PHARMACY

Study linking MMR vaccinations to autism retracted

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Nobody likes getting shots, but a 1998 study published in The Lancet gave many parents a reason not to get one particular kind of shot for their children.

The British medical journal published the study, by gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield, showing that the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella caused autism in children. But a recent independent investigation found that Wakefield behaved “dishonestly and irresponsibly,” leading the journal to retract the study.

According to an April 2008 study published in the journal Pediatrics to examine the relationship between U.S. MMR vaccination rates and media coverage of the MMR-autism controversy using data from the National Immunization Survey and research on Lexis-Nexis, MMR vaccination rates following the study’s publication decreased in the United Kingdom from 92% to 73%, with rates as low as 50% in some parts of London. Subsequent outbreaks of measles in that country led to its first measles death in more than a decade.

By contrast, the United States experienced the opposite trend, with MMR vaccination rates increasing from around 90% in 1995 to 92% in 1998 and 93% in 2003 and 2004, despite a slight increase in 2000 in selective non-receipt of vaccinations, meaning that the children received all childhood immunizations except MMR. The study did not find a relationship between the 2000 increase and media coverage.

At present, the U.S. rate of MMR vaccinations for children ages 19 to 35 months remains high, at more than 92%, according to the NIS. Nevertheless, according to some published reports, some regions have low rates of immunizations overall, particularly those with laws that allow parents to exempt their children for personal reasons; at one private school in the San Francisco Bay Area, fewer than half of the students were immunized.

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‘Silent strokes’ linked to kidney failure in diabetics

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON Tiny areas of brain damage caused by injury to small blood vessels can signal an increased risk of kidney disease and kidney failure, according to a new study by Japanese researchers.

Publishing in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, researchers led by Takashi Uzu of the Shiga University School of Medicine in Otsu, Japan, included 608 patients with Type 2 diabetes, all initially free of symptomatic stroke, heart disease or kidney disease.

Using magnetic resonance imaging scans of the brain, the researchers found that 29% of the patients had the small areas of brain damage, known as silent cerebral infarction or “silent stroke.” A long-term follow-up of the patients found that those with SCI had higher risks of progressive kidney disease, and compared with those who had normal MRI scans, patients with SCI were about 2.5 times more likely to die or develop end-stage kidney disease.

“Silent cerebral infarction may be a new marker to identify patients who are at risk for declining kidney function,” Uzu said in a statement.

Uzu said that small amounts of the protein albumin present in the urine – a condition known as microalbuminuria – are the most important market to predict the progression of kidney disease in diabetics, but decreased kidney function without microalbuminuria is common in those with Type 2 diabetes. According to the new study, diabetics with SCI were more likely to develop serious kidney disease regardless of the protein condition.

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Decision Resources: Spiriva to remain clinical gold standard as COPD treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

WALTHAM, Mass. A drug from Boehringer Ingelheim and Pfizer will retain Decision Resources’ status as a gold standard of treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease through 2018, according to a report released by the market research firm Tuesday.

While some COPD drugs in development held promise, they lacked the same efficacy, safety and tolerability and delivery features of Spiriva (tiotropium bromide), according to the report, titled “Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: Opportunity Exists for Combination Therapies that Offer Improved Convenience and Outcomes.”

“Our survey of primary care physicians indicates that a drug’s effect on quality of life improvement is the attribute that most influences PCPs’ prescribing decisions in moderate to very severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” Decision Resources analyst Amy Whiting said.

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