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2.  Statin therapy in critical illness: an international survey of intensive care physicians’ opinions, attitudes and practice 
Background
Pleotropic effects of statins on inflammation are hypothesised to attenuate the severity of and possibly prevent the occurrence of the host inflammatory response to pathogen and infection-related acute organ failure. We conducted an international survey of intensive care physicians in Australia, New Zealand (ANZ) and United Kingdom (UK). The aims of the survey were to assess the current prescribing practice patterns, attitudes towards prescribing statin therapy in critically ill patients and opinions on the need for an interventional trial of statin therapy in critically ill patients.
Methods
Survey questions were developed through an iterative process. An expert group reviewed the resulting 26 items for face and content validity and clarity. The questions were further refined following pilot testing by ICU physicians from Australia, Canada and the UK. We used the online Smart SurveyTM software to administer the survey.
Results
Of 239 respondents (62 from ANZ and 177 from UK) 58% worked in teaching hospitals; most (78.2%) practised in ‘closed’ units with a mixed medical and surgical case mix (71.0%). The most frequently prescribed statins were simvastatin (77.6%) in the UK and atorvastatin (66.1%) in ANZ. The main reasons cited to explain the choice of statin were preadmission prescription and pharmacy availability. Most respondents reported never starting statins to prevent (65.3%) or treat (89.1%) organ dysfunction. Only a minority (10%) disagreed with a statement that the risks of major side effects of statins when prescribed in critically ill patients were low. The majority (84.5%) of respondents strongly agreed that a clinical trial of statins for prevention is needed. More than half (56.5%) favoured rates of organ failure as the primary outcome for such a trial, while a minority (40.6%) favoured mortality.
Conclusions
Despite differences in type of statins prescribed, critical care physicians in the UK and ANZ reported similar prescription practices. Respondents from both communities agreed that a trial is needed to test whether statins can prevent the onset of new organ failure in patients with sepsis.
doi:10.1186/1472-6904-12-13
PMCID: PMC3416708  PMID: 22742644
Survey; Statin; Sepsis; Critical care; Clinical trials
3.  Data for drugs available through low-cost prescription drug programs are available through pharmacy benefit manager and claims data 
Background
Observational data are increasingly being used for pharmacoepidemiological, health services and clinical effectiveness research. Since pharmacies first introduced low-cost prescription programs (LCPP), researchers have worried that data about the medications provided through these programs might not be available in observational data derived from administrative sources, such as payer claims or pharmacy benefit management (PBM) company transactions.
Method
We used data from the Indiana Network for Patient Care to estimate the proportion of patients with type 2 diabetes to whom an oral hypoglycemic agent was dispensed. Based on these estimates, we compared the proportions of patients who received medications from chains that do and do not offer an LCPP, the proportion trend over time based on claims data from a single payer, and to proportions estimated from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS).
Results
We found that the proportion of patients with type 2 diabetes who received oral hypoglycemic medications did not vary based on whether the chain that dispensed the drug offered an LCPP or over time. Additionally, the rates were comparable to those estimated from MEPS.
Conclusion
Researchers can be reassured that data for medications available through LCPPs continue to be available through administrative data sources.
doi:10.1186/1472-6904-12-12
PMCID: PMC3416643  PMID: 22726249
Low-cost prescription program; Oral antihyperglycemic agents; Pharmacy benefit manager; Claims data
4.  Population prevalence of high dose paracetamol in dispensed paracetamol/opioid prescription combinations: an observational study 
Background
Paracetamol (acetaminophen) is generally considered a safe medication, but is associated with hepatotoxicity at doses above doses of 4.0 g/day, and even below this daily dose in certain populations.
Methods
The Nova Scotia Prescription Monitoring Program (NSPMP) in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia is a legislated organization that collects dispensing information on all out-of-hospital prescription controlled drugs dispensed for all Nova Scotia residents. The NSPMP provided data to track all paracetamol/opioids redeemed by adults in Nova Scotia, from July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2010. Trends in the number of adults dispensed these prescriptions and the numbers of prescriptions and tablets dispensed over this period were determined. The numbers and proportions of adults who filled prescriptions exceeding 4.0 g/day and 3.25 g/day were determined for the one-year period July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010. Data were stratified by sex and age (<65 versus 65+).
Results
Both the number of prescriptions filled and the number of tablets dispensed increased over the study period, although the proportion of the adult population who filled at least one paracetamol/opioid prescription was lower in each successive one-year period. From July 2009 to June 2010, one in 12 adults (n = 59,197) filled prescriptions for over 13 million paracetamol/opioid tablets. Six percent (n = 3,786) filled prescriptions that exceeded 4.0 g/day and 18.6% (n = 11,008) exceeded 3.25 g/day of paracetamol at least once. These findings exclude non-prescription paracetamol and paracetamol–only prescribed medications.
Conclusions
A substantial number of individuals who redeem prescriptions for paracetamol/opioid combinations may be at risk of paracetamol-related hepatotoxicity. Healthcare professionals must be vigilant when prescribing and dispensing these medications in order to reduce the associated risks.
doi:10.1186/1472-6904-12-11
PMCID: PMC3416683  PMID: 22709372
5.  Adherence to medication for the treatment of psychosis: rates and risk factors in an Ethiopian population 
Background
Medication-taking behavior, specifically non-adherence, is significantly associated with treatment outcome and is a major cause of relapse in the treatment of psychotic disorders. Non-adherence can be multifactorial; however, the rates and associated risk factors in an Ethiopian population have not yet been elucidated. The principal aim of this study was to evaluate adherence rates to antipsychotic medications, and secondarily to identify potential factors associated with non-adherence, among psychotic patients at tertiary care teaching hospital in Southwest Ethiopia.
Methods
A cross-sectional study was conducted over a 2-month period in 2009 (January 15th to March 20th) at the Jimma University Specialized Hospital. Adherence was computed using both a compliant fill rate method and self-reporting via a structured patient interview (focusing on how often regular medication doses were missed altogether, and whether they missed taking their doses on time). Data were analyzed using SPSS for windows version 16.0, and chi-square and Pearsons r tests were used to determine the statistical significance of the association of variables with adherence.
Result
Three hundred thirty six patients were included in the study. A total of 75.6% were diagnosed with schizophrenia, while the others were diagnosed with other psychotic disorders. Most (88.1%) patients were taking only antipsychotics, while the remainder took more than one medication. Based upon the compliant fill rate, 57.5% of prescription fills were considered compliant, but only 19.6% of participants had compliant fills for all of their prescriptions. In contrast, on the basis of patients self-report, 52.1% of patients reported that they had never missed a medication dose, 32.0% sometimes missed their daily doses, 22.0% only missed taking their dose at the specific scheduled time, and 5.9% missed both taking their dose at the specific scheduled time and sometimes missed their daily doses. The most common reasons provided for missing medication doses were: forgetfulness (36.2%); being busy (21.0%); and a lack of sufficient information about the medication (10.0%). Pill burden, medication side-effects, social drug use, and duration of maintenance therapy each had a statistically significant association with medication adherence (P ≤ 0.05).
Conclusion
The observed rate of antipsychotic medication adherence in this study was low, and depending upon the definition used to determine adherence, it is either consistent or low compared to previous reports, which highlights its pervasive and problematic nature. Adherence must therefore be considered when planning treatment strategies with antipsychotic medications, particularly in countries such as Ethiopia.
doi:10.1186/1472-6904-12-10
PMCID: PMC3416691  PMID: 22709356
Medication adherence; Antipsychotic; Compliant fill rate; Jimma
6.  Errors in medication history at hospital admission: prevalence and predicting factors 
Background
An accurate medication list at hospital admission is essential for the evaluation and further treatment of patients. The objective of this study was to describe the frequency, type and predictors of errors in medication history, and to evaluate the extent to which standard care corrects these errors.
Methods
A descriptive study was carried out in two medical wards in a Swedish hospital using Lund Integrated Medicines Management (LIMM)-based medication reconciliation. A clinical pharmacist identified each patient's most accurate pre-admission medication list by conducting a medication reconciliation process shortly after admission. This list was then compared with the patient's medication list in the hospital medical records. Addition or withdrawal of a drug or changes to the dose or dosage form in the hospital medication list were considered medication discrepancies. Medication discrepancies for which no clinical reason could be identified (unintentional changes) were considered medication history errors.
Results
The final study population comprised 670 of 818 eligible patients. At least one medication history error was identified by pharmacists conducting medication reconciliations for 313 of these patients (47%; 95% CI 43-51%). The most common medication error was an omitted drug, followed by a wrong dose. Multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that a higher number of drugs at admission (odds ratio [OR] per 1 drug increase = 1.10; 95% CI 1.06-1.14; p < 0.0001) and the patient living in their own home without any care services (OR = 1.58; 95% CI 1.02-2.45; p = 0.042) were predictors for medication history errors at admission. The results further indicated that standard care by non-pharmacist ward staff had partly corrected the errors in affected patients by four days after admission, but a considerable proportion of the errors made in the initial medication history at admission remained undetected by standard care (OR for medication errors detected by pharmacists' medication reconciliation carried out on days 4-11 compared to days 0-1 = 0.52; 95% CI 0.30-0.91; p=0.021).
Conclusions
Clinical pharmacists conducting LIMM-based medication reconciliations have a high potential for correcting errors in medication history for all patients. In an older Swedish population, those prescribed many drugs seem to benefit most from admission medication reconciliation.
doi:10.1186/1472-6904-12-9
PMCID: PMC3353244  PMID: 22471836
7.  Effect of exenatide on the pharmacokinetics of a combination oral contraceptive in healthy women: an open-label, randomised, crossover trial 
Background
Consistent with its effect on gastric emptying, exenatide, an injectable treatment for type 2 diabetes, may slow the absorption rate of concomitantly administered oral drugs resulting in a decrease in maximum concentration (Cmax). This study evaluated the drug interaction potential of exenatide when administered adjunctively with oral contraceptives, given their potential concomitant use.
Methods
This trial evaluated the effect of exenatide co-administration on single- and multiple-dose pharmacokinetics of a combination oral contraceptive (ethinyl estradiol [EE] 30 μg, levonorgestrel [LV] 150 μg [Microgynon 30®]). Thirty-two healthy female subjects participated in an open-label, randomised, crossover trial with 3 treatment periods (oral contraceptive alone, 1 hour before exenatide, 30 minutes after exenatide). Subjects received a single dose of oral contraceptive on Day 8 of each period and QD doses on Days 10 through 28. During treatment periods of concomitant usage, exenatide was administered subcutaneously prior to morning and evening meals at 5 μg BID from Days 1 through 4 and at 10 μg BID from Days 5 through 22. Single- (Day 8) and multiple-dose (Day 22) pharmacokinetic profiles were assessed for each treatment period.
Results
Exenatide did not alter the bioavailability nor decrease daily trough concentrations for either oral contraceptive component. No substantive changes in oral contraceptive pharmacokinetics occurred when oral contraceptive was administered 1 hour before exenatide. Single-dose oral contraceptive administration 30 minutes after exenatide resulted in mean (90% CI) Cmax reductions of 46% (42-51%) and 41% (35-47%) for EE and LV, respectively. Repeated daily oral contraceptive administration 30 minutes after exenatide resulted in Cmax reductions of 45% (40-50%) and 27% (21-33%) for EE and LV, respectively. Peak oral contraceptive concentrations were delayed approximately 3 to 4 hours. Mild-to-moderate nausea and vomiting were the most common adverse events observed during the trial.
Conclusions
The observed reduction in Cmax is likely of limited importance given the unaltered oral contraceptive bioavailability and trough concentrations; however, for oral medications that are dependent on threshold concentrations for efficacy, such as contraceptives and antibiotics, patients should be advised to take those drugs at least 1 hour before exenatide injection.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00254800.
doi:10.1186/1472-6904-12-8
PMCID: PMC3378442  PMID: 22429273
exenatide twice daily; pharmacokinetics; oral contraceptive
8.  Adverse drug reactions to antiretroviral therapy (ARVs): incidence, type and risk factors in Nigeria 
Background
Data on adverse drug reactions (ADRs) related to antiretroviral (ARV) use in public health practice are few indicating the need for ART safety surveillance in clinical care.
Objectives
To evaluate the incidence, type and risk factors associated with adverse drug reactions (ADRs) among patients on antiretroviral drugs (ARV).
Methods
Patients initiated on ARVs between May 2006 and May 2009 were evaluated in a retrospective cohort analysis in three health facilities in Nigeria. Regimens prescribed include nucleoside backbone of zidovudine (AZT)/lamivudine (3TC), stavudine (d4T)/3TC, or tenofovir (TDF)/3TC in combination with either nevirapine (NVP) or efavirenz (EFV). Generalized Estimating Equation (GEE) model was used to identify risk factors associated with occurrence of ADR.
Results
2650 patients were followed-up for 2456 person-years and reported 114 ADRs (incidence rate = 4.6/100 person-years).There were more females 1706(64%) and 73(64%) of the ADRs were reported by women. Overall, 61(54%) of ADRs were reported by patients on AZT with 54(47%) of these occurring in patients on AZT/NVP. The commonest ADRs reported were pain 25(30%) and skinrash 10(18%). Most ADRs were grade 1(39%) with only 1% being life threatening (grade 4). Adjusted GEE analysis showed that ADR was less likely to occur in patients on longer duration of ART compared to the first six months on treatment; 6-12 months AOR 0.38(95% CI:0.16-0.91) and 12-24 months AOR 0.34(95% CI:0.16-0.73) respectively. Compared to patients on TDF, ADR was less likely to occur in patients on d4T and AZT AOR 0.18(95% CI 0.05-0.64) and AOR 0.24(95% CI:0.7-0.9) respectively. Age, gender and CD4 count were not significantly associated with ADRs.
Conclusion
ADRs are more likely to occur within the first six months on treatment. Close monitoring within this period is required to prevent occurrence of severe ADR and improve ART adherence. Further research on the tolerability of tenofovir in this environment is recommended.
doi:10.1186/1472-6904-12-7
PMCID: PMC3317861  PMID: 22369677
Adverse drug reactions; ADR; Antiretroviral; Zidovudine; Stavudine; Tenofovir; HIV/AIDS; Nigeria; Incidence; Risk factors
9.  A cost effectiveness analysis of the preferred antidotes for acute paracetamol poisoning patients in Sri Lanka 
Background
Acute paracetamol poisoning is a rapidly increasing problem in Sri Lanka. The antidotes are expensive and yet no health economic evaluation has been done on the therapy for acute paracetamol poisoning in the developing world. The aim of this study is to determine the cost effectiveness of using N-acetylcysteine over methionine in the management of acute paracetamol poisoning in Sri Lanka.
Methods
Economic analysis was applied using public healthcare system payer perspective.
Costs were obtained from a series of patients admitted to the National Hospital of Sri Lanka with a history of acute paracetamol overdose. Evidence on effectiveness was obtained from a systematic review of the literature. Death due to hepatotoxicity was used as the primary outcome of interest. Analysis and development of decision tree models was done using Tree Age Pro 2008.
Results
An affordable treatment threshold of Sri Lankan rupees 1,537,120/death prevented was set from the expected years of productive life gained and the average contribution to GDP. A cost-minimisation analysis was appropriate for patients presenting within 10 hours and methionine was the least costly antidote. For patients presenting 10-24 hours after poisoning, n-acetylcysteine was more effective and the incremental cost effectiveness ratio of Sri Lankan rupees 316,182/life saved was well under the threshold. One-way and multi-way sensitivity analysis also supported methionine for patients treated within 10 hours and n-acetylcysteine for patients treated within 10-24 hours as preferred antidotes.
Conclusions
Post ingestion time is an important determinant of preferred antidotal therapy for acute paracetamol poisoning patients in Sri Lanka. Using n-acetylcysteine in all patients is not cost effective. On economic grounds, methionine should become the preferred antidote for Sri Lankan patients treated within 10 hours of the acute ingestion and n-acetylcysteine should continue to be given to patients treated within 10-24 hours.
doi:10.1186/1472-6904-12-6
PMCID: PMC3350452  PMID: 22353666
10.  Quality and safety of medication use in primary care: consensus validation of a new set of explicit medication assessment criteria and prioritisation of topics for improvement 
Background
Addressing the problem of preventable drug related morbidity (PDRM) in primary care is a challenge for health care systems internationally. The increasing implementation of clinical information systems in the UK and internationally provide new opportunities to systematically identify patients at risk of PDRM for targeted medication review. The objectives of this study were (1) to develop a set of explicit medication assessment criteria to identify patients with sub-optimally effective or high-risk medication use from electronic medical records and (2) to identify medication use topics that are perceived by UK primary care clinicians to be priorities for quality and safety improvement initiatives.
Methods
For objective (1), a 2-round consensus process based on the RAND/UCLA Appropriateness Method (RAM) was conducted, in which candidate criteria were identified from the literature and scored by a panel of 10 experts for 'appropriateness' and 'necessity'. A set of final criteria was generated from candidates accepted at each level. For objective (2), thematically related final criteria were clustered into 'topics', from which a panel of 26 UK primary care clinicians identified priorities for quality improvement in a 2-round Delphi exercise.
Results
(1) The RAM process yielded a final set of 176 medication assessment criteria organised under the domains 'quality' and 'safety', each classified as targeting 'appropriate/necessary to do' (quality) or 'inappropriate/necessary to avoid' (safety) medication use. Fifty-two final 'quality' assessment criteria target patients with unmet indications, sub-optimal selection or intensity of beneficial drug treatments. A total of 124 'safety' assessment criteria target patients with unmet needs for risk-mitigating agents, high-risk drug selection, excessive dose or duration, inconsistent monitoring or dosing instructions. (2) The UK Delphi panel identified 11 (23%) of 47 scored topics as 'high priority' for quality improvement initiatives in primary care.
Conclusions
The developed criteria set complements existing medication assessment instruments in that it is not limited to the elderly, can be implemented in electronic data sets and focuses on drug groups and conditions implicated in common and/or severe PDRM in primary care. Identified priorities for quality and safety improvement can guide the selection of targets for initiatives to address the PDRM problem in primary care.
doi:10.1186/1472-6904-12-5
PMCID: PMC3296596  PMID: 22316181
Medication error; quality indicator; primary health care; adverse drug events; preventable drug related morbidity
11.  Pharmacokinetics of high-dose oral thiamine hydrochloride in healthy subjects 
Background
High dose oral thiamine may have a role in treating diabetes, heart failure, and hypermetabolic states. The purpose of this study was to determine the pharmacokinetic profile of oral thiamine hydrochloride at 100 mg, 500 mg and 1500 mg doses in healthy subjects.
Methods
This was a randomized, double-blind, single-dose, 4-way crossover study. Pharmacokinetic measures were calculated.
Results
The AUC0-10 hr and Cmax values increased nonlinearly between100 mg and 1500 mg. The slope of the AUC0-10 hr vs dose, as well as the Cmax vs dose, plots are steepest at the lowest thiamine doses.
Conclusion
Our study demonstrates that high blood levels of thiamine can be achieved rapidly with oral thiamine hydrochloride. Thiamine is absorbed by both an active and nonsaturable passive process.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00981877
doi:10.1186/1472-6904-12-4
PMCID: PMC3293077  PMID: 22305197
12.  Mechanisms for an effect of acetylcysteine on renal function after exposure to radio-graphic contrast material: study protocol 
Background
Contrast-induced nephropathy is a common complication of contrast administration in patients with chronic kidney disease and diabetes. Its pathophysiology is not well understood; similarly the role of intravenous or oral acetylcysteine is unclear. Randomized controlled trials to date have been conducted without detailed knowledge of the effect of acetylcysteine on renal function. We are conducting a detailed mechanistic study of acetylcysteine on normal and impaired kidneys, both with and without contrast. This information would guide the choice of dose, route, and appropriate outcome measure for future clinical trials in patients with chronic kidney disease.
Methods/Design
We designed a 4-part study. We have set up randomised controlled cross-over studies to assess the effect of intravenous (50 mg/kg/hr for 2 hrs before contrast exposure, then 20 mg/kg/hr for 5 hrs) or oral acetylcysteine (1200 mg twice daily for 2 days, starting the day before contrast exposure) on renal function in normal and diseased kidneys, and normal kidneys exposed to contrast. We have also set up a parallel-group randomized controlled trial to assess the effect of intravenous or oral acetylcysteine on patients with chronic kidney disease stage III undergoing elective coronary angiography. The primary outcome is change in renal blood flow; secondary outcomes include change in glomerular filtration rate, tubular function, urinary proteins, and oxidative balance.
Discussion
Contrast-induced nephropathy represents a significant source of hospital morbidity and mortality. Over the last ten years, acetylcysteine has been administered prior to contrast to reduce the risk of contrast-induced nephropathy. Randomized controlled trials, however, have not reliably demonstrated renoprotection; a recent large randomized controlled trial assessing a dose of oral acetylcysteine selected without mechanistic insight did not reduce the incidence of contrast-induced nephropathy. Our study should reveal the mechanism of effect of acetylcysteine on renal function and identify an appropriate route for future dose response studies and in time randomized controlled trials.
Trial registration
Clinical Trials.gov: NCT00558142; EudraCT: 2006-003509-18.
doi:10.1186/1472-6904-12-3
PMCID: PMC3293780  PMID: 22305183
Contrast-induced nephropathy; acetylcysteine; prevention; kidney; contrast media
13.  Validation of an LC-MS/MS method to determine five immunosuppressants with deuterated internal standards including MPA 
Background
Therapeutic drug monitoring of immunosuppressive drugs in organ-transplanted patients is crucial to prevent intoxication or transplant rejection due to inadequate dosage. The commonly used immunoassays have been gradually undergoing replacement by mass spectrometry, since this physical method offers both a higher sensitivity and specificity. However, a switch should be carefully considered because it is a challenging procedure and needs to be thoroughly validated.
From an economic perspective it is reasonable to include mycophenolic acid into the assay, because this saves the necessity for an additional measurement. However, to date very few validation protocols for the measurement of immunosuppressants, including mycophenolic acid, are available. In order to adequately compensate for matrix effects, the use of stable isotope labeled internal standards is advisable. Here, the authors describe a single method suitable for the quantification of cyclosporine A, tacrolimus, sirolimus, everolimus and mycophenolic acid, based on deuterated internal standards.
Methods
Plasma proteins were precipitated with zinc-sulfate, followed by an online solid phase extraction in the flow-through direction. Chromatographic separation was performed by a c18-phenyl-hexyl column. For subsequent mass spectrometric analysis stable-isotope-labeled internal standards were used. Results were available after 3.5 minutes.
Results
Low quantification limits (accuracy: 104 - 118%) and linearity resulted in 2 -1250 ng/ml for cyclosporine A; 0.5 - 42.2 ng/ml for tacrolimus; 0.6 - 49.2 ng/ml for sirolimus; 0.5 - 40.8 ng/ml for everolimus and 0.01 - 7.5 μg/ml for mycophenolic acid. Intra-assay precision revealed a coefficient of variation (CV) of 0.9 - 14.7%, with an accuracy of 89 - 138%. The CV of inter-assay precision was 2.5 - 12.5%, with an accuracy of 90 - 113%. Recovery ranged from 76.6 to 84%. Matrix effects were well compensated by deuterated internal standards.
Conclusions
The authors present a fast, economical and robust method for routine therapeutic drug monitoring comprising five immunosuppressants including mycophenolic acid.
doi:10.1186/1472-6904-12-2
PMCID: PMC3398287  PMID: 22236286
14.  Effects of paliperidone extended release on the symptoms and functioning of schizophrenia 
Background
We aimed to explore relations between symptomatic remission and functionality evaluation in schizophrenia patients treated with paliperidone extended-release (ER), as seen in a normal day-to-day practice, using flexible dosing regimens of paliperidone ER. We explored symptomatic remission rate in patients treated with flexibly dosed paliperidone ER by 8 items of Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) and change of Personal and Social Performance (PSP) scale.
Method
This was a 12-week multicenter, open-label, prospective clinical study conducted in in-patient and out-patient populations. Flexible dosing in the range 3-12 mg/day was used throughout the study. All subjects attended clinic visits on weeks 0, 4, 8, and 12 as usual clinical practice for the 12-week observation period. Data were summarized with respect to demographic and baseline characteristics, efficacy measurement with PANSS scale, PSP, and social functioning score, and safety observations. Descriptive statistics were performed to identify the retention rate at each visit as well as the symptomatic remission rate. Summary statistics of average doses the subjects received were based on all subjects participating in the study.
Results
A total of 480 patients were enrolled. Among them, 426 patients (88.8%) had evaluation at week 4 and 350 (72.9%) completed the 12-week evaluation. Patients with at least moderate severity of schizophrenia were evaluated as "mild" or better on PANSS scale by all 8 items after 12 weeks of treatment with paliperidone ER. There was significant improvement in patients' functionality as measured by PSP improvement and score changes. Concerning the other efficacy parameters, PANSS total scale, PSP total scale, and social functioning total scale at the end of study all indicated statistically significant improvement by comparison with baseline. The safety profile also demonstrated that paliperidone ER was well-tolerated without clinically significant changes after treatment administration.
Conclusions
Although the short-term nature of this study may limit the potential for assessing improvements in function, it is noteworthy that in the present short-term study significant improvements in patient personal and social functioning with paliperidone ER treatment were observed, as assessed by PSP scale.
Trial Registration
Clinical Trials. PAL-TWN-MA3
doi:10.1186/1472-6904-12-1
PMCID: PMC3282633  PMID: 22225965
15.  The association between drospirenone and hyperkalemia: a comparative-safety study 
Background
Drospirenone/ethinyl-estradiol is an oral contraceptive (OC) that possesses unique antimineralocorticoid activity. It is conjectured that drospirenone, taken alone or concomitantly with spironolactone, may be associated with an increased risk of hyperkalemia.
Methods
A retrospective cohort study was conducted evaluating women between 18-46 years of age in the Lifelink™ Health Plan Claims Database. The study was restricted to new users of OCs between 1997-2009. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate the time to first occurrence of hyperkalemia diagnosis. The main analysis compared OCs containing drospirenone with OCs containing levonorgestrel, a second generation OC not known to impact potassium homeostasis. Logistic regression evaluated concomitant prescribing of drospirenone and spironolactone
Results
The cohort included 1,148,183 women, averaging 28.8 years of age and 280 days of OC therapy. 2325 cases of hyperkalemia were identified. The adjusted hazard ratio (HR) for hyperkalemia with drospirenone compared to levonorgestrel was 1.10 (95%CI 0.95-1.26). There was an increased risk of hyperkalemia with norethindrone HR 1.15 (95%CI: 1.00-1.33) and norgestimate HR 1.27 (95%CI: 1.11-1.46). Other OCs were unassociated with hyperkalemia. The odds of receiving spironolactone while taking drospirenone were 2.66 (95%CI 2.53-2.80) times higher than the odds of receiving spironolactone and levonorgestrel. Only 6.5% of patients taking drospirenone and spironolactone had a serum potassium assay within 180 days of starting concomitant therapy.
Conclusions
A clinically significant signal for hyperkalemia with drospirenone was not demonstrated in the current study. Despite the bolded warning for hyperkalemia with joint drospirenone and spironolactone administration, physicians are actually using them together preferentially, and are not following the recommended potassium monitoring requirements in the package insert.
doi:10.1186/1472-6904-11-23
PMCID: PMC3265420  PMID: 22208934
16.  Etomidate and mortality in cirrhotic patients with septic shock 
Background
Clinical effects and outcomes of a single dose etomidate prior to intubation in the intensive care setting is controversial. The aim of this study is to evaluate the association of a single dose effect of etomidate prior to intubation on the mortality of septic cirrhotic patients and the impact of the subsequent use of low dose hydrocortisone.
Methods
This is a nested-cohort study within a randomized double blind placebo controlled study evaluating the use of low dose hydrocortisone in cirrhotic septic patients. Cirrhotic septic patients ≥ 18 years were included in the study. Patients who received etomidate prior to intubation were compared to those who did not receive etomidate for all cause 28-day mortality as a primary outcome.
Results
Sixty two intubated patients out of the 75 patients randomized in the initial trial were eligible for this study. Twenty three of the 62 intubated patients received etomidate dose prior to intubation. Etomidate use was not associated with all cause 28-day mortality or hospital mortality but was associated with significantly higher ICU mortality (91% vs. 64% for etomidate and controls groups, respectively; p = 0.02). Etomidate patients who received subsequent doses of hydrocortisone required lower doses of vasopressors and had more vasopressor-free days but no improvement in mortality.
Conclusions
In this group of septic cirrhotic patients with very high mortality, etomidate increased ICU mortality. Subsequent use of hydrocortisone appears to have no benefit beyond decreasing vasopressor requirements. The lowest mortality was observed in patients who did not receive etomidate but received hydrocortisone.
doi:10.1186/1472-6904-11-22
PMCID: PMC3295685  PMID: 22208901
17.  Use of antipsychotic and antidepressant within the Psychiatric Disease Centre, Regional Health Service of Ferrara 
Background
This study aimed at describing the type and dosage of psychopharmaceuticals dispensed to patients with psychiatric disorders and to assess the percentage of patients treated with antipsychotics and antidepressants, the associated therapies, treatment adherence, and dosages used in individuals registered at the Psychiatric Disease Center (PDC), Regional Health Service of Ferrara.
Methods
The analysis focused on therapeutic programmes presented to the Department of Pharmacy of the University Hospital of Ferrara of 892 patients treated by the PDC (catchment area of 134605 inhabitants). All diagnoses were made according to International Classification of Diseases (ICD-9). The analysis focused on prescriptions from September 2007 to June 2009. Data on adherence to prescribed therapy have were processed by analysis of variance.
Results
Among the patients 63% were treated with antipsychotics and 40% with antidepressants. Among patients receiving antipsychotics 92% used second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs) whereas the remaining 8% used first generation antipsychotics (FGAs). Antipsychotic doses were lower than Daily Defined Dose (DDDs), and SGAs were often given with anticholinergics to decrease side effects. Mean adherence to antipsychotic therapy was 64%. Among antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) were the most often prescribed, 55%. Dosages of these were within the limits indicated by the technical datasheet but higher than DDDs. Only 26% of patients underwent monotherapy. In antidepressants polytherapy, medication was associated with another antidepressant, 6% or with an antipsychotic, 51%. Mean adherence to the antidepressant therapy was 64%.
Conclusions
Patients treated with antipsychotics tend to use doses lower than DDDs. The opposite tendency was noted in patients treated with antidepressants. Only a small percentage of patients (14%) modified their neuroleptic therapy by increasing the dosage. On the contrary, patients treated with antidepressants mainly tended to reduce the doses of their drugs. This study highlights the tendency to follow combination therapies, prescribing SGAs together with anticholinergics in order to minimize extrapyramidal side effects or by combining two antidepressants. The study showed low adherence for both pharmaceutical therapies, which is typical in the setting of the analyzed diseases.
doi:10.1186/1472-6904-11-21
PMCID: PMC3293025  PMID: 22185397
18.  Price, familiarity, and availability determine the choice of drug - a population-based survey five years after generic substitution was introduced in Finland 
Background
Mandatory generic substitution (GS) was introduced in Finland at the beginning of April 2003. However, individual patients or physicians may forbid the substitution. GS was a significant change for Finnish medicine users. It was thought it would confuse people when the names, colors, packages, etc., changed. The purpose of this study was to explore what medicine-related factors influence people's choice of prescription drugs five years after generic substitution was introduced in Finland.
Methods
A population survey was carried out during the autumn of 2008. A random sample was drawn from five mainland counties. A questionnaire was mailed to 3000 people at least 18 years old and living in Finland. The questionnaire consisted of both structured and open-ended questions. Factors that influenced the subjects' choice of medicines were asked with a structured question containing 11 propositions. Descriptive statistical analyses were performed.
Results
In total, 1844 questionnaires were returned (response rate, 62%). The percentage of female respondents was 55%. Price, availability, and familiarity were the three most important factors that influenced the choice of medicines. For the people who had refused GS, the familiarity of the medicine was the most important factor. For the subjects who had allowed GS and for those who had both refused and allowed GS, price was the most important factor.
Conclusions
The present study shows that price, familiarity, and availability were important factors in the choice of prescription medicines. The external characteristics of the medicines, for instance the color and shape of the tablet/capsule or the appearance of the package, were not significant characteristics for people.
doi:10.1186/1472-6904-11-20
PMCID: PMC3262749  PMID: 22171800
19.  Public perception on the role of community pharmacists in self-medication and self-care in Hong Kong 
Background
The choices for self-medication in Hong Kong are much diversified, including western and Chinese medicines and food supplements. This study was to examine Hong Kong public knowledge, attitudes and behaviours regarding self-medication, self-care and the role of pharmacists in self-care.
Methods
A cross-sectional phone survey was conducted, inviting people aged 18 or older to complete a 37-item questionnaire that was developed based on the Thematic Household surveys in Hong Kong, findings of the health prorfessional focus group discussions on pharmacist-led patient self management and literature. Telephone numbers were randomly selected from residential phone directories. Trained interviewers invited eligible persons to participate using the "last birthday method". Associations of demographic characteristics with knowledge, attitudes and beliefs on self-medication, self-care and role of pharmacists, and spending on over-the-counter (OTC) products were analysed statistically.
Results
A total of 1, 560 phone calls were successfully made and 1, 104 respondents completed the survey which indicated a response rate of 70.8%. 63.1% had adequate knowledge on using OTC products. Those who had no formal education/had attended primary education (OR = 3.19, 95%CI 1.78-5.72; p < 0.001), had attended secondary education (OR = 1.50, 95%CI 1.03-2.19; p = 0.035), and aged ≥60 years (OR = 1.82, 95% CI 1.02-3.26; p = 0.042) were more likely to have inadequate knowledge on self-medication. People with chronic disease also tended to spend more than HKD100 on western (OR = 3.58, 95%CI 1.58-8.09; p = 0.002) and Chinese OTC products (OR = 2.94, 95%CI 1.08-7.95; p = 0.034). 94.6% believed that patients with chronic illnesses should self-manage their diseases. 68% agreed that they would consult a pharmacist before using OTC product but only 45% agreed that pharmacists could play a leading role in self-care. Most common reasons against pharmacist consultation on self-medication and self-care were uncertainty over the role of pharmacists and low acceptance level of pharmacists.
Conclusions
The majority of respondents supported patients with chronic illness to self-manage their diseases but less than half agreed to use a pharmacist-led approach in self-care. The government should consider developing doctors-pharmacists partnership programs in the community, enhancing the role of pharmacists in primary care and providing education to patients to improve their awareness on the role of pharmacists in self-medication and self-care.
doi:10.1186/1472-6904-11-19
PMCID: PMC3252282  PMID: 22118309
20.  Knowledge, attitudes and practice survey about antimicrobial resistance and prescribing among physicians in a hospital setting in Lima, Peru 
Background
Misuse of antimicrobials (AMs) and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) are global concerns. The present study evaluated knowledge, attitudes and practices about AMR and AM prescribing among medical doctors in two large public hospitals in Lima, Peru, a middle-income country.
Methods
Cross-sectional study using a self-administered questionnaire
Results
A total of 256 participants completed the questionnaire (response rate 82%). Theoretical knowledge was good (mean score of 6 ± 1.3 on 7 questions) in contrast to poor awareness (< 33%) of local AMR rates of key-pathogens. Participants strongly agreed that AMR is a problem worldwide (70%) and in Peru (65%), but less in their own practice (22%). AM overuse was perceived both for the community (96%) and the hospital settings (90%). Patients' pressure to prescribing AMs was considered as contributing to AM overuse in the community (72%) more than in the hospital setting (50%). Confidence among AM prescribing was higher among attending physicians (82%) compared to residents (30%, p < 0.001%). Sources of information considered as very useful/useful included pocket-based AM prescribing guidelines (69%) and internet sources (62%). Fifty seven percent of participants regarded AMs in their hospitals to be of poor quality. Participants requested more AM prescribing educational programs (96%) and local AM guidelines (92%).
Conclusions
This survey revealed topics to address during future AM prescribing interventions such as dissemination of information about local AMR rates, promoting confidence in the quality of locally available AMs, redaction and dissemination of local AM guidelines and addressing the general public, and exploring the possibilities of internet-based training.
doi:10.1186/1472-6904-11-18
PMCID: PMC3231801  PMID: 22085536
Antimicrobial resistance - Antimicrobial use - Knowledge; attitude and practice survey
21.  Immunogenicity of panitumumab in combination chemotherapy clinical trials 
Background
Panitumumab is a fully human antibody against the epidermal growth factor receptor that is indicated for the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) after disease progression on standard chemotherapy. The purpose of this analysis was to examine the immunogenicity of panitumumab and to evaluate the effect of anti-panitumumab antibodies on pharmacokinetic and safety profiles in patients with mCRC receiving panitumumab in combination with oxaliplatin- or irinotecan-based chemotherapies.
Methods
Three validated assays (two screening immunoassays and a neutralizing antibody bioassay) were used to detect the presence of anti-panitumumab antibodies in serum samples collected from patients enrolled in four panitumumab combination chemotherapy clinical trials. The impact of anti-panitumumab antibodies on pharmacokinetic and safety profiles was analyzed using population pharmacokinetic analysis and descriptive statistics, respectively.
Results
Of 1124 patients treated with panitumumab in combination with oxaliplatin- or irinotecan-based chemotherapy with postbaseline samples available for testing, 20 (1.8%) patients developed binding antibodies and 2 (0.2%) developed neutralizing antibodies. The incidence of anti-panitumumab antibodies was similar in patients with tumors expressing wild-type or mutant KRAS and in patients receiving oxaliplatin- or irinotecan-based chemotherapies. No evidence of an altered pharmacokinetic or safety profile was found in patients who tested positive for anti-panitumumab antibodies.
Conclusions
The immunogenicity of panitumumab in the combination chemotherapy setting was infrequent and similar to the immunogenicity observed in the monotherapy setting. Panitumumab immunogenicity did not appear to alter pharmacokinetic or safety profiles. This low rate of immunogenicity may be attributed to the fully human nature of panitumumab.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00339183 (study 20050181), NCT00411450 (study 20060277), NCT00332163 (study 20050184), and NCT00364013 (study 20050203).
doi:10.1186/1472-6904-11-17
PMCID: PMC3231982  PMID: 22070868
22.  What can we learn from consumer reports on psychiatric adverse drug reactions with antidepressant medication? Experiences from reports to a consumer association 
Background
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the cost of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) in the general population is high and under-reporting by health professionals is a well-recognized problem. Another way to increase ADR reporting is to let the consumers themselves report directly to the authorities. In Sweden it is mandatory for prescribers to report serious ADRs to the Medical Products Agency (MPA), but there are no such regulations for consumers. The non-profit and independent organization Consumer Association for Medicines and Health, KILEN has launched the possibility for consumers to report their perceptions and experiences from their use of medicines in order to strengthen consumer rights within the health care sector. This study aimed to analyze these consumer reports.
Methods
All reports submitted from January 2002 to April 2009 to an open web site in Sweden where anyone could report their experience with the use of pharmaceuticals were analyzed with focus on common psychiatric side effects related to antidepressant usage. More than one ADR for a specific drug could be reported.
Results
In total 665 reports were made during the period. 442 reports concerned antidepressant medications and the individual antidepressant reports represented 2392 ADRs and 878 (37%) of these were psychiatric ADRs. 75% of the individual reports concerned serotonin-reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and the rest serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). Women reported more antidepressant psychiatric ADRs (71%) compared to men (24%). More potentially serious psychiatric ADRs were frequently reported to KILEN and withdrawal symptoms during discontinuation were also reported as a common issue.
Conclusions
The present study indicates that consumer reports may contribute with important information regarding more serious psychiatric ADRs following antidepressant treatment. Consumer reporting may be considered a complement to traditional ADR reporting.
doi:10.1186/1472-6904-11-16
PMCID: PMC3215951  PMID: 22026961
23.  Gastrointestinal adverse effects of varenicline at maintenance dose: a meta-analysis 
Background
Tobacco smoking remains the leading modifiable health hazard and varenicline is amongst the most popular pharmacological options for smoking cessation. The purpose of this study is to critically evaluate the extent of gastrointestinal adverse effects of varenicline when used at maintenance dose (1 mg twice a day) for smoking cessation.
Methods
We conducted a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials published in PUBMED and EMBASE according to the PRISMA guidelines. Selected studies satisfied the following criteria: (i) duration of at least 6 weeks, (ii) titrated dose of varenicline for 7 days then a maintenance dose of 1 mg twice-per-day, (iii) randomized placebo-controlled design, (iv) extractable data on adverse event - nausea, constipation or flatulence. Data was synthesized into pooled odd ratios (OR) basing on random effects model. Quality of studies was also rated as per Cochrane risk-of-bias assessment. Number need to harm (NNH) was calculated for each adverse effect.
Results
98 potentially relevant studies were identified, 12 of which met the final inclusion criteria (n = 5114). All 12 studies reported adverse events on nausea, which led to an OR of 4.45 (95% CI = 3.79-5.23, p < 0.001; I2 = 0.06%, CI = 0%-58.34%) and a NNH of 5. Eight studies (n = 3539) contain data on constipation pooled into an OR of 2.45 (95% CI = 1.61-3.72, p < 0.001; I2 = 34.09%, CI = 0%-70.81%) with a NNH of 24. Finally, five studies (n = 2516) reported adverse events of flatulence, which pooled an OR of 1.74 (95% CI = 1.23-2.48, p = 0.002; I2 = 0%, CI = 0%- 79.2%) with a NNH of 35.
Conclusions
Use of varenicline at maintenance dose of 1 mg twice a day for longer than 6 weeks is associated with adverse gastrointestinal effects. In realistic terms, for every 5 treated subjects, there will be an event of nausea, and for every 24 and 35 treated subjects, we will expect an event of constipation and flatulence respectively. Family physicians should counsel patients of such risks accordingly during their maintenance therapy with varenicline.
doi:10.1186/1472-6904-11-15
PMCID: PMC3192741  PMID: 21955317
24.  Impact of information letters on the reporting rate of adverse drug reactions and the quality of the reports: a randomized controlled study 
Background
Spontaneous reporting of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) is an important method for pharmacovigilance, but under-reporting and poor quality of reports are major limitations. The aim of this study was to evaluate if repeated one-page ADR information letters affect (i) the reporting rate of ADRs and (ii) the quality of the ADR reports.
Methods
All 151 primary healthcare units in the Region Västra Götaland, Sweden, were randomly allocated (1:1) to an intervention (n = 77) or a control group (n = 74). The intervention consisted of one-page ADR information letters administered at three occasions during 2008 to all physicians and nurses in the intervention units. The number of ADR reports received from the 151 units was registered, as was the quality of the reports, which was defined as high if the ADR was to be reported according to Swedish regulations, that is, if the ADR was (i) serious, (ii) unexpected, and/or (iii) related to the use of new drugs and not labelled as common in the Summary of Product Characteristics. A questionnaire was administered to evaluate if the ADR information letter had reached the intended recipient.
Results
Before the intervention, no significant differences in reporting rate or number of high quality reports could be detected between the randomization groups. In 2008, 79 reports were sent from 37 intervention units and 52 reports from 30 control units (mean number of reports per unit ± standard deviation: 1.0 ± 2.5 vs. 0.7 ± 1.2, P = 0.34). The number of high quality reports was higher in intervention units than in control units (37 vs. 15 reports, 0.5 ± 0.9 vs. 0.2 ± 0.6, P = 0.048). According to the returned questionnaires (n = 1,292, response rate 57%), more persons in the intervention than in the control group had received (29% vs. 19%, P < 0.0001) and read (31% vs. 26%, P < 0.0001) an ADR information letter.
Conclusions
This study suggests that repeated ADR information letters to physicians and nurses do not increase the ADR reporting rate, but may increase the number of high quality reports.
doi:10.1186/1472-6904-11-14
PMCID: PMC3182972  PMID: 21899766
25.  Cognitive functioning in opioid-dependent patients treated with buprenorphine, methadone, and other psychoactive medications: stability and correlates 
Background
In many but not in all neuropsychological studies buprenorphine-treated opioid-dependent patients have shown fewer cognitive deficits than patients treated with methadone. In order to examine if hypothesized cognitive advantage of buprenorphine in relation to methadone is seen in clinical patients we did a neuropsychological follow-up study in unselected sample of buprenorphine- vs. methadone-treated patients.
Methods
In part I of the study fourteen buprenorphine-treated and 12 methadone-treated patients were tested by cognitive tests within two months (T1), 6-9 months (T2), and 12 - 17 months (T3) from the start of opioid substitution treatment. Fourteen healthy controls were examined at similar intervals. Benzodiazepine and other psychoactive comedications were common among the patients. Test results were analyzed with repeated measures analysis of variance and planned contrasts. In part II of the study the patient sample was extended to include 36 patients at T2 and T3. Correlations between cognitive functioning and medication, substance abuse, or demographic variables were then analyzed.
Results
In part I methadone patients were inferior to healthy controls tests in all tests measuring attention, working memory, or verbal memory. Buprenorphine patients were inferior to healthy controls in the first working memory task, the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Task and verbal memory. In the second working memory task, the Letter-Number Sequencing, their performance improved between T2 and T3. In part II only group membership (buprenorphine vs. methadone) correlated significantly with attention performance and improvement in the Letter-Number Sequencing. High frequency of substance abuse in the past month was associated with poor performance in the Letter-Number Sequencing.
Conclusions
The results underline the differences between non-randomized and randomized studies comparing cognitive performance in opioid substitution treated patients (fewer deficits in buprenorphine patients vs. no difference between buprenorphine and methadone patients, respectively). Possible reasons for this are discussed.
doi:10.1186/1472-6904-11-13
PMCID: PMC3176473  PMID: 21854644

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