Platelet E-News – October 14, 2008

This e-newsletter is a monthly publication of the Platelet Disorder Support Association. The information in this newsletter is for educational purposes only. For advice on your unique medical condition, please consult a health care professional.

Contents:

ITP Research and Treatments

General Health, Medicine, Hospitals and Medical Care

Nutrition and Lifestyle

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ITP Research and Treatments

Public Education Campaign to Include Bleeding Disorders
The American Society of Hematology has developed a Web site, Blood: The Vital Connection, to help consumers understand the important role of blood in overall health.  It also contains information on disorders of the blood, including bleeding and clotting disorders, anemia, and cancer, as well as how specific populations of people, such as women, are affected by these conditions.

www.bloodthevitalconnection.org

New Thrombopoietin Treatment Well Tolerated in Healthy Volunteers
Dutch researchers completed a phase 1 clinical trial of a new thrombopoietin mimetic peptide being developed to treat thrombocytopenia.  Given in one intravenous dose to healthy human subjects, the drug, RWJ-800088, was well tolerated. Liem-Moolenaar M, Cerneus D, Molloy CJ, End D, et al. Pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics of the novel thrombopoietin mimetic RWJ-800088 in humans.

Chemical Pharmacology & Therapeutics 2008, 84(4): 481-487.

FDA Announcements and Warnings

FDA Delays Final Decision on Approval of Promacta for Patients with ITP
Although the FDA set an action date of September 19 for a decision on GlaxoSmithKline's drug PROMACTA (eltrombopag) as a treatment for ITP, the agency has not yet made a decision.  In late May, the FDA’s Oncology Drugs Advisory Committee voted 16-0 for approval, but the agency does not always take committee advice.  The FDA had no comment.  GSK continues to work with FDA toward Promacta approval.

http://www.gsk.com/media/pressreleases/2008/2008_pressrelease_10110.htm

FDA Issues Warning on Rituxan
One patient taking Rituxan (rituximab) for arthritis has died from a rare brain infection, called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, or PML.  The Food and Drug Administration alerted doctors administering Rituxan to their patients to watch for neurological problems.  The drug’s maker, Genentech, has updated the labeling.  Earlier in the year, two patients died after taking Rituxan for lupus.  Some patients with ITP take Rituxan.

http://www.fda.gov/medwAtch/safety/2008/rituxan_DHCP_Final%209411700.pdf

FDA Orders Black Box Warnings on Four Arthritis Drugs
The drugs, Enbrel (etanercept), Remicade (infliximab), Humira (adalimumab) and Cimzia (certolizumab), suppress the immune system to keep it from attacking the body.  They are commonly used to treat arthritis, as well as other autoimmune diseases, including ITP.  The drugs lower the body’s defenses to certain infections, including a type of fungal infection called histoplasmosis, which mimics the flu and can be deadly.  The FDA ordered a “black box” or strongest, warning to be placed in the drug’s prescribing information.  Patients should call their doctors if they develop persistent fever, cough, shortness of breath, or fatigue, which are all signs of fungal infection.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2008-09-04-fda-arthritis_N.htm?csp=34

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General Health, Medicine, Hospitals and Medical Care

NIH Director Zerhouni Stepping Down This Month
NIH Director Elias Zerhouni will leave NIH at the end of October to pursue new opportunities.  He has held the position since May 2002. In his statement to the nonprofit community, he wrote, ”You have every right to share credit for the agency’s achievements as you form a unique and essential component of our success.”

http://www.nih.gov/news/health/sep2008/od-24.htm

FDA Publishes List of Drugs with Potential Safety Issues
Four times a year, the FDA will publish a list of drugs it is evaluating for potential safety issues.  A 2007 law requires the FDA to make these quarterly reports to the public.  A drug’s appearance on the list only means the FDA is evaluating it, not that the FDA has concluded that risks exist.  Find the current list, which is for Jan-March 2008, at: http://www.fda.gov/cder/aers/potential_signals/potential_signals_2008Q1.htm#list

Treating Patients' Anxiety Can Improve Chronic Disease
Noting that persistent anxiety can erode mental and physical health, Harvard Women’s Health Watch reviewed the research and treatment options.  Anxiety has been linked with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), chronic respiratory disease, and heart disease.  Medications alone are less effective than psychotherapy, but may be helpful when used in combination.  Bottom line: consult a doctor if you feel anxiety.  Close to 1 in 3 people with anxiety go through life untreated.    

Anxiety and Physical Illness. Harvard Women’s Health Watch, July 2008, Pg 6-7.

Protect Yourself from Genetic Discrimination
An interactive, online guide to the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) is now available through the Coalition for Genetic Fairness.  The guide describes what GINA means and summarizes protections it offers.  GINA, fully effective November 2009, is the first federal legislation that provides protections against discrimination based on an individual’s genetic information in health insurance coverage and employment.

www.geneticfairness.org/ginaresource.html

Doctors’ Clothing May Harbor Dangerous Germs
With rising concern over drug-resistant bacteria and hospital infections, health care workers are admonished to wash hands well and often.  But their ties, white coats, and long sleeves may be a problem as well.  Staff in the British National Health Service are no longer allowed to wear ties or long sleeves, which can accumulate germs as doctors move from patient to patient.  European countries that have adopted strong infection-control practices – hand washing, sterilization, and strict clothing rules, see much lower rates of drug-resistant staph infections than the U.S., where controls are lax.
Parker-Pope T. The Doctor’s Hands are Germ-Free. The Scrubs Too?

The New York Times, September 23, 2008.

www.nytimes.com/2008/09/23/health/23well.html

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Nutrition and Lifestyle

Mediterranean-like Diet Lowers Risk of Chronic Disease
People who strictly adhere to a Mediterranean type diet are at lower risk of death as well as heart disease, cancer, and Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, according to a meta-analysis of 12 prospective studies by researchers at the University of Florence, Italy.  The diet includes high intake of vegetables, fruits, beans, cereals, and fish, with moderate consumption of red wine with meals.

Sofi F, Cesari F, Abbate R, Gensini GF, Casini A. Adherence to Mediterranean Diet and Health Status: Meta-Analysis. BMJ September 11, 2008;337a1344. www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/337/sep11_2/a1344

Mobile Phone Radiation Linked to Sleep Disruption
When men and women were exposed to three hours of real or sham radiation, at a radiation level equivalent to that emitted by a mobile phone, participants exposed to real radiation took longer to reach deep sleep, and they stayed in deep sleep for a shorter time.  Headaches occurred with extended exposure to radiation as well.  Researchers from Wayne State University in the U.S. and the Karolinska Institute, in Sweden, conducted the study involving 35 men and 36 women.  

www.naturalnews.com/023790.html

Cinnamon Inhibits Mold in Food
Breadmakers may begin using cinnamon in packaging to keep bread from getting moldy.  Spanish researchers developed an anti-mold wax paper containing 6 percent cinnamon oil that greatly inhibits mold growth, prolonging freshness by 10 days.  The new wrapper was found to be safe and environmentally friendly.  Chang K. Cinnamon Is Key Ingredient in Anti-Mold Wrapper.

The New York Times. September 2, 2008., Pg. F3.

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