Saturday, May 06, 2006

New Use For Old Drug

I always like to see this kind of a thing:
Aspirin shows promise in combating a common, antibiotic-induced hearing loss

University of Michigan, Chinese hospital find high success rate at preserving hearing when aspirin is paired with widely used antibiotic

ANN ARBOR, MI –Around the world, inexpensive antibiotics known as aminoglycosides have been used for the past 60 years in the battles against acute infections and tuberculosis, as antibacterial prophylaxis in cystic fibrosis patients, and other conditions. But for all of the good they do, the drugs also have been widely linked to irreversible hearing loss. [...]

The researchers studied [link to extract] 195 patients in China who received 80 to 160 milligrams of gentamicin (a type of aminoglycoside) intravenously twice daily, typically for five to seven days. Of those, 89 patients were given aspirin along with the antibiotic, and 106 were given placebos along with the antibiotic. The results were dramatic: The incidence of hearing loss in the group that was given placebos was 13 percent, while in the aspirin group it was just 3 percent, or 75 percent lower.

“We would like to see the word get around to the medical community around the world that you can take some precautions to minimize the risk to your patients. Aspirin is available everywhere, and it’s cheap,” says senior author Schacht, professor of biological chemistry in otolaryngology at the University of Michigan Medical School and director of the U-M Health System’s Kresge Hearing Research Institute. Gentamicin is not commonly used in the United States. [...]
This is a nice bit of work that could have significant implications for health in developing countries.  Even in the US, aminoglycosides are used often enough that the findings could be important here, too.