- Tainted Baby Milk Claims Fourth Life
- New Biologic Drug Benefits Psoriasis Patients
- MS Rates Increase With Distance From Equator
- U.S. Hospital Charges Increase to $943 Billion
- Regular Walking Helps Octogenarians
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
Tainted Baby Milk Claims Fourth Life
A fourth Chinese infant has died after being fed baby milk contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine, government officials announced Thursday. The latest death occurred in the Xinjiang region in China's far west.
More than 6,200 infants across the country have become ill from tainted powdered baby formula made by 22 dairy companies, all of which have said they're recalling their milk products, The New York Times reported. It's believed watered-down milk used to make the formula had melamine added to it in order to artificially increase its protein content.
Babies who drink the contaminated formula over several months can develop kidney stones or kidney failure.
In other developments, police arrested a dozen more people in connection with the scandal, and the mayor of the city of Shijiazhuang was dismissed after being accused of failing to take action to deal with early reports of tainted baby milk. Four other city officials were also fired.
Sanlu, one of China's largest dairy companies, has its headquarters in Shijiazhuang, which is in the northern province of Hebei. Sanlu first received complaints about contaminated products months ago but didn't tell city officials until Aug. 2. City officials waited until Sept. 9 to tell provincial officials, who alerted the central government the next day, the Times reported.
New Biologic Drug Benefits Psoriasis Patients
The experimental biologic drug ustekinumab was more effective than the leading biologic drug Enbrel in treating people with moderate-to-severe cases of psoriasis, according to a study released Thursday by Centocor, Inc., the biotech unit of Johnson & Johnson.
The study was the first head-to-head comparison of biologic drugs in psoriasis patients, the Associated Press reported. Biologic drugs, which need to be injected, are complex treatments manufactured by living cells.
This international study of 900 women and men found that ustekinumab reduced psoriasis patches by at least three-quarters in 74 percent of patients who received a 90-milligram dose and in 68 percent of those who got a 45-milligram dose. The injections were given at the start of the study and four weeks later.
Psoriasis patches were reduced by at least three quarters in 57 percent of patients who received Enbrel injections, given twice every week, the AP reported.
The findings were presented at a European conference of dermatologists. Johnson & Johnson has applied for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of ustekinumab and a decision is expected before the end of the year.
MS Rates Increase With Distance From Equator
Rates of multiple sclerosis (MS) increase with distance from the equator in both the northern and southern hemispheres, according to a new report that summarizes information on the neurodegenerative disease in 112 countries.
The authors of the MS Atlas report, released Wednesday by the World Health Organization and the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation, said their findings show that MS is a global disease, not just one that affects more developed "northern" and "western" countries, CBC News reported.
"Typically, our results confirmed the well-established suggestion that there are strong geographical patterns to the disease and that the frequency of MS varies by geographical region throughout the world, increasing with distance from the equator in both hemispheres," the report authors wrote.
They also found that low- and middle-income nations have a lack of services and resources to care for people with MS, and that poorer countries have fewer diagnostic tools, which means the disease is probably underreported in those countries.