Pharmaceuticals

It's been a long and often controversial road, but U.S. doctors are finally embracing a drug that can halt strokes and prevent disabling brain damage.

An analysis of more than 1 million stroke patients shows that use of the 17-year-old drug, called alteplase (brand-name Activase), nearly doubled between 2003 and 2011.

Researchers say a cheap, generic pill called finasteride prevents almost 40 percent of low-grade prostate cancers without increasing the risk of dying from more aggressive tumors.

New evidence points to the drug as a potentially safer way to deal with prostate cancers that now get more intense treatment. Many prostate cancers that aren't destined to cause men serious health problems are often treated with surgery or radiation.

When your doctor is looking to make a diagnosis or choose a treatment, she often checks to see what the experts recommend.

Guidelines from these groups of leading doctors help the average physician decide if it's time to prescribe drugs to lower a patient's cholesterol or turn to medicines for someone's depression.

Research intended to help people with muscle-wasting diseases could be about to launch a new era in performance-enhancing drugs.

The research has produced several muscle-building drugs now being tested in people with medical problems, including muscular dystrophy, cancer and kidney disease. The drugs all work by blocking a substance called myostatin that the body normally produces to keep muscles from getting too big.

Taking acetaminophen causes rare but potentially deadly skin reactions in some people, the Food and Drug Administration warned Thursday.

The goal is not to scare people off Tylenol and other acetaminophen-based pain relievers, which are among the most popular medications in the United States, federal officials say.

Instead, they want people to be aware that these skin conditions can be a side effect of using acetaminophen, so that if they notice a rash or other skin reaction they can stop taking the drug and quickly get to a doctor.

As expected, the Food and Drug Administration has granted an additional three years of protection from generic competition to the makers of the most popular form of the emergency contraceptive pill,

Sometimes a drug hits cancer hard. Sometimes the cancer cells are unfazed. But it's often hard to know which outcome to expect.

A group of scientists at the National Cancer Institute has spent the last three years turning some mathematical algorithms loose on giant sets of data to better understand the relationship between cancerous cells and cancer drugs.

The prescription drugs you take spend plenty of time on the drawing board before they end up in your medicine cabinet. But the research work doesn't necessarily stop then.

Why does anyone buy Bayer aspirin — or Tylenol, or Advil — when, almost always, there's a bottle of cheaper generic pills, with the same active ingredient, sitting right next to the brand-name pills?

Matthew Gentzkow, an economist at the University of Chicago's Booth school, recently tried to answer this question. Along with a few colleagues, Gentzkow set out to test a hypothesis: Maybe people buy the brand-name pills because they just don't know that the generic version is basically the same thing.

Women are dying from overdoses of prescription painkillers at a much higher rate than men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And while men still suffer more overdoses, women are catching up fast.

From 1999 to 2010, the CDC found a fivefold increase in the number and rate of such cases among middle-aged women. Over the same period, the rate of overdoses from prescription painkillers increased 3.5 times in men.

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