Health Highlights: Jan. 9, 201201/09/12
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Intel Exploring New Speech Technology for Stephen Hawking
A research project to help reverse the slowing of speech being
experienced by physicist Stephen Hawking is being undertaken by
chip maker Intel Corp., a senior company executive says.
Speaking on the sidelines of a conference celebrating Hawking's
70th birthday, Intel Chief Technology Officer Justin Rattner told
Associated Press that the company had a team in England to
look at ways to help the famed British scientist communicate more
The team's task was to gather data for further study, Rattner
Hawking has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou
Gehrig's disease, which causes muscle weakness, slurred speech and
paralysis. Since he lost his voice in 1985, Hawking has used an
infrared sensor attached to his glasses that translates pulses in
his right cheek into words spoken by a voice synthesizer. However,
the nerves in his face have deteriorated and his rate of speech has
slowed to about a word a minute, the
This means a new approach is needed, Rattner said. Possible
solutions include eye or brainwave tracking technology or high
definition cameras that can detect minute movements in Hawking's
face to synthesize his speech.
Powerful New Painkillers Could Lead to More Violent Robberies:
Market approval of new types of "super painkillers" currently
under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could lead to
an increase in violent robberies by people who want to sell the
drugs on the streets, warns U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.
"It's tremendously concerning that at the same time policymakers and law enforcement professionals are waging a war on the growing prescription drug crisis, new super-drugs could well be on their way, flooding the market," Schumer, D-N.Y., told the Associated Press. "The FDA needs to grab the reins and slow down the stampede to introduce these powerful narcotics."
Recent violent robberies involving prescription painkillers have
left six people dead. On New Year's Eve, a robber and a federal
agent died during a robbery at a Long Island pharmacy. Last June, a
heist of 11,000 hydrocodone pills at another Long Island pharmacy
resulted in four deaths.
Tests are currently underway on four drugs that contain a more
powerful version of hydrocodone, one of the most abused painkillers
in the U.S., the
If the FDA approves these drugs, Schumer said their needs to be
"robust post-market surveillance" of the drugs as they are
marketed, advertised and sold.
Drug Maker Recalls Bottles of Excedrin, NoDoz, Bufferin and
Certain bottles of the over-the-counter medicines Excedrin,
NoDoz, Bufferin and Gas-X are being recalled because they may
contain stray pills from other medicines, or chipped or broken
tablets, Novartis said Sunday.
The recall includes bottles of Excedrin and NoDoz with
expiration dates of Dec. 20, 2014 or earlier, and packages of
Bufferin and Gas-X with expiration dates of Dec. 20, 2013 or
Associated Press reported.
More information is available on the company website and
customers can also call Novartis at 1-888-477-2403 Monday to
Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.
The recall announcement follows Novartis' recent decision to
temporarily halt production at its Lincoln, Neb. plant for
"maintenance and other improvement activities," the
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