drug information

2 immunotherapy treatments in the news: Imfinzi and Keytruda update

Two immunotherapy treatments — Imfinzi (durvalumab) and Keytruda (pembrolizumab) — have made headlines recently in relation to lung cancer treatment. What’s the latest? Here’s an update. Expanded FDA approval for Imfinzi The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved Imfinzi as a bladder cancer treatment in 2017. Imfinzi is marketed by AstraZeneca. In February 2018, the FDA approved Imfinzi for some lung cancer cases — specifically for patients with “stage 3 non-small cell lung cancer [NSCLC] who are not able to be treated with surgery to remove their tumor, and whose cancer has not gotten worse after they received chemotherapy along with radiation (chemoradiation),” the American Cancer Society (ACS) explains. A few more details on Imfinzi, according to the ACS: The goal of treatment with this drug is to keep the cancer from getting worse for as long as possible (researchers call this “progression-free survival”). The new approval for Imfinzi was based on a randomized clinical trial of 713 people, which found that those who received the drug had an average progression-free survival of 16.8 months compared to 5.6 months for those in the trial who did not receive it. Imfinzi is a “checkpoint inhibitor” drug that targets and blocks the PD-L1 protein to …

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Want to know more about Radicava (edaravone)? Here’s a snapshot:

With the recent FDA approval of Radicava (edaravone), we wanted to know more about how it works and what it means for patients living with ALS. We asked Maria Lowe, Pharm.D., BCPS, and our Health Data Integrity team, to give us a snapshot of the drug, how it’s used and what you should know. Maria’s rundown is meant to give you more context so you can have better conversations with your care team – as always, talk with your physician before starting any type of new treatment. Radicava: The quick hits Radicava works as a free radical scavenger. When free radical (toxic by-products of cells that are highly unstable and reactive) levels are too high, cells are damaged resulting in oxidative stress (which may damage motor neurons). The way in which Radicava works to help patients with ALS is not fully understood yet; however, researchers believe that by getting rid of these free radicals it can help prevent some cell damage. In clinical trials, treatment with Radicava was found to slow the decline in functional disability as measured by ALSFRS-r scores for some patients. However, it is important to note that Radicava does not stop the death of motor neurons (it’s …

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Ocrevus MS medication

Ocrevus: You asked, we answered

Last month, we asked the MS community to share their questions about Ocrevus. Now, PatientsLikeMe’s Maria Lowe, Pharm.D., BCPS, sheds more light on what it is, how it works and what patients need to know. Maria’s rundown is meant to give you more context so you can have better conversations with your care team – as always, talk with your physician before starting any type of new treatment. What is Ocrevus (ocrelizumab)? Ocrelizumab is a medication that was FDA approved for the treatment of adults with relapsing or primary progressive forms of multiple sclerosis in March, 2017. While the exact way ocrelizumab works isn’t fully understood, researchers believe it works by blocking certain types of B cells that appear to play a role in the autoimmune destruction of nerve cells in patients with MS. Treatment with ocrelizumab begins with an initial intravenous (IV) infusion over a period of at least 2.5 hours followed by a second infusion two weeks later. After these first two doses, ocrelizumab is administered every six months via an IV infusion over at least 3.5 hours. Do you really need a washout period before starting ocrelizumab? A number of MS treatments work by interfering with the …

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A Day in the Life of Health Data and Drug Information Clinical Specialist David Blaser

What’s it like to work at PatientsLikeMe?  We are continuing to reveal just that with our ongoing blog series “A Day in the Life,” which features PatientsLikeMe employees from different departments.  Today we’d like to introduce you to David Blaser, PharmD, a registered pharmacist who decided to trade his white lab coat for the more casual dress of the startup world in early 2011.  Find out what drew him to PatientsLikeMe, how his pharmacy background factors into his work and more. 1.  What led you to join PatientsLikeMe? My journey had a few twists and turns, but now that I’m here, I can’t imagine working anywhere else.  I started studying pharmacy at Northeastern in 2003. Toward the end of my time there, I started to consider the career paths I could take and didn’t find any of the traditional ones particularly compelling. Maybe it was part of being young and naïve, but I continually was disappointed and perplexed by our healthcare system in the US. I felt like there had to be a better way. Then I took a great class called Pharmacoeconomics and Health Outcomes. During this class, you take a medical question (e.g., Should I take drug A or drug …

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