Search tips
Search criteria

Results 1-25 (454912)

Clipboard (0)

Related Articles

1.  ‘Saving the lives of our dogs’: the development of canine distemper vaccine in interwar Britain 
This paper examines the successful campaign in Britain to develop canine distemper vaccine between 1922 and 1933. The campaign mobilized disparate groups around the common cause of using modern science to save the nation's dogs from a deadly disease. Spearheaded by landed patricians associated with the country journal The Field, and funded by dog owners and associations, it relied on collaborations with veterinary professionals, government scientists, the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the commercial pharmaceutical house the Burroughs Wellcome Company (BWC). The social organization of the campaign reveals a number of important, yet previously unexplored, features of interwar science and medicine in Britain. It depended on a patronage system that drew upon a large base of influential benefactors and public subscriptions. Coordinated by the Field Distemper Fund, this system was characterized by close relationships between landed elites and their social networks with senior science administrators and researchers. Relations between experts and non-experts were crucial, with high levels of public engagement in all aspects of research and vaccine development. At the same time, experimental and commercial research supported under the campaign saw dynamic interactions between animal and human medicine, which shaped the organization of the MRC's research programme and demonstrated the value of close collaboration between veterinary and medical science, with the dog as a shared object and resource. Finally, the campaign made possible the translation of ‘laboratory’ findings into field conditions and commercial products. Rather than a unidirectional process, translation involved negotiations over the very boundaries of the ‘laboratory’ and the ‘field’, and what constituted a viable vaccine. This paper suggests that historians reconsider standard historical accounts of the nature of patronage, the role of animals, and the interests of landed elites in interwar British science and medicine.
PMCID: PMC4014013  PMID: 24941736
2.  Enabling research in care homes: an evaluation of a national network of research ready care homes 
In the UK care homes are one of the main providers of long term care for older people with dementia. Despite the recent increase in care home research, residents with dementia are often excluded from studies. Care home research networks have been recommended by the Ministerial Advisory Group on Dementia Research (MAGDR) as a way of increasing research opportunities for residents with dementia. This paper reports on an evaluation of the feasibility and early impact of an initiative to increase care home participation in research.
A two phase, mixed methods approach was used; phase 1 established a baseline of current and recent studies including the National Institute for Health Research portfolio. To explore the experiences of recruiting care homes and research participation, interviews were conducted with researchers working for the Dementia and Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Network (DeNDRoN) and care home managers. In phase 2, four DeNDRoN area offices recruited care homes to a care home network for their region. The care home networks were separate from the DeNDRoN research network. Diaries were used to document and cost recruitment; DeNDRoN staff were interviewed to understand the barriers, facilitators and impact of the care home networks.
Thirty three current or recent studies were identified as involving care homes as care home specific studies or those which included residents. Further details of care home recruitment were obtained on 20 studies by contacting study teams. Care home managers were keen to be involved in research that provided staff support, benefits for residents and with minimal disruption. In phase 2, 141 care homes were recruited to the care home research networks, through corporate engagement and individual invitation. Pre-existing relationships with care homes facilitated recruitment. Sites with minimal experience of working with care homes identified the need for care home training for researchers.
Phase 1 review revealed a small but increasing number of studies involving care homes. Phase 2 demonstrated the feasibility of care home research networks, their potential to increase recruitment to research and develop partnerships between health services and care homes, but highlighted the need for care home training for researchers.
PMCID: PMC4021218  PMID: 24708761
Dementia; Research networks; Long term care; Older people; Care homes
3.  Managing automation developrent in harmony with the rest of an international company—a QC laboratory manager's perspective 
Significant opportunities and challenges are presented when transitioning from managing laboratory automation development of pharmaceutical products at a single site to collaborative management with multiple domestic and international sites. Prior to integrating Glaxo and Burroughs Wellcome about two years ago, each company had expertise in laboratory automation, but neither had a strategy for consistent business-justified laboratory automation. The approach for international harmonization of automation development of pharmaceutical test methods that the integrated company has adopted is presented. Some items to consider before undertaking a company-wide automation development harmonization programme are offered for consideration. Experiences encountered and future planned benefits are discussed.
PMCID: PMC2548148  PMID: 18924823
4.  The life, achievements and legacy of a great Canadian investigator: Professor Boris Petrovich Babkin (1877–1950) 
The present paper reviews the life and achievements of Professor Boris Petrovich Babkin (MD DSc LLD). History is only worth writing about if it teaches us about the future; therefore, this historical review concludes by describing what today’s and future gastrointestinal physiologists could learn from Dr Babkin’s life.
Dr Babkin was born in Russia in 1877. He graduated with an MD degree from the Military Medical Academy in St Petersburg, Russia, in 1904. Not being attracted to clinical practice, and after some hesitation concerning whether he would continue in history or basic science of medicine, he entered the laboratory of Professor Ivan Petrovich Pavlov. Although he maintained an interest in history, in Pavlov’s exciting environment he became fully committed to physiology of the gastrointestinal system. He advanced quickly in Russia and was Professor of Physiology at the University of Odessa. In 1922, he was critical of the Bolshevik revolution, and after a short imprisonment, he was ordered to leave Russia. He was invited with his family by Professor EH Starling (the discoverer of secretin) to his department at University College, London, England. Two years later, he was offered a professorship in Canada at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia. After contributing there for four years, he joined McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, in 1928 as Research Professor. He remained there for the rest of his career. Between 1940 and 1941, he chaired the Department, and following retirement, he remained as Research Professor. At the invitation of the world-famous neurosurgeon, Wilder Penfield, Dr Babkin continued as Research Fellow in the Department of Neurosurgery until his death in 1950 at age 73.
His major achievements were related to establishing the concept of brain-gut-brain interaction and the influence of this on motility, as well as on interface of multiple different cells, nerves and hormones on secretory function. He had a major role in the rediscovery of gastrin. He established a famous school of gastrointestinal physiologists at McGill University. He supported his trainees and helped them establish their careers. He received many honors: a DSc in London, England, and an LLD from Dalhousie University. Most importantly, he was the recipient of the Friedenwald Medal of the American Gastroenterological Association for lifelong contributions to the field. Dr Babkin taught us his philosophical aspect of approaching physiology, his devotion to his disciples and his overall kindness. Most importantly, he has proven that one can achieve international recognition by publishing mainly in Canadian journals. He is an example to follow.
PMCID: PMC2659943  PMID: 17001399
Biography; Boris Petrovich Babkin; Brain-gut-brain interaction; Friedenwald Medal; Gastrin; GI secretions; Ivan Petrovich Pavlov; McGill University; Mentor; Physiologist
5.  The emergence of commercial genomics: analysis of the rise of a biotechnology subsector during the Human Genome Project, 1990 to 2004 
Genome Medicine  2013;5(9):83.
Development of the commercial genomics sector within the biotechnology industry relied heavily on the scientific commons, public funding, and technology transfer between academic and industrial research. This study tracks financial and intellectual property data on genomics firms from 1990 through 2004, thus following these firms as they emerged in the era of the Human Genome Project and through the 2000 to 2001 market bubble.
A database was created based on an early survey of genomics firms, which was expanded using three web-based biotechnology services, scientific journals, and biotechnology trade and technical publications. Financial data for publicly traded firms was collected through the use of four databases specializing in firm financials. Patent searches were conducted using firm names in the US Patent and Trademark Office website search engine and the DNA Patent Database.
A biotechnology subsector of genomics firms emerged in parallel to the publicly funded Human Genome Project. Trends among top firms show that hiring, capital improvement, and research and development expenditures continued to grow after a 2000 to 2001 bubble. The majority of firms are small businesses with great diversity in type of research and development, products, and services provided. Over half the public firms holding patents have the majority of their intellectual property portfolio in DNA-based patents.
These data allow estimates of investment, research and development expenditures, and jobs that paralleled the rise of genomics as a sector within biotechnology between 1990 and 2004.
PMCID: PMC3971346  PMID: 24050173
6.  The CD44-initiated pathway of T-cell extravasation uses VLA-4 but not LFA-1 for firm adhesion 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2000;105(5):683-691.
Leukocytes extravasate from the blood in response to physiologic or pathologic demands by means of complementary ligand interactions between leukocytes and endothelial cells. The multistep model of leukocyte extravasation involves an initial transient interaction (“rolling” adhesion), followed by secondary (firm) adhesion. We recently showed that binding of CD44 on activated T lymphocytes to endothelial hyaluronan (HA) mediates a primary adhesive interaction under shear stress, permitting extravasation at sites of inflammation. The mechanism for subsequent firm adhesion has not been elucidated. Here we demonstrate that the integrin VLA-4 is used in secondary adhesion after CD44-mediated primary adhesion of human and mouse T cells in vitro, and by mouse T cells in an in vivo model. We show that clonal cell lines and polyclonally activated normal T cells roll under physiologic shear forces on hyaluronate and require VCAM-1, but not ICAM-1, as ligand for subsequent firm adhesion. This firm adhesion is also VLA-4 dependent, as shown by antibody inhibition. Moreover, in vivo short-term homing experiments in a model dependent on CD44 and HA demonstrate that superantigen-activated T cells require VLA-4, but not LFA-1, for entry into an inflamed peritoneal site. Thus, extravasation of activated T cells initiated by CD44 binding to HA depends upon VLA-4–mediated firm adhesion, which may explain the frequent association of these adhesion receptors with diverse chronic inflammatory processes.
PMCID: PMC292454  PMID: 10712440
7.  Changing Patterns in Place of Cancer Death in England: A Population-Based Study 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(3):e1001410.
Wei Gao and colleagues describe how location of death has changed for patients with cancer in England between 1993 and 2010.
Most patients with cancer prefer to die at home or in a hospice, but hospitals remain the most common place of death (PoD).This study aims to explore the changing time trends of PoD and the associated factors, which are essential for end-of-life care improvement.
Methods and Findings
The study analysed all cancer deaths in England collected by the Office for National Statistics during 1993–2010 (n = 2,281,223). Time trends of age- and gender-standardised proportion of deaths in individual PoDs were evaluated using weighted piecewise linear regression. Variables associated with PoD (home or hospice versus hospital) were determined using proportion ratio (PR) derived from the log-binomial regression, adjusting for clustering effects. Hospital remained the most common PoD throughout the study period (48.0%; 95% CI 47.9%–48.0%), followed by home (24.5%; 95% CI 24.4%–24.5%), and hospice (16.4%; 95% CI 16.3%–16.4%). Home and hospice deaths increased since 2005 (0.87%; 95% CI 0.74%–0.99%/year, 0.24%; 95% CI 0.17%–0.32%/year, respectively, p<0.001), while hospital deaths declined (−1.20%; 95% CI −1.41 to −0.99/year, p<0.001). Patients who died from haematological cancer (PRs 0.46–0.52), who were single, widowed, or divorced (PRs 0.75–0.88), and aged over 75 (PRs 0.81–0.84 for 75–84; 0.66–0.72 for 85+) were less likely to die in home or hospice (p<0.001; reference groups: colorectal cancer, married, age 25–54). There was little improvement in patients with lung cancer of dying in home or hospice (PRs 0.87–0.88). Marital status became the second most important factor associated with PoD, after cancer type. Patients from less deprived areas (higher quintile of the deprivation index) were more likely to die at home or in a hospice than those from more deprived areas (lower quintile of the deprivation index; PRs 1.02–1.12). The analysis is limited by a lack of data on individual patients' preferences for PoD or a clinical indication of the most appropriate PoD.
More efforts are needed to reduce hospital deaths. Health care facilities should be improved and enhanced to support the increased home and hospice deaths. People who are single, widowed, or divorced should be a focus for end-of-life care improvement, along with known at risk groups such as haematological cancer, lung cancer, older age, and deprivation.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Death is the only certain event in our lives. Consequently, end-of-life care is an issue that is relevant to everyone, and everyone hopes for a “good death” (a death that is free from avoidable distress and suffering) for themselves and for their loved ones. Many factors contribute to a good death, including the place of death. When asked, most people say they would rather die at home or in a hospice (a care facility that gives supportive care to people in the final phase of a terminal illness and that focuses on comfort and quality of life rather than on cure) than in a hospital. Importantly, patients who die at home or in a hospice often have a better quality of life than those who die in hospital, and caring for terminally ill patients in the community is less expensive than caring for them in hospital.
Why Was This Study Done?
Many countries have introduced end-of-life care policies that are designed to enable more people to die at home or in hospices. England, for example, implemented its National End of Life Care Programme in 2004. However, to improve end-of-life care services and to enable more people to die in their preferred place, we need to understand how the patterns of place of death and the factors that affect the place of death are changing over time. In this population-based study, the researchers examine the changing pattern of place of death of people with cancer and the factors associated with place of death in England between 1993 and 2010. Cancer is a leading cause of death globally and is responsible for 8 million deaths annually. Deaths from cancer still occur most commonly in hospitals, which are the least preferred place of death for people with cancer; home and hospices are the first and second preferred places of death, respectively, for such people.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used death registration data collected by the Office of National Statistics to identify all the adult cancer deaths in England between 1993 and 2010 (2.28 million deaths) and to determine where these deaths occurred, time trends in place of death, and the factors associated with place of death. Hospital was the commonest place of death throughout the study period—48% of cancer deaths occurred in hospital, 24.5% at home, and 16.4% in hospices. The proportion of home deaths increased after 2005 whereas the proportion of hospital deaths declined. The proportion of deaths in hospices also increased over the study period. The most important factor associated with place of death was cancer site. For example, patients who died from a blood (hematological) cancer were more likely to die in hospital than patients with colorectal cancer throughout the study period although the proportion dying at home or in a hospice increased over time. Being single, widowed, or divorced was associated with a higher likelihood of dying in hospital than being married. Being over 75 was associated with a higher likelihood of dying in hospital than being 25–54 although elderly people were more likely to die at home or in a hospice after 2006 than in earlier periods.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that the hospital is still the commonest place of death for patients with cancer in England. However, the increase in home and hospice deaths since 2005 suggests that the National End of Life Care Programme has enabled more people to die at their preferred place of death. These findings identify cancer site, marital status, and age as the three most important factors associated with place of death for patients with cancer. Because the study is a large-scale, population-based study, these findings are likely to be generalizable to other high-income settings. However, because the study did not include data on individual patient preferences for place of death, these findings should be applied with care to individual patients. Importantly, these findings indicate that more needs to be done to support people with cancer (and other terminal illnesses) who wish to die at home or in a hospice. Moreover, they identify groups of people—single, widowed or divorced individuals, older people, and people with specific types of cancer—who need extra help to ensure that they are able to choose where they die.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The Cicely Saunders International, a not-for-profit organization, promotes research to improve the care and treatment of all patients with terminal illnesses at home, in hospices and in hospital; its website includes information on end-of-life care and on Cicely Saunders, the founder of the hospice movement in England
This study is part of GUIDE_Care, a project initiated by the Cicely Saunders Institute to investigate patterns in place of death and the factors that affect these patterns
Information on the National End of Life Care Programme is available
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information (including videos of personal experiences) on end-of-life issues for carers, information on end-of-life care for patients with cancer, and an end-of-life care guide for people approaching the end of their life
The US National Cancer Institute has a fact sheet on end-of-life care for people who have cancer and provides information on hospice care and home care for patients with cancer (in English and Spanish)
The not-for-profit organization HealthTalkOnline provides personal stories about living with dying
The NHS National End of Life Intelligence Network (NEoLCIN) provides information on broad issues about end-of-life care
The South West Public Health Observatory (SWPHO) aims to improve the health of the population through producing evidence to inform decision making on health issues at local, regional, and national levels. SWPHO also produces specific end-of-life care resources (e.g., specialised reports, end-of-life care profiles) and disseminates it via the NEoLCIN website
PMCID: PMC3608543  PMID: 23555201
8.  The Effect of Evidence-Based Drug Coverage Policies on Pharmaceutical R&D: A Case Study from British Columbia 
Healthcare Policy  2008;3(3):e128-e153.
To manage public expenditures in the mid-1990s, British Columbia implemented evidence-based drug coverage policies, including “reference pricing.” Industry lobbied against the province's policy, arguing that reference pricing harms patients and that it is inconsistent with federal and provincial legislation. Researchers and the courts have studied and rejected industry's claims. However, industry also threatened to halt R&D investment in British Columbia and continues to so threaten other provinces contemplating evidence-based drug coverage policies. The purpose of this study is to review evidence regarding these threats.
Provincial-level R&D data for 1988–2006 were used to analyze the impact of BC PharmaCare's policies on pharmaceutical R&D in British Columbia. We used statistical analyses to determine whether the province's policies affected BC-based R&D as expressed in two ways: (1) as inflation-adjusted expenditure per capita in British Columbia and (2) as the ratio of expenditure per capita in the province to expenditure per capita in the rest of Canada.
Evidence-based drug coverage policies had no statistically significant negative effects on BC-based pharmaceutical R&D. BC R&D was slightly above expected trends in 1997 and slightly below expected trends in 1998 and 1999 (though not statistically significantly in either case). From 2001 to 2003, BC R&D was (statistically significantly) above expected trends.
While they are part of the politics of the pharmaceutical sector, claims and threats regarding connections between coverage policy and location of R&D investment are not borne out in British Columbia's experience. This is likely because, as suggested by business and economic literature, firms locate R&D based on the expected cost-to-firm and productivity of the R&D investment itself. Prudent policy would therefore manage pharmaceutical expenditures using evidence-based policies and pursue scientific and economic development goals through direct and strategic government investment in local scientific capacity.
PMCID: PMC2645148  PMID: 19305760
9.  The Effect of Evidence-Based Drug Coverage Policies on Pharmaceutical R&D: A Case Study from British Columbia* 
Healthcare Policy  2008;3(3):54-63.
To manage public expenditures in the mid-1990s, British Columbia implemented evidence-based drug coverage policies, including “reference pricing.” Industry lobbied against the province's policy, arguing that reference pricing harms patients and that it is inconsistent with federal and provincial legislation. Researchers and the courts have studied and rejected industry's claims. However, industry also threatened to halt R&D investment in British Columbia and continues to so threaten other provinces contemplating evidence-based drug coverage policies. The purpose of this study is to review evidence regarding these threats.
Provincial-level R&D data for 1988–2006 were used to analyze the impact of BC PharmaCare's policies on pharmaceutical R&D in British Columbia. We used statistical analyses to determine whether the province's policies affected BC-based R&D as expressed in two ways: (1) as inflation-adjusted expenditure per capita in British Columbia and (2) as the ratio of expenditure per capita in the province to expenditure per capita in the rest of Canada.
Evidence-based drug coverage policies had no statistically significant negative effects on BC-based pharmaceutical R&D. BC R&D was slightly above expected trends in 1997 and slightly below expected trends in 1998 and 1999 (though not statistically significantly in either case). From 2001 to 2003, BC R&D was (statistically significantly) above expected trends.
While they are part of the politics of the pharmaceutical sector, claims and threats regarding connections between coverage policy and location of R&D investment are not borne out in British Columbia's experience. This is likely because, as suggested by business and economic literature, firms locate R&D based on the expected cost-to-firm and productivity of the R&D investment itself. Prudent policy would therefore manage pharmaceutical expenditures using evidence-based policies and pursue scientific and economic development goals through direct and strategic government investment in local scientific capacity.
PMCID: PMC2645151  PMID: 19305768
10.  The Medical World is Flat Too 
World Journal of Surgery  2008;32(8):1583-1604.
Tom Friedman, in his book,“The World is Flat,” makes a very persuasive argument that our current economic policy transcends national boundaries. Friedman describes various processes that prove his point. These include workflow software, open sourcing, outsourcing, off-shoring, supply chaining, in-sourcing, and informing. The United States already outsources surgery. In this article, I give the retail surgical rates and discount rates of the US, and compare them to that of the same surgery in India, Thailand, and Singapore. Supply chaining is another example that applies to the field of medicine, particularly pharmaceuticals. Most pharmaceutical firms are located in developed countries, but 80% of the pharmaceuticals are manufactured in developing countries. A phenomenon that may be unique to the United States is that we off-shore some of our diagnostic capabilities, primarily during out nighttime hours. Under the rubric of “Nighthawk,” X-rays, including CT scans, are digitized and sent to Australia, Spain, and other countries during our nighttime hours. A diagnosis is made and sent back to the referring hospital in the US, usually within 30 minutes. I think an argument can be made that almost all of the issues that Friedman talks about in his book, apply to the field of medicine. Trauma care is a microcosm of medicine and uses most of the resources shared by other specialties. The trauma patient has to be identified and ambulances called, usually by 911 or similar numeric systems in other countries. The patient is transported to an emergency room, and if the injury is severe, admitted for acute care, which often requires surgery, intensive care, and ward care. When possible, the patient is discharged home, but is often sent to a rehabilitation facility or a nursing home. To improve trauma care and outcome, surgeons have turned to the organization and system approach that has been so successful in military situations.
Materials and methods
An extensive review of the surgical and public health papers relating to trauma was carried out. This article is an inventory of how trauma systems are progressing in different countries and whether they are effective. Some of the pitfalls that globalization may bring are also discussed.
Results and conclusions
For the last 100 years, there has been gradual improvement in care of the civilian patients, as a system approach similar to the military care of injured patients has been introduced and matured. These systems include prehospital care, acute care, rehabilitation; ideally, using a public health approach, preventive components are also utilized. Research is another component that is key in improving patient outcomes.
PMCID: PMC2490729  PMID: 18368449
11.  Implantation of Radiotelemetry Transmitters Yielding Data on ECG, Heart Rate, Core Body Temperature and Activity in Free-moving Laboratory Mice 
The laboratory mouse is the animal species of choice for most biomedical research, in both the academic sphere and the pharmaceutical industry. Mice are a manageable size and relatively easy to house. These factors, together with the availability of a wealth of spontaneous and experimentally induced mutants, make laboratory mice ideally suited to a wide variety of research areas.
In cardiovascular, pharmacological and toxicological research, accurate measurement of parameters relating to the circulatory system of laboratory animals is often required. Determination of heart rate, heart rate variability, and duration of PQ and QT intervals are based on electrocardiogram (ECG) recordings. However, obtaining reliable ECG curves as well as physiological data such as core body temperature in mice can be difficult using conventional measurement techniques, which require connecting sensors and lead wires to a restrained, tethered, or even anaesthetized animal. Data obtained in this fashion must be interpreted with caution, as it is well known that restraining and anesthesia can have a major artifactual influence on physiological parameters1, 2.
Radiotelemetry enables data to be collected from conscious and untethered animals. Measurements can be conducted even in freely moving animals, and without requiring the investigator to be in the proximity of the animal. Thus, known sources of artifacts are avoided, and accurate and reliable measurements are assured. This methodology also reduces interanimal variability, thus reducing the number of animals used, rendering this technology the most humane method of monitoring physiological parameters in laboratory animals3, 4. Constant advancements in data acquisition technology and implant miniaturization mean that it is now possible to record physiological parameters and locomotor activity continuously and in realtime over longer periods such as hours, days or even weeks3, 5.
Here, we describe a surgical technique for implantation of a commercially available telemetry transmitter used for continuous measurements of core body temperature, locomotor activity and biopotential (i.e. onelead ECG), from which heart rate, heart rate variability, and PQ and QT intervals can be established in freeroaming, untethered mice. We also present pre-operative procedures and protocols for post-operative intensive care and pain treatment that improve recovery, well-being and survival rates in implanted mice5, 6.
PMCID: PMC3308592  PMID: 22126906
12.  Strategies and Practices in Off-Label Marketing of Pharmaceuticals: A Retrospective Analysis of Whistleblower Complaints 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(4):e1000431.
Aaron Kesselheim and colleagues analyzed unsealed whistleblower complaints against pharmaceutical companies filed in US federal fraud cases that contained allegations of off-label marketing, and develop a taxonomy of the various off-label practices.
Despite regulatory restrictions, off-label marketing of pharmaceutical products has been common in the US. However, the scope of off-label marketing remains poorly characterized. We developed a typology for the strategies and practices that constitute off-label marketing.
Methods and Findings
We obtained unsealed whistleblower complaints against pharmaceutical companies filed in US federal fraud cases that contained allegations of off-label marketing (January 1996–October 2010) and conducted structured reviews of them. We coded and analyzed the strategic goals of each off-label marketing scheme and the practices used to achieve those goals, as reported by the whistleblowers. We identified 41 complaints arising from 18 unique cases for our analytic sample (leading to US$7.9 billion in recoveries). The off-label marketing schemes described in the complaints had three non–mutually exclusive goals: expansions to unapproved diseases (35/41, 85%), unapproved disease subtypes (22/41, 54%), and unapproved drug doses (14/41, 34%). Manufacturers were alleged to have pursued these goals using four non–mutually exclusive types of marketing practices: prescriber-related (41/41, 100%), business-related (37/41, 90%), payer-related (23/41, 56%), and consumer-related (18/41, 44%). Prescriber-related practices, the centerpiece of company strategies, included self-serving presentations of the literature (31/41, 76%), free samples (8/41, 20%), direct financial incentives to physicians (35/41, 85%), and teaching (22/41, 54%) and research activities (8/41, 20%).
Off-label marketing practices appear to extend to many areas of the health care system. Unfortunately, the most common alleged off-label marketing practices also appear to be the most difficult to control through external regulatory approaches.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Before a pharmaceutical company can market a new prescription drug in the US, the drug has to go through a long approval process. After extensive studies in the laboratory and in animals, the pharmaceutical company must test the drug's safety and efficacy in a series of clinical trials in which groups of patients with specific diseases are given the drug according to strict protocols. The results of these trials are reviewed by Federal Drug Administration (FDA, the body that regulates drugs in the US) and, when the FDA is satisfied that the drug is safe and effective for the conditions in which it is tested, it approves the drug for sale. An important part of the approval process is the creation of the “drug label,” a detailed report that specifies the exact diseases and patient groups in which the drug can be used and the approved doses of the drug.
Why Was This Study Done?
Physicians can, however, legally use FDA-approved drugs “off-label.” That is, they can prescribe drugs for a different disease, in a different group of patients, or at a different dose to that specified in the drug's label. However, because drugs' manufacturers stand to benefit financially from off-label use through increased drugs sales, the FDA prohibits them from directly promoting unapproved uses. The fear is that such marketing would encourage the widespread use of drugs in settings where their efficacy and safety has not been rigorously tested, exposing patients to uncertain benefits and possible adverse effects. Despite the regulatory restrictions, off-label marketing seems to be common. In 2010, for example, at least six pharmaceutical companies settled US government investigations into alleged off-label marketing programs. Unfortunately, the tactics used by pharmaceutical companies for off-label marketing have been poorly understood in the medical community, in part because pharmaceutical industry insiders (“whistleblowers”) are the only ones who can present in-depth knowledge of these tactics. In recent years, as more whistleblowers have come forward to allege off-label marketing, developing a more complete picture of the practice is now possible. In this study, the researchers attempt to systematically classify the strategies and practices used in off-labeling marketing by examining complaints filed by whistleblowers in federal enforcement actions where off-label marketing by pharmaceutical companies has been alleged.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In their analysis of 41 whistleblower complaints relating to 18 alleged cases of off-label marketing in federal fraud cases unsealed between January 1996 and October 2010, the researchers identified three non–mutually exclusive goals of off-label marketing schemes. The commonest goal (85% of cases) was expansion of drug use to unapproved diseases (for example, gabapentin, which is approved for the treatment of specific types of epilepsy, was allegedly promoted as a therapy for patients with psychiatric diseases such as depression). The other goals were expansion to unapproved disease subtypes (for example, some antidepressant drugs approved for adults were allegedly promoted to pediatricians for use in children) and expansion to unapproved drug dosing strategies, typically higher doses. The researchers also identified four non–mutually exclusive types of marketing practices designed to achieve these goals. All of the whistleblowers alleged prescriber-related practices (including providing financial incentives and free samples to physicians), and most alleged internal practices intended to bolster off-label marketing, such as sales quotas that could only be met if the manufacturer's sales representatives promoted off-label drug use. Payer-related practices (for example, discussions with prescribers about ways to ensure insurance reimbursement for off-label prescriptions) and consumer-related practices (most commonly, the review of confidential patient charts to identify consumers who could be off-label users) were also alleged.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that off-labeling marketing practices extend to many parts of the health care delivery system. Because these practices were alleged by whistleblowers and were not the subject of testimony in a full trial, some of the practices identified by the researchers were not confirmed. Conversely, because most of the whistleblowers were US-based sales representatives, there may be other goals and strategies that this study has not identified. Nevertheless, these findings provide a useful snapshot of off-label marketing strategies and practices allegedly employed in the US over the past 15 years, which can now be used to develop new regulatory strategies aimed at effective oversight of off-label marketing. Importantly, however, these findings suggest that no regulatory strategy will be complete and effective unless physicians themselves fully understand the range of off-label marketing practices and their consequences for public health and act as a bulwark against continued efforts to engage in off-label promotion.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The US Food and Drug Administration provides detailed information about drug approval in the US for consumers and for health professionals; its Bad Ad Program aims to educate health care providers about the role they can play in ensuring that prescription drug advertising and promotion is truthful and not misleading.
The American Cancer Society has a page about off-label drug use
Wikipedia has pages on prescription drugs, on pharmaceutical marketing, and on off-label drug use (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
Taxpayers Against Fraud is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping whistleblowers, and it presents up-to-date information about False Claims Act cases
The Government Accountability Project is a nonprofit organization that seeks to promote corporate and government accountability by protecting whistleblowers, advancing occupational free speech, and empowering citizen activists
Healthy Skepticism is an international nonprofit membership association that aims to improve health by reducing harm from misleading health information
PMCID: PMC3071370  PMID: 21483716
13.  Effects of fibrinogen concentrate after shock/resuscitation – A comparison between in vivo microvascular clot formation and thromboelastometry 
Critical care medicine  2013;41(11):e301-e308.
Dilutional coagulopathy after resuscitation with crystalloids/colloids clinically often appears as diffuse microvascular bleeding. Administration of fibrinogen reduces bleeding and increases maximum clot firmness (MCF), measured by thromboelastometry. Study objective was to implement a model where microvascular bleeding can be directly assessed by visualizing clot formation in microvessels, and correlations can be made to thromboelastometry.
Randomized animal study.
University research laboratory.
Male Syrian Golden hamsters.
Microvessels of Syrian Golden hamsters fitted with a dorsal window chamber were studied using videomicroscopy. After 50% hemorrhage followed by 1 hr of hypovolemia resuscitation with 35% of blood volume using a high molecular weight (MW) HES solution (Hextend®, Hospira, MW 670 kD) occurred. Animals were then treated with 250 mg/kg fibrinogen iv (Laboratoire français du Fractionnement et des Biotechnologies (LFB), Paris, France) or an equal volume of saline before venular vessel wall injuries were made by directed laser irradiation and the ability of microthrombus formation was assessed.
Measurements and main results
Thromboelastometric measurements of MCF were performed at the beginning and at the end of the experiment. Resuscitation with HES and sham treatment significantly decreased FIBTEM MCF from 32 ± 9 at baseline vs. 13 ± 5 mm after sham treatment (p < 0.001). Infusion of fibrinogen concentrate significantly increased MCF, restoring baseline levels (baseline 32 ± 9 mm; after fibrinogen administration 29 ± 2 mm).
In vivo microthrombus formation in laser injured vessels significantly increased in fibrinogen treated animals compared with sham (77% vs. 18%).
Fibrinogen treatment leads to increased clot firmness in dilutional coagulopathy as measured with thromboelastometry. At the microvascular level this increased clot strength, corresponds to an increased incidence of thrombus formation in vessels injured by focused laser irradiation.
PMCID: PMC4109711  PMID: 23978812
Dilutional coagulopathy; fibrinogen polymerization; laser injury; thrombus formation; hemorrhagic shock; colloid resuscitation
14.  Selective Inhibitors of Protozoan Protein N-myristoyltransferases as Starting Points for Tropical Disease Medicinal Chemistry Programs 
Inhibition of N-myristoyltransferase has been validated pre-clinically as a target for the treatment of fungal and trypanosome infections, using species-specific inhibitors. In order to identify inhibitors of protozoan NMTs, we chose to screen a diverse subset of the Pfizer corporate collection against Plasmodium falciparum and Leishmania donovani NMTs. Primary screening hits against either enzyme were tested for selectivity over both human NMT isoforms (Hs1 and Hs2) and for broad-spectrum anti-protozoan activity against the NMT from Trypanosoma brucei. Analysis of the screening results has shown that structure-activity relationships (SAR) for Leishmania NMT are divergent from all other NMTs tested, a finding not predicted by sequence similarity calculations, resulting in the identification of four novel series of Leishmania-selective NMT inhibitors. We found a strong overlap between the SARs for Plasmodium NMT and both human NMTs, suggesting that achieving an appropriate selectivity profile will be more challenging. However, we did discover two novel series with selectivity for Plasmodium NMT over the other NMT orthologues in this study, and an additional two structurally distinct series with selectivity over Leishmania NMT. We believe that release of results from this study into the public domain will accelerate the discovery of NMT inhibitors to treat malaria and leishmaniasis. Our screening initiative is another example of how a tripartite partnership involving pharmaceutical industries, academic institutions and governmental/non-governmental organisations such as Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust can stimulate research for neglected diseases.
Author Summary
Inhibition of N-myristoyltransferase has been validated pre-clinically as a target for the treatment of fungal and trypanosome infections, using species-specific inhibitors. In order to identify inhibitors of protozoan NMTs, we chose to screen a diverse subset of the Pfizer corporate collection against Plasmodium falciparum and Leishmania donovani NMTs. Primary screening hits against either enzyme were tested for selectivity over both human NMT isoforms (HsNMT1 and HsNMT2) and for broad-spectrum anti-protozoan activity against the NMT from Trypanosoma brucei. We have identified eight series of protozoan NMT inhibitors, six having good selectivity for either Plasmodium or Leishmania NMTs over the other orthologues in this study. We believe that all of these series could form the basis of medicinal chemistry programs to deliver drug candidates against either malaria or leishmaniasis. Our screening initiative is another example of how a tripartite partnership involving pharmaceutical industries, academic institutions and governmental/non-governmental organisations such as the UK Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust can stimulate research for neglected diseases.
PMCID: PMC3335879  PMID: 22545171
15.  Medicating the environment: assessing risks of pharmaceuticals to wildlife and ecosystems 
Global pharmaceutical consumption is rising with the growing and ageing human population and more intensive food production. Recent studies have revealed pharmaceutical residues in a wide range of ecosystems and organisms. Environmental concentrations are often low, but pharmaceuticals typically are designed to have biological effects at low doses, acting on physiological systems that can be evolutionarily conserved across taxa. This Theme Issue introduces the latest research investigating the risks of environmentally relevant concentrations of pharmaceuticals to vertebrate wildlife. We take a holistic, global view of environmental exposure to pharmaceuticals encompassing terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems in high- and low-income countries. Based on both field and laboratory data, the evidence for and relevance of changes to physiology and behaviour, in addition to mortality and reproductive effects, are examined in terms of the population- and community-level consequences of pharmaceutical exposure on wildlife. Studies on uptake, trophic transfer and indirect effects of pharmaceuticals acting via food webs are presented. Given the logistical and ethical complexities of research in this area, several papers focus on techniques for prioritizing which compounds are most likely to harm wildlife and how modelling approaches can make predictions about the bioavailability, metabolism and toxicity of pharmaceuticals in non-target species. This Theme Issue aims to help clarify the uncertainties, highlight opportunities and inform ongoing scientific and policy debates on the impacts of pharmaceuticals in the environment.
PMCID: PMC4213582  PMID: 25405959
pharmaceuticals; ecotoxicology; sewage; population ecology; contaminants; environmental risk assessment
16.  Effects on office and home blood pressure of the lercanidipine-enalapril combination in patients with Stage 2 hypertension: a European randomized, controlled clinical trial 
Journal of Hypertension  2014;32(8):1700-1707.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of combinations of lercanidipine (L) and enalapril (E) at different doses on office and home blood pressure (BP) in patients with Stage 2 hypertension.
Study design:
This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, factorial study conducted in 100 centres from seven countries. Patients with office DBP 100–109 mmHg and home DBP at least 85 mmHg at the end of a 2-week placebo run-in period were randomized to a 10-week treatment with placebo, L (10 or 20 mg), E (10 or 20 mg) or the four L-E combinations. The efficacy parameters were office DBP at trough (primary), SBP at trough and home SBP and DBP. Office BP was measured at each visit in both the sitting and the standing position, while home BP was measured twice in the morning and twice in the evening for at least 3 days before treatment and at study end. Safety parameters included adverse events, laboratory tests and 12-lead ECG.
A total of 1039 patients were randomized (48% men, mean age 54 years, mean BMI 30 kg/m2, 40% obese patients). Baseline BP was similar in all groups and lower for home than for office values (149/95 and 159/103 mmHg, respectively). A marked placebo effect was observed on office but not on home BP. Combination therapy was superior to placebo at all doses for both office and home BP. The greatest effect was observed in the L20/E20 group, in which the SBP/DBP fall amounted to −19.2/−15.2 and −13.2/−7.5 mmHg for sitting office and home BP, respectively. Similar reductions were observed on standing office BP. The L20/E20 combination was associated with less cough, palpitations and leg oedema than monotherapies, with no increased rate of dizziness or hypotension.
In Stage 2 hypertension, a fixed-dose combination of L and E ensures a control of both office and out-of-office BP, with a favourable tolerability profile.
PMCID: PMC4166043  PMID: 24906174
combination therapy; enalapril; essential hypertension (Stage 2); factorial study design; home blood pressure; lercanidipine
17.  Hospital-at-Home Programs for Patients With Acute Exacerbations of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) 
Executive Summary
In July 2010, the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) began work on a Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) evidentiary framework, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding treatment strategies for patients with COPD. This project emerged from a request by the Health System Strategy Division of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care that MAS provide them with an evidentiary platform on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of COPD interventions.
After an initial review of health technology assessments and systematic reviews of COPD literature, and consultation with experts, MAS identified the following topics for analysis: vaccinations (influenza and pneumococcal), smoking cessation, multidisciplinary care, pulmonary rehabilitation, long-term oxygen therapy, noninvasive positive pressure ventilation for acute and chronic respiratory failure, hospital-at-home for acute exacerbations of COPD, and telehealth (including telemonitoring and telephone support). Evidence-based analyses were prepared for each of these topics. For each technology, an economic analysis was also completed where appropriate. In addition, a review of the qualitative literature on patient, caregiver, and provider perspectives on living and dying with COPD was conducted, as were reviews of the qualitative literature on each of the technologies included in these analyses.
The Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Mega-Analysis series is made up of the following reports, which can be publicly accessed at the MAS website at:
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Evidentiary Framework
Influenza and Pneumococcal Vaccinations for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Smoking Cessation for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Community-Based Multidisciplinary Care for Patients With Stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Pulmonary Rehabilitation for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Long-term Oxygen Therapy for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Noninvasive Positive Pressure Ventilation for Acute Respiratory Failure Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Noninvasive Positive Pressure Ventilation for Chronic Respiratory Failure Patients With Stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Hospital-at-Home Programs for Patients With Acute Exacerbations of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Home Telehealth for Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Cost-Effectiveness of Interventions for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Using an Ontario Policy Model
Experiences of Living and Dying With COPD: A Systematic Review and Synthesis of the Qualitative Empirical Literature
For more information on the qualitative review, please contact Mita Giacomini at:
For more information on the economic analysis, please visit the PATH website:
The Toronto Health Economics and Technology Assessment (THETA) collaborative has produced an associated report on patient preference for mechanical ventilation. For more information, please visit the THETA website:
The objective of this analysis was to compare hospital-at-home care with inpatient hospital care for patients with acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who present to the emergency department (ED).
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Acute Exacerbations of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a disease state characterized by airflow limitation that is not fully reversible. This airflow limitation is usually both progressive and associated with an abnormal inflammatory response of the lungs to noxious particles or gases. The natural history of COPD involves periods of acute-onset worsening of symptoms, particularly increased breathlessness, cough, and/or sputum, that go beyond normal day-to-day variations; these are known as acute exacerbations.
Two-thirds of COPD exacerbations are caused by an infection of the tracheobronchial tree or by air pollution; the cause in the remaining cases is unknown. On average, patients with moderate to severe COPD experience 2 or 3 exacerbations each year.
Exacerbations have an important impact on patients and on the health care system. For the patient, exacerbations result in decreased quality of life, potentially permanent losses of lung function, and an increased risk of mortality. For the health care system, exacerbations of COPD are a leading cause of ED visits and hospitalizations, particularly in winter.
Hospital-at-home programs offer an alternative for patients who present to the ED with an exacerbation of COPD and require hospital admission for their treatment. Hospital-at-home programs provide patients with visits in their home by medical professionals (typically specialist nurses) who monitor the patients, alter patients’ treatment plans if needed, and in some programs, provide additional care such as pulmonary rehabilitation, patient and caregiver education, and smoking cessation counselling.
There are 2 types of hospital-at-home programs: admission avoidance and early discharge hospital-at-home. In the former, admission avoidance hospital-at-home, after patients are assessed in the ED, they are prescribed the necessary medications and additional care needed (e.g., oxygen therapy) and then sent home where they receive regular visits from a medical professional. In early discharge hospital-at-home, after being assessed in the ED, patients are admitted to the hospital where they receive the initial phase of their treatment. These patients are discharged into a hospital-at-home program before the exacerbation has resolved. In both cases, once the exacerbation has resolved, the patient is discharged from the hospital-at-home program and no longer receives visits in his/her home.
In the models that exist to date, hospital-at-home programs differ from other home care programs because they deal with higher acuity patients who require higher acuity care, and because hospitals retain the medical and legal responsibility for patients. Furthermore, patients requiring home care services may require such services for long periods of time or indefinitely, whereas patients in hospital-at-home programs require and receive the services for a short period of time only.
Hospital-at-home care is not appropriate for all patients with acute exacerbations of COPD. Ineligible patients include: those with mild exacerbations that can be managed without admission to hospital; those who require admission to hospital; and those who cannot be safely treated in a hospital-at-home program either for medical reasons and/or because of a lack of, or poor, social support at home.
The proposed possible benefits of hospital-at-home for treatment of exacerbations of COPD include: decreased utilization of health care resources by avoiding hospital admission and/or reducing length of stay in hospital; decreased costs; increased health-related quality of life for patients and caregivers when treated at home; and reduced risk of hospital-acquired infections in this susceptible patient population.
Ontario Context
No hospital-at-home programs for the treatment of acute exacerbations of COPD were identified in Ontario. Patients requiring acute care for their exacerbations are treated in hospitals.
Research Question
What is the effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and safety of hospital-at-home care compared with inpatient hospital care of acute exacerbations of COPD?
Research Methods
Literature Search
Search Strategy
A literature search was performed on August 5, 2010, using OVID MEDLINE, OVID MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, OVID EMBASE, EBSCO Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Wiley Cochrane Library, and the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination database for studies published from January 1, 1990, to August 5, 2010. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria, full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists and health technology assessment websites were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the systematic search.
Inclusion Criteria
English language full-text reports;
health technology assessments, systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and randomized controlled trials (RCTs);
studies performed exclusively in patients with a diagnosis of COPD or studies including patients with COPD as well as patients with other conditions, if results are reported for COPD patients separately;
studies performed in patients with acute exacerbations of COPD who present to the ED;
studies published between January 1, 1990, and August 5, 2010;
studies comparing hospital-at-home and inpatient hospital care for patients with acute exacerbations of COPD;
studies that include at least 1 of the outcomes of interest (listed below).
Cochrane Collaboration reviews have defined hospital-at-home programs as those that provide patients with active treatment for their acute exacerbation in their home by medical professionals for a limited period of time (in this case, until the resolution of the exacerbation). If a hospital-at-home program had not been available, these patients would have been admitted to hospital for their treatment.
Exclusion Criteria
< 18 years of age
animal studies
duplicate publications
grey literature
Outcomes of Interest
Patient/clinical outcomes
lung function (forced expiratory volume in 1 second)
health-related quality of life
patient or caregiver preference
patient or caregiver satisfaction with care
Health system outcomes
hospital readmissions
length of stay in hospital and hospital-at-home
ED visits
transfer to long-term care
days to readmission
eligibility for hospital-at-home
Statistical Methods
When possible, results were pooled using Review Manager 5 Version 5.1; otherwise, results were summarized descriptively. Data from RCTs were analyzed using intention-to-treat protocols. In addition, a sensitivity analysis was done assigning all missing data/withdrawals to the event. P values less than 0.05 were considered significant. A priori subgroup analyses were planned for the acuity of hospital-at-home program, type of hospital-at-home program (early discharge or admission avoidance), and severity of the patients’ COPD. Additional subgroup analyses were conducted as needed based on the identified literature. Post hoc sample size calculations were performed using STATA 10.1.
Quality of Evidence
The quality of each included study was assessed, taking into consideration allocation concealment, randomization, blinding, power/sample size, withdrawals/dropouts, and intention-to-treat analyses.
The quality of the body of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low, or very low according to the GRADE Working Group criteria. The following definitions of quality were used in grading the quality of the evidence:
Summary of Findings
Fourteen studies met the inclusion criteria and were included in this review: 1 health technology assessment, 5 systematic reviews, and 7 RCTs.
The following conclusions are based on low to very low quality of evidence. The reviewed evidence was based on RCTs that were inadequately powered to observe differences between hospital-at-home and inpatient hospital care for most outcomes, so there is a strong possibility of type II error. Given the low to very low quality of evidence, these conclusions must be considered with caution.
Approximately 21% to 37% of patients with acute exacerbations of COPD who present to the ED may be eligible for hospital-at-home care.
Of the patients who are eligible for care, some may refuse to participate in hospital-at-home care.
Eligibility for hospital-at-home care may be increased depending on the design of the hospital-at-home program, such as the size of the geographical service area for hospital-at-home and the hours of operation for patient assessment and entry into hospital-at-home.
Hospital-at-home care for acute exacerbations of COPD was associated with a nonsignificant reduction in the risk of mortality and hospital readmissions compared with inpatient hospital care during 2- to 6-month follow-up.
Limited, very low quality evidence suggests that hospital readmissions are delayed in patients who received hospital-at-home care compared with those who received inpatient hospital care (mean additional days before readmission comparing hospital-at-home to inpatient hospital care ranged from 4 to 38 days).
There is insufficient evidence to determine whether hospital-at-home care, compared with inpatient hospital care, is associated with improved lung function.
The majority of studies did not find significant differences between hospital-at-home and inpatient hospital care for a variety of health-related quality of life measures at follow-up. However, follow-up may have been too late to observe an impact of hospital-at-home care on quality of life.
A conclusion about the impact of hospital-at-home care on length of stay for the initial exacerbation (defined as days in hospital or days in hospital plus hospital-at-home care for inpatient hospital and hospital-at-home, respectively) could not be determined because of limited and inconsistent evidence.
Patient and caregiver satisfaction with care is high for both hospital-at-home and inpatient hospital care.
PMCID: PMC3384361  PMID: 23074420
18.  Assessing the exposure risk and impacts of pharmaceuticals in the environment on individuals and ecosystems 
Biology Letters  2013;9(4):20130492.
The use of human and veterinary pharmaceuticals is increasing. Over the past decade, there has been a proliferation of research into potential environmental impacts of pharmaceuticals in the environment. A Royal Society-supported seminar brought together experts from diverse scientific fields to discuss the risks posed by pharmaceuticals to wildlife. Recent analytical advances have revealed that pharmaceuticals are entering habitats via water, sewage, manure and animal carcases, and dispersing through food chains. Pharmaceuticals are designed to alter physiology at low doses and so can be particularly potent contaminants. The near extinction of Asian vultures following exposure to diclofenac is the key example where exposure to a pharmaceutical caused a population-level impact on non-target wildlife. However, more subtle changes to behaviour and physiology are rarely studied and poorly understood. Grand challenges for the future include developing more realistic exposure assessments for wildlife, assessing the impacts of mixtures of pharmaceuticals in combination with other environmental stressors and estimating the risks from pharmaceutical manufacturing and usage in developing countries. We concluded that an integration of diverse approaches is required to predict ‘unexpected’ risks; specifically, ecologically relevant, often long-term and non-lethal, consequences of pharmaceuticals in the environment for wildlife and ecosystems.
PMCID: PMC3730660  PMID: 23804293
wildlife; endocrine-disrupting chemicals; non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; vultures; risk prediction; bioindicators
19.  Point-of-Care International Normalized Ratio (INR) Monitoring Devices for Patients on Long-term Oral Anticoagulation Therapy 
Executive Summary
Subject of the Evidence-Based Analysis
The purpose of this evidence based analysis report is to examine the safety and effectiveness of point-of-care (POC) international normalized ratio (INR) monitoring devices for patients on long-term oral anticoagulation therapy (OAT).
Clinical Need: Target Population and Condition
Long-term OAT is typically required by patients with mechanical heart valves, chronic atrial fibrillation, venous thromboembolism, myocardial infarction, stroke, and/or peripheral arterial occlusion. It is estimated that approximately 1% of the population receives anticoagulation treatment and, by applying this value to Ontario, there are an estimated 132,000 patients on OAT in the province, a figure that is expected to increase with the aging population.
Patients on OAT are regularly monitored and their medications adjusted to ensure that their INR scores remain in the therapeutic range. This can be challenging due to the narrow therapeutic window of warfarin and variation in individual responses. Optimal INR scores depend on the underlying indication for treatment and patient level characteristics, but for most patients the therapeutic range is an INR score of between 2.0 and 3.0.
The current standard of care in Ontario for patients on long-term OAT is laboratory-based INR determination with management carried out by primary care physicians or anticoagulation clinics (ACCs). Patients also regularly visit a hospital or community-based facility to provide a venous blood samples (venipuncture) that are then sent to a laboratory for INR analysis.
Experts, however, have commented that there may be under-utilization of OAT due to patient factors, physician factors, or regional practice variations and that sub-optimal patient management may also occur. There is currently no population-based Ontario data to permit the assessment of patient care, but recent systematic reviews have estimated that less that 50% of patients receive OAT on a routine basis and that patients are in the therapeutic range only 64% of the time.
Overview of POC INR Devices
POC INR devices offer an alternative to laboratory-based testing and venipuncture, enabling INR determination from a fingerstick sample of whole blood. Independent evaluations have shown POC devices to have an acceptable level of precision. They permit INR results to be determined immediately, allowing for more rapid medication adjustments.
POC devices can be used in a variety of settings including physician offices, ACCs, long-term care facilities, pharmacies, or by the patients themselves through self-testing (PST) or self-management (PSM) techniques. With PST, patients measure their INR values and then contact their physician for instructions on dose adjustment, whereas with PSM, patients adjust the medication themselves based on pre-set algorithms. These models are not suitable for all patients and require the identification and education of suitable candidates.
Potential advantages of POC devices include improved convenience to patients, better treatment compliance and satisfaction, more frequent monitoring and fewer thromboembolic and hemorrhagic complications. Potential disadvantages of the device include the tendency to underestimate high INR values and overestimate low INR values, low thromboplastin sensitivity, inability to calculate a mean normal PT, and errors in INR determination in patients with antiphospholipid antibodies with certain instruments. Although treatment satisfaction and quality of life (QoL) may improve with POC INR monitoring, some patients may experience increased anxiety or preoccupation with their disease with these strategies.
Evidence-Based Analysis Methods
Research Questions
1. Effectiveness
Does POC INR monitoring improve clinical outcomes in various settings compared to standard laboratory-based testing?
Does POC INR monitoring impact patient satisfaction, QoL, compliance, acceptability, convenience compared to standard laboratory-based INR determination?
Settings include primary care settings with use of POC INR devices by general practitioners or nurses, ACCs, pharmacies, long-term care homes, and use by the patient either for PST or PSM.
2. Cost-effectiveness
What is the cost-effectiveness of POC INR monitoring devices in various settings compared to standard laboratory-based INR determination?
Inclusion Criteria
English-language RCTs, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses
Publication dates: 1996 to November 25, 2008
Population: patients on OAT
Intervention: anticoagulation monitoring by POC INR device in any setting including anticoagulation clinic, primary care (general practitioner or nurse), pharmacy, long-term care facility, PST, PSM or any other POC INR strategy
Minimum sample size: 50 patients Minimum follow-up period: 3 months
Comparator: usual care defined as venipuncture blood draw for an INR laboratory test and management provided by an ACC or individual practitioner
Outcomes: Hemorrhagic events, thromboembolic events, all-cause mortality, anticoagulation control as assessed by proportion of time or values in the therapeutic range, patient reported outcomes including satisfaction, QoL, compliance, acceptability, convenience
Exclusion criteria
Non-RCTs, before-after studies, quasi-experimental studies, observational studies, case reports, case series, editorials, letters, non-systematic reviews, conference proceedings, abstracts, non-English articles, duplicate publications
Studies where POC INR devices were compared to laboratory testing to assess test accuracy
Studies where the POC INR results were not used to guide patient management
Method of Review
A search of electronic databases (OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, The Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment [INAHTA] database) was undertaken to identify evidence published from January 1, 1998 to November 25, 2008. Studies meeting the inclusion criteria were selected from the search results. Reference lists of selected articles were also checked for relevant studies.
Summary of Findings
Five existing reviews and 22 articles describing 17 unique RCTs met the inclusion criteria. Three RCTs examined POC INR monitoring devices with PST strategies, 11 RCTs examined PSM strategies, one RCT included both PST and PSM strategies and two RCTs examined the use of POC INR monitoring devices by health care professionals.
Anticoagulation Control
Anticoagulation control is measured by the percentage of time INR is within the therapeutic range or by the percentage of INR values in the therapeutic range. Due to the differing methodologies and reporting structures used, it was deemed inappropriate to combine the data and estimate whether the difference between groups would be significant. Instead, the results of individual studies were weighted by the number of person-years of observation and then pooled to calculate a summary measure.
Across most studies, patients in the intervention groups tended to have a higher percentage of time and values in the therapeutic target range in comparison to control patients. When the percentage of time in the therapeutic range was pooled across studies and weighted by the number of person-years of observation, the difference between the intervention and control groups was 4.2% for PSM, 7.2% for PST and 6.1% for POC use by health care practitioners. Overall, intervention patients were in the target range 69% of the time and control patients were in the therapeutic target range 64% of the time leading to an overall difference between groups of roughly 5%.
Major Complications and Deaths
There was no statistically significant difference in the number of major hemorrhagic events between patients managed with POC INR monitoring devices and patients managed with standard laboratory testing (OR =0.74; 95% CI: 0.52- 1.04). This difference was non-significant for all POC strategies (PSM, PST, health care practitioner).
Patients managed with POC INR monitoring devices had significantly fewer thromboembolic events than usual care patients (OR =0.52; 95% CI: 0.37 - 0.74). When divided by POC strategy, PSM resulted in significantly fewer thromboembolic events than usual care (OR =0.46.; 95% CI: 0.29 - 0.72). The observed difference in thromboembolic events for PSM remained significant when the analysis was limited to major thromboembolic events (OR =0.40; 95% CI: 0.17 - 0.93), but was non-significant when the analysis was limited to minor thromboembolic events (OR =0.73; 95% CI: 0.08 - 7.01). PST and GP/Nurse strategies did not result in significant differences in thromboembolic events, however there were only a limited number of studies examining these interventions.
No statistically significant difference was observed in the number of deaths between POC intervention and usual care control groups (OR =0.67; 95% CI: 0.41 - 1.10). This difference was non-significant for all POC strategies. Only one study reported on survival with 10-year survival rate of 76.1% in the usual care control group compared to 84.5% in the PSM group (P=0.05).
Summary Results of Meta-Analyses of Major Complications and Deaths in POC INR Monitoring Studies
Patient Satisfaction and Quality of Life
Quality of life measures were reported in eight studies comparing POC INR monitoring to standard laboratory testing using a variety of measurement tools. It was thus not possible to calculate a quantitative summary measure. The majority of studies reported favourable impacts of POC INR monitoring on QoL and found better treatment satisfaction with POC monitoring. Results from a pre-analysis patient and caregiver focus group conducted in Ontario also indicated improved patient QoL with POC monitoring.
Quality of the Evidence
Studies varied with regard to patient eligibility, baseline patient characteristics, follow-up duration, and withdrawal rates. Differential drop-out rates were observed such that the POC intervention groups tended to have a larger number of patients who withdrew. There was a lack of consistency in the definitions and reporting for OAT control and definitions of adverse events. In most studies, the intervention group received more education on the use of warfarin and performed more frequent INR testing, which may have overestimated the effect of the POC intervention. Patient selection and eligibility criteria were not always fully described and it is likely that the majority of the PST/PSM trials included a highly motivated patient population. Lastly, a large number of trials were also sponsored by industry.
Despite the observed heterogeneity among studies, there was a general consensus in findings that POC INR monitoring devices have beneficial impacts on the risk of thromboembolic events, anticoagulation control and patient satisfaction and QoL (ES Table 2).
GRADE Quality of the Evidence on POC INR Monitoring Studies
CI refers to confidence interval; Interv, intervention; OR, odds ratio; RCT, randomized controlled trial.
Economic Analysis
Using a 5-year Markov model, the health and economic outcomes associated with four different anticoagulation management approaches were evaluated:
Standard care: consisting of a laboratory test with a venipuncture blood draw for an INR;
Healthcare staff testing: consisting of a test with a POC INR device in a medical clinic comprised of healthcare staff such as pharmacists, nurses, and physicians following protocol to manage OAT;
PST: patient self-testing using a POC INR device and phoning in results to an ACC or family physician; and
PSM: patient self-managing using a POC INR device and self-adjustment of OAT according to a standardized protocol. Patients may also phone in to a medical office for guidance.
The primary analytic perspective was that of the MOHLTC. Only direct medical costs were considered and the time horizon of the model was five years - the serviceable life of a POC device.
From the results of the economic analysis, it was found that POC strategies are cost-effective compared to traditional INR laboratory testing. In particular, the healthcare staff testing strategy can derive potential cost savings from the use of one device for multiple patients. The PSM strategy, however, seems to be the most cost-effective method i.e. patients are more inclined to adjust their INRs more readily (as opposed to allowing INRs to fall out of range).
Considerations for Ontario Health System
Although the use of POC devices continues to diffuse throughout Ontario, not all OAT patients are suitable or have the ability to practice PST/PSM. The use of POC is currently concentrated at the institutional setting, including hospitals, ACCs, long-term care facilities, physician offices and pharmacies, and is much less commonly used at the patient level. It is, however, estimated that 24% of OAT patients (representing approximately 32,000 patients in Ontario), would be suitable candidates for PST/PSM strategies and willing to use a POC device.
There are several barriers to the use and implementation of POC INR monitoring devices, including factors such as lack of physician familiarity with the devices, resistance to changing established laboratory-based methods, lack of an approach for identifying suitable patients and inadequate resources for effective patient education and training. Issues of cost and insufficient reimbursement strategies may also hinder implementation and effective quality assurance programs would need to be developed to ensure that INR measurements are accurate and precise.
For a select group of patients who are highly motivated and trained, PSM resulted in significantly fewer thromboembolic events compared to conventional laboratory-based INR testing. No significant differences were observed for major hemorrhages or all-cause mortality. PST and GP/Nurse use of POC strategies are just as effective as conventional laboratory-based INR testing for thromboembolic events, major hemorrhages, and all-cause mortality. POC strategies may also result in better OAT control as measured by the proportion of time INR is in the therapeutic range and there appears to be beneficial impacts on patient satisfaction and QoL. The use of POC devices should factor in patient suitability, patient education and training, health system constraints, and affordability.
anticoagulants, International Normalized Ratio, point-of-care, self-monitoring, warfarin.
PMCID: PMC3377545  PMID: 23074516
20.  A Plant-Derived Morphinan as a Novel Lead Compound Active against Malaria Liver Stages  
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(12):e513.
The global spread of multidrug–resistant malaria parasites has led to an urgent need for new chemotherapeutic agents. Drug discovery is primarily directed to the asexual blood stages, and few drugs that are effective against the obligatory liver stages, from which the pathogenic blood infection is initiated, have become available since primaquine was deployed in the 1950s.
Methods and Findings
Using bioassay-guided fractionation based on the parasite's hepatic stage, we have isolated a novel morphinan alkaloid, tazopsine, from a plant traditionally used against malaria in Madagascar. This compound and readily obtained semisynthetic derivatives were tested for inhibitory activity against liver stage development in vitro (P. falciparum and P. yoelii) and in vivo (P. yoelii). Tazopsine fully inhibited the development of P. yoelii (50% inhibitory concentration [IC50] 3.1 μM, therapeutic index [TI] 14) and P. falciparum (IC50 4.2 μM, TI 7) hepatic parasites in cultured primary hepatocytes, with inhibition being most pronounced during the early developmental stages. One derivative, N-cyclopentyl-tazopsine (NCP-tazopsine), with similar inhibitory activity was selected for its lower toxicity (IC50 3.3 μM, TI 46, and IC50 42.4 μM, TI 60, on P. yoelii and P. falciparum hepatic stages in vitro, respectively). Oral administration of NCP-tazopsine completely protected mice from a sporozoite challenge. Unlike the parent molecule, the derivative was uniquely active against Plasmodium hepatic stages.
A readily obtained semisynthetic derivative of a plant-derived compound, tazopsine, has been shown to be specifically active against the liver stage, but inactive against the blood forms of the malaria parasite. This unique specificity in an antimalarial drug severely restricts the pressure for the selection of drug resistance to a parasite stage limited both in numbers and duration, thus allowing researchers to envisage the incorporation of a true causal prophylactic in malaria control programs.
A derivative of a morphinan alkaloid, tazopsine, from a plant used against malaria in Madagascar, is active against the hepatic stages ofPlasmodium species.
Editors' Summary
The parasite that causes malaria has quickly developed resistance to many of the drugs that are commonly used to treat this disease. As a result, new drugs and drug combinations are needed. In some parts of the world where antimalarial drugs are failing due to resistance, or are not available to everyone, people often turn to traditional herbal remedies instead. These traditional plant remedies can be a useful starting point for development of new drugs, but the process of developing effective new drugs from plant remedies is long and complicated. An important initial step is to isolate and identify the active compounds from plants and then see how well these compounds perform against malaria parasites in laboratory tests. If the tests are successful, such compounds could then progress to experiments in animals and possibly eventually human trials. One plant used widely in Madagascar for treatment of malaria is Strychnopsis thouarsii; the traditional remedy consists of the plant stem bark boiled in water.
Why Was This Study Done?
The group of researchers doing this study wanted to discover candidates for new malaria drugs. They therefore wanted to find out which molecular compounds in the stem bark of S. thouarsii contained antimalarial activity, and what particular stage of the malaria parasite's life cycle these compounds had an effect on. The researchers suspected that the agents in this plant bark had some activity against the “liver stage” of malaria infection in humans. This is the first stage of infection, after a person has been bitten by a malaria-infected mosquito, and before blood cells are invaded by malaria parasites (which then causes the disease symptoms). Very few drugs currently in existence have an effect on the “liver stage” of infection, but activity at this stage would be tremendously useful because it could mean a drug is better for prevention of malaria than others in existence.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
First, the researchers wanted to take the traditional herbal remedy—of S. thouarsii bark boiled in water—and find out precisely which molecule in that remedy was responsible for the antimalarial activity. They therefore used a method called chromatography to progressively separate the herbal extract into its distinct components. At each stage of separation, the extract was checked for activity against malaria using a laboratory test. Inactive extracts were disregarded, and the active component then taken on to a further separation round. After many rounds of separation and testing, the researchers got down to a single, apparently new, molecule that was active against malaria in the laboratory test, and this molecule was named tazopsine (in the Malagasy language the word Tazo refers to malaria). In order to find out how effective the molecule was at killing malaria parasites, the researchers took human or mouse liver cells cultured in the laboratory, infected them with malaria parasites (either the malaria parasite that normally infects humans, or a related species that infects mice), and then added tazopsine at different concentrations. The compound completely killed the malaria parasites even at very low concentrations, and had activity against malaria infecting either liver cells or red blood cells. Tazopsine was then given to mice injected with a species of the malaria parasite. The compound protected most mice against malaria infection when it was used at a dosage level lower than the toxic dose. The researchers then tried making a series of different variants of tazopsine in the hope that some variants would be less toxic, but equally active as, the original compound. They found one variant, named NCP-tazopsine, that was much less toxic but just as active as tazopsine, but only against the malaria infecting liver cells.
What Do These Findings Mean?
In these experiments a new molecule, tazopsine, was discovered from a Malagasy plant, and it was found to be active against liver-stage malaria parasites, in laboratory experiments and in mice. This molecule or variants of it could in future become candidate antimalarial drugs in humans. However, much work would need to be done before testing could get to that stage. Different variants of molecules related to tazopsine would need to be tested to find one that has low toxicity, and these variants would need to be fully evaluated in animals to see how they are handled in the body before any trials could begin in humans.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The World Health Organization publishes a minisite containing links to information about all aspects of malaria worldwide, including treatment, prevention, and current programmes for malaria control
Medicines for Malaria Venture is a collaboration between public and private organizations (including the pharmaceutical industry) that aims to fund and manage the development of new drugs for treatment and prevention of malaria
Wikipedia entries for drug discovery and drug development (note: Wikipedia is an internet encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
PMCID: PMC1716192  PMID: 17194195
21.  Medical Students' Exposure to and Attitudes about the Pharmaceutical Industry: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(5):e1001037.
A systematic review of published studies reveals that undergraduate medical students may experience substantial exposure to pharmaceutical marketing, and that this contact may be associated with positive attitudes about marketing.
The relationship between health professionals and the pharmaceutical industry has become a source of controversy. Physicians' attitudes towards the industry can form early in their careers, but little is known about this key stage of development.
Methods and Findings
We performed a systematic review reported according to PRISMA guidelines to determine the frequency and nature of medical students' exposure to the drug industry, as well as students' attitudes concerning pharmaceutical policy issues. We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Science, and ERIC from the earliest available dates through May 2010, as well as bibliographies of selected studies. We sought original studies that reported quantitative or qualitative data about medical students' exposure to pharmaceutical marketing, their attitudes about marketing practices, relationships with industry, and related pharmaceutical policy issues. Studies were separated, where possible, into those that addressed preclinical versus clinical training, and were quality rated using a standard methodology. Thirty-two studies met inclusion criteria. We found that 40%–100% of medical students reported interacting with the pharmaceutical industry. A substantial proportion of students (13%–69%) were reported as believing that gifts from industry influence prescribing. Eight studies reported a correlation between frequency of contact and favorable attitudes toward industry interactions. Students were more approving of gifts to physicians or medical students than to government officials. Certain attitudes appeared to change during medical school, though a time trend was not performed; for example, clinical students (53%–71%) were more likely than preclinical students (29%–62%) to report that promotional information helps educate about new drugs.
Undergraduate medical education provides substantial contact with pharmaceutical marketing, and the extent of such contact is associated with positive attitudes about marketing and skepticism about negative implications of these interactions. These results support future research into the association between exposure and attitudes, as well as any modifiable factors that contribute to attitudinal changes during medical education.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
The complex relationship between health professionals and the pharmaceutical industry has long been a subject of discussion among physicians and policymakers. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that physicians' interactions with pharmaceutical sales representatives may influence clinical decision making in a way that is not always in the best interests of individual patients, for example, encouraging the use of expensive treatments that have no therapeutic advantage over less costly alternatives. The pharmaceutical industry often uses physician education as a marketing tool, as in the case of Continuing Medical Education courses that are designed to drive prescribing practices.
One reason that physicians may be particularly susceptible to pharmaceutical industry marketing messages is that doctors' attitudes towards the pharmaceutical industry may form early in their careers. The socialization effect of professional schooling is strong, and plays a lasting role in shaping views and behaviors.
Why Was This Study Done?
Recently, particularly in the US, some medical schools have limited students' and faculties' contact with industry, but some have argued that these restrictions are detrimental to students' education. Given the controversy over the pharmaceutical industry's role in undergraduate medical training, consolidating current knowledge in this area may be useful for setting priorities for changes to educational practices. In this study, the researchers systematically examined studies of pharmaceutical industry interactions with medical students and whether such interactions influenced students' views on related topics.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers did a comprehensive literature search using appropriate search terms for all relevant quantitative and qualitative studies published before June 2010. Using strict inclusion criteria, the researchers then selected 48 articles (from 1,603 abstracts) for full review and identified 32 eligible for analysis—giving a total of approximately 9,850 medical students studying at 76 medical schools or hospitals.
Most students had some form of interaction with the pharmaceutical industry but contact increased in the clinical years, with up to 90% of all clinical students receiving some form of educational material. The highest level of exposure occurred in the US. In most studies, the majority of students in their clinical training years found it ethically permissible for medical students to accept gifts from drug manufacturers, while a smaller percentage of preclinical students reported such attitudes. Students justified their entitlement to gifts by citing financial hardship or by asserting that most other students accepted gifts. In addition, although most students believed that education from industry sources is biased, students variably reported that information obtained from industry sources was useful and a valuable part of their education.
Almost two-thirds of students reported that they were immune to bias induced by promotion, gifts, or interactions with sales representatives but also reported that fellow medical students or doctors are influenced by such encounters. Eight studies reported a relationship between exposure to the pharmaceutical industry and positive attitudes about industry interactions and marketing strategies (although not all included supportive statistical data). Finally, student opinions were split on whether physician–industry interactions should be regulated by medical schools or the government.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This analysis shows that students are frequently exposed to pharmaceutical marketing, even in the preclinical years, and that the extent of students' contact with industry is generally associated with positive attitudes about marketing and skepticism towards any negative implications of interactions with industry. Therefore, strategies to educate students about interactions with the pharmaceutical industry should directly address widely held misconceptions about the effects of marketing and other biases that can emerge from industry interactions. But education alone may be insufficient. Institutional policies, such as rules regulating industry interactions, can play an important role in shaping students' attitudes, and interventions that decrease students' contact with industry and eliminate gifts may have a positive effect on building the skills that evidence-based medical practice requires. These changes can help cultivate strong professional values and instill in students a respect for scientific principles and critical evidence review that will later inform clinical decision-making and prescribing practices.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Further information about the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on doctors and medical students can be found at the American Medical Students Association PharmFree campaign and PharmFree Scorecard, Medsin-UKs PharmAware campaign, the nonprofit organization Healthy Skepticism, and the Web site of No Free Lunch.
PMCID: PMC3101205  PMID: 21629685
22.  Changes in sexual attitudes and lifestyles in Britain through the life course and over time: findings from the National Surveys of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal) 
Lancet  2013;382(9907):1781-1794.
Sexual behaviour and relationships are key components of wellbeing and are affected by social norms, attitudes, and health. We present data on sexual behaviours and attitudes in Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) from the three National Surveys of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal).
We used a multistage, clustered, and stratified probability sample design. Within each of the 1727 sampled postcode sectors for Natsal-3, 30 or 36 addresses were randomly selected and then assigned to interviewers. To oversample individuals aged 16–34 years, we randomly allocated addresses to either the core sample (in which individuals aged 16–74 years were eligible) or the boost sample (in which only individuals aged 16–34 years were eligible). Interviewers visited all sampled addresses between Sept 6, 2010, and Aug 31, 2012, and randomly selected one eligible individual from each household to be invited to participate. Participants completed the survey in their own homes through computer-assisted face-to-face interviews and self-interview. We analysed data from this survey, weighted to account for unequal selection probabilities and non-response to correct for differences in sex, age group, and region according to 2011 Census figures. We then compared data from participants aged 16–44 years from Natsal-1 (1990–91), Natsal-2 (1999–2001), and Natsal-3.
Interviews were completed with 15 162 participants (6293 men, 8869 women) from 26 274 eligible addresses (57·7%). 82·1% (95% CI 81·0–83·1%) of men and 77·7% (76·7–78·7%) of women reported at least one sexual partner of the opposite sex in the past year. The proportion generally decreased with age, as did the range of sexual practices with partners of the opposite sex, especially in women. The increased sexual activity and diversity reported in Natsal-2 in individuals aged 16–44 years when compared with Natsal-1 has generally been sustained in Natsal-3, but in men has generally not risen further. However, in women, the number of male sexual partners over the lifetime (age-adjusted odds ratio 1·18, 95% CI 1·08–1·28), proportion reporting ever having had a sexual experience with genital contact with another woman (1·69, 1·43–2·00), and proportion reporting at least one female sexual partner in the past 5 years (2·00, 1·59–2·51) increased in Natsal-3 compared with Natsal-2. While reported number of occasions of heterosexual intercourse in the past 4 weeks had reduced since Natsal-2, we recorded an expansion of heterosexual repertoires—particularly in oral and anal sex—over time. Acceptance of same-sex partnerships and intolerance of non-exclusivity in marriage increased in men and women in Natsal-3.
Sexual lifestyles in Britain have changed substantially in the past 60 years, with changes in behaviour seeming greater in women than men. The continuation of sexual activity into later life—albeit reduced in range and frequency—emphasises that attention to sexual health and wellbeing is needed throughout the life course.
Grants from the UK Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust, with support from the Economic and Social Research Council and the Department of Health.
PMCID: PMC3899021  PMID: 24286784
23.  Reducing Mouse Anxiety during Handling: Effect of Experience with Handling Tunnels 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66401.
Handling stress is a well-recognised source of variation in animal studies that can also compromise the welfare of research animals. To reduce background variation and maximise welfare, methods that minimise handling stress should be developed and used wherever possible. Recent evidence has shown that handling mice by a familiar tunnel that is present in their home cage can minimise anxiety compared with standard tail handling. As yet, it is unclear whether a tunnel is required in each home cage to improve response to handling. We investigated the influence of prior experience with home tunnels among two common strains of laboratory mice: ICR(CD-1) and C57BL/6. We compared willingness to approach the handler and anxiety in an elevated plus maze test among mice picked up by the tail, by a home cage tunnel or by an external tunnel shared between cages. Willingness to interact with the handler was much greater for mice handled by a tunnel, even when this was unfamiliar, compared to mice picked up by the tail. Once habituated to handling, C57BL/6 mice were most interactive towards a familiar home tunnel, whereas the ICR strain showed strong interaction with all tunnel handling regardless of any experience of a home cage tunnel. Mice handled by a home cage or external tunnel showed less anxiety in an elevated plus maze than those picked up by the tail. This study shows that using a tunnel for routine handling reduces anxiety among mice compared to tail handling regardless of prior familiarity with tunnels. However, as home cage tunnels can further improve response to handling in some mice, we recommend that mice are handled with a tunnel provided in their home cage where possible as a simple practical method to minimise handling stress.
PMCID: PMC3688777  PMID: 23840458
24.  Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–1894) and his essay on puerperal fever 
Doctor, teacher of anatomy, conversationalist, essayist, and poet, in 1843 Holmes combined his medical and literary skills in a masterly dissertation on the epidemiology and prevention of puerperal fever.
PMCID: PMC2675443  PMID: 17585102
history; puerperal fever

Results 1-25 (454912)