Health Highlights: Feb. 4, 201102/07/11
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Safety Restrictions Added to Avandia Labeling
Labeling of the diabetes pill Avandia has been updated to
include safety restrictions ordered by the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration, says drug maker GlaxoSmithKline.
The FDA ordered the action because of Avandia's link to heart
Associated Press reported. The updated labeling says the drug
is only intended for diabetes patients whose blood sugar cannot be
controlled with any of the other available diabetes drugs.
Avandia, which was approved by the FDA in 1999, became the
top-selling diabetes drug in the world by 2006. But it's use has
sharply dropped since a 2007 analysis linked it to heart
Avandia has been banned in Europe and is the subject of
thousands of lawsuits and a Department of Justice investigation,
Universal Flu Vaccine Effective in Humans
For the first time, scientists have shown that a universal flu
vaccine is effective in humans.
Unlike current flu vaccines, the universal vaccine does not need
to be changed every year to match the latest flu strain, the team
at Oxford University in the U.K. told
The Guardian newspaper,
They infected 22 healthy volunteers with a flu virus. Half of
them had been given the universal vaccine and half were not
"Fewer of the people who were vaccinated got flu than the people who weren't vaccinated," team leader Dr. Sarah Gilbert told the The Guardian, according to
She said a universal vaccine would make it easier to protect
people against the flu.
"It would become a routine vaccination that would be manufactured and used all the time at a steady level. We wouldn't have these sudden demands or shortages -- all that would stop," Gilbert said.
FDA Investigates Early Failure of Jaw Implants
Reports about early failure of some makes of jaw implants are
being investigated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The agency said the devices made by three companies are expected
to last five years but a "substantial number" of patients have had
to have the implants replaced after three years or less, the
Associated Press reported.
The implants, which connect the lower jaw to the skull, are used
in patients with severe arthritis, injuries or other problems that
limit their jaw movement.
The FDA said it will require the three companies -- Biomet
Microfixation, TMJ Solutions, and TMJ Medical -- to track the life
cycle of the jaw implants, the
After it has gathered more information about the devices, the
agency may recommend changes.
Cholera Confirmed in NYC Residents
Three New York City residents contracted cholera when they went
to the Dominican Republic last month for a wedding, say health
All three people have since recovered from the disease, a
medical epidemiologist for the city Department of Health and Mental
The New York Times on the weekend, the
Associated Press reported.
Typically, New York city averages about one cholera case per
year, said Dr. Sharon Butler.
The Dominican Republic is next to Haiti, where thousands of
people have died in a cholera outbreak, the
AP reported. Only three cholera deaths have been reported in
the Dominican Republic.
Winter a Downer for Many: Survey
Weather affects the mood of about 40 percent of Americans and
winter is the season most likely to make them feel blue, according
to a new survey.
Respondents in the Midwest (83 percent) and the Northeast (76
percent) were most likely to say winter gets them down, found the
Associated Press-Weather Underground online poll of 1,125
Only 15 percent of respondents said they had more sex than usual
when they stayed inside due to cold weather, two-thirds said their
sex lives didn't change, and 15 percent said they had less sex than
But winter seemed to be a good time for beginning a romance.
Among respondents who were in serious, committed relationships but
not married, 29 percent began dating in winter, 26 percent in fall,
26 percent in spring and 19 percent in summer, the
New Clue About Cause of Age-Related Macular Degeneration
A clue to the cause of age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
may help lead to a cure for one of the leading causes of blindness,
according to an international team of scientists.
They discovered that an enzyme called DICER1 is less active in
the retina of patients with the more common "dry" form of AMD. In
experiments with mice, the team found that turning off the gene
that makes DICER1 resulted in damage to retina cells,
BBC News reported.
Further investigation showed that DICER1 is needed to destroy
small pieces of genetic material called Alu RNA. Accumulation of
this material leads to the destruction of the retina.
The study appears in the journal
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