The Handoff: Your Week in Neurology News – 4/20/17

The Handoff is a weekly roundup of neurology news covering various developments in subspecialties, the pharmaceutical industry, and the overall state of health care as it affects neurologists.

— The 69th annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology kicks off Saturday, April 22 in Boston. Stay with Neurology Advisor for live coverage of AAN 2017 and take a sneak peek at what you can expect.

— A report from French drug regulator ANSM found that Sanofi’s valproate is linked to major birth defects in up to 4100 children in France whose mothers took the epilepsy drug during pregnancy.

— The FDA has issued an updated warning against the use of codeine and tramadol in children 12 years or younger. The updated labeling also cautions use of the drugs in children aged 12-18 years and nursing mothers.

— Physicians at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Florida are the first to use magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound on a patient with a benign hypothalamic hamartoma. The procedure is the first performed as part of an FDA-approved feasibility study of the Exablate Neuro system.

— Researchers from Scripps Research Institute have identified a “switch” in the brain for alcohol response. The finding may help in the development of more personalized treatments for alcohol dependence.

— Cherokee Nation has filed a lawsuit in tribal court against retailers and drug companies including CVS Health and Walgreens, claiming the companies did not do enough to stop the flood of prescription painkillers from entering the market. Oklahoma, where most Cherokee citizens reside, has the highest rate of prescription painkiller abuse in the country.

— A study published in Stroke reports that a higher recent and higher cumulative intake of artificially sweetened soft drink beverages increases the risk of ischemic stroke, all-cause dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease dementia.

— New York-Presbyterian has established a new center for the treatment of glioblastoma and other brain cancers. The center will focus on multidisciplinary care, personalized medicine, and education.

— NIH researchers have uncovered a gene-hormone interaction in women that alters memory circuit function. The finding may help explain differences in mental disorders seen across different sexes and individuals.

— The FDA is on a drug-approval roll, with 14 new drug approvals logged compared to just 7 this time last year. Neurological disorders have seen the most benefit, with significant approvals for MS, chorea, and tardive dyskinesia, as well Duchenne muscular dystrophy.