- FDA Raises Concern About New Ovarian Cancer Test
- Alabama to Charge Obese Workers Extra for Insurance
- Death, Illness Tolls Rise in Canadian Food Poisoning Outbreak
- HIV/AIDS Testing Jurisdictions Reduced; 8 States Lose Funding
- Medicare Prescription Drug Program Not Properly Monitored, Report Says
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
FDA Raises Concern About New Ovarian Cancer Test
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it is alarmed about a new blood test that its distributor says can detect ovarian cancer in its early stages, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
OvaSure, developed at Yale University, has been offered for about two months by one of the largest U.S. clinical laboratory firms, LabCorp. Despite an overwhelming need for such a test, the FDA and some medical organizations have raised red flags since its introduction in June, saying the diagnostic hasn't been tested enough, the Times said.
The Society for Gynecologic Oncologists almost immediately issued a statement, saying the organization feared unnecessary operations spurred by false positives.
If ovarian cancer is detected before it spreads from the ovaries, more than 90 percent of women in this stage will survive at least five years, the newspaper reported, citing the American Cancer Society.
Nonetheless, the FDA, which generally doesn't regulate diagnostics performed by a single laboratory, has informed LabCorp that there doesn't appear to be enough clinical data to validate that the test actually works, the Times reported.
In an Aug. 7 letter to LabCorp posted on the agency's Web site, the FDA said, "We believe you are offering a high-risk test that has not received adequate clinical validation and may harm the public health."
LabCorp responded that it looked forward to discussing the test with the agency, adding that it would continue to offer the diagnostic in the meantime, the newspaper said. The test costs $220 to $240.
The American Cancer Society estimates more than 21,000 cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year, and more than 15,000 are expected to die from the disease, the Times reported.
Alabama to Charge Obese Workers Extra for Insurance
Any of Alabama's more than 35,000 state employees will be charged $25 per month for insurance that's usually free if they're too fat and don't work on losing the extra weight by January 2010, the Associated Press reported Monday.
While other states reward workers who meet criteria for what's considered healthy, Alabama would be the first state to penalize those who qualify as obese. The monthly charge would apply to any state employee with a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or greater who "doesn't make progress" in slimming down, the wire service said. The state has yet to determine how much progress an employee would have to demonstrate.
A BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese. A person who is 5-feet, 6-inches tall and weighs 220 pounds would have a BMI of 35.5, the AP said.
The wire service cited statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that Alabama ranks second in the nation behind Mississippi as the state with the biggest weight problem. Nearly one-third of Alabamians are obese.
The director of Alabama's State Employees' Insurance Board said that a person with a BMI of 35 to 39 faces about $1,750 more in medical expenses each year than a person with a BMI of less than 25.
Alabama already charges a premium to state workers who smoke.
Death, Illness Tolls Rise in Canadian Food Poisoning Outbreak
At least four people have died and 21 have become sick in Canada from an outbreak of listeriosis linked to recalled meat products, the Associated Press said Monday.
Maple Leaf Foods widened its recall Sunday to include 220 products, and the company has shut its manufacturing plant for a thorough cleaning, the wire service reported. Most recalled products have been removed from store shelves nationwide, the company said. There are no reports that the recalled products were sold outside Canada.