Time to get a little dirty?

Rising levels of allergic asthma and eczema have scientists wondering if there is such a thing as being “too clean”.

“We see auto-immune diseases like asthma and eczema increasing rapidly in North American children, but we don’t see the same effect in children in the developing world,” says Dr. B. Brett Finlay, a professor in the Michael Smith Laboratories at the University of British Columbia.

This has led Finlay to embark on a new project called the Impact of the Microbiota on Immune Development and Disease.  Researchers will look at the role of intestinal microbiota (normal bacteria that live in our gut) on immune development and disease, including asthma and eczema.

This makes a lot of sense.  The gastrointestinal tract is  afterall the primary site of interaction between the host immune system and microorganisms, both symbiotic and pathogenic.

Some of our everyday habits such bleaching countertops or giving antibiotics to young children may be killing off good bacteria along with the bad bacteria.  This so-called ‘hygiene hypothesis’ claims that our desire to be ultra-clean may mean that kids aren’t getting the bacteria they need to have strong immune systems later in life.

Finlay has assembled a team to study and identify the various types of microorganisms that live in the gut. They will also track the health development of young children enrolled in the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development Study (CHILD) in order to both better understand the role microbiota plays in the immune system, and development of autoimmune disease.

The goal will be to gain a genetic understanding of the bacteria that lives in and on the human body, specifically those found orally, on the skin, the gut, nasal/lung and vaginally.

Previous studies in humans have suggested that immunological dysregulation is the cause of many non-infectious diseases such as autoimmunity, allergy and cancer.  Gut microbes are thought to  play a role in preventing diseases such as obesity inflammatory bowel disease and type -1 diabetes.

Word on Health, will be following this story closely.  In the meantime we’re thinking a little less housework might not be a bad thing!

Drug shortages soar as Pharma financials plummet

Some 180 drugs are in short supply through the first nine months of 2010, compared with 166 in all of 2009. The shortages, tracked by the Drug Information Service at the University of Utah Health Care, are “unprecedented,” says manager Erin Fox.

Those in short supply tend to be commonly used: morphine for pain relief, propofol for sedation, Bactrim for infections.

The FDA says about 40% of the shortages are caused by manufacturing issues, some related to drug safety. 20% are the result of production delays and another 20% occur when drugmakers stop making the treatments. The remaining 20% stem from raw material shortages, increased demand, site issues and component problems, as was the case with the much publicized recent Lipitor recall.

However, both the University of Utah and the FDA ascribe financial reasons for many of the shortages, as pharmaceutical companies suffer profit declines due to generics.

While most companies refuse to comment on the reasons for the shortages Teva is not so shy.  Last May when it exited the propofol business Teva executives admitted that the drug is hard to make and barely profitable.

Which kind of blows our secret theory that they merely decided to distance themselves from Michael Jackson’s death?

Whether you work for a pharmaceutical company experiencing shortages or if you’re a patient suffering as a result, Word on Health would love to hear from you.

Word on Health Goes West

SRxA’s Word on Health in-house team of healthcare experts and many of our renowned Clinical Advisors are about to head out for the annual American College of Asthma Allergy and Immunology (ACAAI) congress, which, this year, is taking place in Phoenix, AZ; from November 11-16.

In addition to educating ourselves on all that’s new in this exciting specialty, we are available to meet with our existing and potential new clients.

Our multitalented, multinational team has, between us, decades of experience in clinical practice, clinical research, regulatory strategy, compliance, professional education, publications, pharmaceutical sales and marketing, advocacy, thought leader development, health outcomes and consulting.

If you are looking for help with:

  • Strategic planning
  • Product support
  • Professional marketing
  • Clinical development
  • Regulatory strategy
  • Social media outreach
  • Peer-to-peer education
  • …and so much more

we’d love to meet you and explain how SRxA can transform your challenges into opportunities.

Contact us today to set up an appointment.