- Approval Given for New Use of Cancer Drug Gleevec
- Anti-Flu Drug May Not Work Against This Year's Strain, CDC Says
- High Mercury Levels Sideline Actor Jeremy Piven
- New Federal Rule Poses Threat to Women's Health: Critics
- Zimbabwe's Cholera Epidemic Death Toll Passes 1,000: U.N.
- Richer Men More Likely to Be Overweight: Study
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
Approval Given for New Use of Cancer Drug Gleevec
Gleevec, a " miracle drug" in curing certain types of adult leukemia, has received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to stop cancer growth after gastrointestinal cancer surgery.
According to an FDA news release, Gleevec (imatinib mesylate) can be used after removal of a gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST). While this is a fairly rare form of cancer (5,000 - 6,000 new cases annually), the malignancy is particularly nasty because it can interfere with the flow of food and liquids through the intestines.
This latest approval " illustrates how the continued study of a once novel drug throughout its product lifecycle can yield new and important uses," Dr. Richard Pazdur, M.D., the FDA's director of the Office of Oncology Drug Products, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in the news release.
Gleevec, made by the pharmaceutical firm Novartis AG, was first approved by the FDA in 2001 to treat chronic myeloid leukemia.
Anti-Flu Drug May Not Work Against This Year's Strain, CDC Says
This year's version of the flu just threw a monkey wrench into the effectiveness of a leading flu medicine, the Associated Press reports.
At a news conference Friday, Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the prescription drug Tamiflu isn't working against the virus strain that is causing this year's influenza in the United States.
The good news, Gerberding added, was that this year's vaccine is proving effective against the flu. The 2007 vaccine was only partially effective.
Because it's early in the flu season, the A.P. reports, and health experts aren't certain the Tamiflu-resistant strain will continue to dominate the influenza cycle. There is also the anti-viral drug marketed under the name Relenza that could be prescribed.
Only about 30 percent of the U.S. population has received a flu vaccine this year, the wire service reports. About 36,000 Americans die from the flu annually, and more than 200,000 are hospitalized. The vaccine is especially recommended for children between 6 and 18 months and adults over age 50.
High Mercury Levels Sideline Actor Jeremy Piven
The actor Jeremy Piven has been pulled out of the Broadway play "Speed the Plow" because he has "shocking levels" of mercury, Fox News reported.
Piven's doctor said he yanked him from the show after finding the actor had mercury levels six times the allowable limit. Dr. Carlon Colker said they were the highest levels he'd ever seen.
Colker said Piven's high mercury levels were caused by eating too much sushi and consuming Chinese herbs. Piven had complained of fatigue and was told to quit the show after he spent three days in hospital.
David Mamet, the play's writer, mocked Piven, saying the 43-year-old actor was leaving his role as leading man to "pursue a career as a thermometer," Fox News reported.
New Federal Rule Poses Threat to Women's Health: Critics
A new regulation the Bush administration says is designed to protectfederally funded health care providers who refuse to perform procedures,such as abortion, that conflict with their religious and moral beliefs willseriously hinder millions of women's ability to get reproductive health services, critics charge.
The new rule gives federal health officials the power to halt federalfunding for any state or local government, hospital, clinic, health plan,doctors' office or other body that fails to accommodate staff who exercisetheir "right of conscience." The regulation would apply to more than 584,000health care facilities, the Washington Post reported.