Welcome to our Free Content Page
The Medical Letter, Inc. is a nonprofit organization--we accept no grants, donations or advertising. We are supported entirely by sales of our subscriptions, handbooks and software. If you value the balanced truth, and wish to ensure your continued access to this impartial source of drug information, please subscribe today.   
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 It has also been withdrawn in Europe and Australia, but remains on the market in many other countries.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...
The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics • May 3, 2010 (Issue 1337)
The FDA has approved velaglucerase alfa (Vpriv – Shire), a new formulation of glucocerebrosidase prepared from human fibroblasts, for treatment of the nonneurologic form of Gaucher’s disease (Type 1). Patients with Gaucher’s disease have a congenital deficiency of glucocerebrosidase that leads to accumulation of glucosylceramide, the end-product of sphingolipid catabolism, in the...
The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics • March 22, 2010 (Issue 1334)
A little more than a year ago, The Medical Letter reported the results of an FDA meta-analysis which found that use of a long-acting beta-2 agonist (LABA) such as salmeterol (Severent) or formoterol (Foradil) in patients with asthma was associated with an increased risk of a composite endpoint of asthma-related death, intubation or hospitalization; the highest risk was in...
The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics • March 8, 2010 (Issue 1333)
Aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are common causes of peptic ulcer disease. Patients infected with Helicobacter pylori who take aspirin or another NSAID have an especially high risk. Drugs that have been tried for prevention of ulcers in patients taking NSAIDs including H2-receptor antagonists, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), aluminum- or...
The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics • January 25, 2010 (Issue 1330)
Once thought to be a beneficial response to critical illness, hyperglycemia is now recognized as independently associated with death and other adverse outcomes in various groups of critically ill patients. Whether normalization of blood glucose by insulin infusion is beneficial in such patients has been a subject of debate in the critical care community. Some new guidelines have been published....
The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics • December 14, 2009 (Issue 1327)
Conflicting recommendations on when to screen for breast cancer are problematic for healthcare providers. The recent recommendation by the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) against routine screening mammography for women 40-49 years old conflicts with recommendations made by other organizations such as the American Cancer Society and earlier recommendations made by the USPSTF in 2002....
The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics • June 15, 2009 (Issue 1314)
A 23-valent polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23; Pneumovax 23 - Merck) is the only pneumococcal vaccine approved for use in adults. It has reduced the risk of invasive pneumococcal disease (meningitis or bacteremic pneumonia), but not mortality, in immunocompetent older adults.2 PPSV23 has not been shown to reduce the risk of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) in immunocompromised patients....
The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics • May 4, 2009 (Issue 1311)
The recent Medical Letter article on vancomycin dosing and monitoring briefly mentioned use of an alternative antibiotic for treatment of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) with reduced susceptibility to vancomycin. Some readers have asked for more information on this subject.

Click here to view...
The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics • December 15, 2008 (Issue 1301)
Many drugs can cause psychiatric symptoms, but a causal connection is often difficult to establish. Psychiatric symptoms that emerge during drug treatment could also be due to the underlying illness, previously unrecognized psychopathology, or psychosocial factors. The withdrawal of some drugs can cause symptoms such as anxiety, psychosis, delirium, agitation or depression.

...
The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics • November 17, 2008 (Issue 1299)
Depression occurs in up to 20% of pregnant women, and the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in these women has been increasing. Maternal depression has itself been associated with intrauterine growth problems and low birth weight, so the risks of exposure to antidepressants during pregnancy must be weighed against the risks of untreated depression, which also include self-...