Health Highlights: Feb. 16, 201102/16/11
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Faster Production Method Produces Effective Flu Vaccine:
A flu vaccine created using a new, faster process is as
effective as existing vaccines, according to a new study.
Instead of the current method of growing a flu virus in chicken
eggs, this new approach uses cultures of animal cells and could
shave weeks off the approximately six months now required to
produce a vaccine,
The New York Times reported.
A clinical trial of 7,250 healthy adults found that the new
vaccine was more than 70 percent effective in preventing seasonal
flu, a rate similar to egg-based vaccines. The findings were
published Tuesday in
Faster production of a flu vaccine could lead to a more reliable
supply of seasonal flu shots and quicker responses to flu
Times reported. The new vaccine could become available in the
United States within the next few years.
Narcolepsy/Swine Flu Vaccine Link May Be Due to Genetics:
Cases of narcolepsy that occurred among some people who received
the H1N1 swine flu vaccine appear to be linked to a gene that
increases the risk for the rare disorder that causes people to
suddenly fall asleep, says the World Health Organization.
Twelve countries reported cases of narcolepsy among children and
teens who received the Pandemrix swine flu vaccine. Sweden and
Finland had the most documented cases, the
Washington Post reported.
Of the 22 of 60 Finnish patients tested so far, all have a gene
that increases the risk of narcolepsy.
The WHO said Finnish government scientists "consider it most
likely that the Pandemrix vaccine increased the risk of narcolepsy
in a joint effect in those genetically disposed with some other,
still unknown, genetic and/or environmental factor," the
Increase in Severe Weather Linked to Climate Change
The worsening extremity of rainstorms and snowfalls around the
world is linked to climate change, according to two new
One group of researchers found that the strongest precipitation
events were 7 percent wetter in the 1990s than they were in the
Associated Press reported.
In the other study, researchers examined severe flooding in
England and Wales in the fall of 2000 and concluded that climate
change more than doubled the chances of that flood's
The studies, which used computer modeling, appear in the journal
The findings show that climate change is not a victimless
problem, said the University of Oxford's Myles Allen, who
co-authored the British study, the
Cracked Syringes Prompt Recall of Antipsychotic Drug
About 70,000 pre-filled syringes containing the antipsychotic
drug Invega Sustenna have been recalled because some may have
cracks that could compromise the drug's sterility, says Janssen
Inc., a unit of Johnson & Johnson.
In a letter to health-care providers and pharmacists, the
company said the voluntary recall affects lots of its 234-milligram
strength injections. The syringe's label completely covers the
crack, making it undetectable, the
Associated Press reported.
The letter, posted on Janssen's Web site, also said there have
been no reports of adverse effects or infection, and no reports of
leakage associated with cracked syringes. No other strengths of the
drug are included in the recall.
Janssen said the recall affects most available inventory of the
234-mg. strength drug, but expects to resume shipping the product
in early March. The drug should reach normal levels of availability
in April, the
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