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Friday
Oct012010

Viagra Doesn't Work for Half of Those Who Have It Prescribed

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BRITAIN) -- Doctors say Viagra isn't effective for half the men who take the drug.  Britain's Daily Mail reports many men who are prescribed the little blue pill have low levels of testosterone.  The drug alone does nothing to treat this.  In fact, Viagra works by enhancing the effects of nitric oxide.  This chemical doesn't function unless a person taking the pill already has high levels of testosterone.

"Viagra will only work if there are sufficient levels of testosterone. Often men with low testosterone levels won't feel like sex at all," says Dr. Geoffrey Hackett, a consultant urologist at Good Hope hospital in Birmingham, England and former chairman of the British Society for Sexual Medicine.  "They will get repeat prescriptions for Viagra in the hope that it will eventually work. Everybody thinks that Viagra is the panacea for all sexual problems; it's not," he adds.

Low levels of testosterone, which affect 40 percent of men over the age of 40, can be detected with a simple blood test.  Once the condition is confirmed, treatment can commence with testosterone pills, patches or gels.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct012010

Washington Department of Health Investigating Child Deaths Due to Overdosing

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SEATTLE) -- The Washington State Department of Health says it is looking into a second child death involving Seattle Children's Hospital.  The news comes just days after Children's announced a Sept. 15 overdose that killed an 8-month-old girl.

There are reports that a third child also became ill following an overdose, but the Washington State Department of Health says it is not involved in that investigation. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Thursday
Sep302010

Gay Adolescents, Young Adults at High Risk for Suicide, Experts Say

Photo Courtesy -- Tyler Clementi | Facebook.com(NEW YORK) -- Mental health experts say Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi, who jumped to his death last week from New York's George Washington Bridge, may have been reacting to a constellation of factors related to sexuality, public bullying and humiliation that put adolescents and young adults at a particularly high risk for suicide.

Clementi is believed to have been caught on camera during an intimate encounter with a young man in his dorm room. His roommate, 18-year-old Dharun Ravi, allegedly streamed video of the two on the Internet.

According to the 2005 Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey, teens who identify themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual, or who report having any same-sex sexual contact, are four times more likely to have attempted suicide in the past year than their straight classmates.  The 2009 National School Climate Survey conducted by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) shows that nine out of 10 lesbian, bisexual and transgender middle and high school students report having been harassed.

The extent to which the public revelations of Clementi's sexual encounter influenced his decision to take his own life remains to be fully understood. However, his death comes on the heels of several recently publicized suicides among younger gay teens who were bullied and humiliated at school:

Seth Walsh, a 13-year-old from Tehachapi, Calif., hanged himself from a tree in his backyard. Authorities say other teens had taunted the boy for being gay. He died Tuesday afternoon after nine days on life support.

Asher Brown, 13, an eighth-grader in Houston, fatally shot himself in the head last week after enduring what his mother and stepfather said was constant harassment from four other students at his school for being gay.

Billy (William) Lucas, 15, a student at Greensburg Community High School in Greensburg, Ind., was found dead after he reportedly hanged himself in a barn at his grandmother's home last Thursday evening. Friends said the torment that Lucas endured included taunts that questioned his sexual orientation.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep302010

Novartis to Pay $422.5M to Resolve Criminal, Civil Charges

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Drug company Novartis has agreed to pay $422.5 million to resolve criminal and civil charges that it illegally marketed the epilepsy drug Trileptal, as well as other drugs. The company will plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge and pay $185 million in criminal penalties.

A release from the Justice Department notes the DOJ and the Department of Health and Human Services “focused efforts to reduce and prevent Medicare and Medicaid fraud through enhanced cooperation. One of the most powerful tools in that effort is the False Claims Act, which the Justice Department has used to recover approximately $3.445 billion since January 2009 in cases involving fraud against federal health care programs. The Justice Department’s total recoveries in False Claims Act cases since January 2009 have topped $4.595 billion.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep302010

Johnson & Johnson CEO: 'Sorry' About 'Phantom Recall'

Image Courtesy - Johnson & Johnson Services, Inc.(WASHINGTON) -- The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing Thursday on the extent of "phantom recalls" by Johnson and Johnson which resulted in the largest recall of children's medicine in history.

Documents show Johnson and Johnson hired contractors to go into stores and buy Children's Tylenol products that the company wanted to recall, an effort apparently conducted to avoid publicizing the recall. The company originally told Congress in May that it didn't know what the contractors were doing, but the House committee obtained documents showing Johnson and Johnson ordered the phantom recall.

Johnson and Johnson Chairman and Chief Executive Officer William Weldon said he knows the company has let the public down and admitted the company made a mistake in not notifying the FDA. 

"We did not maintain our high quality standards and as a result, children do not have access to our important medicines. I accept full accountability for the problems," Weldon said, adding that the company's children's liquid products will be back on shelves next week.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep302010

Nutritionist Loses Weight on Twinkie and Steak Diet

Photo Courtesy - Interstate Bakeries Corporation/PRN(MANHATTAN, Kan.) -- It's either a kid's dream or a dietician's nightmare: nutritionist Mark Haub ate Twinkies, Nutter Butters, steak, milk, and a multivitamin for a month and lost 15 pounds. Haub, an associate professor of nutrition at Kansas State University, wasn't indulging in this snack cake binge for kicks; rather, he wanted to open a debate for his students: as long as basic nutritional needs are met, is it what you eat, or just how much that counts?

"I knew I could lose weight doing this, but I had no idea what was going to happen to cholesterol. That's why I made it only four weeks because I had no idea how it would affect my health," he says.

Haub began to feel healthier, had more energy and stopped snoring. Not only did he lose enough weight to drive down his overall cholesterol and BMI, but his good HDL cholesterol crept up two points and his blood glucose -- despite all that cream filling -- dropped 17 percent. The cholesterol changes were a surprise, he says, and he's pleased with the weight loss, but Haub is careful to point out this was an experiment, not an attempt at to create an "optimal diet". He wouldn't advise anyone to try it themselves because the long-term effects of this kind of eating are still unknown.

Diet experts warn the initial changes in Haub's cholesterol and weight could be decieving. Losing 15 pounds will always make you feel healthier, they note, but over time, a diet rich in processed, sugary food is no way to improve health.

"He's not the first person to lose weight on an unhealthy diet. You could eat all chocolate cake and lose weight as long as you didn't eat too much of it. Staying on this diet forever and he'd have some unpleaseant consequences," says Carla Wolper, a researcher at the St. Luke's Hospital Obesity Center.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep302010

Arthritis Drug Blocks Pain Too Well in Some

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(DAVIS, Calif.) -- An experimental drug for patients with osteoarthritis has yielded an unexpected finding.  The drug appears to be effective against pain in many people with arthritic knees, but in some patients, it blunted joint pain so powerfully they never felt the warning signs they were overdoing it and suffered joint destruction as a result.

In the quest for new pain relievers with minimal side effects, researchers have been focusing on a chemical known as nerve growth factor, which has been associated with increased pain from a variety of injuries and inflammatory conditions.  The experimental drug in this study aims to inhibit nerve growth factor. Its effect is significant, especially in light of the prevalence of osteoarthritis, a common result of excessive wear-and-tear on the joints, which plagues an estimated 27 million American adults. Many sufferers seek pain relief from non-narcotic medications.

"This is a radical notion for most people: that pain can be protective, but if you think about it, without pain signals, we would injure ourselves all the time" said Dr. Jack Choueka, chairman of orthopedics at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., who was not involved in the study.  "Doctors strive to reduce chronic pain, but they need to preserve at least some of it. It is the body's way of putting up a red flag warning about imminent tissue damage, Choueka said. "So it's important for doctors to help patients cope with pain, but not to the point where their ability to feel pain is impaired and places them in danger. Ergo: a little pain is a good thing."

The drug that worked "too well," tanezumab, is among a class of targeted treatments using monoclonal antibodies that latch onto a specific target, in this case nerve growth factor, and neutralize it.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep302010

Research Says ADHD Is a Genetic Disorder

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(CARDIFF, Wales) -- Researchers who have identified rare genetic errors in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) say it is a brain disorder, not just a behavioral problem.  As WebMD reports, study researcher Anita Thapar, MD, says people with ADHD have an unusually large number of "copy number variants" (CNVs).  "These missing or duplicated chunks of DNA are in the areas of the chromosome that overlap with those implicated in autism and schizophrenia, [which are] established brain disorders," the professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at Cardiff University in Wales said at a news conference. "And we found that the most significant excess of these copy number variants was in a specific region...that includes genes for brain development," she added.  The study analyzed genetic data from 366 children, ages 5 to 17, with ADHD and from 1,047 matched children in the general population.  Thaper and her colleagues found that children with ADHD carried twice as many large CNVs, and discovered that the difference was even more significant in those with intellectual disabilities.


Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep302010

Bioterrorism: The New WMD?

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate Appropriations Health subcommittee met Wednesday to discuss the country’s defense against public health threats. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the country needs more defense in the form of better technology, regulatory measures, and domestic manufacturing capacity, the latter to manufacture vaccines instead of outsourcing to foreign countries.

Wednesday’s hearing also examined the Department of Health and Human Services’ funding plans to improve how it develops medicine for use against public health threats.  Randall Larsen, a retired colonel and chief executive officer of the non-profit Weapons of Mass Destruction Center, said many senior leaders do not understand the gravity of bioterrorism.  “The serious threats that we’ll face in the next decades are not going to come from missiles, tanks or bullets, in my opinion,” he said. “They’re going to come from infectious disease.” 

CEO Eric Rose of Siga Technologies, which develops countermeasure medicines, said the government needs to restore funding to a reserve fund for countermeasure medicines to guarantee private companies that a market will exist for their product when it is finished. Otherwise, private companies will be reluctant to invest the hundreds of millions of dollars and 10 to 15 years required to develop countermeasure medicines.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Wednesday
Sep292010

Solving Short: Genes, HGH and Surgery to Change Height

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Though height is genetically predetermined, scientists still don't fully understand how our genes control growth.  According to recent research published Wednesday in the journal Nature, genes can still be identified for only 10 percent of the variation in human height.  Furthermore, surgical manipulation of the skeleton is the only way to boost height in adults, but endocrinologists have other ways of addressing height deficiencies in children, notes Dr. Joel Hirschhorn, a lead author on the recent Nature study and a paediatric endocrinologist at Children's Hospital of Boston.

The recent research, which drew on the genomes of more than 180,000 individuals, identified a hundred additional locations where changes in the genetic code could lead to differences in height. At this point in time, children who are identified as having a growth problem are most often treated with medicines containing human growth hormone. Once the natural growing process is complete, human growth hormone cannot be used and surgery becomes the only option. With intense pain, months of grueling recovery and physical therapy, and the risk of complications and decreased function, this option is truly only for those determined to be taller.

The increasing popularity in cosmetic lengthening, and its hefty price tag, has spawned many less-than-qualified surgical centers throughout the world that can often leave patients much worse off than when they started, warns Dr. Dror Paley, an expert in limb lengthening and reconstruction at St. Mary's Medical Center.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio








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