News in brief: Acne antibiotic gets agranulocytosis warning; PBS listing for psoriasis biosimilar; Doctors hit the bottle to relieve pandemic distress


Acne antibiotic gets agranulocytosis warning

A fatal case of tetracycline-induced agranulocytosis has prompted the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to remind clinicians to be aware of the potential risk of the adverse events with the antibiotic minocycline used for acne.

In a new advisory statement the TGA says it has received four reports of cases for minocycline involving agranulocytosis, one of which was fatal.

It noted that agranulocytosis has a reported incidence ranging from 1 to 5 cases per million population per year, with about 70% of cases associated with drug reactions.

“Prescribers should be aware of the potential risk of agranulocytosis associated with minocycline and the importance of early recognition and monitoring of full blood count and liver function tests during treatment,” it said.

“Prior to treatment with minocycline, patients should be made aware of the risk, including signs and symptoms, and what to do in the event of suspected agranulocytosis.”

Minocycline is marketed in Australia under the tradename Minomycin and the generic brand Akamin.


PBS listing for psoriasis biosimilar

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) has recommended PBS listing of Pfizer’s biosimilar brand of anti-TNF therapy adalimumab pre-filled pen Abrilada for the same indications as the reference brand Humira.

The recommended indications include plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis as well as other rheumatology and gastroenterology conditions such as RA and IBD

According to the PBAC recommendation, the biosimilars Abrilada, Amgevita, Hadlima, Hyrimoz, Humira and Idacio PFS should be treated as equivalent to each other; and Abrilada, Amgevita, Hadlima, Hyrimoz, Humira and Idacio PFP should be treated as equivalent to each other for the purpose of substitution (i.e. ‘a’ flagged), for respective PBS-listed indications.

At its July meeting the PBAC also recommended PBS listing of etanercept (Enbrel) in dose dispenser cartridges under the same conditions as the currently listed pre-filled syringes.


Doctors hit the bottle to relieve pandemic distress

Alcohol is one of the main coping strategies used by Australian healthcare workers in response to the pandemic, a national survey has revealed.

Conducted in September 2020, the survey on wellbeing and coping strategies elicited responses from 7846 frontline healthcare workers including more than 2400 medical staff, and showed that over a quarter (26.3%) reported increased alcohol use.

The most commonly reported adaptive coping strategies were exercise (45%), social connections (32%) and yoga or meditation (26%), whereas few used workplace support programs (6%) or sought help from a doctor or psychologist (18%).

Use of alcohol was associated with poor mental health and worse personal relationships, the study found.

The study investigators said the widespread use of maladaptive coping strategies by healthcare workers during the second wave highlighted an urgent need to improve access and uptake of professional support services for psychological distress.

Read more in General Hospital Psychiatry

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