Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Information and Resources

What's Ahead for Health in 2008

Experts predict medical trends in the new year.

Rheumatology: New Drug Alert

Leslie J. Crofford, MD, the Gloria W. Singletary Professor of Rheumatology and the chief of rheumatology at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, has her eye on the prize in 2008. "I hope we will see another new biologic approved to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in 2008," she tells WebMD. Specifically, she is referring to tocilizumab (Actemra). This drug blocks an inflammatory chemical known as interleukin-6 (Il-6), and is in final stages of clinical trials.

Crofford says she is "really excited" about this drug for people who may not respond to similar drugs. Biologic drugs block substances that cause or worsen joint inflammation in RA. They copy the effects of chemicals made by the immune system, which block inflammatory substances such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF).

"Preliminary studies look extremely promising and it seems to have a particularly good effect in pediatric patients. And we may ultimately, when approved, see studies of this agent in other rheumatic diseases."

Speaking of other rheumatic diseases, Crofford says, "I hope that we will see clinical trials looking at biologics in lupus and I hope that we will see approvals for more medications to treat fibromyalgia that target the central nervous system." In 2007, the first ever such drug to treat the chronic pain condition fibromyalgia was approved, and according to Crofford, Lyrica (pregabalin) won't be the last.

Neurology: Mixed Outlook for 2008

2008 will be a mixed bag for stroke and other neurological conditions, says Deepak L. Bhatt, MD, the associate director of the cardiovascular coordinating center and an interventional cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

"There are two warring factors," he explains.  "We have better treatments and less invasive therapies on the horizon, but this has the potential to be overwhelmed by the twin epidemics of diabetes and obesity," he warns. While some researchers suggest that the diabetes epidemic may be reaching a plateau, there are still millions of Americans who have the condition and may not have it under control.

"There is trouble brewing," he says. "Even though there have been some encouraging downward trends in stroke rates, those gains could easily be reversed by epidemic of diabetes."

Cardiologists and neurologists will be working together more often in 2008 as strokes and heart disease share many of the same risk factors including high blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking, Bhatt predicts.

There has been some back and forth on the potential use of cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins in preventing future strokes among people who have had strokes due to a blockage in the brain arteries. Research has shown that such stroke survivors who took statins had a lower risk of fatal and nonfatal strokes of any kind as well as heart attacks and heart disease. That said, stroke survivors who take statins may also have an increased risk of experiencing a bleeding or hemorrhagic stroke.

"We are going to see a lot more enthusiasm among neurologists about the use of statins in patients who have had an ischemic stroke," he predicts. "The data overall in these patients show that use of a statin does reduce risk of future heart attack, stroke, and death."

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

Solutions for 19 types.
Woman sitting in front of UV lights
Is yours working?
Healthy breakfast
What are you eating?
Young man exercising on bike
How not to get sick at the gym.
MS Overview
Recognizing symptoms.
bowl of yogurt with heart shape
Eat for a healthy heart.
Woman scrutinizing nose in mirror
Tips that work.
close up of leg with psoriasis rash
Know what to look for.
Woman sitting with child
Do you know the symptoms?
lone star tick
How to identify that bite.
young woman in sun
What to watch for.
Thyroid exam
See how much you know.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.