Health Highlights: Dec. 20, 201212/20/12
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Incivek Hepatitis C Drug Gets Black Box Warning About Dangerous
A black box warning -- the most serious type of safety warning
-- is being added to the label of the hepatitis C drug Incivek to
alert doctors and patients about a potentially fatal rash, the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration says.
Patients taking the pill can develop a rash that covers more
than half the body. The FDA said patients taking the drug in
combination with two other treatments should stop taking Incivek
immediately if they develop a rash that grows worse or is
accompanied by symptoms such as fever, mouth sores or diarrhea, the
Incivek is taken with the pill ribavirin and interferon, which
is given by injection.
Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. said Incivek's labeling had already
warned patients to stop taking the drug if they developed a serious
skin reaction. The new black box warning is much more prominent on
the label, the
Amgen Illegally Marketed Anemia Drug, Will Pay $762M: Report
Biotechnology company Amgen pleaded guilty to charges of
illegally marketing the anemia drug Aranesp and agreed to pay $762
million in criminal penalties and civil lawsuit settlements,
according to U.S. government officials.
Federal prosecutors said Amgen marketed the drug for unapproved
uses even after the Food and Drug Administration ruled out such
The New York Timesreported.
In court on Tuesday, prosecutors said Amgen promoted the use of
Aranesp to treat anemia in cancer patients who were not receiving
chemotherapy, even though the FDA's approval of the drug was only
for patients undergoing chemotherapy.
The company was "pursuing profits at the risk of patient
safety," Marshall L. Miller, acting United States attorney in
Brooklyn, said in a telephone news briefing,
At a hearing scheduled for Wednesday, presiding judge Sterling
Johnson Jr. will announce whether he will accept the
European Union Proposes Tougher Anti-Smoking Action
European Union health officials want bigger warnings on
cigarette packs and a ban on certain flavorings -- such as
strawberry, vanilla and menthol -- that can lure young people to
Under the proposal, health warnings would increase to 75 percent
of the front and back of a pack, and 50 percent of the sides. The
warnings would include messages such as "Smoking kills -- quit
now," and have pictures of cancer-damaged lungs, the
The proposals are meant to reduce the 700,000 smoking-related
deaths that occur each year in the 27-nation EU.
EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg noted that "a city the size of
Frankfurt or Palermo is wiped off our map every single year" due to
smoking-related deaths, the
The proposals will be sent to EU member nations and parliament
and could be adopted by 2014.
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