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1.  Prescribing behaviour in general practice: the impact of promoting therapeutically equivalent cheaper medicines. 
BACKGROUND: The volume and cost of prescribing varies considerably between practices. This variation is at least in part due to the prescribing behaviour of individual doctors, who are often faced with a range of therapeutically equivalent generic and brand-name drugs. AIM: To assess the impact on general practitioners' prescribing behaviour of promoting therapeutically equivalent lower cost prescribing in conjunction with an incentive scheme. METHOD: Annual prescribing data from before (1992-93) and after (1993-94) implementation of the incentive scheme were compared retrospectively for general practices in the former Northern Regional Health Authority. Main outcome measures were the practices' 1993-94 rates of prescribing relative to those in 1992-93 for 18 drugs prescribed by brand name, of which 10 were targeted in the promotion, and for 14 drugs or classes of drugs either with equivalent cheaper alternatives or of limited clinical value (10 targeted and four not). RESULTS: For 17 of the 18 drugs, brand name prescribing rates were significantly lower in 1993-94. Reductions in rates were greater for the 10 drugs appearing in the scheme's promotional literature. For other cost-saving measures, total prescribing rates were lower for seven classes of drugs, unchanged for one, but higher for the other six, all of which had been targeted. According to the growth in their overall per capita prescribing costs between the two study years, the 499 practices were categorized as low, average or high. Overall costs and individual prescribing rates for the majority of drugs studied were similar for these three practice groups in 1992-93. In 1993-94, practices' changes in prescribing volume differed between the groups, with the lowest increases in the low cost-growth group for all but one of the 32 classes of drugs. CONCLUSION: Generic substitution was more easily implemented than more complex hints regarding cost-saving substitutions. Practices with smaller overall cost growth were making greater use of cost-beneficial prescribing strategies, whether promoted or otherwise. Simple messages may improve the cost-effectiveness of prescribing in the UK. With information support and encouragement, many prescribers appear to have modified their prescribing habits.
PMCID: PMC1312867  PMID: 9115786
2.  Oregon reaffirms assisted suicide. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1997;315(7118):1253.
PMCID: PMC2127783  PMID: 9390048
5.  Open randomized study of cefepime versus piperacillin-gentamicin for treatment of febrile neutropenic cancer patients. 
An open-label randomized trial comparing the efficacy and safety of cefepime versus piperacillin plus gentamicin (P+G) given intravenously for the treatment of febrile episodes in neutropenic patients with underlying malignancy was conducted at two oncology centers. Over a 30-month period 111 patients were enrolled and 99 patients were found to be suitable for evaluation. At the 72-h time of evaluation, cefepime monotherapy and P+G combination therapy produced comparable clinical response rates (78% for both). P+G and cefepime produced comparable response rates in microbiologically documented (78 versus 71%), clinically documented (100 versus 100%), and possible (75 versus 79%) infections. The P+G and cefepime treatments achieved comparable microbiological eradication of gram-negative (100 versus 71%) (P = 0.09) and gram-positive (44 versus 70%) (P = 0.37) organisms. There were no statistically significant differences in the rates of superinfection between the groups; however, more superinfections of fungal origin were noted in the P+G group. Cefepime was demonstrated to be an effective and safe treatment for febrile episodes in neutropenic patients with malignancies, and its lack of nephrotoxicity compared to P+G was noteworthy. Cefepime appears to be a candidate for monotherapy in febrile neutropenic cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC163989  PMID: 9257745
7.  Acute lethal toxicity following passive immunization for treatment of murine cryptococcosis. 
Infection and Immunity  1997;65(5):1800-1807.
Passive immunization with monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) specific for the major capsular polysaccharide of Cryptococcus neoformans alters the course of murine cryptococcosis. During studies of passive immunization for treatment of murine cryptococcosis, we noted the occurrence of an acute, lethal toxicity. Toxicity was characterized by scratching, lethargy, respiratory distress, collapse, and death within 20 to 60 min after injection of antibody. The toxic effect was observed only in mice with a cryptococcal infection and was reduced or absent in the early and late stages of disease. The clinical course and histopathology were consistent with those for shock. There was considerable variation between mouse strains in susceptibility to toxicity. Swiss Webster mice from the Charles River colony were most susceptible, followed by C3H/He, BALB/c, and C57BL/6 mice. DBA/2 mice and Swiss Webster mice from the Simonsen colony were resistant. Acute toxicity was mimicked by injection of preformed complexes of MAb and purified polysaccharide. The toxic effect was also produced by injection of MAbs into mice that were preloaded with polysaccharide. The toxic effect was not blocked by treatment of mice with chloropheniramine or anti-tumor necrosis factor alpha antibodies or by depletion of complement components via pretreatment with cobra venom factor. Toxicity was reduced by treatment of mice with high doses of epinephrine, dexamethasone, or chlorpromazine. Finally, the toxic effect was completely blocked by treatment of mice with the platelet-activating factor antagonist WEB 2170 BS or by pretreatment of mice with the liposome-encapsulated drug dichloromethylene diphosphonate, a procedure which depletes macrophages from the spleen and liver.
PMCID: PMC175220  PMID: 9125564
9.  Epidemiology of group C rotavirus infection in Western New York women of childbearing age. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1997;35(2):486-488.
Umbilical cord serum samples (380), an average of 10 per month for 3 years (1990 to 1992), were tested by indirect immunofluorescence assay for group C rotavirus immunoglobulin G. Thirty percent were positive, suggesting that approximately one-third of women of childbearing age in western New York have experienced group C rotavirus infection.
PMCID: PMC229607  PMID: 9003623
10.  US medicine marches slowly toward UK solution. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1997;314(7076):252.
PMCID: PMC2125752  PMID: 9022486

Results 1-10 (10)