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February 2006
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 Wednesday, 08 February 2006
Topiramate Shows Promise in Addiction Fight
Topiramate, a drug used to treat epilepsy under the brand name Topamax, is being studied as a possible treatment for alcoholism, nicotine addiction, gambling addiction, and even some eating disorders, Newsweek reported.

Doctors are already prescribing the drug off-label to treat addiction, although topiramate has not been officially been approved by the FDA for this purpose. "My patients tell me that they no longer have the fear that comes with craving," said Fairbanks, Alaska, internist Linda Garcia, who has prescribed the drug to dozens of alcoholics.

The drug seems to reduce craving by inhibiting the release of the pleasure-related neurotransmitter glutamate and promoting the release of the glutamate inhibitor GABA, another neurotransmitter.

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Court Says Purdue Lied, Forfeits Patent
Pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma lied about its painkiller OxyContin and thus forfeited the patent to the drug, a U.S. appeals court has ruled. The decision opens the door to other companies making generic versions of the drug.

The New York Times reported June 8 that the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., ruled in favor of Endo Pharmaceuticals, which sought to invalidate Purdue's OxyContin patent and begin making a generic version of the drug. Purdue has made about $1.5 billion in annual OxyContin sales over the past five years.

The three-judge appeals panel upheld a lower-court ruling that Purdue had falsely claimed in its patent application to have clinical evidence that OxyContin was easier for doctors to use than other pain-relief drugs. In addition to allowing for generic oxycodone drugs to be made and sold, the ruling exposes Purdue to possible litigation totaling billions of dollars.

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Fed: Court Ruling Kills Hawaii Medical Marijuana Program
A state medical-marijuana program in Hawaii has been declared dead by a local federal official after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state laws don't protect medical users, dealers, or doctors from federal drug prosecution, the Honolulu Advertiser reported June 7.

"The U.S. Supreme Court decision this morning is the death knell to the medical-marijuana issue," said Honolulu based U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo. "I would advise all physicians and anyone who is involved in distributing or helping in the distribution of any illegal narcotic to be very, very leery." Kubo added, however, that his office would not prosecute medical-marijuana users.

The ruling seemed to have a chilling effect on some of the 116 Hawaiian doctors who had been issuing medical-marijuana certificates to patients. "If it could become something I could be prosecuted for, I certainly would want to stay away from that," said optometrist Joyce Cassen.

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