DRUG RACEMISATION – COUNTERING SERIOUSNESS OF ADRS
Medical drugs may not always prove to be solution for recovery from health problem(s). At times, instead of recovery they lead to further health problems and complications in many cases. Adverse drug reactions (ADR) is one of the serious issues in medication that leaves serious health implications, often for longer periods, or even claims human lives.
ADRs are caused by various factors like spurious & impure drugs, prescription & consumption errors like wrong medicines and overdose. But even standard & good drugs prescribed & consumed without any errors can also cause adverse reaction.
Various studies, research papers and articles have estimated the seriousness of ADRs. Studies in UK and some other countries reported that the prevalence of hospital admissions caused by ADRs range from 2.3% to 21.2%. In Singapore the prevalence at admission in adults 12.4% and causing admission was 8.1% according to an article published in British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. In US there were nearly 4.6 million drug related visits in 2009 and the cost to the society due to ADRs is $ 136 billion per year. According to a research article death by medicine, in US 106,000 lakh patients died due to ADRs in 1997, while 2.2 million patients US hospitals face ADRs.
Significantly, most of these figures are related to ADRs caused by good and standard drugs which are prescribed and consumed without any errors. Although the drugs were of standard quality and their prescription and consumption was error free, they still turned into harmful version and led to some health complication or even deaths. But Cardiff University is now having a solution to this problem.
Researchers at Cardiff University, in collaboration with Liverpool John Moores University and AstraZeneca have developed a new method to test the likelihood of a drug turning into a potentially harmful version of itself on entering the body. This method assess the likely risk of drug undergoing racemisation – a process in which a drug flips into a mirror image of itself and becomes potentially dangerous. The researchers simulated the chemical conditions of the human body and introduced a number of drugs to the system monitoring the rate of racemisation of different drugs. The researchers used these results to generate a mathematical model to predict rate of racemisation and subsequently how safe the drug is if administered.
Risk assessment of different drugs done in this way will help to manufacture safer drugs that may not develop ADRs. More importantly, the early detection of problem in a drug in the drug development process will manufacturers to stop working on the drugs that fail the test and instead focus their efforts on other medicines that will possibly not have dangers of ADRs.
Almost every drug has some type of risk associated with it. If not completely eliminating those risks, but at least to manage and minimise them to protect the patients is the most important task of the pharma manufacturer. All the potential risks thus managed and minimised ensure supply of standard and high quality drugs to patients.
One obvious impact of the new finding, once it becomes available for common use, will be almost nil health problems & complications caused by ADRs leading to improved safety for patients and thus reduction of fear among patients about medicines and their ADRs. Another most likely impact could be reduction in prices of new drugs as the new finding could lead to significant reduction in the financial risk involved in drug development by identifying the risky drugs early in the development process that will avoid wastage in development of the drug that would prove risky later in clinical trials. From both the points it may prove to be a significant finding in years to come.