FDA: Concentrated hay is OK

The first drug derived from marijuana has been approved for sale in the US. Under the brand name Epidiolex, the purified cannabidiol (CBD) substance has shown promise as a treatment for two rare forms of epilepsy. CBD is the compound in marijuana that researchers have identified as what gives the “Devil’s lettuce” its medicinal properties. This shouldn’t be confused with THC which is what gives Cheech & Chong (Warning: language and, obviously, drug use) material for their comedic properties. CBD oil has been touted as a treatment for severe epilepsy in the past few years but having an FDA-approved drug with consistent quality and dosage could give physicians more confidence in prescribing it. The approval also influences enforcement, forcing the US Drug Enforcement Agency to reschedule the drug since it now has an accepted medical use.

Right to try, is it alright?

The FDA’s Compassionate Use program helps patients that seek access to medications still in the development pipeline. But legislation signed into law this week allows patients to completely bypass the regulatory agency should they so choose. The “Right to Try” bill gives patients access to investigational drugs with the permission of just their physician and the drug manufacturer. It also shields those drug companies from the legal risks involved. Critics, including the American Cancer Society, say the bill gives false hope to patients, and champion the current process of compassionate use and clinical trials. After all, the FDA approves 99% of compassionate use applications, and can even do approvals over the phone. When asked for comment, some formerly prominent musicians said “You gotta fight for your right… to paaaaaaaaarty.”

Stay a doctor, please

The UK is putting its money where its mouth is. “NHS England has announced a new initiative to help retain GPs in the shape of a £10 million ($13M USD) fund designed to capture those considering leaving general practice.” Why? Because market research conducted for the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) revealed that 39% of its members thought they are unlikely to be working in the profession in England in five years’ time. Whoa. England’s not alone. A 2015 study by the Mayo Clinic found a significant increase in US physician burnout and decrease in work-life balance. Want more? The WHO released a study that indicates “shortages can mount up to 9.9 million physicians, nurses and midwives globally by 2030.” Great. Looks like we’ll need a few more Dr. Beepers in the future. Kudos to England for trying.

So long sepsis?

Sepsis is the leading cause of death in American hospitals, claiming over 700 patients per day. So wouldn’t it be nice if there were something care providers could do about it? Two large-scale studies are trying to figure that out with a cure that’s so (relatively) simple and cheap, some are calling it snake oil. Dr. Paul Marik began treating his sepsis patients with a cocktail of Vitamin B1, Vitamin C, and corticosteroids, and observed remarkable sepsis reversals in many of the patients he treated with the mix. The implications of this proposed treatment are more dramatic than the most dramatic panda ever. So the two studies are trying to get funds and patients recruited ASAP to see if the science really stands up to scrutiny.