancomycin without fear of resistance emerging.

The World Health Organisation warns antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security and development, with major diseases becoming harder to treat because the drugs used on them are becoming less effective.

The length of time it has taken for bacteria to become resistant to vancomycin suggests they have had a hard time overcoming the way the original drug worked, disrupting how bacteria form cell walls, the researchers said.

Previous studies by the team showed it was possible to add two modifications to vancomycin, a drug they labelled “magical” because of its strength against infection, to make it even more potent and reduce the amount of the medicine needed to have the same effect.

The new study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveals another modification which interferes with bacteria cell walls in a different way.

Combined with the previous alterations, the latest modification gives vancomycin a 1,000-fold increase in activity, so doctors could use less of the antibiotic to fight infection, the researchers said.

It was tested on Enterococci bacteria and killed both vancomycin-resistant Enterococci – considered by the WHO to be one of the drug-resistant bacteria that pose the greatest threat to human health – and the original forms of Enterococci.

The research was led by Dale Boger, co-chair of TSRI’s department of chemistry, who said the discovery made the new version of vancomycin the first antibiotic to have three independent “mechanisms of action” to kill bacteria.

“This increases the durability of this antibiotic,” he said. “Organisms just can’t simultaneously work to find a way around three independent mechanisms of action. Even if they found a solution to one of those, the organisms would still be killed by the other two.”

Modified antibiotic brings fresh hope to battle against drug resistance

An antibiotic has been modified to make it more potent against bacteria, in an advance which researchers hope will help fight the threat of antibiotic-resistant infections.

The medicine, vancomycin, has been prescribed by doctors for 60 years and bacteria are only now becoming resistant to it.

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in the US have now modified the drug so it works in three separate ways on bacteria, making it much harder for them to develop resistance.

The researchers said doctors could use the modified form of vancomycin without fear of resistance emerging.

The World Health Organisation warns antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security and development, with major diseases becoming harder to treat because the drugs used on them are becoming less effective.

The length of time it has taken for bacteria to become resistant to vancomycin suggests they have had a hard time overcoming the way the original drug worked, disrupting how bacteria form cell walls, the researchers said.

Previous studies by the team showed it was possible to add two modifications to vancomycin, a drug they labelled “magical” because of its strength against infection, to make it even more potent and reduce the amount of the medicine needed to have the same effect.

The new study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveals another modification which interferes with bacteria cell walls in a different way.

Combined with the previous alterations, the latest modification gives vancomycin a 1,000-fold increase in activity, so doctors could use less of the antibiotic to fight infection, the researchers said.

It was tested on Enterococci bacteria and killed both vancomycin-resistant Enterococci – considered by the WHO to be one of the drug-resistant bacteria that pose the greatest threat to human health – and the original forms of Enterococci.

The research was led by Dale Boger, co-chair of TSRI’s department of chemistry, who said the discovery made the new version of vancomycin the first antibiotic to have three independent “mechanisms of action” to kill bacteria.

“This increases the durability of this antibiotic,” he said. “Organisms just can’t simultaneously work to find a way around three independent mechanisms of action. Even if they found a solution to one of those, the organisms would still be killed by the other two.”

Modified antibiotic brings fresh hope to battle against drug resistance

An antibiotic has been modified to make it more potent against bacteria, in an advance which researchers hope will help fight the threat of antibiotic-resistant infections.

The medicine, vancomycin, has been prescribed by doctors for 60 years and bacteria are only now becoming resistant to it.

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in the US have now modified the drug so it works in three separate ways on bacteria, making it much harder for them to develop resistance.

The researchers said doctors could use the modified form of vancomycin without fear of resistance emerging.

The World Health Organisation warns antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security and development, with major diseases becoming harder to treat because the drugs used on them are becoming less effective.

The length of time it has taken for bacteria to become resistant to vancomycin suggests they have had a hard time overcoming the way the original drug worked, disrupting how bacteria form cell walls, the researchers said.

Previous studies by the team showed it was possible to add two modifications to vancomycin, a drug they labelled “magical” because of its strength against infection, to make it even more potent and reduce the amount of the medicine needed to have the same effect.

The new study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveals another modification which interferes with bacteria cell walls in a different way.

Combined with the previous alterations, the latest modification gives vancomycin a 1,000-fold increase in activity, so doctors could use less of the antibiotic to fight infection, the researchers said.

It was tested on Enterococci bacteria and killed both vancomycin-resistant Enterococci – considered by the WHO to be one of the drug-resistant bacteria that pose the greatest threat to human health – and the original forms of Enterococci.

The research was led by Dale Boger, co-chair of TSRI’s department of chemistry, who said the discovery made the new version of vancomycin the first antibiotic to have three independent “mechanisms of action” to kill bacteria.

“This increases the durability of this antibiotic,” he said. “Organisms just can’t simultaneously work to find a way around three independent mechanisms of action. Even if they found a solution to one of those, the organisms would still be killed by the other two.”