Tuesday, October 30, 2007

migraine news roundup 46

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Contrary to the popularly held belief that migraines peak in the morning, research published in Headache: The Journal of Head & Face Pain indicates that attacks occur evenly over the course of 24 hours, peaking around mid day. Researchers reviewed the diaries of headache patients, which they had kept for one year.

24-Hour Distribution of Migraine Attacks

The New York Times Well Blog recently featured a fantastic entry about doctors who emphasize the worst case scenario.

When Doctors Steal Hope

The pharmacy industry is moving toward more thorough checking of drug interactions and review for medication errors.

Medco to Have Prescription Review System

The New York Times reports that even though most sleep drugs are ineffective, people continue to use them.

Sleep Drugs Found Only Mildly Effective, But Wildly Popular

American consumers spend $4.5 billion a year for sleep medications. Their popularity may lie in a mystery that confounds researchers. Many people who take them think they work far better than laboratory measurements show they do.

An analysis of sleeping pill studies found that when people were monitored in the lab, newer drugs like Ambien, Lunesta and Sonata worked better than fake pills. But the results were not overwhelming, said the analysis, which was published this year and financed by the National Institutes of Health.

The analysis said that viewed as a group, the pills reduced the average time to go to sleep 12.8 minutes compared with fake pills, and increased total sleep time 11.4 minutes. The drug makers point to individual studies with better results.

Subjects who took older drugs like Halcion and Restoril fell asleep 10 minutes faster and slept 32 minutes longer than the placebo group. Paradoxically, when subjects were asked how well they slept, they reported better results, 52 extra minutes of sleep with the older drugs and 32 minutes with the newer drugs.

Research has already established the long-term benefits of meditation for reducing stress and anxiety. But a recent study shows that meditation for as short a period as five days can have the same stress reducing effects.
Chinese scientists today reported that after five days of training in meditation, students had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their saliva after a stress test, compared with students who got five days of instruction in a relaxation technique that didn't involve meditation.

Testing by ConsumerLab.com seems show that the generic version of antidepressant Wellbutrin does not perform as well as the name brand counterpart. This raises questions about whether other generics may be similarly deficient.

Report Questions Generic Antidepressant
Though experts agree the majority of generic drugs perform the same as their pricier brands, some say the results raise questions about whether that is always the case.

The FDA does not require generic drugmakers seeking approval to do clinical trials of their drugs on hundreds or thousands of people as is required for brand drugs. Instead, the agency requires lab data and "bioequivalence" testing in about 24 to 36 healthy volunteers showing that the drug appears in the bloodstream in a similar manner to the brand, says Walsh.

Dr. Sidney Weissman, a member of the board of trustees of the American Psychiatric Association and a professor of psychiatry at Northwestern University in Chicago, says that while he hasn't heard complaints about generic Wellbutrin XL himself, the findings are cause for additional investigation. "Is the FDA method for approving these different methodologies adequate?" he says.

"I, for one, am concerned," Weissman adds. "This raises questions for me on the reliability of FDA testing for these types of drugs."

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