Reviews Minerva


BMJ 2001; 322 doi: (Published 12 May 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:1190

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The theory that the oral polio vaccine (OPV) inadvertently introduced HIV to humans has been soundly debunked (Science 2001;292:743-4). Forty year old vaccine samples have now been proved to come from cells taken from monkeys, not chimpanzees (which can carry simian immunodeficiency virus, widely accepted to be the origin of HIV). Another vaccine scare story bites the dust.

Black patients with heart failure have a poorer prognosis than their white counterparts. To see if racial differences in response to drug treatment account for this, 1196 white patients were matched with 800 black patients from the studies of left ventricular dysfunction (SOLVD) trials. Researchers observed a 44% reduction in hospital admissions for heart failure in white patients taking enalapril compared with placebo. No significant reduction was seen among the black cohort (New England Journal of Medicine 2001;344:1351-7). Differences in compliance are unlikely to explain the discrepancy, as hospitalisation rates in both placebo groups were similar.

The promise of “precision” prescriptions provided by the use of genetic information about individual patients is receiving increasing levels of hype. But commentators in the International Journal of …

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