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Getting to the heart of the Chinese.

Getting to the heart of the Chinese

Chinese men are more sensitive than Caucasian men to a widely prescribed heart drug, according to a new report. The finding underscores the importance of adjusting drug dosage to the individual patient, and it raises questions about the way companies test drugs.

Hong-Hao Zhou, Alastair J.J. Wood and their colleagues at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., studied 10 men of Chinese descent who had lived in the United States an average of 1.16 years and compared them with 10 U.S.-born white males. The researchers gave the men a range of propranolo doses and then measured their heart rate and blood pressure. Propranolol, a beta-blocker drug, slows heart rhythm and reduces blood pressure.

To get the same heart-rate reduction, the Chinese men needed only half as much of propranolol in their blood as the Caucasians, the research team reports in the March 2 NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE. To get the same blood pressure drop, Chinese men needed one-tenth the propanolol blood levels required by Caucasians.

Wood says the team started the study after hearing anedotal reports that doctors in China prescribed less propranolol than their Western counterparts. Their results suggest the need for additional research to see whether racial differences in drug response are common. Many firms test products primarily on Caucasians, then market the drugs worldwide with no effort to identify ethnic differences, Wood notes.

"for the physician, the lesson of the Zhou study should be the importance of increased awareness of the possibility of differences in drug response and in dose requirements among patients from various ethnic and racial groups," writes Werner Kalow of the University of Toronto in an accompanying editorial.
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Title Annotation:Chinese men found more sensitive to propranolol
Publication:Science News
Date:Mar 11, 1989
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