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The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics • April 4, 2011 (Issue 1361)
The FDA has approved aliskiren/amlodipine/hydrochlorothiazide (Amturnide) for treatment of hypertension, with no restrictions except that it should not be used for initial therapy. A combination of the direct renin inhibitor aliskiren and the calcium channel blocker amlodipine (Tekamlo) was approved earlier for initial treatment.1

Use of...
The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics • March 21, 2011 (Issue 1360)
A new enteric-coated delayed-release formulation of risedronate (Atelvia – Warner Chilcott) has been approved by the FDA for treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis. Unlike immediate-release risedronate (Actonel) and all other oral bisphosphonates, which must be taken after an overnight fast and at least 30 minutes before eating breakfast, the new formulation is taken...
The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics • March 7, 2011 (Issue 1359)
The FDA and the manufacturer (Sanofi-Aventis) have warned healthcare professionals that use of dronedarone (Multaq), an analog of amiodarone (Cordarone, and others) approved in 2009 for treatment of atrial fibrillation,1,2 has been associated with "several" cases of severe liver injury and hepatic failure, including two that required liver transplants. Both...
The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics • March 7, 2011 (Issue 1359)
The FDA has approved a new indication for prevention of anal cancer and anal intraepithelial neoplasia in both sexes for the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil (Merck). This vaccine is already FDA-approved for prevention of cervical cancer and genital warts in females 9-26 years old and for prevention of genital warts in males 9-26 years old. HPV types 6 and 11 cause about 90%...
The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics • February 21, 2011 (Issue 1358)
A Medical Letter reader asked if human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG; Novarel, Pregnyl and others) has any value as an adjunct to diet, adding that it is widely used for this indication in his area. Normally secreted by the placenta during pregnancy, the main therapeutic use of this gonad-stimulating polypeptide, which is not absorbed from the GI tract, has been in the parenteral treatment...
The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics • February 7, 2011 (Issue 1357)
Pancreatic enzyme products (PEPs) have been used for decades to improve digestion in patients with insufficient pancreatic enzyme production, such as those with cystic fibrosis. All porcine-derived PEPs contain a mixture of amylases, lipases and proteases. Since use of PEPs preceded the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938, they have been marketed without formal FDA approval,...
The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics • February 7, 2011 (Issue 1357)
The FDA recently warned that accidental ingestion of the antitussive benzonatate (Tessalon Perles, and others) by children less than 10 years old can be fatal.1 This widely prescribed oral agent, which has been available in the US since 1958, can also cause severe morbidity and death in older children and adults, and not only in overdosage.

Benzonatate is...
The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics • January 24, 2011 (Issue 1356)
The FDA, which recently approved subcutaneous (SC) administration of denosumab (Prolia – Amgen) for treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis,1 has now approved the same drug with a different brand name (Xgeva – Amgen) and dosage for prevention of skeletal-related events (such as pathologic fracture, spinal cord compression or radiation to bone) in patients...
The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics • January 10, 2011 (Issue 1355)
Several Medical Letter readers have asked about the meaning of non-inferiority trials. A non-inferiority trial is a comparison with an active control to determine whether the difference in response between the new drug and the active control is small enough (less than some pre-specified margin) to demonstrate that the new treatment is not less effective (or is only slightly less effective) than...
The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics • January 10, 2011 (Issue 1355)
Glycopyrrolate (Robinul, and others), a synthetic muscarinic receptor antagonist, has been used off-label for many years for treatment of excessive drooling in patients with Parkinson’s disease, in patients taking clozapine for schizophrenia, and in developmentally disabled children.1-3 It has now been approved by the FDA as Cuvposa (Shionogi) for use...
The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics • December 13, 2010 (Issue 1353)
Six years after an FDA advisory committee recommended development of a combination tablet containing an oral contraceptive and folic acid,1 the FDA has approved Beyaz (Bayer), a combination of the oral contraceptive Yaz2 with 451 mcg of levomefolate calcium, the primary metabolite of folic acid.3 According to the...
The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics • November 29, 2010 (Issue 1352)
Use of a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) to protect against gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding in patients taking the antiplatelet agent clopidogrel (Plavix) may interfere with the activation of clopidogrel and diminish its antiplatelet effect, increasing the risk of cardiovascular events.1 A randomized, placebo-controlled trial (COGENT) has found that use of the PPI...
The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics • November 1, 2010 (Issue 1350)
The results of a postmarketing study of its cardiovascular safety have led to the removal of the weightloss drug sibutramine (Meridia) from the market in the US and Canada. It has also been withdrawn in Europe and Australia, but remains on the market in many other countries. The study that led the FDA to ask Abbott Laboratories to withdraw the drug randomized 10,744 overweight patients...
The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics • November 1, 2010 (Issue 1350)
Qualaquin, the only formulation of quinine sulfate available in the US, is approved only for treatment of uncomplicated malaria, but most prescriptions for its use are written for treatment or prevention of nocturnal leg cramps. The FDA recently issued a warning about its safety.

Between April 2005 and October 2008, 38 cases of serious or life-threatening adverse effects of...
The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics • October 4, 2010 (Issue 1348)
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has announced a new recommendation for antibiotic prophylaxis during cesarean delivery.1 Currently most women receive a single dose of prophylactic antibiotics after the umbilical cord has been clamped to prevent antibiotics from crossing over to the newborn. The new recommendation is for women giving birth by...
The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics • September 20, 2010 (Issue 1347)
Chelation therapy involves oral administration, intravenous infusion or intramuscular injection of drugs that increase excretion of heavy metals. The Medical Letter’s last article on this subject found no evidence that it was effective for treatment of cardiovascular disease. Since then, off-label use of chelation therapy has expanded to include treating children with autism and adults with...
The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics • September 6, 2010 (Issue 1346)
The FDA has required manufacturers of propoxyphene-containing products (Darvon, and others) to strengthen boxed warnings to include the potential for overdose.1 This action followed disclosure of fatal overdoses linked to propoxyphene-containing products taken alone or concurrently with other CNS depressants, including alcohol. Many of the overdoses occurred in...
The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics • June 28, 2010 (Issue 1341)
A Medical Letter subscriber was surprised to discover that a new Citracal product contained not only calcium citrate, but also calcium carbonate. Citracal Plus Bone Density Builder actually contains more calcium carbonate per tablet than calcium citrate (240 mg vs. 60 mg). Another Citracal product, Citracal Plus Heart Health, also contains more calcium...
The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics • May 31, 2010 (Issue 1339)
The 2006 Medical Letter article on the then-new varicella-zoster vaccine concluded that Zostavax appears to be safe and effective in protecting patients ≥60 years old against herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia, especially in reducing the severity and duration of the disease.1 Some new information has recently become available.

CLINICAL...
The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics • May 3, 2010 (Issue 1337)
The FDA has required the manufacturer of Plavix, an antiplatelet drug used in addition to aspirin to prevent cardiovascular events in high-risk patients,1 to add a boxed warning to the package insert about the risk of a poor response to the drug in patients with genetic polymorphisms of the cytochrome P450 enzyme CYP2C19. Clopidogrel is a prodrug and CYP2C19 is...