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Thursday
Sep232010

Diabetes Drug Will Be Restricted Due to Heart Risk Concerns

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday it will significantly restrict the use of the diabetes drug rosiglitizone, popularly known as Avandia, after subsequent reviews of the drug suggest a higher risk of heart attack.  The FDA will require stringent monitoring requirements for the drug's manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, under the agency's Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies.  Under the new restrictions, patients currently taking Avandia will be able to continue doing so, but will have to sign a consent form stating they understand the potential risks involved.  "Patients will only be allowed to use [Avandia] if they acknowledge and document the risk of this drug," said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, FDA principal deputy commissioner.  Doctors may only consider prescribing Avandia to patients if they have exhausted all other medications, including the drug's market competitor, Actos.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep232010

Less Invasive Heart Valve Op Shows Promise

Image Courtesy: ABC News.(WASHINGTON) -- For years, surgeons have replaced or repaired failing valves that regulate blood flow into and out of patients' heart chambers. About 30 percent of those with a condition called aortic stenosis are too old or too sick for surgery, however, so they struggle along, often disabled by chest pain as they fight for breath. But that may be changing.

MedPage Today reports that instead of surgery, doctors can successfully implant a new valve into the heart by placing it into an artery in the groin and carefully threading up into the heart.

Patients who received new valves this way, in a technique called transcatheter aortic valve implantation, or TAVI, had a 20 percent lower mortality rate at one year than similar patients who received only medical therapy or who had medical therapy, plus a balloon that forced open the valve. Moreover, researchers found the interventional procedure using a device called the Sapien heart-valve system reduced the combined endpoint of death from any cause or rehospitalization by almost 30 percent compared with standard treatment.

The one negative note was the rate of stroke or major bleeding at 30 days -- 12 strokes and 30 major bleeds in the TAVI arm versus three strokes and two major bleeding events in the control group, but by one year the difference in the stroke rate was just 5 percent.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio.

Thursday
Sep232010

Health Insurance Providers Scrap Child-Only Policies

Image Courtesy: ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The move by some health insurance companies to eliminate child-only policies has many questioning whether providers will try to circumvent provisions of the new health care reform law in the future. Politically, it has unearthed old tensions between the Obama administration and health insurers, as new provisions began to take effect on Thursday.

Concerns about the new law have prompted major insurance providers, like WellPoint, Cigna, CoventryOne, and some Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies to stop offering child-only policies, as the Washington Post first reported.

The health care law prohibits health insurers from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, but coverage for children under 19 will now be offered in family plans instead of as a separate policy.  The move itself won't have an impact on a large percentage of the population.  A recent survey by America's Health Insurance Plans found that six percent of individual policies are child-only plans.

Insurance companies say they were forced to drop child-only plans because of higher costs and to keep themselves competitive.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep222010

Women's Health, A Major Concern At Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting

The Clinton Global Initiative, a non-partisan organization established by former president Bill Clinton and the William J. Clinton foundation, held its annual meeting in New York on Tuesday.  This year's gathering, conducted under extremely tight security, drew 1,300 participants from 90 countries, Clinton noted in his opening remarks. Those gathered included 67 heads of state, 600 captains of corporations and 500 leaders of non-governmental organizations.  In its six years of existence, CGI, has come to be viewed as the World Series of networking.  Speakers including Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton and Richard C. Holbrooke, the State Department's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, agreed that attention and action must be put to global women's issues such as sexual violence and health concerns.  Those in attendance were expected to make a commitment to action in making men and boys part of the solution for these issues, as well.  The need for male participation in global women's issues became apparent when Indian women told Mallika Dutt, executive director of the human rights organization Breakthrough that "unless men get involved, we're not going to get anywhere."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio.  Image Courtesy:  ABC News.

Wednesday
Sep222010

Could LASIK Lead to 'Permanent Vision Problems'?

A former Food and Drug Administration official who helped get the vision correction surgery LASIK approved in the 1990s, but later spoke out against the procedure, is taking his concerns directly to the FDA. Morris Waxler, who is now an independent regulatory consultant, filed a citizens petition Wednesday urging the agency to take steps to stop what he calls "the epidemic of permanent vision problems" caused by LASIK. In the petition, Waxler included data he said is evidence that "LASIK causes persistent vision problems with an overall success rate of less than 50 percent." Waxler said his change of heart came after he retired from the FDA in 2000 and started getting complaints from people who suffered serious side effects from the procedure. Some doctors, however, say while they agree with the estimate that thousands of people have had problems after LASIK surgery, they stress that the vast majority of people are happy after the procedure. "Ninety-nine percent of people who have had LASIK have excellent results," said Dr. Robert Cykiert, clinical associate professor of ophthalmology at NYU Langone Medical Center.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio. Image Courtesy: Getty Images.

Wednesday
Sep222010

New Health Care Benefits to Start Thursday, Americans Still Confused

(NEW YORK) -- Starting Thursday, new health care benefits will go into effect in a move that can have an impact on millions of Americans.  Insurance plans renewing on or after Sept. 23 will be required to eliminate lifetime limits on insurance coverage, offer coverage for children with pre-existing conditions, remove lifetime caps on coverage, provide free preventive care and allow young adults up to the age of 26 to remain on their parents' health plans, among other changes.

The Obama administration has ramped up efforts to tout the new law. President Obama will hold a "backyard event" in Virginia on Wednesday at the home of a person who is benefiting from the Affordable Care Act.

But six months after the landmark bill was signed into law, people are still largely unclear about what the changes mean for them as health care remains embroiled in a heated political debate. According to an Associated Press poll released Tuesday, More than half of all Americans believe the changes will raise taxes for most people this year. About a quarter of respondents thought the law would set up panels of bureaucrats who would make decisions about people's health.

Overall support for the health care law also remains low, although it goes up when people are asked about specific provisions, demonstrating the confusion among consumers.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio.  Image Courtesy: ABC News

Tuesday
Sep212010

Shot of Aspirin: Potential New Treatment for Migraines?

Most headache sufferers have their own tricks for relief, but for more than 29 million migraine sufferers, the agony can be much more difficult to escape. New research suggests aspirin taken intravenously -- a migraine treatment already widely used in Europe -- may be an effective treatment for migraine patients in the U.S. Researchers reviewed records of 168 patients hospitalized in London for chronic daily headaches and were given an average of five doses of intravenous aspirin. Two thirds of the patients reported a decrease in pain following the treatment, according to the study published Monday in the American Academy of Neurology. Aspirin pills are effective in treating acute forms of migraines. A more intense delivery of aspirin through IV injection may provide relief for a more intense type of headache, said Dr. Peter Goadsby, co-author of the study and director of the headache clinic at University of California, San Francisco.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio. Image Courtesy: ABC News

Tuesday
Sep212010

Global Cost of Alzheimer's Care Expected to Rise

The global cost of Alzheimer's disease and dementia care is projected to soar in the upcoming years, according to a report released Tuesday by Alzheimer's Disease International, a non-profit international federation of Alzheimer's organizations. Such costs currently account for one percent of the global gross domestic product, or $604 billion and some estimates say the care-related costs will double by 2030.  The report also states that countries including France, Australia and England have adopted national Alzheimer’s disease plans, while the United States has yet to do so.  An estimated 35.6 million people suffer from dementia worldwide.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio. Image courtesy: ABC News

Monday
Sep202010

Genetically Modified Salmon to Go Before FDA

Courtesy ABC News

UPDATE: This is a test.

(Test) It looks like any other salmon, but opponents call it FrankenFish and hope to keep it off your dinner plate.

If a company called Aqua Bounty Technologies has its way, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will approve its application for genetically engineered salmon eggs that will grow into full-size salmon in half the time it takes regular salmon.

The FDA will hold public hearings on the genetically modified salmon starting next week. The agency will also review the safety and efficacy of the genetic modification.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep202010

FDA Panel Consider Approval of Potential Blockbuster Drug

(Testing) -- There is an FDA advisory committee hearing today on a drug that would be an alternative to a widely use medicine for preventing blood clots in patients with irregular heart rhythms. The currently used  drug Coumadin, which was approved  over 50 years ago,  is essentially rat poison, and requires regular blood tests and special diets. There were over 36 million prescriptions for this class of oral anticoagulants in 2009.  A new drug Pradaxa does not need blood tests or special diets. FDA reviewers last week recommended approval of Pradaxa.  There are similar drugs in the pipeline which is not surprising. A Wall Street Journal story suggested that the market for new anti-clotting drugs could reach $12 billion by 2021, since these drugs are used to prevent blood clots for a variety of conditions.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio.  Image Courtesy Getty Images.







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