Business briefs: HRT, HPV, Novo Nordisk

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A study in the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health poked holes in research linking hormone replacement therapy with breast cancer, reported MedPageToday. Researcher Samuel Shapiro's team found that two studies – one based on the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results and the other based on data from Kaiser Permanente's Northern California database -- have too many weaknesses to make a direct link between HRT and cancer. Among the researcher's concerns: “detection bias,” suggesting that mammograms probably upped detection rates of early-stage noninvasive cancer, and a “time order” problem in which breast cancer numbers dropped three years before findings from the two studies were incorporated in the 2002 report by the Women's Health Initiative. Shapiro's team also found a lack of linearity – despite plummeting HRT use after 2002, global rates did not have a straight drop, but fluctuated. As an example, Belgium's rates fell in 2003 but rose in 2005. They also noted that rates among young women increased between 2003 and 2007. MedPageToday wrote “if HRT was the cause of the decline in breast cancer incidence after 2002, declines should have continued in the ensuing years.”

Fear over adverse reactions is getting between teen girls and HPV vaccinations, Reuters reported Monday. Reuters said a survey by the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center found that about 75% of girls between 13 and 17 were either not being vaccinated or not getting the full three-shot regimen. While adverse reactions were cited, the survey also said parents were shunning the shots because doctors did not recommend it, they do not believe their child was is sexually active, and they don't think the shot is necessary. Merck and GSK manufacture the HPV vaccines Gardasil and Cervarix.

Novo Nordisk's latest Phase IIIa liraglutide-obesity trial indicated that obese patients with a mean baseline BMI of 37 lost between 5% and 6% of their weight, compared to the average 2% weight loss on placebo -- a big disappointment for analysts and investors. The weight-loss range was associated with the 1.8mg and 3mg doses of the GLP-1 analogue, respectively. The trial ran for 56 weeks and included 846 overweight or obese type 2 diabetes patients who took the drugs for 56 weeks and were then observed for 12 additional weeks. The trial is one of four SCALE trials, which assess around 5,000 patients who are either overweight with a BMI of at least 27 and a co-morbid condition, like hypertension, or obese, with a BMI of at least 30, with or without a comorbid condition, like type 2 diabetes.
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