Sunday, July 12, 2009

Health Headlines - July 12

Obesity a risk factor in swine flu?

Some swine flu cases in Michigan are raising questions about obesity's role in why some people with infections become seriously ill.

A high proportion of those who have gotten severely ill from swine flu have been obese or extremely obese, but health officials have said that might be due to the fact that heavy people tend to have asthma and other conditions that make them more susceptible. Obesity alone has never been seen as a risk factor for seasonal flu.


FDA clears Eli Lilly's blood thinner Effient

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved a highly anticipated blood thinner from Eli Lilly, though the drug must carry the agency's sternest warning because of its bleeding risks.

The approval makes Lilly's Effient the first real competition to the blood thinner Plavix, the world's second-best selling medication made by Sanofi-Aventis and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

The FDA delayed its decision on Effient multiple times during an 18-month review, as agency staffers weighed the drug's benefits versus its risks.

A study of over 13,000 patients conducted by Lilly found that Effient prevents more heart attacks than Plavix, but also causes more internal bleeding.

The FDA said Effient will carry a boxed warning to alert physicians to the risks of "significant, sometimes fatal, bleeding." The boxed warning is reserved for issues that can cause serious injury or death.

The drug should not be taken by patients with a history of bleeding, stroke or who are undergoing surgery, the FDA said.

"Physicians must carefully weigh the potential benefits and risks of Effient as they decide which patients should receive the drug," said Dr. John Jenkins, FDA's director of new drugs.


House Dems want to tax the rich for health care

Key House Democrats decided Friday to raise taxes on the wealthy to help pay for health care legislation, capping an up-and-down week for President Barack Obama's top domestic priority. At the same time, Democratic leaders tried to quell concerns among moderate and conservative lawmakers about other elements of the bill.


Study: 1 in 3 breast cancer patients overtreated

One in three breast cancer patients identified in public screening programs may be treated unnecessarily, a new study says. Karsten Jorgensen and Peter Gotzsche of the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen analyzed breast cancer trends at least seven years before and after government-run screening programs for breast cancer started in parts of Australia, Britain, Canada, Norway and Sweden.


FDA: Dough's E. coli strain differs from illness

The Food and Drug Administration said Saturday the strain of E. coli found in a sample of raw cookie dough collected at a Nestle USA manufacturing plant does not match the strain that has been linked to a 30-state outbreak, and they aren't sure how the dough was contaminated.


Monkeys live longer on low-cal diet; would humans?

Eat less, live longer? It seems to work for monkeys: A 20-year study found cutting calories by almost a third slowed their aging and fended off death. This is not about a quick diet to shed a few pounds. Scientists have long known they could increase the lifespan of mice and more primitive creatures — worms, flies — with deep, long-term cuts from normal consumption.

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