In The NewsMarch 2017
Vitamins C and E Associated with Decreased Risk of Dementia
An article in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy reports an association between the intake of vitamin C and E supplements and a lower risk of developing cognitive decline among men and women aged 65 and older.*
The investigation included 5,269 men and women who were free of dementia upon enrollment in the Canadian Study of Health and Aging from 1991 to 2002. Follow-up examinations conducted during 1996-1997 and 2001-2002 provided post-enrollment diagnoses of dementia or cognitive impairment without dementia.
Over up to 11 years of follow up, 821 cases of all-cause dementia were diagnosed and 882 cases of cognitive impairment without dementia developed. In comparison with those who did not report supplementing with either vitamin, the use of vitamin C and/or vitamin E was associated with a 38% lower adjusted risk of dementia from any cause.
Editor’s Note: For cognitive impairment without dementia, the adjusted risk was 23% lower among those who used either or both vitamins. Evaluation of the effects of using either vitamin alone resulted in associations with similar risk reductions.
* Ann Pharmacother. 2016 Oct 4.
Latest Vitamin D Research Suggests Lifespan Link and More
In an investigation published in Cell Reports, a team from the Buck Institute found that vitamin D extended median lifespan in the roundworm C. elegans by a third and helped support protein homeostasis, the ability of proteins to maintain shape and function.*
“Vitamin D3 reduced the age-dependent formation of insoluble proteins across a wide range of predicted functions and cellular compartments, supporting our hypothesis that decreasing protein insolubility can prolong lifespan,” reported research team leader Karla Mark, PhD.
“Vitamin D engaged with known longevity genes. It extended median lifespan by 33% and slowed the aging-related misfolding of hundreds of proteins in the worm,” explained senior author Gordon Lithgow, PhD. “Our findings provide a real connection between aging and disease and give clinicians and other researchers an opportunity to look at vitamin D in a much larger context.”
Editor’s Note: “Vitamin D3, which is converted into the active form of vitamin D, suppressed protein insolubility in the worm and prevented the toxicity caused by human beta-amyloid which is associated with Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr. Lithgow added. “Given that aging processes are thought to be similar between the worm and mammals, including humans, it makes sense that the action of vitamin D would be conserved across species as well. Maybe if you’re deficient in vitamin D, you’re aging faster. Maybe that’s why you’re more susceptible to cancer or Alzheimer’s.”
* Cell Rep. 2016 Oct 25;17(5):1227-37
Quercetin Improves Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms and Disease Activity
A recent report in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found a remarkable benefit for supplementing with quercetin in a randomized, double-blind trial of women with rheumatoid arthritis.*
The trial included 40 female rheumatoid arthritis patients who were given 500 mg of quercetin or a placebo daily for eight weeks. Blood samples collected prior to and after the treatment period were analyzed for erythrocyte sedimentation rate and high-sensitivity tumor necrosis factor-alpha. These two blood tests are a measure of inflammation.
The findings of physician-administered examinations that determined the number of swollen and tender joints were combined with erythrocyte sedimentation rate results to calculate disease activity. Health assessment questionnaires assessed quality of life and disability.
At the end of the trial, women who received quercetin had less early morning stiffness, morning pain and pain after activity compared to pretreatment levels. In contrast, those who received a placebo experienced nonsignificant changes.
Editor’s Note: Disease activity scores, number of tender joints, health assessment questionnaire scores, and physician global assessments significantly improved in the quercetin group while remaining essentially unchanged among those who received a placebo. By the end of the study, erythrocyte sedimentation rate was slightly lower and tumor necrosis factor-alpha was significantly lower in quercetin-treated subjects, while no significant changes occurred in the placebo group.
* J Am Coll Nutr. 2016.
Brand-Name Drug Prices Rise at Shocking Rate
A new study finds that older Americans are being gouged by the prices of brand-name drugs, which skyrocketed last year at a rate 130 times faster than inflation.*
Researchers at the nonprofit organization AARP discovered that the retail prices of 268 brand-name prescription drugs rose, on average, 15.5% in 2015 against a 0.1% increase in the rate of general inflation. The drugs, which are commonly taken by seniors, include 49 that are used to treat diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and other wide spread, chronic conditions.
Debra Whitman, chief public policy officer at AARP, stated in a news release, “What’s particularly remarkable is that these incredibly high price increases are still occurring in the face of intense public and congressional criticism of prescription drug pricing practices.”
On average, the elderly take 4.5 prescriptions monthly. Couple that with the average cost of regular use for one brand-name drug, which rose to over $5,800, and that brings average annual drug costs to around $26,100. Medicare beneficiaries’ average median income is just $24,150.
“Prescription drug therapy is not affordable when its cost exceeds the patient’s entire income,” said report co-author Leigh Purvis. “Even if patients are fortunate enough to have good healthcare coverage, high prescription drug costs translate into higher out-of-pocket costs.”
Editor’s Note: According to the study, of the six drugs with the highest price increases, five were from Valeant Pharmaceuticals. The study’s authors found the price of Ativan, the company’s antianxiety drug, shot up over 2,800% between 2006 and 2015.
* Available at: http://tinyurl.com/jpr8p5q. Accessed December 15, 2016.
Former Drug Company Execs Charged in Price-Fixing Plot
As part of an ongoing Department of Justice investigation into the generic drug industry, charges have been brought against two ex-drug company executives for allegedly participating in a bid-rigging and price-fixing plot.*
Named in separate two-count felony cases were Jason Malek, the former president of Heritage Pharmaceuticals, and Jeffrey Glazer, the company’s former CEO. The alleged scheme involved two drugs: the diabetes medication glyburide and doxycycline hyclate, an antibiotic. According to court papers filed in Philadelphia, the scheme was in effect possibly dating back to April 2013 and continued to December 2015.
The cost of 500 tablets of doxycycline is reported to have gone from $20 in October 2013 to a whopping $1,845 in May 2014.
Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brent Snyder charged that the two executives entered into unlawful agreements to fix prices and “sought to enrich themselves at the expense of sick and vulnerable individuals who rely upon access to generic pharmaceuticals as a more affordable alternative to brand-name medicines.”
Heritage had fired both men in August following an internal investigation. Reacting to the charges, the company stated the former executives had engaged in “a variety of serious misconduct.”
Editor’s Note: In a prepared statement, Special Agent in Charge Michael Harpster of the FBI’s Philadelphia division commented, “Conspiring to fix prices on widely-used generic medications skews the market, flouts common decency, and very clearly breaks the law. It’s a sad state of affairs when these pharmaceutical executives are determined to further pad their profits on the backs of people whose health depends on the company’s drugs.”
* Available at: http://tinyurl.com/z9rl3yo. Accessed December 15, 2016.