Health Highlights: Dec. 10, 201012/10/10
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Blood Pressure Drug Pulled Due to Fatal Liver Problems
Drugmaker Pfizer Inc. said Friday that it was removing its blood
pressure drug Thelin from the market and stopping all clinical
trials because the medication can cause liver damage that's
potentially fatal, the
Associated Press reported.
Thelin is an oral medication used to treat severe pulmonary
arterial hypertension, or high blood pressure in the pulmonary
The drug is sold in the European Union, Canada, and Australia.
Pfizer said it was withdrawing its application for approval in the
United States, the
Pfizer said two patients taking Thelin died during a clinical
trial. Also, a review of findings from clinical studies and
post-marketing reports showed a new link to liver injury, the
Since there are other treatment options, Pfizer said the
benefits of Thelin don't outweigh the risks, the news service
Early Intervention Helps Autistic Toddlers: Study
A six-month early intervention program for toddlers with autism
spectrum disorders led to improvements in their social and
communication skills, says a U.S. study.
It included 50 children, 21 to 33 months old, with ASD who were
randomly assigned to one of two interventions. Both were led by a
trained intervention provider and included a home-based component
in which parents received specialized education and training,
United Press International reported.
But those in the Interpersonal Synchrony group had more
opportunities for joint attention, affect sharing and socially
engaged imitation than those in the Non-Interpersonal Synchrony
Children in both groups showed progress in social, cognitive and
language skills, but those in the IS group made greater and more
rapid gains, according to Rebecca Landa of Kennedy Krieger
Institute in Baltimore and colleagues,
The study appears in the
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
Kidney Exchange Program Reports First Transplants
A U.S. pilot program that helps arrange kidney exchanges had its
first success this week when two participants received new
The United Network for Organ Sharing was launched in October to
assist "kidney paired donation," where a person donates a kidney to
a stranger so that their relative or friend can receive a kidney in
Associated Press reported.
On Monday, the project's first transplants were performed in
Lebanon, N.H. and St. Louis. Kathy Niedzwiecki received a kidney
from Rebecca Burkes, while Burke's fiance, Ken Crowder, received a
kidney from Niedzwiecki's sister-in-law, Catherine Richard.
The new national program includes 77 transplant centers that
will submit information about patients and donors to a
There are fewer than 17,000 kidney transplants performed in the
U.S. each year, but experts believe the kidney exchange project
could lead to 2,000 to 3,000 more transplants annually,
Trade Talks Could Cut Supply of Generic Drugs
Health activists say trade talks between Europe and India could
greatly reduce the world's supply of cheap generic drugs, which
could have severe consequences for people in poor nations.
While European officials dismissed such concerns, leaked
passages of the draft treaty include a clause that places tighter
restrictions on Indian companies trying to get their products to
Associated Press reported.
Currently, approval is given to a generic drug if there is proof
it is equivalent to the original brand name drug. The new rules
could require generic drug makers to conduct costly clinical trials
to duplicate the data produced by the original drug maker.
Other causes of concern for activists include efforts to extend
drug patent protection to beyond 20 years and measures to seize
generic drugs as they cross borders, the
Clearance of Damaging Proteins Slower in Alzheimer's
Alzheimer's disease patients clear the damaging beta-amyloid
protein from their brains 30 percent slower than people without the
disease, finds a new study.
It was already known that this protein accumulated in the brains
of people with Alzheimer's. This U.S. study of 12 Alzheimer's
patients and 12 people without the disease suggests it is the slow
clearance of beta-amyloid, not the build-up, that is the problem,
BBC News reported.
It may be possible to develop a test to measure beta-amyloid
clearance rates to detect Alzheimer's before symptoms appear, and
to create drugs that assist the clearance process, said the
researchers at the University of Medicine in St. Louis.
The study appears in the journal
"This exciting study gives us an insight into the building blocks of Alzheimer's disease," Dr. Clive Ballard, director of research at the Alzheimer's Society in the U.K., told BBC News. "We now need further research to find out why the system is not working properly and whether amyloid is toxic in higher concentrations."
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