Weekly Roundup 5.29.15

In spite of the fact that summer does not officially begin until the Summer Solstice which will occur on Sunday, June 21, if you are like me and many others the unofficial beginning of summer happens on Memorial Day. And Memorial Day was last weekend and it was early this year. Labor Day on the other hand will be late. That means that it is going to be a much longer summer than we usually get to experience wearing linen, white bucks, Hawaiian shirts. If that is your cup of tea, you are in for a treat.

And speaking of treats, here are a few for you this week.

  • FDA Approves New Treatment for LAM – The agency is continuing its long streak of approvals for rare conditions with the announcement that Rapamune was being approved for lymphangioleiomyomatosis – LAM – which is a rare, progressive disease of the lungs that primarily affects women of child bearing age. With LAM, there is apparently an abnormal growth of cells that invade lung tissues that can cause destruction that affects air flow. According to the agency’s release, the condition is extremely rare, though in looking around on the Internet, estimates seem to vary. Per the LAM Foundation, the cause of the condition is not known, but you can learn more about the condition there, including an insightful breakdown into each element of the long name – lymphangioleiomyomatosis.  Rapamune was originally approved in 1999 to prevent organ suppression for patients (over 13) receiving kidney transplants and was given breakthrough therapy designation, priority review, and orphan drug status.
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome Patients Have Two New Drugs – Treatment options for patients with IBS have been narrow and the category has been the subject of a great deal of scrutiny by FDA Advisory Committees. This week FDA announced approval of two new treatments from two different companies for those patients who have IBS-D – the type associated with diarrhea. The new treatments are Viberzi (eluxadoline) and Xifaxan (rifaximin) and both are taken orally.
  • NIH Funded Study Likely to Result in HIV Treatment Changes Globally – From the time that long-awaited effective treatments for HIV emerged, there existed the accompanying question of when it is best to introduce therapy to an infected individual. A new study – Strategic Timing of AntiRetroviral Treatment (START) – is the first large-scale randomized clinical trial that establishes that earlier antiretroviral treatment benefits all HIV infected individuals. The study found that if individual who are infected begin treatment earlier after infection rather than later, then they are less likely to develop serious illnesses as a consequence of their infection and less likely to develop AIDS. In addition, as noted by Dr. Anthony Fauci, NIAID Director, in the NIH press release, earlier treatment has the double benefit of not only preventing illness, but in reducing the risk of transmission as well. The study will conclude at the end of 2016, but interim results were released early due to their likely impact.

That is all for me this week folks. Have a wonderful weekend – begin to enjoy the summer. Wear straw hats. Go on picnics. Play in the garden. Be well.

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