[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To evaluate the effectiveness of seasonal influenza vaccine in preventing Emergency Department (ED) visits and hospitalisations for influenza like illness (ILI) in children.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although there are several studies which have investigated pharmacists' knowledge of the safety of medicinal plants (MPs), no studies have examined herbalists' perception of risks associated with MPs.
We conducted a survey of 159 herbalists (participation rate 85.9%) in the region of Tuscany (Italy). Data were collected by means of a semi-structured questionnaire using a face-to-face interview. Risk perception was rated on a 10cm Visual Analogic Scale (VAS). Herbalists' scores were then compared with those reported by a group of 10 experts in herbal medicine.
When the overall risk was examined, herbalists had a low perception of the risks (VAS median ranged between 1.5 and 3.2) associated with the use of most MPs (Allium sativum, Aloe vera gel, Echinacea spp., Escholtzia californica, Harpagophytum procumbens, and propolis). They had an intermediate or high perception of risks associated with use of Cimicifuga racemosa, Citrus aurantium, and Panax ginseng (median ranged between 3.5 and 5.0), and for anthraquinone laxatives (median 7.2). Although the overall risk perceived by experts was generally higher than that reported by herbalists, differences were statistically significant only for Allium sativum and Escholtzia californica.
The study shows that herbalists in Tuscany are knowledgeable about the relative risks of MPs when compared with experts in herbal medicine.
Complementary therapies in medicine 02/2014; 22(1):81-6. · 1.95 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) is one of the most severe muco-cutaneous diseases and its occurrence is often attributed to drug use. The aim of the present study is to quantify the risk of SJS in association with drug and vaccine use in children.
A multicenter surveillance of children hospitalized through the emergency departments for acute conditions of interest is currently ongoing in Italy. Cases with a diagnosis of SJS were retrieved from all admissions. Parents were interviewed on child's use of drugs and vaccines preceding the onset of symptoms that led to the hospitalization. We compared the use of drugs and vaccines in cases with the corresponding use in a control group of children hospitalized for acute neurological conditions.
Twenty-nine children with a diagnosis of SJS and 1,362 with neurological disorders were hospitalized between 1(st) November 1999 and 31(st) October 2012. Cases were more frequently exposed to drugs (79% vs 58% in the control group; adjusted OR 2.4; 95% CI 1.0-6.1). Anticonvulsants presented the highest adjusted OR: 26.8 (95% CI 8.4-86.0). Significantly elevated risks were also estimated for antibiotics use (adjusted OR 3.3; 95% CI 1.5-7.2), corticosteroids (adjusted OR 4.2; 95% CI 1.8-9.9) and paracetamol (adjusted OR 3.2; 95% CI 1.5-6.9). No increased risk was estimated for vaccines (adjusted OR: 0.9; 95% CI 0.3-2.8).
Our study provides additional evidence on the etiologic role of drugs and vaccines in the occurrence of SJS in children.
PLoS ONE 07/2013; 8(7):e68231. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Vitamin D preparations are widely available as food supplements in most countries without the need of any medical prescription. We describe 3 cases of severe Vitamin D-intoxication, reported in the Italian National Institute of Health reporting system for natural health products. The cases reported share important similarities with other cases reported in literature, showing that vitamin D intoxication due to the use of food supplements is not a rare phenomenon. A major problem is that vitamin D preparations do not undergo specific quality control for good manufacturing practice due to the fact that they are labeled as "food supplements". The 3 cases reported, with capsules containing vitamin D doses 880 times higher than those declared could be considered the demonstration of the absence of appropriate quality control in product preparation. The present cases of vitamin D intoxication emphasize the need of marketing preparations produced under precise rules to define the amount of potentially toxic ingredients.
British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 04/2013; · 3.69 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the risk of upper gastrointestinal complications (UGIC) associated with drug use in the paediatric population. METHODS: This study is part of a large Italian prospective multicentre study. The study population included children hospitalised for acute conditions through the emergency departments of eight clinical centres. Patients admitted for UGIC (defined as endoscopically confirmed gastroduodenal lesions or clinically defined haematemesis or melena) comprised the case series; children hospitalised for neurological disorders formed the control group. Information on drug and vaccine exposure was collected through parental interview during the children's hospitalisation. Logistic regression was used to estimate ORs for the occurrence of UGIC associated with drug use adjusted for age, clinical centre and concomitant use of any drug. RESULTS: 486 children hospitalised for UGIC and 1930 for neurological disorders were enrolled between November 1999 and November 2010. Drug use was higher in cases than in controls (73% vs 54%; p<0.001). UGICs were associated with the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (adjusted OR 2.9, 95% CI 2.1 to 4.0), oral steroids (adjusted OR 2.9, 95% CI 1.7 to 4.8) and antibiotics (adjusted OR 2.3, 95% CI 1.8 to 3.1). The duration of use of these drug categories was short (range 1-8 days). Paracetamol showed a lower risk (adjusted OR 2.0, 95% CI 1.5 to 2.6) compared to ibuprofen (adjusted OR 3.7, 95% CI 2.3 to 5.9), although with partially overlapping CIs. CONCLUSIONS: NSAIDs, oral steroids and antibiotics, even when administered for a short period, were associated with an increased risk of UGIC.
Archives of Disease in Childhood 12/2012; · 2.91 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Antipsychotic drugs are widely used to treat behavioural and psychological disturbances associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD), although only modest evidence from randomized controlled trials supports their efficacy, and increasing evidence from post-marketing surveillance shows serious adverse events associated with their use, including increased mortality. The AdCare study, a non-profit, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, multicentre, pragmatic trial coordinated by the Italian National Institute of Health, aimed to evaluate the long-term safety and efficacy profiles of three atypical antipsychotic drugs (risperidone, olanzapine and quetiapine) and one conventional antipsychotic drug (haloperidol) in treating psychosis, aggression and agitation in outpatients with AD. The study was planned to be carried out in 19 clinical centres and to enrol 1000 outpatients. According to Italian law, in the case where a patient is considered unable to give informed consent, a legal representative designated by the court has to provide it. Because of difficulties in the informed consent procedure, the study had to be prematurely interrupted. From February 2009 to April 2010, 83 patients gave informed consent to participate in the trial. Fifty-six patients (68%) were included with consent given by a legal representative, while 27 patients (32%) were considered to provide personal informed consent on the basis of the results from a specifically built procedure. Patients and caregivers were offered the opportunity to participate in the trial before the occurrence of behavioural disturbances, in order to provide them with enough time to consider their participation in the study. Twenty-three patients experienced behavioural, clinically relevant symptoms and were randomized to the study drug; all randomized patients except one had consent for inclusion in the study given by legal representatives. After trial interruption, all patients taking an active drug continued treatment with the same molecule in clinical practice. Randomized controlled trials are acknowledged as the gold standard source of evidence on drug safety and efficacy. The AdCare study showed that an excessively rigid regulation can become a major obstacle while carrying out therapeutic research with incapacitated persons.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To describe and evaluate spontaneous reports of suspected adverse reactions (ARs) associated with herbal laxatives received by the Italian Medicines Agency and the Italian National Institute of Health between April 2002 and January 2011.
Spontaneous reports of suspected ARs were individually analyzed by a multidisciplinary group of experts, and a causality assessment was performed.
Twenty-six reactions were reported during the study period. Of these, eight were associated with herbal medicinal products and 18 were related to herbal food supplements. Almost 80% of the reports on ARs involved women. The ARs, classified by System Organ Class, were associated with gastrointestinal, skin and subcutaneous tissue, and hepatobiliary disorders. Fifty percent of the reactions were serious, with the patients requiring hospitalization; of these, one was life-threatening. Most of the herbal remedies associated with the reported ARs contained liquorice, dandelion, and/or plants containing anthraquinones. Possible causes of the ARs were long-term use, idiosyncratic reactions or hypersensitivity, and interaction with other treatments. All of these factors and the presence of a large number of components in the same product increased the unpredictability of the final effect.
The total number of 26 ARs recorded in 8 years is limited; however, the an under-reporting effect cannot be excluded. Moreover, taking into account the seriousness of the reported ARs, the low number of reports does not represent a guarantee of safety. To reduce the risk of an adverse outcome, herbal laxatives should be used only over the short term.
European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 10/2011; 68(3):231-8. · 2.70 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Teucrium chamaedrys L. is a herbaceous plant common in European woods that has been used for many purposes for centuries. Recently, T. chamaedrys L. has become popular as a slimming decoction without any scientific proof of efficacy notwithstanding its well-known hepatotoxicity. Hydroalcoholic extracts are currently used as flavourings in the preparation of wines, bitters and liqueurs. Teucrin A and teuchamaedryn A are the major toxic components of the diterpenoid fraction of T. chamaedrys L.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chronic heart failure (CHF) is a global public health problem. Therefore, novel and effective drugs that show few side-effects are needed. Early literature studies indicated that Huangqi injection is one of the most commonly used traditional Chinese patent medicines for CHF in China. As a large number of clinical studies has been carried out and published, it is essential to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of Huangqi injection. Therefore, we carried out this systematic review under the support of the framework of the Joint Sino-Italian Laboratory (JoSIL).
To evaluate the efficacy and safety of Huangqi injection for CHF according to the available scientific knowledge.
An extensive search including PubMed, EMBASE, CBM, the Cochrane Library and Chinese literature databases was performed up to July 2008. Clinical trials regarding Huangqi injection for the treatment of CHF were searched for, irrespective of languages. The quality of each trial was assessed according to the Cochrane Reviewers' Handbook 5.0, and RevMan 5.0 provided by the Cochrane Collaboration and STATA 9.2 were used for data analysis.
After selection of 1,205 articles, 62 RCTs and quasi-RCTs conducted in China and published in Chinese journals were included in the review. The methodological quality of the trials was low. In most trials inclusion and exclusion criteria were not specified. Furthermore, only one study evaluated the outcomes for drug efficacy after an adequate period of time. For these reasons and because of the different baseline characteristics we did not conduct a meta-analysis.
Although available studies are not adequate to draw a conclusion on the efficacy and safety of Huangqi injection (a traditional Chinese patent medicine), we hope that our work could provide useful experience on further studies on Huangqi injections. The overall level of TCM clinical research needs to be improved so that the efficacy of TCM can be evaluated by the international community and possibly some TCM can enter into the international market.
PLoS ONE 05/2011; 6(5):e19604. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to describe suspected adverse reactions (ARs) associated with herbal products used for weight control in Italy.
Spontaneous reports of suspected ARs associated with herbal products used for weight control were collected by the Italian National Institute of Health (April 2002 to June 2010), and the causality assessment was performed.
Forty-six of the suspected ARs were associated with herbal products used for weight control. Women were involved in 85% of the reports. The reactions affected mainly the cardiovascular system, the skin, the digestive system, the central nervous system, and the liver. A large proportion of ARs were serious. In more than half of the suspected ARs, the use of other therapies (herbs and/or drugs) was reported, while concomitant conditions were present in 22% of the reports.
The use of herbal dietary supplements for weight loss is associated with several ARs. Considering the risk/benefit ratio, consumers should pay attention when using these products.
European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 03/2011; 67(3):215-24. · 2.70 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Introduction. The safety of vitamin K antagonists (VKA) use can be compromised by many popular herbal supplements taken by individuals. The literature reports that 30% of warfarin-treated patients self-medicates with herbs. Possible interactions represent an health risk. We aimed to identify all herbs-oral anticoagulants interactions collected in the Italian database of suspected adverse reactions to "natural health" products. Methods. The Italian database of spontaneous reports of suspected adverse reactions to natural products was analyzed to address herb-VKAs interactions. Results. From 2002 to 2009, we identified 12 reports with 7 cases of INR reduction in patients treated with warfarin (n = 3) and acenocoumarol (n = 4), and 5 cases of INR increase (all warfarin associated). It was reported 8 different herbal products as possibly interacting. Discussion. Our study confirms the risk of interactions, highlighting the difficulty to characterize them and their mechanisms and, finally, prevent their onset. The reported data underline the urgent need of healthcare providers being aware of the possible interaction between natural products and VKA, also because of the critical clinical conditions affecting patients. This is the first step to have the best approach to understand possible INR alterations linked to herb-VKA interaction and to rightly educate patients in treatment with VKA.
Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 01/2011; 2011:612150. · 1.72 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We report the case of a 4-years-old boy who was admitted with hypovolemic shock due to a severe gastrointestinal bleeding. The esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGDS) showed hiatus hernia, erosions and ulcerations of the lower esophagus, possibly due to a gastroesophageal reflux, and a small duodenal erosion. The child was previously healthy and he had never shown any symptoms related to this condition. The only product taken by the child in the previous days was a syrup containing several herbs, among which Filipendula ulmaria (L.) Maxim. and Salix spp. (known to contain salicylates), marketed as food and prescribed by his paediatrician to treat a mild cold accompanied by fever. Quali-quantitative analysis confirmed the presence of salicylates in the syrup. Naranjo algorithm showed a probable correlation between the onset of symptoms and the consumption of the herbal remedy. The child recovered after receiving intensive care. The product was withdrawn from Italian market.