Health Highlights: March 6, 201303/06/13
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Actress Valerie Harper Has Brain Cancer
Actress Valerie Harper, 73, has terminal brain cancer and as
little as three months to live.
Harper, who played Rhoda Morgenstern on television's "The Mary
Tyler Moore Show" and its spinoff "Rhoda," received the diagnosis
on Jan. 15,
Peoplemagazine said on its website Wednesday, the
In a cover interview with the magazine, Harper said: "I don't
think of dying. I think of being here now."
Harper's character, Rhoda, was one of the most popular sidekicks
on television during the 1970s, the
FDA Panel Says Bone Drugs Should No Longer Be Used for
A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted on
Tuesday to recommend that an inhalable osteoporosis drug no longer
be used by women because recent research has suggested it might
raise the risk of cancer.
In a 12-9 vote, the panel said the risks of Miacalcin and
Fortical outweigh the benefits, according to the
Associated Press. Novartis makes Miacalcin and Upsher-Smith
makes Fortical. Both medications are sold as nasal sprays.
Last July, the European Medicines Agency ruled that the drugs
should no longer be used to treat bone loss because of the cancer
While some of the panelists said the drugs provide a viable
alternative for women who cannot tolerate taking bisphosophonates
for osteoporosis, other members were not convinced it was a good
idea to recommend continued use of the drugs, the
"I think the cancer risk seems to be low, but it tips the balance for this drug, which has very little evidence of efficacy," said Amy Whitaker, a professor at the University of Chicago.
According to the
AP, prescriptions for the medications have plummeted in
recent years amid safety concerns. Between 2006 and 2011 the number
of U.S. patients receiving the drugs fell 51 percent, to
Non-Hormonal Drugs for Hot Flashes Rejected by FDA Panel
Two drugs being proposed as alternatives to hormones to treat
hot flashes in menopausal women were rejected Monday by a U.S. Food
and Drug Administration advisory panel.
The committee of outside experts voted 12 to 2 against approving
Depomed's extended-release gabapentin and voted 10 to 4 against
approving a low-dose formulation of the antidepressant paroxetine
developed by Noven Pharmaceuticals,
The New York Timesreported.
The FDA typically follows the recommendations of its advisory
There are no FDA-approved nonhormonal treatments for
menopause-related hot flashes and the committee acknowledged the
need for new drugs. However, they said the drugs' risks outweighed
their benefit. Research showed that the drugs reduced the number of
hot flashes by only one a day compared to a placebo,
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