Thursday, August 13, 2009

Health Headlines - August 13

FDA's Medical Device Division Chief Resigns

The head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's medical device division has resigned, a move welcomed by consumer health advocates.

Daniel Schultz, who announced Tuesday that he'll leave his post, has been under a cloud since earlier this year when nine scientists in his division alleged they'd been pressured to approve medical devices against their professional judgment, the Associated Press reported.

In a letter to agency staffers obtained by the AP, Schultz said he and FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg agreed his resignation "would be in the best interest of the center and the agency."

Shultz led the medical device division for five years. Associate Commissioner Jeff Shuren will serve as interim director for devices until a permanent replacement is found, Hamburg said.

"This change in leadership will bring hope to many patients who have been very concerned about the safety of medical devices," Dr. Diana Zuckerman, of the National Research Center for Women and Families in Washington, D.C., told the AP.


Older Drivers Unaware That Drugs Affect Driving: Study

Most older American drivers aren't aware of the potentially dangerous effects that medications can have on their driving ability, says a study released Tuesday the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Interviews with 630 drivers ages 56 to 93 found that 78 percent of them used one or more medications, but just over 25 percent said they knew about the possible risks of driving while on medications, The New York Times reported.

Only 18 percent of the participants said they'd been warned about the possibility that their medications could impair their driving, said the study. It also found that awareness about the issue decreased with age, even though the use of prescription medications increased.

The findings are "really scary," Peter Kissinger, president and chief executive of the AAA Foundation, told the Times. He noted that the problem is likely to worsen as the number of aging drivers and the number of older adults using multiple medications increase.


Asian Women at Risk for HIV Infection From Partners: Report

A new study says more than 1.5 million Asian women with HIV were infected by their intimate partners and 50 million more are at risk of HIV infection from their partners.

UNAIDS, a United Nations program, said the women at risk are married to or in long-term relationships with high-risk men, such as those who have sex with other men, are clients of sex workers, or use injection drugs, Agence France Presse reported.

In 2008, women accounted for 35 percent of all adult HIV infections in Asia, compared with 17 percent in 1990, the study said. Married women now account for the largest number of new HIV infections in Cambodia, India and Thailand.

This is "a problem of great magnitude that the countries have largely ignored (and) a challenge that we may no longer ignore," said UNAIDS regional director Prasada Rao, AFP reported.


Longest Single Heart-Transplant Survivor Dies of Cancer

An Ohio man who lived the longest of any American with one transplanted heart has died at age 51.

Tony Huesman died Sunday of cancer, his wife Carol Huesman, said, according to an Associated Press report.

In 2000 Huesman became the longest-surviving American with a heart transplant when a Tennessee man underwent a second transplant operation, the AP said.

Huesman, who received his heart 31 years ago at Stanford University, founded the Huesman Heart Foundation in Dayton, Ohio, which seeks to educate children about heart disease prevention.

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