Tag Archive for 'medication'

FDA warns seller of chelation product

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning letter to the producer of a product that is sometimes used by people hoping to eliminate heavy metals from children’s bodies (e.g., chelate mercury from children with autism). In a letter addressed to Boyd D. Haley of CTI Science Inc., Teresa C. Thompson of the Cincinnati District Office of the FDA cited a host of problems in the classification and marketing of the product, OSR#1. Among these problems are the following:
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Fish oil and adolescent psychosis

During the 40 weeks after receiving a brief course of ω-3 (“omega three”) polyunsaturated fatty acids, adolescents at risk for psychotic disorders were less likely to progress to psychotic status than similar peers who did not receive the supplement. In the study by G. Paul Amminger and colleagues, the youths in the treated group also had fewer positive, negative, and general symptoms of psychosis and improved overall functioning than those in the control group.

The youths in the treated group received a supplement of two fish-oil capsules twice a day for 12 weeks, and the controls received a placebo of coconut-oil capsules. The researchers then monitored their status and symptoms for the following 40 weeks.
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Jani’s story updated

In “Hushing the intruders in her brain,” Shari Roan continued her account of childhood-onset schizophrenia as experieinced by January (‘Jani’) Schofield. In the current story, Ms. Roan provided an update about Jani’s and her family’s life and progress. The coverage includes content about changes in Jani’s therapy and medications, the family’s living situation, and other aspects of life with childhood schizophrenia. As previously, there are accompanying multimedia features to the story, including this video by Don Kelsen.

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Baseless, risky therapies for Autism

Writing in the Chicago (IL, US) Tribune under the headline “Autism treatments: Risky alternative therapies have little basis in science” Trine Tsouderos and Patricia Callahan reported about the background and myriad problems with many treatments used as therapy for children with Autism. They expose the lack of evidentiary support for therapies ranging from mega-doses of vitamins to chelation and show the relationships between practitioners of these therapies and a couple of organizations well-known among those who follow Autism.

The Tribune found children undergoing daylong infusions of a blood product that carries the risk of kidney failure and anaphylactic shock. Researchers in the field emphatically warn that the therapy should not be used to treat autism.

Children are repeatedly encased in pressurized oxygen chambers normally used after scuba diving accidents, at a cost of thousands of dollars. This unproven therapy is meant to reduce inflammation that experts say is little understood and may even be beneficial.

Children undergo rounds of chelation therapy to leach heavy metals from the body, though most toxicologists say the test commonly used to measure the metals is meaningless and the treatment potentially harmful.

Reporters Tsouderos and Callahan conducted interviews with an impressive array of advocates for the therapies (including representatives of Autism One, Autism Research Institute, and Defeat Autism Now) and doubters (mostly serious scientists). They combed through the weak and barely related research that many of the advocates use as well as the evidence showing limited or no benefits of the therapies.

All in all, these reporters deserve kudos for the unflinching thoroughness of their reporting. I encourage readers to read, reread, and disseminate the article. Here’s a link to “Autism treatments: Risky alternative therapies have little basis in science.” Flash of the electrons to Liz Ditz, whose Twitter post about this article alerted me to it.

Meds cause weight gains

Children and youths who were treated with “atypical antipsychotic medications” (aripiprazole, olanzapine, quetiapine, or risperidone) gained substantial weight and had changes in their metabolism in a study reported by Christoph Correll and colleagues in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The drugs, which are used to treat childhood schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and (sometimes) Autism, also caused changes in blood lipids.

Drug Brand Name
clozapine Clozaril
risperidone Risperdal
quetiapine Seroquel
olanzapine Zyprexa

The medications, which are also known as second generation antipsychotics, are marketed under the names shown in the table at the right.

On average, the children’s weight gains differed across the different medications, ranging from 8.5 kg with olanzapine to 4.4 kg with aripiprazole. For better than half of the children, the gains amounted to more than 7% of their body weight. Changes in the children’s metabolism varied by drug, too; olanzapine caused the largest problems and aripiprazole caused no changes in metabolism (e.g., cholesterol).

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Secretin reminder

Although I have followed the promotion of secretin as a treatment for Autism pretty much since the first reports about it, I hadn’t checked on it lately. My initial foray into the topic in 1998 resulted in some skepticism with hedges. As the research evolved, it became clear that the skepticism was warranted.

However, I was surprised that Stephen Edelson, writing in a 2008 article entitled The secretin story: Still a promising treatment for autism,” considered “the studies investigating the efficacy of secretin have been very positive.” Coupled with some vaguely remembered notion that fewer than 50% of physicians discouraged use of secretin, the article gave me pause. I thought, “Hmmm. Maybe you’re earlier analysis was hasty, John.”
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Screening teens

Writing under the headline “Pros and cons of screening teens for depression,” Brendan Borrell examined some of the issues that sometimes roar around surveying youths to identify those who are depressed or at risk for depression. Mr. Borrell’s article, which is one in a series of articles about depression appearing in the Los Angeles Times, addressed concerns such as parental reservations about testing of their children without permission, false positive identification of a high percentage of students, and the absence of adequate treatment for many who need help.

Mr. Borrell established the importance of the issue in his lead:

By the time a teenager graduates high school, about one out of nine of his or her peers has attempted suicide. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, behind car accidents and homicide, and 10% to 12% of teens ponder suicide every day.

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Citalopram’s non-effects

Citalopram, one of the class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) which are usually used to address depression, did not yield beneficial results in a recent study of whether the use of the drug with children and youth with Autism reduced repetitive behaviors. The study, reported by Bryan King and colleagues, included 149 individuals ages 5 through 17 with moderate or severe Autism who were recruited from various parts of the US. Not only did the treated group appear no better than the placebo group, but the children in the Citalopram group were more likely to have adverse outcomes.

Lack of Efficacy of Citalopram in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders and High Levels of Repetitive Behavior Citalopram Ineffective in Children With Autism
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