Day: November 5, 2021

No Risk of Developing Knee Osteoarthritis From Exercise

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

In an analysis of six global studies, investigators found no link between the amount and duration of physical activity with individuals’ risk of developing knee osteoarthritis.

The analysis, which is published in Arthritis & Rheumatology, included six global community-based studies which had a combined total of 5065 participants with and without knee osteoarthritis, who were followed for five to 12 years.
“Knowing that the amount of physical activity and time spent doing it is not associated with the development of knee osteoarthritis is important evidence for both clinicians and the public who may need to consider this when prescribing physical activity for health,” explained co–lead author Thomas Perry, BSc, PhD, at the University of Oxford.

As a next step, it will be important to understand the role of injury and specific types of activity within this association, noted co–lead author Lucy S. Gates, PhD, University of Southampton, and co–senior author Maria Sanchez-Santos, University of Oxford.

Source: Wiley

Discrepancies in Radiology Interpretation

Source: National Cancer Institute

Researchers who conducted an analysis of nearly six million acute examinations suggest that leaders in imaging practice consider efforts to match interpretation of subspecialty examinations with radiologists’ fellowship training in the acute community setting.

Pointing out that major and minor discrepancy rates were not higher for acute community setting examinations outside of interpreting radiologists’ fellowship training, “discrepancy rates increased for advanced examinations,” acknowledged lead investigators Suzanne Chong from Indiana University in Indianapolis and Tarek Hanna of Emory University. The study was published in the American Journal of Roentgenology.

Using the databank of a large US teleradiology company, Chong, Hanna, and colleagues performed an analysis of 5 883 980 acute examinations that were preliminarily interpreted by 269 teleradiologists with a fellowship of neuroradiology, abdominal radiology, or musculoskeletal radiology. When providing final interpretations, client on-site radiologists voluntarily submitted quality assurance (QA) requests if preliminary and final interpretations were discrepant; the teleradiology company’s own QA committee categorised discrepancies as major (n=8444) or minor (n=17 208).

Among initial teleradiology interpretations of acute community setting examinations, common examinations’ major and minor discrepancies rates were not significantly different when concordant versus discordant with radiologists’ fellowship training. However, advanced examinations’ discrepancy rates were higher when concordant with radiologists’ fellowship (relative risk = 1.45 and 1.17, respectively).

Noting that their findings support multispecialty radiologist practice in acute community settings, “efforts to match examination and interpreting radiologist subspecialty may not reduce diagnostic discrepancies,” the article authors cautioned.

A supplement to the published article is available here [PDF].

Source: American Roentgen Ray Society

Uni Students’ Prescription Drugs Misuse Happens in the Week

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Prescription drug misuse by university students happens more often during the week and when they are at home by themselves,  according to a recent study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

In the longitudinal study, university students at a large US university were surveyed, and asked about their prescription drug use and whether they used the medications not as intended by the doctor, such as changing the allowed dosage and frequency of when the medication was taken, or using someone else’s prescription medication.

Southern Methodist University associate professor Chrystyna D. Kouros said the study she co-authored revealed potential differences in the way university students misuse prescription drugs when compared to studies of how they use other substances. “Whereas other studies have shown that alcohol use, and to some extent marijuana use, is most likely to occur in social situations with peers and on the weekends, we found that the context of prescription drug misuse appears to be different,” Kouros said. “In our study, college students were more likely to endorse misusing prescription medication in moments when they were alone and at home. They were also more likely to misuse prescription medications during the week versus the weekend, and earlier in the day instead of the evening.”

The study focused on four classes of prescription drugs: pain relievers, stimulants, sedatives and tranquilisers. Researchers used a technique called ecological momentary assessment (EMA) to query the participating 297 students to record their behaviour in daily life. EMA involves repeated sampling of subjects’ current behaviours and experiences in real time, in their natural environments. Students were prompted by an iPod Touch four times a day to answer a brief survey. Students could also make a report if they were about to misuse a prescription.

The study suggests there might be different motivating factors underlying misuse of prescription drugs compared to other substances, Prof Kouros said.

“Current college-based prevention and intervention programs, thus, may need to be tailored or revised to also capture prescription drug misuse,” she added.

Source: Southern Methodist University

‘Extensive Network’ of Opaque Medical Industry Ties

Image: Pixabay CC0

A study published by the BMJ shines a light on an extensive network of financial and non-financial ties maintained by the medical product industry with all major healthcare parties and activities.

The researchers called for greater oversight and transparency for this largely opaque and unregulated network, “to shield patient care from commercial influence and to preserve public trust in healthcare.”
While the medical product industry is a critical partner in advancing healthcare, especially with the development of new tests and therapies, they have financial returns to shareholders as their main objective.

In a landmark 2009 report [PDF], the Institute of Medicine described a multifaceted healthcare ecosystem rife with industry influence.

To date most research into medical industry conflict of interests have focused on a single party (eg. healthcare professionals, hospitals, or journals) or a single activity (eg. research, education, or clinical care). Thus, the full extent of industry ties across the healthcare ecosystem remains uncertain.

To address this gap, a team of US researchers set out to identify all known ties between the medical product industry and the healthcare ecosystem.

They searched the medical literature for evidence of ties between pharmaceutical, medical device, and biotechnology companies and parties (including hospitals, prescribers and professional societies) and activities (including research, health professional education and guideline development) in the healthcare ecosystem.

The researchers drew in data in 538 articles from 37 countries, along with expert input, to create a map depicting these ties. These ties were then verified, catalogued, and characterised to ascertain types of industry ties (financial, non-financial), applicable policies on conflict of interests, and publicly available data sources.

The results show an extensive network of medical product industry ties – often unregulated and non-transparent – to all major activities and parties in the healthcare ecosystem.

Key activities include research, healthcare education, guideline development, formulary selection (prescription drugs that are covered by a health plan or stocked by a healthcare facility), and clinical care.

Parties include non-profit entities (eg foundations), the healthcare profession, the market supply chain (eg payers, purchasing and distribution agents), and government.

For example, the researchers describe how opioid manufacturers provided funding and other assets to prescribers, patients, public officials, advocacy organisations, and other healthcare parties, who, in turn, pressured regulators and public health agencies to stifle opioid related guidelines and regulations.

They also warned that harms from industry promoted products remain unexplored. All party types were found to have financial ties to medical product companies, with only payers and distribution agents lacking additional, non-financial ties.

They also show that policies for conflict of interests exist for some financial and a few non-financial ties, but publicly available data sources seldom describe or quantify these ties.

The researchers acknowledge that their findings are limited to known or documented industry ties, and that some data might have been missed. However, they say their strategy of systematic, duplicative searching and feedback from an international panel of experts is unlikely to have missed common or important ties.

In light of this, they conclude: “An extensive network of medical product industry ties to activities and parties exists in the healthcare ecosystem. Policies for conflict of interests and publicly available data are lacking, suggesting that enhanced oversight and transparency are needed to protect patients from commercial influence and to ensure public trust.”

Source: EurekAlert!

Pfizer’s Paxlovid Could Deliver Knockout Blow to COVID

Source: Pixabay CC0

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced today that Paxlovid, its investigational novel COVID oral antiviral candidate, significantly reduced hospitalisation and death, based on an interim analysis of its phase II/III clinical trials showing an 89% reduction of risk of hospitalisation or death due to COVID. 

The phase II/III EPIC-HR (Evaluation of Protease Inhibition for COVID-19 in High-Risk Patients) randomised, double-blind study of non-hospitalised adult patients with COVID, who are at high risk of progressing to severe illness. The scheduled interim analysis showed an 89% reduction in risk of COVID-related hospitalisation or all-cause mortality compared to placebo in patients treated within three days of symptom onset (primary endpoint). Only 0.8% of patients who received Paxlovid were hospitalised through Day 28 with zero deaths, compared to 7.0% of patients who received placebo and were hospitalised or died. Similar reductions in COVID-related hospitalisation or mortality were seen in patients treated within five days of symptom onset; 1.0% of patients in the intervention arm were hospitalised through Day 28 with zero deaths, compared to 6.7% of placebo arm patients. In the overall study population through Day 28, no deaths were reported in intervention arm patients as compared to 10 (1.6%) deaths in placebo arm patients.

The results show such an overwhelming effectiveness that Pfizer, in consultation with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), will cease further enrollment into the study and will apply for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) as soon as possible.

If it gets the green light, Pfizer’s Paxlovid, would be the first oral antiviral of its kind, a specifically designed SARS-CoV-2-3CL protease inhibitor. PF-07321332 inhibits viral replication at the proteolysis stage, before viral RNA replication. Co-administration with a low dose of ritonavir helps slow the metabolism of PF-07321332 in order for it to remain active in the body for longer at higher concentrations. It has shown effectiveness against multiple variants, and could have broad general effectiveness against coronaviruses.

“All of us at Pfizer are incredibly proud of our scientists, who designed and developed this molecule, working with the utmost urgency to help lessen the impact of this devastating disease on patients and their communities,” said Mikael Dolsten, MD, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer and President, Worldwide Research, Development and Medical of Pfizer. “We’re thankful to all of the patients, investigators, and sites around the world who participated in this clinical trial, all with the common goal of bringing forth a breakthrough oral therapy to help combat COVID.”

The review of safety data included a larger cohort of 1881 patients in EPIC-HR, whose data were available at the time of the analysis. Adverse events were comparable between paxlovid (19%) and placebo (21%), which were mostly mild.

Pfizer kicked off the EPIC-HR study in July 2021 after positive results from Phase I clinical trials, followed in August by the Phase II/III EPIC-SR (Evaluation of Protease Inhibition for COVID-19 in Standard-Risk Patients), to evaluate efficacy and safety in patients with a confirmed diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection who are at standard (low) risk. This trial includes a cohort of vaccinated at-risk patients who have an acute breakthrough COVID infection. A further trial is investigating prophylaxis among household members of patients with a COVID infection. 

Source: Pfizer