It is hard to believe we sit on the cusp of December and 2008. And to celebrate the new year, we are going to have a bunch of primaries that are going to keep our focus on a year long presidential campaign. I am grinding away on my Where the Candidates Stand series and you can look for Mike Huckabee on Monday.
In the meantime, here is a little of what went on this week:
- Salt, Salt, Everywhere Salt – The FDA held a public meeting this week about salt content in the diet, particularly processed foods. It turned out to be quite a story, with evening news outlets giving it air time. The deal is that salt is everywhere you might not expect to find it – from bagels to corn flakes. Much is being made of the figure that 150,000 Americans are allegedly killed each year due to the effects of excessive salt, but the Center for Science in the Public Interest has been saying that for a long time since came out with a 2005 report on the topic of dietary salt that laid out that very statistic. So why a hearing now?
- OTC Status for Zyrtec – The march of allergy medicines from RX to OTC continues with the FDA’s approval this week of Zyrtec to switch for both adults and children. According to the press release, McNeil "will market two distinct Zyrtec products for each dosage form. One will provide directions for treating the symptoms of hay fever and other respiratory allergies. The other will contain directions for use to relieve the itching due to hives."
- Healthcare Fails to Make the Grade in Republican Debates – With polls demonstrating that healthcare is invariably one of the top issues for voters, it apparently is not one of the top issues for the Republican base, being unseated by concern over illegal immigration. Therefore, in this week’s CNN/YouTube debate, healthcare simply was not discussed. Given what the candidates have in their kitchen cupboards for plans, it isn’t a surprise.
- Bayer’s Nexavar Approved for Inoperable Liver Cancer – The agency announced that it has approved Nexavar (sorafenib), already approved for kidney cancer, for use in patients with a form of liver cancer known as hepatocellular carcinoma, when the cancer is inoperable. Nexavar was originally approved in 2005 for the treatment of patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma, a form of kidney cancer. Nexavar is a type of anticancer drug called a kinase inhibitor. It interferes with molecules that are thought to be involved in chemical messages sent within cancer cells, in the formation of blood vessels that supply tumors, and in cell death. During study, the trial was stopped after a planned interim analysis showed a statistically significant advantage in overall survival for the patients who had received Nexavar. Patients who received Nexavar survived a median of 10.7 months while patients who received placebo survived a median of 7.9 months. A separate analysis showed that tumors progressed more slowly in patients who received Nexavar compared to patients who had received placebo. Look for other studies on this drug for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer and metastatic melanoma. Nexavar is manufactured by Bayer HealthCare AG, Leverkusen, Germany for Bayer Pharmaceuticals Corporation, West Haven, Conn. and by Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Emeryville, Calif.
That’s it for this week. Have a good weekend everyone.