- Obama Signs Children's Health Bill
- FDA Reviews Sepsis Drug Xigris
- Ancient Snake Longer Than City Bus
- Ethex Expands Drug Recall
- Zimbabwe Cholera Cases Surpass 65,000
- Divorce Causes Face to Age: Study
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
Obama Signs Children's Health Bill
President Barack Obama signed into law late Wednesday afternoon new legislation that will allow four million more U.S. children to get government-sponsored health coverage.
Obama acted right after the House, by a vote of 290-135, approved spending an additional $32.8 billion for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), the Associated Press reported. The program, with about 7 million children now enrolled, includes children whose family income is too high for Medicaid but whose families have difficulty affording private insurance.
And, for the first time, the new law also permits states to cover legal immigrants -- among them, children under 21 and pregnant women.
Previously, legal immigrants had been barred from Medicaid and SCHIP for five years after arriving in the United States. The states may now cover those immigrants without the five-year delay, according to The New York Times.
The U.S. Senate passed the SCHIP measure last week. To cover adding the additional children, the measure raises federal excise taxes on cigarettes by 62 cents, to $1.01 a pack, the wire service said.
Former President George W. Bush twice vetoed similar legislation.
FDA Reviews Sepsis Drug Xigris
U.S. health officials are reviewing cases of serious bleeding in patients taking the drug Xigris, which is used to treat severe sepsis (bloodstream infection).
A recently published study showed that the injectable drug increased the risk of dangerous internal bleeding when taken by patients with a recent history of hemorrhages, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday, the Associated Press reported.
The study of 73 patients treated with the Eli Lilly drug found that serious bleeding occurred in 35 percent of patients with a history of bleeding problems, compared with 3.8 percent of other patients.
Xigris already carries a warning that internal bleeding is a serious effect, but the FDA plans to work with Eli Lilly to reassess the drug's risks, the AP reported.
Patients taking Xigris should not stop taking the drug, the FDA said.
Ancient Snake Longer Than City Bus
The biggest snake ever discovered was 42 to 45 feet long and weighed more than 2,500 pounds, say scientists who pulled the creature's fossil remains from an open-pit coal mine in the Cerrejon region of Columbia.
"This thing weighs more than a bison and is longer than a city bus," Jack Conrad, a snake expert at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, told the Associated Press. "It could easily eat something the size of a cow. A human would just be toast immediately."
Conrad wasn't involved in the find but was familiar with the discovery.
The snake, Titanoboa cerrejonensis, lived 58 million to 60 million years ago and likely hunted ancient relatives of crocodiles. The fossil specimen is about 11 feet longer than the previous snake record holder, which lived in Egypt about 40 million years ago.
Titanoboa cerrejonensis is related to modern boa constrictors but behaved more like an anaconda and spent most of its time in the water, the AP reported.
An article about the discovery was published in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.
Ethex Expands Drug Recall
Prescription prenatal vitamin and iron supplements have been added to previous recalls of a large number of generic drug products distributed by Ethex Corporation, a subsidiary of KV Pharmaceutical.
In total, more than 60 generic drug products have been recalled to wholesalers and two generic drug products, Hydromorphone HCI and Metoprolol Succinate, recalled to retailer level, according to a company news release.