Hot Topics: Pharmaceuticals
by Kiarash Aramesh M.D., Ph.D.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been accompanied by a surge of pseudoscientific claims, sometimes made or supported by political powers.…Full Article
by Keisha Ray, Ph.D.
I take the drug hydroxychloroquine, brand name Plaquenil, for an autoimmune disease. Hydroxychloroquine was once used to treat malaria and is now commonly used to treat a range of inflammatory disorders like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.…Full Article
by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.
On March 31, the U.S. Department of Justice put in an order for $60,000 worth of hydroxychloroquine, a drug that Trump has been pushing as a treatment for COVID-19 (to clarify, it is unproven and has never worked on any other coronavirus).…Full Article
by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.
Dale is a 45-year-old woman who lives in Southern California. She has been a patient of Kaiser- Permanente to treat her chronic illness, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).…Full Article
by Amy C. Reese, MBe, PharmD
This country is in the midst of a health crisis. These past few weeks have reminded me of the ingrained duty that each healthcare professional has to patients.…Full Article
by Keisha Ray, Ph.D.
Like others in our WebMd culture I often go to the internet to research my symptoms, looking for possible solutions.…Full Article
by Amy Reese, PharmD, MA
Tamiflu (oseltamivir) is a neuraminidase inhibitor which decreases the viral spread of Influenza A and B.…Full Article
Last month, I was honored to be named one of the BBC 100 Women of 2019, which is a list they compile each year of inspiring and influential women. The list includes women from around the world of all ages (from teenagers to nonagenarians) and various professions. People from around the world will be familiar with the names of some of the women, such as Alexandria of Ocasio-Cortez, Megan Rapinoe, and Greta Thunberg, while other women will be new to the world stage.
This year’s theme was the female future and some of the 100 Women were invited to London or Delhi to answer the question, “What would the future look like if it were driven by women?” In my talk, I claimed that a future driven by women would engender more male contraceptive options. Currently, women are responsible for the vast majority of contraception and have over a dozen contraceptive options, whereas men have only 2 options – condoms and vasectomy – and under 10% of women worldwide rely on male methods. The introduction of “the pill,” which was the first long-acting, reversible contraceptive and the first hormonal contraceptive, was a significant milestone in women’s rights since it allowed women to effectively control their reproduction without their partners’ knowledge or involvement. It is important for women to have a variety of contraceptive methods available so they can control their fertility yet being the main ones responsible for contraception also comes with a variety of disadvantages, including physical, emotional, social, financial, and time-related burdens. Additionally, the lack of male contraceptive options inhibits men’s reproductive autonomy.
The goal of my talk was to enumerate the factors that have led to our current contraceptive arrangement so that we can figure out how to move towards a future with more male contraceptive options. I discussed three factors that have led to the disparity in contraceptive options for women and men. First, we tend to overlook men's reproduction. When people think of reproduction they typically think of pregnant people and that generally means women. The conflation of women and reproduction reinforces the alignment of contraceptive responsibility with femininity. Second, there is not sufficient funding to bring male contraceptives to market. Pharmaceutical companies aren't interested in male contraceptives because they assume that men aren't interested in contraception and that women won't trust men. Third, side effects common in new male contraceptives, which are similar to the side effects in female hormonal methods (e.g. weight gain, diminished libido, etc.), are considered emasculating and therefore unacceptable.
In order to have a future with new male contraceptives, we need to change gender norms. I discussed three areas where we are moving towards more gender equality, but need to continue to head down this path in order for new male contraceptives to become reality. First, we need to continue to make more progress on unpaid household labor: although women still do more household work like taking care of children, doing laundry, and cooking dinner, men today are doing much more than they did even a few decades ago. Taking the male pill is a natural extension of men's increased household and childcare involvement. Second, we have to change gendered perceptions about contraception. Contraception is typically thought of as “women's work,” but we need to reframe it as something that men can and should participate in too. Third, we also need to do a better job teaching about sex in general and specifically regarding LGBTQ rights and consent. Shared contraceptive responsibility fits in with a more comprehensive approach to sex education that values inclusivity and benefits all types of couples, not just those in the heteronormative paradigm. Shared contraceptive responsibility reinforces consent by conceptualizing sex is a joint endeavor that both parties need to contribute to and be responsible for.
I am hopeful for future with more male contraceptive options because I think it will decrease unmet contraceptive need worldwide, unburden women from bearing most of the responsibility for contraception, increase men's reproductive autonomy by giving them more options and, overall, it will advance gender equality.
For more on this topic, see my recent article in BBC Health News, “Are We Ready for Men to Take the Pill?”
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Critics say government deserves more credit for tens of millions in public money spent to develop coronavirus treatment.Full Article
In an bid to help speed up the development of potential treatment options and a vaccine for COVID-19, the National Institutes of Health on Friday announced a new public-private research partnership.Full Article
During public heath emergencies like the Covid-19 pandemic, when no known preventive or effective treatment exists, researchers understandably want to start conducting studies with humans as soon as possible to find a vaccine and therapeutic treatments that are safe and effective. Yet in the rush to find a Covid-19 vaccine and one or more drugs to treat the deadly disease, concerns are being raised that ethical standards for conducting human clinical trials, and the evidentiary standards for determining whether interventions are safe and effective, might be loosened.Full Article
As the United States was succumbing to an epidemic of addiction, the Johnson & Johnson family of companies became the leading maker of narcotics for popular opioid pills, a dominance achieved through decades of innovation, navigation of U.S. drug policy, and the cultivation of poppies in this remote haven on the other side of the world.Full Article
In rural Carter County, Tenn., health officials have embraced a strategy for stemming addiction: Teaching children as young as 6 how to reverse an overdose.Full Article
In October 2019, Dr. Janet Woodcock, the director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, testified before Congress that the United States “has become a world leader in drug discovery and development, but is no longer in the forefront of drug manufacturing.” The use of foreign-sourced materials “creates vulnerabilities in the U.S. supply chain,” Woodcock concluded.Full Article
The lottery that began this week was not about money, or about choosing a school, or about obtaining a visa. It was about a child’s life. In this case, the children selected would receive a drug that otherwise was not available.Full Article
Former billionaire and pharmaceutical executive John Kapoor has been sentenced to five years and six months in prison. His sentencing is the culmination of a months-long criminal trial in Boston’s Moakley U.S. Courthouse that resulted in the first successful prosecution of pharmaceutical executives tied to the opioid epidemic.Full Article
The U.S. is approving new drugs so fast that companies are now preparing for a green light months in advance of the scheduled decision date, a pace that’s helping patients with rare or untreatable diseases but raising alarm among consumer advocates.Full Article
Rosemary Gibson, author of China Rx: Exposing the Risks of America’s Dependence on China for Medicine, discussed the shortage of essential lifesaving drugs in U.S. hospitals.Full Article