Health Highlights: Dec. 15, 201112/15/11
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Drug Shortages Caused by Production Problems: GAO
Production problems and factory shutdowns are the main reason
for the shortages of important drugs in the United States,
according to a report released Thursday by the federal Government
The GAO said the number shortages of crucial drugs, including
cancer drugs and nutritional products, has more than tripled since
Wall Street Journal reported.
"Manufacturing problems were the primary cause of most shortages," the GAO concluded in its analysis of the situation.
The GAO said the solution includes giving the Food and Drug
Administration the authority to force manufacturers to give
immediate notice when they experience problems that will halt
production, and to require manufacturers to "take certain actions
to prevent, alleviate or resolve shortages," the
Asthma, Bronchitis Among Top Kids' Medical Conditions:
Acute bronchitis, asthma, trauma-related disorders, middle-ear
infections and mental disorders were the five most commonly treated
medical conditions among U.S. children in 2008, a federal
government report says.
More than 40 percent of the nation's children age 17 and younger
were treated for at least one of those conditions that year,
according to the latest
News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and
About 12 million children were treated for acute bronchitis,
making it one of the most common ailments. However, bronchitis had
the lowest treatment cost, an average of $226 per child.
Mental disorders were the fifth most commonly treated condition
(5 million children) and had the highest treatment cost, an average
of $2,483 per child.
Medicare paid the largest share of treatment costs for asthma
(51 percent) and mental disorders (46 percent), while private
insurance paid the largest share for the treatment of middle-ear
infections (64 percent), trauma (62 percent) and bronchitis (55
New Bill Would Boost Monitoring of Medical Implants
Legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate Wednesday would
require makers of artificial hips and other medical implants to
monitor the performance of their products after they receive Food
and Drug Administration approval.
Recently, there have been a number of problems with artificial
hips and other medical implants and the bill is meant to address
longstanding complaints by patients advocates and others about the
FDA's approval system for certain types of implants,
The New York Times reported.
Under what's known as the 510(k) process, the manufacturer need
only show that a new product is "substantially similar" to a
product already on the market. Thousands of all-metal hips approved
under this process are now failing prematurely in patients.
The new bill would not require pre-approval testing of such
medical implants but would give the FDA the power to force
companies to gather data on the performance of the products. The
bill would also boost federal scrutiny of product recalls,
The Times reported.
U.S. Must Protect Research Participants: Panel
Greater transparency, easy-to-understand warnings for patients
about the potential dangers of participating in studies, and high
ethical standards should be required in research funded by the U.S.
government, says a report released Thursday by the President'
The commission also said federal officials should consider
compensating victims who are harmed in future research financed by
U.S. government dollars,
Agence France-Presse reported.
The panel was convened by President Barack Obama last year after
it was revealed that 1,300 people in Guatemala were exposed to
venereal disease as part of U.S.-led research in the 1940s. The
research resulted in 83 deaths.
Last year, the U.S. was involved in 55,000 human research
projects worldwide, most of them for health and medical purposes,
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