News in brief: Dry mouth treatment promise; Cancer expert to lead review of chemotherapy funding; Oncology journal bans ghostwriters


Chance finding suggests dry mouth treatment

PDE4 inhibitors may have a role in the treatment of dry mouth and salivary gland dysfunction associated with radiation therapy, some medications and ageing.

The observation that piclamilast visibly induced salivation in experimental animals was an incidental finding from a study of the anti-inflammatory benefits of PDE4 inhibition in a mouse model of bacterial lung infection.

Subsequent US research, being presented at the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics annual meeting, showed the induction of salivation is a class effect of PDE4 but not PDE3 inhibitors.

The likely mechanisms of action include cAMP/PKA-dependent activation of CFTR that promotes saliva secretion or alleviating the inflammatory responses that cause salivary gland dysfunction.


Cancer expert to lead review of chemotherapy funding

Former CEO of Cancer Council Australia, Professor Sanchia Aranda AM will head a Federal government review of the Efficient Funding of Chemotherapy (EFC) under the PBS.

According to the Department of Health, the review “will seek to investigate current processes involved in the production, distribution of and access to chemotherapy medicines provided by the EFC supply chain to identify whether arrangements may be amenable to simplification to improve efficiency and equitable access in the long term.”

Currently, remuneration for chemotherapy medicines is paid to the supplying pharmacy, but concerns have been raised about compounding fees, claims paperwork and equity of access to chemotherapy.

Professor Aranda will hold the position of Lead Reviewer, with the University of Technology Sydney Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation assisting in the role of a Health Economics and Policy Advice Unit.

The review will release a discussion paper over coming months, and call for submissions. Feedback will help develop a final report due to the Government by 30 June 2022.


Oncology journal bans ghostwriters

A leading oncology journal says it is banning articles produced by pharma-funded medical writers, to which doctors attach their names to add credibility to subtle promotional messages. Editors at the Journal of Thoracic Oncology say they are tired of seeing review articles submitted with multiple authors but which they recognise as being crafted primarily by medical writers. Such articles would not be produced spontaneously by the expert authors, they argue, and serve instead to act as ‘Trojan Horses” for the pharmaceutical sponsor’s products.

“Although it may be hard to unequivocally define what such reviews look like, arguably we still all know one when we see one. The journal’s editorial office will flag these professionally written and submitted articles. Furthermore, we are simply asking you, our prospective contributors, to not direct ghostwritten review articles to this journal,” they said in an editorial.

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