Health Highlights: Nov. 15, 201311/15/13
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Obama Nominates Health Care Law Backer To Be Surgeon General
An early supporter and advocate for the Affordable Care Act has
been nominated by President Barack Obama to be the country's next
Dr. Vivek Murthy is founder and president of Doctors for
America, a group that campaigned for the controversial health care
law before Congress passed it in 2010. He is a doctor at Brigham
and Women's Hospital in Boston and an instructor at Harvard Medical
The New York Timesreported.
He also has been a leader in HIV prevention and AIDS education
in both the U.S. and India.
Murthy "will be a powerful messenger" on health policy,
according to a statement release Thursday by White House spokesman
Jay Carney. His nomination is subject to Senate approval.
The previous surgeon general, Dr. Regina Benjamin, left her post
in July to return to work at a clinic she founded in Bayou La
Batre, Ala. Since then, Dr. Boris Lushniak has been acting surgeon
New Drug for Rare Blood Cancer Approved by FDA
A new drug to treat a rare and aggressive form of blood cancer
was approved Wednesday by the Food and Drug Administration.
Imbruvica was approved for patients with mantle cell lymphoma
who have already undergone at least one previous drug treatment.
This type of cancer typically begins in the lymph nodes but has
usually spread to the bone marrow and other parts of the body by
the time it's diagnosed, the
The new once-a-day capsule blocks a protein that enables the
cancer to multiply and spread. The FDA's approval is based on a
study of 111 patients. Tumors shrank or disappeared in 66 percent
of the patients who took Imbruvica. However, it's not clear if the
drug actually prolongs patients lives.
The new drug from Pharmacyclics and Janssen Biotech Inc. is the
second to be approved under the FDA's breakthrough designation,
which was approved by Congress last year. The classification is
meant to accelerate development of promising drugs by giving
companies additional meetings and earlier communication with FDA
Car Mechanic Develops Birth-Assist Device
An Argentine car mechanic's device to ease difficult births has
been endorsed by the World Health Organization and other major
donors, and has been licensed for production by an American medical
Jorge Odon, 59, said the idea for the Odon Device came to him
after watching a YouTube video about how to extract a cork trapped
in a wine bottle. He realized that the same approach could be used
to save a baby stuck in the birth canal,
The New York Timesreported.
Odon built the first prototype in his kitchen. He used a glass
jar for a womb, his daughter's doll for the trapped baby, and a
fabric bag and sleeve sewn by his wife as his lifesaving
With the actual device, an attendant slips a plastic bag inside
a lubricated plastic sleeve around the head, inflates it to grip
the head and pulls the bag until the baby emerges,
The device has enormous potential to save babies in poor
countries, and perhaps to reduce cesarean section births in rich
nations, according to doctors.
"This is very exciting," Dr. Mario Merialdi, the WHO's chief coordinator for improving maternal and perinatal health, told The Times. "This critical moment of life is one in which there's been very little advancement for years."
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