Entries in Pill (7)


Doctors Push for Over-the-Counter Birth Control Pill

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In an attempt to lower the alarmingly high rate of unplanned pregnancy -- and the high cost associated with it -- an expert panel of doctors recommended on Tuesday that birth control pills be made available without a prescription.

Specifically, the committee said the potential benefits of over-the-counter birth control pills outweigh the danger, which includes a small risk of dangerous blood clots.

Nearly half of all pregnancies happen by accident, according to government data.  These pregnancies cost taxpayers an estimated $11.1 billion each year, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' Committee on Gynecologic Practice.

The birth control pill, commonly called "the pill," is a formulation of hormones, usually progestin and estrogen, that helps prevent pregnancy mainly by keeping the ovaries from releasing eggs.  Right now "the pill" is only available in the United States with a prescription, which the committee said poses a significant barrier.

"Access to and cost issues are common reasons why women do not use contraception or use it inconsistently," said Dr. Kavita Nanda, one of the physicians on the committee.

A survey from 2004, cited by the committee, found that almost half of all uninsured women and 40 percent of low-income women who were not using birth control pills, the patch or the ring, said they would more likely use the pill if it were available over the counter.

This same survey also found that more than two out of three women at risk of an unintended pregnancy would use their pharmacy if more methods of birth control were available over the counter.

The committee said that birth control pills are good options for these women, with efficacy ranging from 92 to 99 percent depending on use.

Dr. Daniel Grossman, an American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists fellow, who was not part of the committee, said oral contraceptives are also safe.  "We have over 50 years of experience with this method," he said.

There are still many steps that would have to occur for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommendation to translate into the availability of birth control pills over the counter.  And not all doctors support the idea that birth control pills are safely sold without a prescription.

"I think that the risks far outweigh the benefits," said ABC News' senior medical contributor Dr. Jennifer Ashton, who is also an obstetrician and gynecologist.

"Even though they're hormones ... they're at much higher doses than our body makes, and as such there can be side effects ranging from minor to life threatening," Ashton said.  She went on to list some of the side effects associated with birth control pills, including low risks of blood clot, stroke and heart attack.  "It's a full spectrum of things that really needs a medical provider in the picture."

Still, the committee noted in its recommendation that the risk of blood clots associated with birth control pills was low, with three to 10 women out of 10,000 taking the pill experiencing such a problem each year.  By comparison, past research has found that the risk of blood clots associated with being pregnant is five to 20 women out of 10,000 each year, while the risk of clots associated with having just given birth is 40 to 65 per 10,000.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Once-a-Day Pill Safe for HIV Treatment

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- A new once-daily "Quad" pill might be added to the arsenal of effective HIV treatments in the near future, according to a new study published in the Lancet.

For adults starting antiretroviral treatment, the U.S. Department Health and Human Services recommends the standard treatment for HIV-positive patients -- four different drugs, which involve several pills multiple times a day.  But the results of the quad drug research add to other combination agents available to patients today.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School randomly assigned 700 North American patients on two different single-pill regiments, either the new Quad or Atripla, a drug that has become the standard treatment, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2006.

After nearly one year of treatment, 88 percent of patients on the Quad experienced a suppression of the virus, compared with 84 percent of the patients on Atripla, the study showed.

Both drugs were also proven to be safe, with only 3.7 percent of the study participants stopping the Quad and 5.1 percent stopping the Atripla.

As more innovative interventions have been created to combat HIV/AIDS, more patients have been able to live fuller, longer lives with the disease.  Still, more than 1.1 million Americans were estimated to be living with HIV in 2008, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

"Response to the Quad was favorable across a wide range of patients, including those with high HIV viral loads who are sometimes difficult to treat," Dr. Paul Sax, clinical director of infectious disease at Harvard Medical School, told ABC News.

"The side effect profile differed, in that Quad caused fewer rashes and central nervous system side effects than Atripla, but more nausea," Sax said.  "Overall, both treatments were very well tolerated.  These results suggest that Quad will be an important new option for HIV treatment if it is approved."

An FDA advisory committee met in May to review data on the Quad and voted in favor of its approval.  A final decision by the FDA is expected this summer, Sax said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pill in the Works to Turn Sweat into Perfume

Paul Tearle/Thinkstock(AMSTERDAM, Netherlands) -- Those sweat stains could be the equivalent to a spritz of cologne if Lucy McRae's research pans out.

McRae, an artist based in the Netherlands, hopes to create Swallowable Parfum, a perfume that can be ingested through a capsule and emitted through perspiration.

The pill is still in the research phase with no scheduled release date as McRae works with a synthetic researcher, Sheref Mansy, to develop a prototype.

"My main aim is to provoke and make people think in a completely different way about how make-up can be [used] in the future," said McRae.

The 31-year-old was inspired to develop the line after watching a documentary on Ray Kurzweil, a computer engineer who won the National Medal of Technology and who has written numerous books about how machines will shape the future.

Rather than create a uniform scent, McRae envisions that each user's own scent would be amplified by the digestible perfume like a "base note."

George Preti, a scientist at the Monell Center which specializes in taste and smell, says pills that claim to change body odor similar to Swallowable Parfum are often not effective due to the body's digestion process.

"How much of what they do that will make it through the digestive process and [into] the blood remains to be seen," said Preti. "A lot of things will get taken apart in the acid in the stomach."

Since taking a daily dose of perfume isn't yet possible, McRae is staying with her scent of choice, Mona Di Orio, applied with a traditional spritz.

McRae's Swallowable Parfum is the latest in a trend of cosmetic companies attempting to reduce beauty regimens to pill form. In recent years companies such as Heliocare and Murad have released pills that claim to provide sun protection. However, these pills do not provide the same protection as traditional sunblock.

L'Oreal announced earlier this month that they're working on an "anti-grey" supplement that would keep hair from turning grey with age.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Scientist Developing "Stay Sober" Pill

GETTY(LONDON) -- There could soon be a pill that lets you drink as much as you want, while limiting the effects of alcohol on the brain

It seems to work on mice, but what of men? American and Australian scientists writing in the British Journal of Pharmacology say that in tests, mice given the drug don't even look the slightest bit tipsy, when they should be falling over from the amount of alcohol consumed.

Their research is focused on the cells that make up 90 percent of the brain. It turns out they play a crucial role in the immune system. Turn the system off -- they say -- and you can't get drunk.

Animals administered the drug found it much easier to balance than those whose immune cells were allowed to work normally.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sunscreen Pill from Aussie Reef Coral?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Tropical coral from Australia's Great Barrier Reef contains natural UV blockers that might one day come in a pill that protects our eyes and skin from the sun's ravages, researchers say.

But don't toss your high-SPF lotions and creams yet. If all goes as planned, a tablet that would protect people from damaging ultraviolet radiation is probably about five years away, said Paul Long, a senior lecturer in pharmaceutical science at King's College London.

Long leads a three-year research project, financed by the British government, focused on sun-shielding compounds in Acropora microphthalma coral. He and his fellow researchers have been trying to unravel the biochemical secrets of these chemicals, extracted from coral samples gathered during night dives.

"What we have found is that the algae living within the coral makes a compound that we think is transported to the coral, which then modifies it into a sunscreen for the benefit of both the coral and the algae," Long said in a statement from King's College, which issued a news release about the research. "Not only does this protect them both from UV damage, but we have seen that fish that feed on the coral also benefit from this sunscreen protection, so it is clearly passed up the food chain."

Because Acropora microphthalma coral is endangered, the scientists first must create a synthetic version of the coral compounds, which could be tested on human skin samples. Long has suggested scientists might find a ready supply in excess skin discarded by plastic surgeons after tummy tucks. Only after scientists learn how the compound affects skin cells could they then begin developing a pill that would protect skin throughout the body, as well as the eyes, which also are sensitive to the effects of UV light.

Long and his colleagues began thinking a pill might work based upon observations of small fish eating coral, "like Nemo" in the animated movie Finding Nemo, "and then larger fish would eat the smaller fish, so these compounds pass up the food chain."

One important consideration for researchers involves determining how the compounds' UV-blocking properties might interfere with the body's production of Vitamin D, often called the sunshine vitamin. Vitamin D comes either from exposure to sunlight, or from dietary supplements.

A pill based on coral's natural UV blockers wouldn't be the first sunscreen pill to offer protection from the inside out. A dietary supplement called Heliocare contains green tea, beta-carotene and Polypodium leucotomos, a tropical fern extract long used for psoriasis and eczema. However, dermatologists say its skin-protective antioxidants don't take the place of topical sunscreens, but may make the sun less vulnerable to UV damage. A bottle of 60 Heliocare pills runs about $50.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Use of More Effective Contraception On the Rise

Michael Matisse/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Some 80 percent of women using reversible contraceptive methods – the pill, condoms, and withdrawal -- rely on strategies and it may be surprising to some that these methods can fail up to 18 percent of the time, mostly due to their dependence on individual compliance.

But there are other methods, such as intrauterine devices and subdermal implants, whose failure rates are much lower -- about 1 percent -- and it now seems that American women are turning to these methods in greater numbers.

In a new study, researchers at New York City's Guttmacher Institute analyzed data from national surveys on use of contraceptive methods in women aged 15-44 and found that the use of the implantable devices more than doubled from 2.4 percent in 2002 to 5.6 percent in 2006-2008. The biggest increase occurred among women in the youngest and oldest age groups, white and African American women, foreign-born women, and those in the highest income brackets. In women who had given birth once or twice, use rose to 10 percent.

Their findings were published in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


FDA to Review Another Weight-Loss Pill

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The FDA on Tuesday will bring together outside experts to review another weight-loss pill -- the third this year.
Contrave is a blend of naltrexone, a drug used to help junkies and alcoholics kick the habit, and bupropion, an anti-depressant that’s also used for smoking cessation and seasonal affective disorder.
Contrave’s prospects seem no better than the last two weight-loss pills, which both were shot down by the FDA this fall.
An FDA staff review released Friday finds Contrave fell short of the agency’s weight-loss targets. And the reviewers want a study to focus specifically on the drug’s effects on the heart.
Anti-depressants can cause suicidal thoughts, but no one in the last Contrave study “completed or attempted suicide.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio