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Concept: Pharmacology


Medicinal plants have historically proven their value as a source of molecules with therapeutic potential, and nowadays still represent an important pool for the identification of novel drug leads. In the past decades, pharmaceutical industry focused mainly on libraries of synthetic compounds as drug discovery source. They are comparably easy to produce and resupply, and demonstrate good compatibility with established high throughput screening (HTS) platforms. However, at the same time there has been a declining trend in the number of new drugs reaching the market, raising renewed scientific interest in drug discovery from natural sources, despite of its known challenges. In this survey, a brief outline of historical development is provided together with a comprehensive overview of used approaches and recent developments relevant to plant-derived natural product drug discovery. Associated challenges and major strengths of natural product-based drug discovery are critically discussed. A snapshot of the advanced plant-derived natural products that are currently in actively recruiting clinical trials is also presented. Importantly, the transition of a natural compound from a “screening hit” through a “drug lead” to a “marketed drug” is associated with increasingly challenging demands for compound amount, which often cannot be met by re-isolation from the respective plant sources. In this regard, existing alternatives for resupply are also discussed, including different biotechnology approaches and total organic synthesis. While the intrinsic complexity of natural product-based drug discovery necessitates highly integrated interdisciplinary approaches, the reviewed scientific developments, recent technological advances, and research trends clearly indicate that natural products will be among the most important sources of new drugs also in the future.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Clinical trial, Drug discovery, Medicinal chemistry, Natural product, High-throughput screening, Natural products


Objective To determine the availability of data on overall survival and quality of life benefits of cancer drugs approved in Europe.Design Retrospective cohort study.Setting Publicly accessible regulatory and scientific reports on cancer approvals by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) from 2009 to 2013.Main outcome measures Pivotal and postmarketing trials of cancer drugs according to their design features (randomisation, crossover, blinding), comparators, and endpoints. Availability and magnitude of benefit on overall survival or quality of life determined at time of approval and after market entry. Validated European Society for Medical Oncology Magnitude of Clinical Benefit Scale (ESMO-MCBS) used to assess the clinical value of the reported gains in published studies of cancer drugs.Results From 2009 to 2013, the EMA approved the use of 48 cancer drugs for 68 indications. Of these, eight indications (12%) were approved on the basis of a single arm study. At the time of market approval, there was significant prolongation of survival in 24 of the 68 (35%). The magnitude of the benefit on overall survival ranged from 1.0 to 5.8 months (median 2.7 months). At the time of market approval, there was an improvement in quality of life in seven of 68 indications (10%). Out of 44 indications for which there was no evidence of a survival gain at the time of market authorisation, in the subsequent postmarketing period there was evidence for extension of life in three (7%) and reported benefit on quality of life in five (11%). Of the 68 cancer indications with EMA approval, and with a median of 5.4 years' follow-up (minimum 3.3 years, maximum 8.1 years), only 35 (51%) had shown a significant improvement in survival or quality of life, while 33 (49%) remained uncertain. Of 23 indications associated with a survival benefit that could be scored with the ESMO-MCBS tool, the benefit was judged to be clinically meaningful in less than half (11/23, 48%).Conclusions This systematic evaluation of oncology approvals by the EMA in 2009-13 shows that most drugs entered the market without evidence of benefit on survival or quality of life. At a minimum of 3.3 years after market entry, there was still no conclusive evidence that these drugs either extended or improved life for most cancer indications. When there were survival gains over existing treatment options or placebo, they were often marginal.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Cohort study, Clinical trial, Cancer, Oncology, Evaluation, Chemotherapy, Palliative care


The inability of current recommendations to control the epidemic of diabetes, the specific failure of the prevailing low-fat diets to improve obesity, cardiovascular risk, or general health and the persistent reports of some serious side effects of commonly prescribed diabetic medications, in combination with the continued success of low-carbohydrate diets in the treatment of diabetes and metabolic syndrome without significant side effects, point to the need for a reappraisal of dietary guidelines. The benefits of carbohydrate restriction in diabetes are immediate and well documented. Concerns about the efficacy and safety are long term and conjectural rather than data driven. Dietary carbohydrate restriction reliably reduces high blood glucose, does not require weight loss (although is still best for weight loss), and leads to the reduction or elimination of medication. It has never shown side effects comparable with those seen in many drugs. Here we present 12 points of evidence supporting the use of low-carbohydrate diets as the first approach to treating type 2 diabetes and as the most effective adjunct to pharmacology in type 1. They represent the best-documented, least controversial results. The insistence on long-term randomized controlled trials as the only kind of data that will be accepted is without precedent in science. The seriousness of diabetes requires that we evaluate all of the evidence that is available. The 12 points are sufficiently compelling that we feel that the burden of proof rests with those who are opposed.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Nutrition, Insulin, Diabetes mellitus, The Canon of Medicine, Obesity, Randomized controlled trial, Carbohydrate


The US Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act requires results from clinical trials of Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs to be posted at within 1 y after trial completion. We compared the timing and completeness of results of drug trials posted at and published in journals.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Clinical trial, Drug,, Drugs, Food and Drug Administration


 To examine the association between the presence of individual principal investigators' financial ties to the manufacturer of the study drug and the trial’s outcomes after accounting for source of research funding.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Epidemiology, Randomized controlled trial, The Association, Finance


Background: The demand for clinically efficacious, safe, patient acceptable, and cost-effective forms of treatment for mental illness is growing. Several studies have demonstrated benefit from yoga in specific psychiatric symptoms and a general sense of well-being.Objective: To systematically examine the evidence for efficacy of yoga in the treatment of selected major psychiatric disorders.Methods: Electronic searches of The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and the standard bibliographic databases, MEDLINE, EMBASE, and PsycINFO, were performed through April 2011 and an updated in June 2011 using the keywords yoga AND psychiatry OR depression OR anxiety OR schizophrenia OR cognition OR memory OR attention AND randomized controlled trial (RCT). Studies with yoga as the independent variable and one of the above mentioned terms as the dependent variable were included and exclusion criteria were applied.Results: The search yielded a total of 124 trials, of which 16 met rigorous criteria for the final review. Grade B evidence supporting a potential acute benefit for yoga exists in depression (four RCTs), as an adjunct to pharmacotherapy in schizophrenia (three RCTs), in children with ADHD (two RCTs), and Grade C evidence in sleep complaints (three RCTs). RCTs in cognitive disorders and eating disorders yielded conflicting results. No studies looked at primary prevention, relapse prevention, or comparative effectiveness versus pharmacotherapy.Conclusion: There is emerging evidence from randomized trials to support popular beliefs about yoga for depression, sleep disorders, and as an augmentation therapy. Limitations of literature include inability to do double-blind studies, multiplicity of comparisons within small studies, and lack of replication. Biomarker and neuroimaging studies, those comparing yoga with standard pharmaco- and psychotherapies, and studies of long-term efficacy are needed to fully translate the promise of yoga for enhancing mental health.

Concepts: Psychology, Pharmacology, Randomized controlled trial, Effectiveness, Mental health, Clinical research, Mental disorder, Psychiatry


BACKGROUND: Medical schools are grappling with how best to manage industry involvement in medical education. OBJECTIVE: To describe a case study of industry-supported undergraduate medical education related to opioid analgesics. METHOD: Institutional case study. RESULTS: As part of their regular curriculum, Canadian medical students attended pain pharmacotherapy lectures that contained questionable content about the use of opioids for pain management. The lectures were supported by pharmaceutical companies that market opioid analgesics in Canada and the guest lecturer was a member of speakers bureaus of the same companies. These conflicts of interests were not fully disclosed. A reference book that reinforced some of the information in the lectures and that was paid for by a sponsoring company was made available to students. This is the first report of an association between industry sponsorship and the dissemination of potentially dangerous information to medical students. CONCLUSIONS: This case demonstrates the need for better strategies for preventing, identifying and dealing with problematic interactions between the pharmaceutical industry and undergraduate medical education. These might include the avoidance of unnecessary conflicts of interest, more disclosure of conflicts, an open process for dealing with recognised problems and internationally harmonised conflict of interest policies.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Medicine, Physician, Opioid, Pain, Pharmaceutical industry, Medical school, Conflict of interest


Curcumin is a constituent (up to ∼5%) of the traditional medicine known as turmeric. Interest in the therapeutic use of turmeric and the relative ease of isolation of curcuminoids has led to their extensive investigation. Curcumin has recently been classified as both a PAINS (pan-assay interference compounds) and an IMPS (invalid metabolic panaceas) candidate. The likely false activity of curcumin in vitro and in vivo has resulted in >120 clinical trials of curcuminoids against several diseases. No double-blinded, placebo controlled clinical trial of curcumin has been successful. This manuscript reviews the essential medicinal chemistry of curcumin and provides evidence that curcumin is an unstable, reactive, nonbioavailable compound and, therefore, a highly improbable lead. On the basis of this in-depth evaluation, potential new directions for research on curcuminoids are discussed.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Pharmacology, Medicine, Epidemiology, Clinical trial, The Canon of Medicine, Avicenna, Clinical research


Background The Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act (FDAAA) mandates timely reporting of results of applicable clinical trials to We characterized the proportion of applicable clinical trials with publicly available results and determined independent factors associated with the reporting of results. Methods Using an algorithm based on input from the National Library of Medicine, we identified trials that were likely to be subject to FDAAA provisions (highly likely applicable clinical trials, or HLACTs) from 2008 through 2013. We determined the proportion of HLACTs that reported results within the 12-month interval mandated by the FDAAA or at any time during the 5-year study period. We used regression models to examine characteristics associated with reporting at 12 months and throughout the 5-year study period. Results From all the trials at, we identified 13,327 HLACTs that were terminated or completed from January 1, 2008, through August 31, 2012. Of these trials, 77.4% were classified as drug trials. A total of 36.9% of the trials were phase 2 studies, and 23.4% were phase 3 studies; 65.6% were funded by industry. Only 13.4% of trials reported summary results within 12 months after trial completion, whereas 38.3% reported results at any time up to September 27, 2013. Timely reporting was independently associated with factors such as FDA oversight, a later trial phase, and industry funding. A sample review suggested that 45% of industry-funded trials were not required to report results, as compared with 6% of trials funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and 9% of trials that were funded by other government or academic institutions. Conclusions Despite ethical and legal obligations to disclose findings promptly, most HLACTs did not report results to in a timely fashion during the study period. Industry-funded trials adhered to legal obligations more often than did trials funded by the NIH or other government or academic institutions. (Funded by the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative and the NIH.).

Concepts: Pharmacology, Clinical trial, Informed consent,, Report, Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health


Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules are often forged in crisis. After the 1937 sulfanilamide disaster that killed more than 100 people, Congress passed the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), requiring drugs to be safe and properly labeled. In 1962, a requirement was introduced for proof of drug efficacy through “adequate and well-controlled investigations,” partly in response to the thalidomide tragedy. Rules protecting human-research subjects owe a debt to Tuskegee and Nuremberg. Sometimes it takes a disaster to spur the adoption of appropriate regulation. Today, compounding pharmacies are at the center of a controversy after a rare outbreak of . . .

Concepts: Pharmacology, Drug, Pharmaceutical drug, Food and Drug Administration, Pure Food and Drug Act, Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, Compounding, Drug Efficacy Study Implementation