Health Highlights: Sept. 17, 201009/17/10
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of
FDA Reviewing Cancer Risk With Diabetes Drug Actos
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Friday that it has
begun a safety review of the type 2 diabetes drug Actos
(pioglitazone), after receiving preliminary results from a
long-term study designed to gauge the risk of bladder cancer
associated with use of the drug.
Early results of the study showed no overall association between
Actos and the risk of bladder cancer. But, there was an increased
risk of bladder cancer in patients with the longest exposure to
Actos and in those with the highest cumulative dose of the drug,
the FDA said.
The preliminary results are based on five years of data from an
ongoing, 10-year observational study by the drug's manufacturer,
Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America Inc., the FDA said.
The FDA stressed that it has not concluded that Actos increases
the risk of bladder cancer.
Patients should talk to their health-care provider if they have
concerns about Actos, but should not stop taking the drug unless
told to do so by their health-care professional, the agency
Actos is a drug used to control blood sugar in patients with
type 2 diabetes, and is part of a class of drugs called peroxisome
proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) agonists. The only other
drug in this class is Avandia (rosiglitazone). The FDA said it has
no clinical information associating Avandia with bladder
In July, an FDA advisory panel voted that Avandia should stay on
the market, but with tightened controls, because of concerns that
the drug may raise the risk of heart attack but not the risk of
More Diabetes Patients Taking Pills, Fewer Using Insulin
American diabetes patients are taking more diabetes pills while
the use of insulin is declining, says a federal government report
Diabetes pill use among patients increased from 60 percent in
1997 to 77 percent in 2007, while the use of insulin to control
diabetes fell from 38 percent to 24 percent, said the Agency for
Healthcare Research and Quality.
The report also noted a change in the use of the three most
commonly prescribed diabetes pills: sulfonylureas, which stimulate
the pancreas to produce more insulin; biguanides, which reduce
excess glucose production by the liver; and thiazolidinediones,
drugs such as Actos and Avandia that boost insulin sensitivity.
Between 1997 and 2007, the use of:
- Sulfonylureas fell from 51 percent to 40 percent.
- Biguanides increased from 21 percent to 55 percent.
- Thiazolidinediones rose from 5 percent to 25 percent.
California Facing Record Number of Whooping Cough Cases
The whooping cough epidemic in California that's killed nine
infants has reached at least 4,017 reported cases and appears
likely to break the 1955 record of 4,949 cases in the state.
The highly contagious bacterial infection tends to peak during
summer months, but new cases could continue to occur over the next
few weeks, Dr. Gil Chavez, an epidemiologist for the California
Department of Health, told the
Nationwide, there have been 11,466 reported cases of whooping
cough (pertussis) as of Sept. 12, according to U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention data. That's 519 more cases than at
the same time last year.
Other states with high numbers of whooping cough infections
include Texas (1,783 reported cases) and Ohio (1,019 reported
cases), said the
HIV-Related Monkey Virus at Least 32,000 Years Old: Study
The virus in monkeys that led to HIV in humans is far older than
previously believed, says a new study.
It had been thought that simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) was
only a few hundred years old, but a team of American and African
scientists say SIV has been around for at least 32,000 years and
perhaps as long as one million years,
Bloomberg news reported.
The researchers identified four strains of SIV in monkeys on
Bioko Island, which has been separated from mainland Africa for
more than 10,000 years. The island strains of SIV are very
different than those on the mainland.
Using computer models to determine the rate of DNA change, the
scientists concluded that SIV is at least 32,000 years old and
likely much older,
This means that monkeys have had a long time to adapt to SIV,
which explains why it doesn't make them ill. But it raises
questions about why HIV only emerged in the 20th century. Humans
have long hunted monkeys and would have regularly been exposed to
"Something happened in the 20th century to change this relatively benign monkey virus into something that was much more potent and could start the (HIV) epidemic," study leader Preston Marx, of Tulane University in New Orleans, said in a statement. "We dont know what that flashpoint was but there had to be one."
Face Transplant Patient Encourages Organ Donation
The woman who received the United States' first face transplant
says she plans to become an advocate for organ donation.
One person's decision to be a donor spared her a life of eating
and breathing through a tube, 47-year-old Connie Culp said in an
interview with the
Doctors used that female donor's face to replace 80 percent of
Culp's face, which was destroyed when her husband shot her in 2004.
The transplant, which included bone, muscles, nerves, skin and
blood vessels, means that Culp can taste, smell, breathe on her
own, eat solid food, drink from a cup, and smile.
"Just one person can make a difference by donating your organ," Culp told the AP.
3 Maine Egg Farms Targeted by Congressional Committee
Safety rules for Maine egg farms will be under the spotlight as
a U.S. congressional committee inspects state inspection records
and documents related to three farms linked to Jack DeCoster.
DeCoster is the owner of an Iowa farm that produced 380 million
eggs that had to be recalled due to possible salmonella
Associated Press reported.
Maine state veterinarian Don Hoenig said the state's regulations
are stricter than federal laws and no commercial chicken farm
buildings have tested positive for salmonella since October
He told the
AP that the state requires vaccinations of young birds for
salmonella, follow-up testing to guarantee the vaccinations were
effective, and increased inspections and cleaning of buildings.
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