Trending News Today: Factors That Reduce Drug Efficacy

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

A new test for a rare brain disease may lead to earlier diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, according to NPR. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a rare condition that affects approximately 1 in 1 million individuals around the globe per year. Prior spinal fluid assay for CJD has the ability to identify brain cell injury, but could not identify the specific cause. A few years ago, scientists developed a new test called real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC). The new test allows investigators to collect a small amount of spinal fluid or nasal brushing from patients while they’re still alive. The test can determine whether the patient has a prior disease with a high degree of certainty, NPR reported. Several studies have shown the ability of RT-QuIC to accurately identify CJD prions in symptomatic patients. Currently, investigators are working on a modified version of the test, which has demonstrated the ability to detect Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia, according to NPR.

Storing medication in the bathroom medicine cabinet could reduce a drug’s potency at a faster rate, according to NPR. Pharmacist Mike Fossler, of the American College of Clinical Pharmacology, told NPR that humidity, heat, and expired medication have a negative impact on drug efficacy. Pill bottles that list an expiration date are based on scientific evidence by manufacturers that exposed their medications to different environments, temperatures, and humidity levels, to test how long it takes for medications to degrade to the point where its efficacy is compromised. Generally, once a drug is degraded by 10%, it has reached the end of its useful life, according to Fossler. Although taking a medication after the expiration date is unlikely to cause harm, it won’t do an individual much good either. Expired antibiotics used to treated bacterial infections may fail to treat the infection, and can lead to more serious illness or antibiotic resistance, NPR reported. Additionally, drugs stored in medicine cabinets are exposed to steam from the shower, and drugs left in a hot car can degrade the medicine’s active ingredients. Ilisa Bernstein, deputy director of the office of compliance in the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, suggests that individuals not use any drug that has expired.

Wisconsin has fined 22 hospitals for not offering emergency contraception to rape victims, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The law, established in 2008, required emergency departments to provide sexual assault victims with information regarding the morning-after pill, and to give the drug upon request, as well as providing training to staff members about the drugs. Among the 22 hospitals fined was SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital, which was required to pay $7500 in 2015, according to the Sentinel. In a report by the Department of Human Services, the hospital was cited for failing to inform 2 rape victims about emergency contraception or make the drug available to them in 2014. The hospital director told state inspectors that the hospital did not follow the law due to its Catholic affiliation and its policy of transferring assault patients to another hospital with forensic nursing services. Spokeswomen Kim Sveum said St. Mary’s is now complying with the law, providing information and emergency contraception to 13 patients since June 2015.