Health Highlights: May 6, 2013
Pfizer Offers Viagra Online; FDA Criticized for OK'ing Combo Cholesterol Pill; Veterans at Higher Risk for Traffic Crashes
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
FDA Warns About Breast Cancer Drug Name Confusion
The generic names of two breast cancer drugs can cause confusion and lead to dosing errors, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns.
One drug's brand name is Kadcyla and its generic name is ado-trastuzumab emtansine. The other drug's brand name is Herceptin and its generic name is trastuzumab. Some electronic health record systems pharmacy prescription processing and ordering systems incorrectly use the name trastuzumab emtansine when referring to Kadcyla.
"The dosing and treatment schedules for Kadcyla and Herceptin ... are quite different, so confusion between these products could lead to dosing errors and potential harm to patients," the FDA said.
Since Kadcyla was approved on Feb. 22, 2013, there have not been any reported medication errors related to the confusion between Kadcyla and Herceptin. However, errors did occur during clinical trials for Kadcyla before its approval.
Health care professionals should use both the brand name for Kadcyla and its full generic name when writing medication orders or using computerized order entry systems, the FDA said.
Antibiotic-Resistant Gonorrhea Strain 'Very Dangerous'
The impact of an antibiotic-resistant strain of gonorrhea could match that of HIV/AIDS, according to some experts.
The strain, called HO41, has been placed in the superbug category along with other antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), CNBC reported.
No deaths from HO41 gonorrhea have been reported, but this is "an emergency situation" and "it's getting more hazardous" as time passes, according to William Smith, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors.
"This might be a lot worse than AIDS in the short run because the bacteria is more aggressive and will affect more people quickly," Alan Christianson, a doctor of naturopathic medicine, told CNBC.
"Getting gonorrhea from this strain might put someone into septic shock and death in a matter of days," he explained. "This is very dangerous."
Pfizer Offers Viagra Online
In a first for the drug industry, Pfizer Inc. will start selling Viagra directly to patients on its website.
Men will still need a prescription to buy the erectile dysfunction drug on viagra.com but won't have to deal with a pharmacist, the Associated Press reported.
Pfizer's decision to sell Viagra online is an attempt to counter Internet pharmacies that sell counterfeit versions of the drug for a much cheaper price and with no prescription needed.
Counterfeit versions of many other brand-name drugs are also sold online and other major drug companies will be keeping close tabs on Pfizer's strategy, the AP reported.
FDA Criticized for OK'ing Combo Cholesterol Pill
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's recent approval of a new cholesterol-lowering pill called Liptruzet "just doesn't make any sense," an expert says.