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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.

Wednesday
Sep152010

Health Group Launches Its Own "Big Mac Attack" 

This is a subtitle(Washington, DC) -- McDonald's is not lovin' a new commercial produced by health lobby Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine that implies that a diet of the fast food giant's burgers is a sure ticket to an early grave.

The ad, which is scheduled to air in the Washington, D.C. market Thursday during Comedy Central's The Daily Show, shows the body of an overweight man on a slab, still clutching a half-eaten burger. A tagline reads "I was lovin it," a play on the McDonald's slogan, "I'm lovin' it."

Meanwhile, a voiceover declares, "high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attacks. Tonight, make it vegetarian." PCRM may run the spot in other markets as well.

The commercial isn't sitting well with McDonald's. A company spokesperson said, "This commercial is outrageous, misleading and unfair to all consumers. McDonald's trusts our customers to put such outlandish propaganda in perspective, and to make food and lifestyle choices that are right for them."

Washington was picked to launch the commercial because its metro area has more fast food restaurants than eight other cities the group looked at.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio



Wednesday
Sep082010

CDC: Smoking Rate Has Stopped Declining

Photo - Courtesy Getty Images(Atlanta, GA) -- Smoking amongst Americans remains at a steady 20 percent, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That statistic has remained unchanged for the past five years despite increased efforts to get people to break the habit. Smoking had been on the decline since the surgeon general’s report in 1964 linking cigarette smoking to cancer, but after 40 years of steady decline, the rate leveled off in 2005. Smoking remains the country’s number-one cause of preventable death; over 446,000 people die annually from smoking-related diseases.

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