Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Speaking of side-effects, it appears that yet another rotavirus vaccine may be causing intussusception in infants. The data are really preliminary - by which I mean non-existent - at this point, and don't really say what el Wapo seems to want them to say (that parents should be scared of the vaccine, which will be the only outcome of this article), but if there's any truth to it it would be both unfortunate (as rotavirus kills a higher percentage of babies than intussusception) and interesting (because why is this side-effect so prevalent for vaccines for this disease?).
Another drug in trouble is Ketek (telithromycin), a potent antibiotic approved a few years ago, to much protest from patient groups, for bronchitis, sinusitis, and pneumonia. Ketek has such severe side-effects, particularly liver damage, vision loss, and fainting, that FDA has moved (under pressure from Congress) to limit its use to community-acquired pneumonia, with stronger labeling. I was on this drug once, and gotta say, it was not pleasant.
Second-hand smoke also appears to have more side-effects than predicted. A UK study has found that people exposed to second-hand smoke had higher cardiovascular risk factors than did unexposed. Much as I hate them philosophically, those bar-smoking bans are really good for health.
Finally, a double-whammy. Certain alleles of the ApoE gene are known to increase your risk of Alzheimer's. The catch is, they seem also to make you more likely, as a newborn, to develop cerebral palsy. Interesting.