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Study simplifies pharmaceutical production

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            HEALTH TIPS - Friday, March 23, 2007
               "News That Keeps You Healthy"   

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       Japan stops prescribing tamiflu to teens

TOKYO, -- Japan is suspending the prescription of the bird 
flu drug Tamiflu to teenagers after two new cases of 
abnormal behavior were reported. Health officials say two 
12-year-old boys jumped off the second floor of their houses 
and broke their legs in February and March after taking the 
influenza drug, Kyodo News Service said. Officials were 
already aware of two 14-year-olds who fell to their deaths 
last month. It is unclear the causal relationship between 
the drug and the behavior, Kyodo said The government has 
ordered Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., the Japanese distributor 
for Switzerland's Roche Holding AG, to put a warning against
teenage use on the drug information sheet.
  

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     Study simplifies pharmaceutical production

LA JOLLA, Calif., -- U.S. scientists have developed new 
techniques to reduce the time, complexity and cost of 
synthesizing natural products having pharmaceutical 
potential. The scientists at The Scripps Research Institute 
said their work dislodges previously entrenched beliefs in 
the organic chemistry field about how such products must be 
produced. They said their findings might advance and expand 
the use of natural products in drug discovery programs. 
"There is this far-ranging and damaging perception that 
natural products are too complex to be used in a drug 
discovery setting despite their overwhelming track record in 
medicine," said project leader Phil Baran, a SRI chemist. 
"I think if our work has helped in even a small way to 
revive the use of natural products, then we've served our 
purpose." The research by Baran and graduate students Thomas
Maimone and Jeremy Richter appears in the journal Nature.
  

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      Morphine kills pain -- not patients

CLEVELAND, -- U.S. scientists have found the belief that 
morphine is a lethal drug that causes death when used to 
control a dying patient's pain is a misconception. Two 
studies at the Cleveland Clinic's Taussig Cancer Center, 
led by Professor Bassam Estfan, focused on patients in a 
specialist palliative care in-patient unit. The patients, 
all with severe cancer pain, were treated with morphine. 
Their vital statistics were monitored before and after the 
pain was controlled. Estfan reported no significant changes
were observed. He said the morphine did not cause resp-
iratory depression, the mechanism by which lethal opioid 
overdose typically kills. "Unlike many other drugs, morphine 
has a very wide safety margin," wrote Dr. Rob George of 
University College London in a commentary on Estfan's 
research. "Evidence over the last 20 years has repeatedly 
shown that, used correctly, morphine is well tolerated, does
not cloud the mind, does not shorten life, and its sedating
effects wear off quickly. "Doctors should feel free to 
manage pain with doses adjusted to individual patients so 
that the patients can be comfortable and be able to live 
with dignity until they die." The studies appear in the 
journal Palliative Medicine.
  

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