Asthma, breast cancer and the flu

December 11, 2008 4:11:26 PM PST
There are new recommendations for asthma drugs, a better drug to treat breast cancer and a reason why some people are more likely to get the flu. FDA safety experts have been reviewing three commonly prescribed asthma drugs and questioning their safety, particularly in their use with children. The reason was that analysis of records showed a slightly increased of asthma-related hospitalizations in people taking some of those drugs.

The FDA advisers have decided that two of the long-acting asthma drugs are too risky.

It is recommending that the drugs Foradil and Serevent no longer be used to treat asthma.

The two drugs work by relaxing airway muscles, but that may mask symptoms that can trigger a life-threatening attack.

The next step is for the FDA to follow the advice of the committee, which it usually does.

The third drug, Advair, was not pin-pointed as risky.


Breast cancer experts are meeting in San Antonio this week and exchanging news on their studies about the disease.

Two studies may affect the thousands of women who are recent breast cancer survivors. Many have gone through surgery and chemotherapy, and the next challenge is to keep the cancer from coming back.

The drug Tamoxifen is used for women who had a type of cancer called estrogen positive. It lowers the risk of the cancer coming back, and women take it for five or six years.

But two separate studies show drugs like Femara and Aromasin might work better than Tamoxifen.

Women who took Aromasin and Femara instead of Tamoxifen had greater success at not having the cancer recur.


People aren't getting their flu shots. The research group the Rand Corporation found that nearly half of all adults for whom the vaccine is recommended say they don't plan to get it.

The flu is painful and costly and can have big, even life-threatening ramifications, particularly for adults with an underlying illness and those over 50.


STORY BY: Dr. Jay Adlersberg


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