Health Highlights: May 6, 201305/06/13
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Pfizer Offers Viagra Online
In a first for the drug industry, Pfizer Inc. will start selling
Viagra directly to patients on its website.
Men will still need a prescription to buy the erectile
dysfunction drug on viagra.com but won't have to deal with a
Pfizer's decision to sell Viagra online is an attempt to counter
Internet pharmacies that sell counterfeit versions of the drug for
a much cheaper price and with no prescription needed.
Counterfeit versions of many other brand-name drugs are also
sold online and other major drug companies will be keeping close
tabs on Pfizer's strategy, the
FDA Criticized for OK'ing Combo Cholesterol Pill
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's recent approval of a new
cholesterol-lowering pill called Liptruzet "just doesn't make any
sense," an expert says.
Merck's new drug combines the generically available ingredient
(atorvastatin) in Pfizer's Lipitor with Merck's Zetia (ezetimibe).
While Zetia does lower "bad" LDL cholesterol linked with heart
attacks and strokes, it is no more effective than drugs such as
Lipitor, Crestor, or simvastatin, according to
Unlike those other medicines, there is no evidence that Zetia
prevents heart attacks or strokes, and there is no proof that
Liptruzet prevents heart attacks, strokes or other cardiovascular
events better than atorvastatin alone, according to
A 2008 study failed to show that the combination of Zetia and
simvastatin prevented artery hardening better than simvastatin
A large study comparing the Zetia/simvastatin combination to
simvastatin alone for preventing heart attacks, strokes and deaths
is not due to be completed until late 2014 and many experts
expected that the FDA would not consider approval of Liptruzet
until the study was completed,
Dr. Steven Nissen, chairman of cardiology at the Cleveland
Clinic and a longtime critic of Zetia, blasted the FDA's approval
"I find it astonishing that after all the controversy about ezetimibe the FDA would approve another combination product with a drug that has been on the market for a decade and has not been shown to improve cardiovascular outcomes," he told Forbes.com.
"It seems like the agency is just tone deaf to the concerns raised by many members of the community about approving drugs with surrogate endpoints like cholesterol without evidence of a benefit for the disease we are truly trying to treat -- cardiovascular disease," he said.
Nissen said the drugs can be prescribed separately if doctors
want patients to have both of them. But due to the FDA's approval
of the combination pill Liptruzet, it may be discovered that Zetia
really doesn't prevent heart problems only after the medicine has
become even more widely used.
Merck spokeswoman Pamela Eisele told
Forbes.comthat the company is "confident in ezetimibe and in
the established relationship between lowering LDL cholesterol and
reducing cardiovascular events."
Veterans at Higher Risk for Traffic Crashes
U.S. veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who have left
military service have a 75 percent higher rate of fatal traffic
crashes than civilians, according to
The Washington Post.
It also said that veterans who have done multiple tours to
combat zones are at highest risk for traffic crashes and that
troops still in uniform are more likely to have traffic crashes in
the months immediately after returning from deployment than in the
months immediately before.
One explanation for the findings is that soldiers continue with
driving habits that could prove lifesaving in war zones but are
dangerous on America's roads. These behaviors include straddling
lanes, racing through intersections, swerving on bridges and not
wearing seat belts because they slow escape from the vehicle,
In addition, thousands of veterans have post-traumatic stress
disorder, which increases aggressive driving. Research also
suggests that drunken driving and thrill-seeking are more common
among combat veterans.
The issue of traffic crashes among veterans was revealed by
research along with the observations of soldiers, veterans and
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Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.