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Health Highlights: Sept. 1, 2010

Health Highlights: Sept. 1, 2010


Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Michael Douglas Says He'll Beat Throat Cancer

Actor Michael Douglas says he's treating his recently-diagnosed throat tumor as "a curable disease."

A walnut-sized tumor was found at the base of the 65-year-old actor's tongue in early August and he's now undergoing an eight-week course of radiation and chemotherapy. Doctors say there is no evidence the cancer has spread, the Associated Press reported.

Douglas told People magazine he expects to make a full recovery from the late, stage-four cancer.

"I'm treating this as a curable disease," Douglas told the magazine, the AP reported. "It's a fight. I'll beat this."


Oregon Children Least Likely To Be Hospitalized For Asthma

Oregon had the nation's lowest rate of avoidable hospitalizations for asthma in children ages 2 to 17 in 2006, with a rate of 44 per 100,000, says a new federal government report.

Vermont had the next lowest rate at 46 per 100,000, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The authors noted that asthma is controllable with appropriate outpatient treatment, including control of risk factors that can cause asthma attacks, use of controller medicines, patient and parent education, and proper assessment and monitoring.

Other states with low rates of potentially avoidable asthma-related hospitalization among children in this age group were: New Hampshire (62 per 100,000); Iowa (66); Utah (74); Nebraska (75); and Maine (78).


Botox Maker Pays $600 Million To Settle Marketing Investigation

The maker of Botox said Wednesday that it will plead guilty and pay $600 million to settle a U.S. government investigation into the marketing of the popular wrinkle-smoothing drug.

Allergan Inc. will plead guilty to one misdemeanor charge of "misbranding" and pay $375 million in connection with the plea. The company will pay another $225 million in civil fines related to the federal investigation even though Allergan denies liability for the civil claims, the Associated Press reported.

The Justice Department investigation focused on Allergan's marketing of Botox from 2000 to 2005. The government said the marketing led doctors to use Botox for unapproved uses, such as treatment of headache, pain, spasticity, and cerebral palsy in children.

As part of the settlement, Allergan also agreed to halt a lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration. The legal action was an attempt to force the FDA to give Allergan greater freedom to discuss off-label uses of Botox with doctors, the AP reported.


Obama Administration Appeals Judge's Order Banning Stem Cell Research

The Obama Administration on Tuesday filed an appeal against a federal judge's order supporting a ban on federally funded embryonic stem cell research.

The appeal, filed by the Justice Department with the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, asks Judge Royce Lamberth to revisit the restraining order he put in place last week, the Associated Press reported.

In his ruling, Lamberth responded to a lawsuit claiming that the government is contravening a law prohibiting the use of tax dollars for work involving the destruction of a viable embryo.

Scientists nationwide have expressed alarm that the halt on federal funding will interrupt valuable stem cell research aimed at fighting neurological diseases and other disorders.


Cough Medicine Ingredient May Get New Restrictions: FDA

Restrictions on a cough medicine ingredient are being considered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in order to combat growing abuse.

On Tuesday, the agency posted its review of dextromethorphan, an ingredient in more than 100 over-the-counter medications. The FDA said that inappropriate use of the drug for its euphoric effects was associated with nearly 8,000 emergency room visits in 2008, an increase of more than 70 percent from 2004, the Associated Press reported.

High doses of dextromethorphan can cause fever and boost blood pressure and heart rate.

"Because of the drug's perceived safety, ease of availability, and desired psychoactive effects, it is sought after by those seeking to alter their mental state," according to the FDA review, the AP reported.

On Sept. 14, an FDA panel of outside experts will meet to discuss whether dextromethorphan should be available only by prescription. The FDA typically follows the advice of these advisory panels.


Copyright © 2010 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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