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Pharmacoepidemiology: Scrutinizing drug safety in dermatology

Pharmacoepidemiology has timely significance for dermatologists, given recent national publicity focused on the association of isotretinoin with suicide and lymphoma with psoriasis, according to Joel M. Gelfand, M.D., M.S.C.E., University of Pennsylvania Health System's department of dermatology.

Dr. Gelfand says many adverse drug reactions are not detected prior to drug approval because they are statistically rare.

He cites the reported association of isotretinoin with suicide. He says isotretinoin has been used by more than 12 million people worldwide, and that due to the widespread use of this medication, one would expect by pure coincidence to observe suicides, given that suicide is the third most common cause of death in patients in the age group commonly prescribed the drug.

He adds that pharmacoepidemiology can also be used to discover novel indications for medications.

There has been a boon in advances for the treatment of psoriasis, spanning an arsenal of new biologic therapies. As a group, biologics are already the most prescribed systemic medications for the treatment of psoriasis, according to Mark Lebwohl, M.D., Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City, who discussed many on the market.

Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma has proven to be difficult to diagnose. According to Jacqueline M. Junkins-Hopkins, M.D., CTCL features overlap with more inflammatory dermatoses. Also, the histopathology of the early disease is not always able to be diagnosed, so the condition may escape diagnosis entirely.

Members of the American Academy of Dermatology and the AAD Association began voting online Sunday for 2006 officers and directors.

Steven A. Rosenberg, M.D., Ph,D., chief of surgery at the National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md., received the AAD Cancer Research Award yesterday.

Patent blue dye (PBD) appears to be sufficient for inguinal sentinel lymph node biopsy in melanoma patients, said Luis Tovo, M.D., Ph.D. yesterday.

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