Publications by authors named "Gowtham Rao"

22 Publications

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A Spatial Assessment of Prostate Cancer Mortality-to-Incidence Ratios Among South Carolina Veterans: 1999 - 2015.

Ann Epidemiol 2021 Apr 6. Epub 2021 Apr 6.

South Carolina Statewide Cancer Prevention and Control Program, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA; Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA.

Purpose: To assess veteran-specific prostate cancer (PrCA) mortality-to-incidence ratios (MIR) in South Carolina's (SC) veteran population.

Methods: U.S. Veterans Health Administration electronic medical records from January 1999 to December 2015 identified 3,073 PrCA patients residing in 345 ZIP code tabulation areas (ZCTA) within SC. MIRs were calculated for all SC ZCTAs and by key patient- and neighborhood-level risk factors for PrCA. Comparisons between ZCTAs identified as part of a spatial cluster were compared with non-significant ZCTAs using t-tests.

Results: The MIR was 0.17 overall, ranging from a low of 0.15 among Black men to 0.20 among White men. Among metropolitan ZCTAs, the MIR was 0.18 compared to 0.16 in non-metropolitan ZCTAs. Two clusters of higher-than-expected MIRs were found in the Upstate region.

Conclusions: Identification of spatial clusters of higher- or lower-than-expected MIRs allows for further testing of possible explanatory factors, and the capacity to target resources and policies according to greatest need.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.annepidem.2021.03.010DOI Listing
April 2021

Characterizing the incidence of adverse events of special interest for COVID-19 vaccines across eight countries: a multinational network cohort study.

medRxiv 2021 Mar 28. Epub 2021 Mar 28.

Background: As large-scale immunization programs against COVID-19 proceed around the world, safety signals will emerge that need rapid evaluation. We report population-based, age- and sex- specific background incidence rates of potential adverse events of special interest (AESI) in eight countries using thirteen databases.

Methods: This multi-national network cohort study included eight electronic medical record and five administrative claims databases from Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States, mapped to a common data model. People observed for at least 365 days before 1 January 2017, 2018, or 2019 were included. We based study outcomes on lists published by regulators: acute myocardial infarction, anaphylaxis, appendicitis, Bell's palsy, deep vein thrombosis, disseminated intravascular coagulation, encephalomyelitis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, hemorrhagic and non-hemorrhagic stroke, immune thrombocytopenia, myocarditis/pericarditis, narcolepsy, pulmonary embolism, and transverse myelitis. We calculated incidence rates stratified by age, sex, and database. We pooled rates across databases using random effects meta-analyses. We classified meta-analytic estimates into Council of International Organizations of Medical Sciences categories: very common, common, uncommon, rare, or very rare.

Findings: We analysed 126,661,070 people. Rates varied greatly between databases and by age and sex. Some AESI (e.g., myocardial infarction, Guillain-Barre syndrome) increased with age, while others (e.g., anaphylaxis, appendicitis) were more common in young people. As a result, AESI were classified differently according to age. For example, myocardial infarction was very rare in children, rare in women aged 35-54 years, uncommon in men and women aged 55-84 years, and common in those aged ≥85 years.

Interpretation: We report robust baseline rates of prioritised AESI across 13 databases. Age, sex, and variation between databases should be considered if background AESI rates are compared to event rates observed with COVID-19 vaccines.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2021.03.25.21254315DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8010764PMC
March 2021

Implementation of the COVID-19 Vulnerability Index Across an International Network of Health Care Data Sets: Collaborative External Validation Study.

JMIR Med Inform 2021 Apr 5;9(4):e21547. Epub 2021 Apr 5.

Department of Biomedical Informatics, Ajou University School of Medicine, Suwon, Republic of Korea.

Background: SARS-CoV-2 is straining health care systems globally. The burden on hospitals during the pandemic could be reduced by implementing prediction models that can discriminate patients who require hospitalization from those who do not. The COVID-19 vulnerability (C-19) index, a model that predicts which patients will be admitted to hospital for treatment of pneumonia or pneumonia proxies, has been developed and proposed as a valuable tool for decision-making during the pandemic. However, the model is at high risk of bias according to the "prediction model risk of bias assessment" criteria, and it has not been externally validated.

Objective: The aim of this study was to externally validate the C-19 index across a range of health care settings to determine how well it broadly predicts hospitalization due to pneumonia in COVID-19 cases.

Methods: We followed the Observational Health Data Sciences and Informatics (OHDSI) framework for external validation to assess the reliability of the C-19 index. We evaluated the model on two different target populations, 41,381 patients who presented with SARS-CoV-2 at an outpatient or emergency department visit and 9,429,285 patients who presented with influenza or related symptoms during an outpatient or emergency department visit, to predict their risk of hospitalization with pneumonia during the following 0-30 days. In total, we validated the model across a network of 14 databases spanning the United States, Europe, Australia, and Asia.

Results: The internal validation performance of the C-19 index had a C statistic of 0.73, and the calibration was not reported by the authors. When we externally validated it by transporting it to SARS-CoV-2 data, the model obtained C statistics of 0.36, 0.53 (0.473-0.584) and 0.56 (0.488-0.636) on Spanish, US, and South Korean data sets, respectively. The calibration was poor, with the model underestimating risk. When validated on 12 data sets containing influenza patients across the OHDSI network, the C statistics ranged between 0.40 and 0.68.

Conclusions: Our results show that the discriminative performance of the C-19 index model is low for influenza cohorts and even worse among patients with COVID-19 in the United States, Spain, and South Korea. These results suggest that C-19 should not be used to aid decision-making during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our findings highlight the importance of performing external validation across a range of settings, especially when a prediction model is being extrapolated to a different population. In the field of prediction, extensive validation is required to create appropriate trust in a model.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2196/21547DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8023380PMC
April 2021

Comparative Risk Assessment of Severe Uterine Bleeding Following Exposure to Direct Oral Anticoagulants: A Network Study Across Four Observational Databases in the USA.

Drug Saf 2021 Apr 2;44(4):479-497. Epub 2021 Mar 2.

Janssen Research & Development, LLC, Raritan, NJ, USA.

Background: Antithrombotic therapies are associated with an increased bleeding risk. Abnormal uterine bleeding data have been reported in clinical trials of patients with venous thromboembolism (VTE), but data are limited for patients with atrial fibrillation (AF).

Objective: Using real-world data from four US healthcare databases (October 2010 to December 2018), we compared the occurrence of severe uterine bleeding among women newly exposed to rivaroxaban, apixaban, dabigatran, and warfarin stratified by indication.

Methods: To reduce potential confounding, patients in comparative cohorts were matched on propensity scores. Treatment effect estimates were generated using Cox proportional hazard models for each indication, in each database, and only for pairwise comparisons that met a priori study diagnostics. If estimates were homogeneous (I < 40%), a meta-analysis across databases was performed and pooled hazard ratios reported.

Results: Data from 363,919 women newly exposed to a direct oral anticoagulant or warfarin with a prior diagnosis of AF (60.8%) or VTE (39.2%) were analyzed. Overall incidence of severe uterine bleeding was low in the populations exposed to direct oral anticoagulants, although relatively higher in the younger VTE population vs the AF population (unadjusted incidence rates: 2.8-33.7 vs 1.9-10.0 events/1000 person-years). In the propensity score-matched AF population, a suggestive, moderately increased risk of severe uterine bleeding was observed for rivaroxaban relative to warfarin [hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals from 0.83 (0.27-2.48) to 2.84 (1.32-6.23) across databases with significant heterogeneity], apixaban [pooled hazard ratio 1.45 (0.91-2.28)], and dabigatran [2.12 (1.01-4.43)], which were sensitive to the time-at-risk period. In the propensity score-matched VTE population, a consistent increased risk of severe uterine bleeding was observed for rivaroxaban relative to warfarin [2.03 (1.19-3.27)] and apixaban [2.25 (1.45-3.41)], which were insensitive to the time-at-risk period.

Conclusions: For women who need antithrombotic therapy, personalized management strategies with careful evaluation of benefits and risks are required. CLINICALTRIALS.

Gov Registration: NCT04394234; registered in May 2020.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s40264-021-01060-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7994226PMC
April 2021

Comparative Risk Assessment of Severe Uterine Bleeding Following Exposure to Direct Oral Anticoagulants: A Network Study Across Four Observational Databases in the USA.

Drug Saf 2021 Apr 2;44(4):479-497. Epub 2021 Mar 2.

Janssen Research & Development, LLC, Raritan, NJ, USA.

Background: Antithrombotic therapies are associated with an increased bleeding risk. Abnormal uterine bleeding data have been reported in clinical trials of patients with venous thromboembolism (VTE), but data are limited for patients with atrial fibrillation (AF).

Objective: Using real-world data from four US healthcare databases (October 2010 to December 2018), we compared the occurrence of severe uterine bleeding among women newly exposed to rivaroxaban, apixaban, dabigatran, and warfarin stratified by indication.

Methods: To reduce potential confounding, patients in comparative cohorts were matched on propensity scores. Treatment effect estimates were generated using Cox proportional hazard models for each indication, in each database, and only for pairwise comparisons that met a priori study diagnostics. If estimates were homogeneous (I < 40%), a meta-analysis across databases was performed and pooled hazard ratios reported.

Results: Data from 363,919 women newly exposed to a direct oral anticoagulant or warfarin with a prior diagnosis of AF (60.8%) or VTE (39.2%) were analyzed. Overall incidence of severe uterine bleeding was low in the populations exposed to direct oral anticoagulants, although relatively higher in the younger VTE population vs the AF population (unadjusted incidence rates: 2.8-33.7 vs 1.9-10.0 events/1000 person-years). In the propensity score-matched AF population, a suggestive, moderately increased risk of severe uterine bleeding was observed for rivaroxaban relative to warfarin [hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals from 0.83 (0.27-2.48) to 2.84 (1.32-6.23) across databases with significant heterogeneity], apixaban [pooled hazard ratio 1.45 (0.91-2.28)], and dabigatran [2.12 (1.01-4.43)], which were sensitive to the time-at-risk period. In the propensity score-matched VTE population, a consistent increased risk of severe uterine bleeding was observed for rivaroxaban relative to warfarin [2.03 (1.19-3.27)] and apixaban [2.25 (1.45-3.41)], which were insensitive to the time-at-risk period.

Conclusions: For women who need antithrombotic therapy, personalized management strategies with careful evaluation of benefits and risks are required. CLINICALTRIALS.

Gov Registration: NCT04394234; registered in May 2020.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s40264-021-01060-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7994226PMC
April 2021

Deep phenotyping of 34,128 adult patients hospitalised with COVID-19 in an international network study.

Nat Commun 2020 10 6;11(1):5009. Epub 2020 Oct 6.

Clinical Pharmacology Unit, Zealand University Hospital, Køge, Denmark.

Comorbid conditions appear to be common among individuals hospitalised with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) but estimates of prevalence vary and little is known about the prior medication use of patients. Here, we describe the characteristics of adults hospitalised with COVID-19 and compare them with influenza patients. We include 34,128 (US: 8362, South Korea: 7341, Spain: 18,425) COVID-19 patients, summarising between 4811 and 11,643 unique aggregate characteristics. COVID-19 patients have been majority male in the US and Spain, but predominantly female in South Korea. Age profiles vary across data sources. Compared to 84,585 individuals hospitalised with influenza in 2014-19, COVID-19 patients have more typically been male, younger, and with fewer comorbidities and lower medication use. While protecting groups vulnerable to influenza is likely a useful starting point in the response to COVID-19, strategies will likely need to be broadened to reflect the particular characteristics of individuals being hospitalised with COVID-19.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-18849-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7538555PMC
October 2020

Risk of hydroxychloroquine alone and in combination with azithromycin in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis: a multinational, retrospective study.

Lancet Rheumatol 2020 Nov 21;2(11):e698-e711. Epub 2020 Aug 21.

Janssen Research and Development, Titusville, NJ, USA.

Background: Hydroxychloroquine, a drug commonly used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, has received much negative publicity for adverse events associated with its authorisation for emergency use to treat patients with COVID-19 pneumonia. We studied the safety of hydroxychloroquine, alone and in combination with azithromycin, to determine the risk associated with its use in routine care in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Methods: In this multinational, retrospective study, new user cohort studies in patients with rheumatoid arthritis aged 18 years or older and initiating hydroxychloroquine were compared with those initiating sulfasalazine and followed up over 30 days, with 16 severe adverse events studied. Self-controlled case series were done to further establish safety in wider populations, and included all users of hydroxychloroquine regardless of rheumatoid arthritis status or indication. Separately, severe adverse events associated with hydroxychloroquine plus azithromycin (compared with hydroxychloroquine plus amoxicillin) were studied. Data comprised 14 sources of claims data or electronic medical records from Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, the UK, and the USA. Propensity score stratification and calibration using negative control outcomes were used to address confounding. Cox models were fitted to estimate calibrated hazard ratios (HRs) according to drug use. Estimates were pooled where the value was less than 0·4.

Findings: The study included 956 374 users of hydroxychloroquine, 310 350 users of sulfasalazine, 323 122 users of hydroxychloroquine plus azithromycin, and 351 956 users of hydroxychloroquine plus amoxicillin. No excess risk of severe adverse events was identified when 30-day hydroxychloroquine and sulfasalazine use were compared. Self-controlled case series confirmed these findings. However, long-term use of hydroxychloroquine appeared to be associated with increased cardiovascular mortality (calibrated HR 1·65 [95% CI 1·12-2·44]). Addition of azithromycin appeared to be associated with an increased risk of 30-day cardiovascular mortality (calibrated HR 2·19 [95% CI 1·22-3·95]), chest pain or angina (1·15 [1·05-1·26]), and heart failure (1·22 [1·02-1·45]).

Interpretation: Hydroxychloroquine treatment appears to have no increased risk in the short term among patients with rheumatoid arthritis, but in the long term it appears to be associated with excess cardiovascular mortality. The addition of azithromycin increases the risk of heart failure and cardiovascular mortality even in the short term. We call for careful consideration of the benefit-risk trade-off when counselling those on hydroxychloroquine treatment.

Funding: National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, NIHR Senior Research Fellowship programme, US National Institutes of Health, US Department of Veterans Affairs, Janssen Research and Development, IQVIA, Korea Health Industry Development Institute through the Ministry of Health and Welfare Republic of Korea, Versus Arthritis, UK Medical Research Council Doctoral Training Partnership, Foundation Alfonso Martin Escudero, Innovation Fund Denmark, Novo Nordisk Foundation, Singapore Ministry of Health's National Medical Research Council Open Fund Large Collaborative Grant, VINCI, Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking, EU's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, and European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2665-9913(20)30276-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7442425PMC
November 2020

An international characterisation of patients hospitalised with COVID-19 and a comparison with those previously hospitalised with influenza.

medRxiv 2020 Apr 25. Epub 2020 Apr 25.

Science Policy and Research, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, UK.

Background: To better understand the profile of individuals with severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), we characterised individuals hospitalised with COVID-19 and compared them to individuals previously hospitalised with influenza.

Methods: We report the characteristics (demographics, prior conditions and medication use) of patients hospitalised with COVID-19 between December 2019 and April 2020 in the US (Columbia University Irving Medical Center [CUIMC], STAnford Medicine Research data Repository [STARR-OMOP], and the Department of Veterans Affairs [VA OMOP]) and Health Insurance Review & Assessment [HIRA] of South Korea. Patients hospitalised with COVID-19 were compared with patients previously hospitalised with influenza in 2014-19.

Results: 6,806 (US: 1,634, South Korea: 5,172) individuals hospitalised with COVID-19 were included. Patients in the US were majority male (VA OMOP: 94%, STARR-OMOP: 57%, CUIMC: 52%), but were majority female in HIRA (56%). Age profiles varied across data sources. Prevalence of asthma ranged from 7% to 14%, diabetes from 18% to 43%, and hypertensive disorder from 22% to 70% across data sources, while between 9% and 39% were taking drugs acting on the renin-angiotensin system in the 30 days prior to their hospitalisation. Compared to 52,422 individuals hospitalised with influenza, patients admitted with COVID-19 were more likely male, younger, and, in the US, had fewer comorbidities and lower medication use.

Conclusions: Rates of comorbidities and medication use are high among individuals hospitalised with COVID-19. However, COVID-19 patients are more likely to be male and appear to be younger and, in the US, generally healthier than those typically admitted with influenza.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2020.04.22.20074336DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7239064PMC
April 2020

Patient- and area-level predictors of prostate cancer among South Carolina veterans: a spatial analysis.

Cancer Causes Control 2020 Mar 23;31(3):209-220. Epub 2020 Jan 23.

South Carolina Statewide Cancer Prevention and Control Program, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA.

Background: Racial and socio-economic status (SES) disparities exist in prostate cancer (PrCA) incidence and mortality. Less is known regarding how geographical factors, including neighborhood social vulnerability and distance traveled to receive care, affect PrCA risk. The purpose of this research was to use the Veterans Administration Medical System, which provides a unique means for studying PrCA epidemiology among diverse individuals with ostensibly equal access to healthcare, to determine whether area-level characteristics influence PrCA incidence while accounting for individual-level risk factors.

Methods: From the US Veteran's Health Administration (VHA) electronic medical records (EMR) database from January 1999 to December 2015, we identified 3,736 PrCA patients and 104,017 cancer-free controls from South Carolina (SC). The VHA EMRs were linked to the US census which provided area-level factors. US census data were used to construct the Social Vulnerability Index which is a continuous composite measure of area-level vulnerability and was divided into tertiles for modeling purposes. Data were analyzed using a Bayesian multivariate conditional autoregressive model (CAR) which accounted for individual-level factors, area-level factors, spatial random effects, and autocorrelation, which were used to identify areas of higher- or lower-than-expected PrCA incidence after controlling for risk factors.

Results: As expected, after accounting for age (sixfold and 13-fold increases in men 40-50 years and > 50 years, respectively), race was an important risk factor, with threefold higher odds among Blacks in the fully adjusted model [OR 2.98 (2.77, 3.20)]. After accounting for all other factors, residing in a ZIP code tabulated areas (ZCTA) with the greatest level social vulnerability versus the lowest, least vulnerable ZCTA's, increased PrCA risk by 39% [OR 1.39 (1.11, 1.75)].

Conclusions: While accounting for known risk factors for PrCA, including age, race, and marital status, we found geographic areas in SC characterized by higher than average social vulnerability with higher rates of incident PrCA among veterans. Outreach for screening, education, and care coordination may be needed for veterans in these areas.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10552-019-01263-2DOI Listing
March 2020

Development and validation of a prognostic model predicting symptomatic hemorrhagic transformation in acute ischemic stroke at scale in the OHDSI network.

PLoS One 2020 7;15(1):e0226718. Epub 2020 Jan 7.

Department of Biomedical Engineering, Zhongshan School of Medicine, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China.

Background And Purpose: Hemorrhagic transformation (HT) after cerebral infarction is a complex and multifactorial phenomenon in the acute stage of ischemic stroke, and often results in a poor prognosis. Thus, identifying risk factors and making an early prediction of HT in acute cerebral infarction contributes not only to the selections of therapeutic regimen but also, more importantly, to the improvement of prognosis of acute cerebral infarction. The purpose of this study was to develop and validate a model to predict a patient's risk of HT within 30 days of initial ischemic stroke.

Methods: We utilized a retrospective multicenter observational cohort study design to develop a Lasso Logistic Regression prediction model with a large, US Electronic Health Record dataset which structured to the Observational Medical Outcomes Partnership (OMOP) Common Data Model (CDM). To examine clinical transportability, the model was externally validated across 10 additional real-world healthcare datasets include EHR records for patients from America, Europe and Asia.

Results: In the database the model was developed, the target population cohort contained 621,178 patients with ischemic stroke, of which 5,624 patients had HT within 30 days following initial ischemic stroke. 612 risk predictors, including the distance a patient travels in an ambulance to get to care for a HT, were identified. An area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) of 0.75 was achieved in the internal validation of the risk model. External validation was performed across 10 databases totaling 5,515,508 patients with ischemic stroke, of which 86,401 patients had HT within 30 days following initial ischemic stroke. The mean external AUC was 0.71 and ranged between 0.60-0.78.

Conclusions: A HT prognostic predict model was developed with Lasso Logistic Regression based on routinely collected EMR data. This model can identify patients who have a higher risk of HT than the population average with an AUC of 0.78. It shows the OMOP CDM is an appropriate data standard for EMR secondary use in clinical multicenter research for prognostic prediction model development and validation. In the future, combining this model with clinical information systems will assist clinicians to make the right therapy decision for patients with acute ischemic stroke.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0226718PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6946584PMC
April 2020

Prostate Specific Antigen-Growth Curve Model to Predict High-Risk Prostate Cancer.

Prostate 2017 02 4;77(2):173-184. Epub 2016 Oct 4.

South Carolina Statewide Cancer Prevention and Control Program, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina.

Purpose: To investigate if a prostate specific antigen (PSA)-derived growth curve can predict the occurrence of high-risk prostate cancer (PrCA).

Methods: Data from 38,340 men randomized to the PrCA screening arm in the prostate, lung, colorectal, and ovarian cancer screening trial (PLCO) were used to develop a PSA growth curve model to estimate PSA rate of change. The model was then used to predict high-risk PrCA in clinical data available from 680,390 veterans seeking routine care. The PSA growth curve was modeled using non-linear mixed regression and the PSA rate was estimated by taking the 1st derivative of the growth curve equation at 1 year prior to diagnosis/exit.

Results: In the PLCO, PrCA incidence was 8.1%; ≈19% of whom had high-risk PrCA. Overall, a PSA rate threshold of 0.37 ng/ml/year had the best combination of sensitivity (97.2%) and specificity (97.3%) for detecting high-risk PrCA. In the VA data; 7,347 men were diagnosed with PrCA; of these 4,315 (58.7%) were diagnosed with high-risk PrCA. The PLCO optimal threshold of 0.37 ng/ml/year produced sensitivity = 95.5% and specificity = 85.2%. An optimal threshold of 0.99 ng/ml/year in AA produced sensitivity = 89.1% and specificity = 80.0%. PSA rate was a better predictor than the single last PSA value.

Conclusions: PSA growth curves predicted high-risk PrCA in the PLCO data. Fitting the same algorithm in the VA data produced lower specificity. Although encouraging, this finding underlines the need for further research to prospectively test the algorithm, especially for African-American men, the population group at highest risk of aggressive PrCA. Prostate 77:173-184, 2017. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/pros.23258DOI Listing
February 2017

Fluoroquinolone-related neuropsychiatric and mitochondrial toxicity: a collaborative investigation by scientists and members of a social network.

J Community Support Oncol 2016 Feb;14(2):54-65

Southern Network on Adverse Reactions (SONAR), South Carolina Center of Economic Excellence for Medication Safety, College of Pharmacy, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA.

Background: The 3 fluoroquinolone (FQ) antibiotics - ciprofoxacin, levofoxacin, and moxifoxacin - are commonly administered to oncology patients. Although these oral antibiotics are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of urinary tract infections, acute bacterial sinusitis, or bacterial infection in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, they are commonly prescribed off-label to neutropenic cancer patients for the prevention and treatment of infections associated with febrile neutropenia. New serious FQ-associated safety concerns have been identified through novel collaborations between FQ-treated persons who have developed long-term neuropsychiatric (NP) toxicity, pharmacovigilance experts, and basic scientists.

Objective: To conduct basic science and clinical investigations of a newly identified adverse drug reaction, termed FQ-associated disability.

Methods: 5 groups of C57BL/6 mice receiving the antibiotic ciprofoxacin in 10-mg increments (10 mg/kg-50 mg/kg) and 1 group of control mice were evaluated. The Southern Network on Adverse Reactions (SONAR) and a social network of FQ-treated persons with long-term NP toxicity (the Floxed Network) conducted a web-based survey. The clinical toxicity manifestations reported by 94 respondents to the web-based survey of persons who had received 1 or more doses of an FQ prescribed for any indication (generally at FDA-approved dosages) and who subsequently experienced possible adverse drug reactions were compared with adverse event information included on the product label for levofoxacin and with FQ-associated adverse events reported to the FDA's MedWatch program.

Results: Mice treated with ciprofoxacin had lower grip strengths, reduced balance, and depressive behavior compared with the controls. For the survey, 93 of 94 respondents reported FQ-associated events including anxiety, depression, insomnia, panic attacks, clouded thinking, depersonalization, suicidal thoughts, psychosis, nightmares, and impaired memory beginning within days of FQ initiation or days to months of FQ discontinuation. The FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) included 210,705 adverse events and 2,991 fatalities for FQs. Levofoxacin and ciprofoxacin toxicities were neurologic (30% and 26%, respectively), tendon damage (8% and 6%), and psychiatric (10% and 2%). In 2013, an FDA safety review reported that FQs affect mammalian topoisomerase II, especially in mitochondria. In 2013 and 2014, SONAR fled citizen petitions requesting black box revisions identifying neuropsychiatric toxicities and mitochrondrial toxicity as serious levofoxacin-associated adverse drug reactions. In 2015, FDA advisors recommended that FQ product labels be revised to include information about this newly identified disability syndrome termed "FQ-associated disability" (FQAD).

Limitations: Basic science studies evaluated NP toxicity for only 1 FQ, ciprofoxacin.

Conclusion: Pharmacovigilance investigators, a social network, and basic scientists can collaborate on pharmacovigilance investigations. Revised product labels describing a new serious adverse drug reaction, levofoxacin-associated long-term disability, as recommended by an FDA advisory committee, are advised.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.12788/jcso.0167DOI Listing
February 2016

The use of multiphase nonlinear mixed models to define and quantify long-term changes in serum prostate-specific antigen: data from the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial.

Ann Epidemiol 2016 Jan 28;26(1):36-42.e1-2. Epub 2015 Oct 28.

South Carolina Statewide Cancer Prevention and Control Program, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia; Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia. Electronic address:

Purpose: To test the hypothesis that the pattern of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) change in men diagnosed with high-risk prostate cancer (PrCA) differs from the pattern evident in men diagnosed with low-risk PrCA or those with no evidence of PrCA.

Methods: A retrospective cohort study from which PSA measures were taken before PrCA diagnosis from the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial. Data were fitted using a nonlinear regression model to estimate the adjusted absolute and relative (%) change of PSA.

Results: Data on 20,888 men with an average age of 61.61 years were included in the analysis. Of these, the 324 (1.55%) diagnosed with high-risk PrCA had a steeper and earlier transition into an exponential pattern of PSA change than the 1368 men diagnosed with low-risk cancer. At 1 year before diagnosis and/or exit, the average absolute PSA rates were 0.05 ng/mL/year (0.05-0.05), 0.59 (0.52-0.66), and 2.60 (2.11-3.09) for men with no evidence of PrCA, men with low-risk PrCA and those with high-risk PrCA, respectively.

Conclusions: The pattern of PSA change with time was significantly different for men who develop high-risk PrCA from those diagnosed with low-risk PrCA. Further research is required to validate this method and its utilization in PrCA screening.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.annepidem.2015.10.003DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4688139PMC
January 2016

Cardiac risks associated with antibiotics: azithromycin and levofloxacin.

Expert Opin Drug Saf 2015 Feb 10;14(2):295-303. Epub 2014 Dec 10.

University of South Carolina, South Carolina College of Pharmacy, Clinical Pharmacy and Outcomes Sciences Department , 715 Sumter Street, CLS Building, Room 311G, Columbia, SC 29208 , USA +1 803 777 2653 ; +1 803 777 2820 ;

Introduction: Azithromycin and levofloxacin have been shown to be efficacious in treating infections. The adverse drug events associated with azithromycin and levofloxacin were considered rare. However, the US FDA released warnings regarding the possible risk of QT prolongation with azithromycin and levofloxacin.

Areas Covered: Case reports/case series, observational studies and clinical trials assessing cardiovascular risks associated with azithromycin and levofloxacin were critically reviewed, including 15 case reports/series, 5 observational studies and 5 clinical trials that investigated the cardiac risks associated azithromycin and levofloxacin.

Expert Opinion: Results are discordant. Two retrospective studies utilizing large databases demonstrated an increased risk of cardiovascular death with azithromycin, when azithromycin was compared with amoxicillin. Two other retrospective studies found no difference in cardiovascular death associated with azithromycin and other antibiotics. For levofloxacin, the increased risk of cardiovascular death was only found in one retrospective study. Therefore, the risks and benefits of antibacterial therapies should be considered when making prescription decisions. This study should not preclude clinicians from avoiding azithromycin and levofloxacin. If a patient has an indication to receive an antibiotic and if azithromycin or levofloxacin is needed, it may be used, but the potential risks must be understood.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1517/14740338.2015.989210DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4404501PMC
February 2015

Azithromycin and levofloxacin use and increased risk of cardiac arrhythmia and death.

Ann Fam Med 2014 Mar-Apr;12(2):121-7

Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina.

Purpose: Azithromycin use has been associated with increased risk of death among patients at high baseline risk, but not for younger and middle-aged adults. The Food and Drug Administration issued a public warning on azithromycin, including a statement that the risks were similar for levofloxacin. We conducted a retrospective cohort study among US veterans to test the hypothesis that taking azithromycin or levofloxacin would increase the risk of cardiovascular death and cardiac arrhythmia compared with persons taking amoxicillin.

Methods: We studied a cohort of US veterans (mean age, 56.8 years) who received an exclusive outpatient dispensation of either amoxicillin (n = 979,380), azithromycin (n = 594,792), or levofloxacin (n = 201,798) at the Department of Veterans Affairs between September 1999 and April 2012. Azithromycin was dispensed mostly for 5 days, whereas amoxicillin and levofloxacin were dispensed mostly for at least 10 days.

Results: During treatment days 1 to 5, patients receiving azithromycin had significantly increased risk of death (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.48; 95% CI, 1.05-2.09) and serious arrhythmia (HR = 1.77; 95% CI, 1.20-2.62) compared with patients receiving amoxicillin. On treatment days 6 to 10, risks were not statistically different. Compared with patients receiving amoxicillin, patients receiving levofloxacin for days 1 to 5 had a greater risk of death (HR = 2.49, 95% CI, 1.7-3.64) and serious cardiac arrhythmia (HR = 2.43, 95% CI, 1.56-3.79); this risk remained significantly different for days 6 to 10 for both death (HR = 1.95, 95% CI, 1.32-2.88) and arrhythmia (HR = 1.75; 95% CI, 1.09-2.82).

Conclusions: Compared with amoxicillin, azithromycin resulted in a statistically significant increase in mortality and arrhythmia risks on days 1 to 5, but not 6 to 10. Levofloxacin, which was predominantly dispensed for a minimum of 10 days, resulted in an increased risk throughout the 10-day period.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1370/afm.1601DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3948758PMC
November 2014

Angiotensin receptor blockers: are they related to lung cancer?

J Hypertens 2013 Aug;31(8):1669-75

Research Department, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA.

Introduction: Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) are commonly used antihypertensive medication with several other additional proven benefits. Recent controversy on association of lung cancer and other solid malignancy with the use of ARBs is concerning, although the follow-up studies have shown no such association.

Methods: We used data from the Department of Veterans Affairs electronic medical record system and registries to conduct a retrospective cohort study that compared first-time ARB users with nonusers in 1:15 ratio, after balancing for many baseline differences using inverse probability of treatment weights. We conducted time-to-event survival analyses on the weighted cohort.

Results: Of the 1 229 902 patients in the analytic cohort, 346 (0.44%) of the 78 075 treated individuals had a newly incident lung cancer and 6577 (0.57%) of 1 151 826 nontreated individuals were diagnosed with lung cancer. On double robust regression, the weighted hazard ratio was 0.74 (0.67-0.83, P < 0.0001), suggesting a lung cancer reduction effect with ARB use. There was no difference in rates by ARB subtype.

Conclusion: In this large nationwide cohort of United States Veterans, we found no evidence to support any concern of increased risk of lung cancer among new users of ARBs compared with nonusers. Our findings were consistent with a protective effect of ARBs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/HJH.0b013e3283621ea3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3879726PMC
August 2013

Angiotensin receptor blockers and risk of prostate cancer among United States veterans.

J Clin Pharmacol 2013 Jul 17;53(7):773-8. Epub 2013 May 17.

University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA; William J.B. Dorn Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Columbia, SC 29203, USA.

To address concerns regarding increased risk of prostate cancer (PrCA) among angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB) users, we used national retrospective data from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) through the Veterans Affairs Informatics and Computing Infrastructure. We identified a total of 543,824 unique Veterans who were classified into either ARB treated or not-treated in 1:15 ratio. The two groups were balanced using inverse probability of treatment weights. A double-robust cox-proportional hazards model was used to estimate the hazard ratio for PrCA incidence. To evaluate for a potential Gleason score stage migration, we conducted weighted Cochrane-Armitage test. Post weighting, the rates of PrCA in treated and not-treated groups were 506 (1.5%) and 8,269 (1.6%), respectively; representing a hazard ratio of (0.91, p-value .049). There was no significant difference in Gleason scores between the two groups. We found a small, but statistically significant, reduction in the incidence of clinically detected PrCA among patients assigned to receive ARB with no countervailing effect on degree of differentiation (as indicated by Gleason score). Findings from this study support Food and Drug Administration's recent conclusion that ARB use does not increase risk of incident PrCA.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jcph.98DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3768141PMC
July 2013

Children born to diabetic mothers may be more likely to have intellectual disability.

Matern Child Health J 2013 Jul;17(5):928-32

School of Medicine, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA.

Intellectual disability (ID) is a major public health condition that usually develops in utero and causes lifelong disability. Despite improvements in pregnancy and delivery care that have resulted in dramatic decreases in infant mortality rates, the incidence of ID has remained constant over the past 20 years. There may still be uncharacterized preventable causes of ID such as Diabetes Mellitus (DM). We used statewide individual level de-identified data for maternal and child pairs obtained by linking Medicaid claims, Department of Education, and Department of Disabilities and Special Needs data from 2000 to 2007 for all mother-child pairs with a minimum follow-up of 3-years post birth or until a diagnosis of ID. To ascertain the adjusted relationship between DM and ID, we fit a logistic regression model taking into account individual level clustering on mothers for multiple pregnancies using the population-averaged Generalized Estimating Equations method. Of the 162,611 eligible maternal and child pairs, 5,667 (3.49 %) of the children were diagnosed with ID between birth and 3-years of age. After adjustment for covariates the independent relationship between DM and ID was significant with odds ratio of 1.10 (1.01-1.12). On sub-analysis, patients with pre-pregnancy DM had the highest effect measure with an estimated odds ratio of 1.32 (0.84, 2.09), although this was not statistically significant. In this large cohort of mothers and children in South Carolina, we found a small but statistically significant increased risk for ID among children born to mothers with DM. Additional information about the association between maternal DM and risk of ID in children may lead to the development of effective preventive interventions on the individual and public health levels.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10995-012-1072-1DOI Listing
July 2013

Statin therapy improves sustained virologic response among diabetic patients with chronic hepatitis C.

Gastroenterology 2011 Jan 15;140(1):144-52. Epub 2010 Sep 15.

Kansas City Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

Background & Aims: Patients with chronic hepatitis C infection are 2- to 3-fold more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, which reduces their chances of achieving a sustained virologic response (SVR). To identify differences in predictors of SVR in patients with and without diabetes who received combination antiviral therapy, we conducted a retrospective analysis of a national Veterans Affairs administrative database.

Methods: We analyzed data from the Veterans Affairs Medical SAS Datasets and Decision Support System for entire cohort and separately for diabetic patients (n = 1704) and nondiabetic patients (n = 6589). Significant predictors of SVR were identified by logistic regression analysis.

Results: Diabetic patients had a lower SVR compared with nondiabetic patients (21% vs 27%, respectively, P < .001). Diabetic patients had higher clustering of previously established negative predictors of SVR. On multivariate analysis of diabetic patients for SVR, the positive predictors were higher low-density lipoprotein (odds ratio [OR], 1.45; P = .0129), use of statin (OR, 1.52; P = .0124), and lower baseline viral load (OR, 2.31; P < .001), whereas insulin therapy (OR, 0.7; P = .0278) was a negative predictor. Diabetic patients on statins had higher pretreatment viral loads (log 6.2 vs 6.4, respectively, P = .006) but better early virologic response. There was a graded inverse relationship between Hemoglobin A1c and SVR rate (P = .0482). This relationship was significant among insulin users (P = .0154) and non-significant among metformin users (P = .5853).

Conclusions: Statin use was associated with an improved SVR among both diabetic patients and nondiabetic patients receiving combination antiviral therapy. Diabetic patients who received insulin achieved lower SVR compared with those not receiving insulin. Poor diabetes control was associated with lower SVR rates.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2010.08.055DOI Listing
January 2011

Appropriate use of transthoracic echocardiography.

Am J Cardiol 2010 Jun;105(11):1640-2

Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute, Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

The appropriateness criteria for echocardiography were published in 2007 and classified potential procedural indications as appropriate, uncertain, or inappropriate. The appropriate use rates for outpatient transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) by cardiologists have not been well defined. The objective of the present study was to prospectively determine the appropriate use rate of outpatient TTE in a large private practice group of >40 cardiologists (Cardiovascular Consultants, PA, Kansas City, Missouri). For each transthoracic echocardiographic study, we classified the stated reason for the examination into one of the 59 indications specified in the 2007 Appropriateness Criteria for Echocardiography publication. During the study period, 772 transthoracic echocardiographic studies were performed. Adequate information was available to classify 716 (92.7%) of these studies. The transthoracic echocardiographic studies were appropriately ordered for 533 patients (74%). Symptoms of potential cardiac origin (eg, dyspnea) was the most common reason for TTE (n = 156, 21.8%). The most common inappropriate use was routine repeat evaluation of patients with heart failure and no change in clinical status (n = 74, 10.3%). In conclusion, the appropriateness criteria for echocardiography were easily applied to real-world patients. Most patients in our series had undergone TTE for an appropriate indication.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amjcard.2010.01.026DOI Listing
June 2010

Predictors of hematological abnormalities in patients with chronic hepatitis C treated with interferon and ribavirin.

Ann Hematol 2010 Feb 30;89(2):121-5. Epub 2009 Jun 30.

Division of Gastroenterology, University of Missouri Kansas City School of Medicine, 2301 Holmes Street, Kansas City, MO 64108, USA.

Hematological abnormalities including neutropenia, anemia, and thrombocytopenia are commonly seen in patients with chronic hepatitis C treated with pegylated interferon and ribavirin. The aim of this study was to identify factors which would help to predict the development of hematological abnormalities in patients with chronic hepatitis C treated with pegylated interferon and ribavirin. During a 4-year period, all patients with chronic hepatitis C started on treatment with pegylated interferon and ribavirin were identified. Patients were defined as having hematological abnormalities if they had the presence of either anemia, neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, or a combination of the above during treatment with pegylated interferon and ribavirin. A total of 136 patients with chronic hepatitis C were included in this study. Fifty-two (38.2%) of the patients developed significant hematological abnormalities during treatment with pegylated interferon and ribavirin with 28 (20.6%), 30 (22.1%), and 11 (8.1%) developed neutropenia, anemia, and thrombocytopenia, respectively. Genotype 1, history of hypertension, low baseline platelet count, low baseline hemoglobin, as well as a raised creatinine were significant factors associated with the development of hematological abnormalities. Significant hematological abnormalities are commonly present in patients with chronic hepatitis C treated with pegylated interferon and ribavirin. This study identifies pretreatment parameters that may help identify high-risk patients who are more likely to develop hematological abnormalities during treatment for chronic hepatitis C.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00277-009-0774-yDOI Listing
February 2010

Appropriate utilization of transesophageal echocardiography.

Am J Cardiol 2009 Mar 12;103(5):727-9. Epub 2009 Jan 12.

Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute, Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

Appropriateness criteria for echocardiography were recently published and classify potential procedural indications as appropriate (scores of 7 to 9), uncertain (scores of 4 to 6), or inappropriate (scores of 1 to 3). The rate of the appropriate utilization of transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) in clinical practice is unknown. The aim of this study was to determine the appropriate utilization rate of TEE in a large consecutive patient series. A retrospective review of consecutive patients referred for TEE within Saint Luke's Health System (Kansas City, Missouri) was performed. The clinical indication for TEE was determined on the basis of a detailed review of preprocedural clinical documentation. These indications were then further classified into 1 of the 59 indications specified in the appropriateness criteria publication. From January 2006 to August 2007, 1,260 patients (mean age 61 years) underwent TEE for clinically indicated reasons. Among the final study group of 1,235 patients, the procedures were appropriate in 1,156 (93.6%). Appropriateness was uncertain in 43 patients (3.5%), and the procedures were inappropriate in 36 patients (2.9%). The most common "appropriate" use of TEE was to inform clinical decision making for atrial fibrillation or flutter. All the "uncertain" cases were for the evaluation of cerebrovascular accidents in patients with normal findings on transthoracic echocardiography, no history of atrial fibrillation, and normal electrocardiographic results. The most common "inappropriate" indication for TEE was evaluation for endocarditis in patients with transient fever but no bacteremia or new murmurs. In conclusion, most transesophageal echocardiographic studies in our health system were performed for appropriate indications.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amjcard.2008.11.013DOI Listing
March 2009