Health Highlights: Aug. 7, 2012

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  • No Rise in Medicare Drug Premiums in 2013
  • Development of Alzheimer's Drug Halted Following Poor Trial Results
  • 40 Now Sickened in Beef-Linked Salmonella Outbreak: CDC

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

No Rise in Medicare Drug Premiums in 2013

American seniors won't see any significant rise in their drug premiums under Medicare in 2013, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Monday.

In an HHS news release, the agency said that the average monthly prescription drug premium next year will be around $30, similar to costs for the prior two years.

"Premiums are holding steady and, thanks to the health care law, millions of people with Medicare are saving an average of over $600 each year on their prescription drugs," Secretary Sebelius said in the news release.

The annual enrollment period for Medicare's Part D drug plan begins Oct. 15 and ends Dec. 7, 2012. During this time, Medicare recipients can choose their plans for 2013, comparing rates and coverage of different plans. Any choice they make becomes effective Jan. 1, 2013.

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Development of Alzheimer's Drug Halted Following Poor Trial Results

Development of a potential drug for Alzheimer's disease has been halted because of disappointing results in clinical trials, the drug's makers announced Monday.

According to the New York Times, Johnson & Johnson Co. and Pfizer Inc. shelved the research on bapineuzumab because it was not effective in patients with mild to moderate disease.

Like many other experimental Alzheimer's drugs that are currently in the pipeline, bapineuzumab targeted the beta amyloid plaques in the brain that are believed by many to be the culprit behind the mind-robbing condition, the Times reported.

But one of the researchers involved in these most recent clinical trials noted it is not time to give up on the beta amyloid theory yet.

"While we are disappointed in the results of the two bapineuzumab IV studies, particularly in light of the urgent need for new advancements in Alzheimer's disease, we believe that targeting and clearing beta amyloid remains a promising path to potential clinical benefits for people suffering from this disease," Dr. Husseini Manji, global therapeutic area head for neuroscience at Janssen Research and Development, a unit of Johnson & Johnson, said in a statement.

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40 Now Sickened in Beef-Linked Salmonella Outbreak: CDC

An outbreak of salmonella illness linked to tainted ground beef has now spread to 40 people across eight states, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday.

On July 22, food giant Cargill recalled over 29,000 pounds of fresh ground beef products linked to the outbreak. According to the CDC, investigators say the illnesses are linked to beef processed at a single Cargill Meat Solutions facility.

So far the cases reported include 18 in New York state; 11 in Vermont, three in Massachusetts; two each in New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Virginia; and one each in Maine and West Virginia. Eleven cases have resulted in hospitalization, the CDC said, but no deaths have been reported.

Consumers are advised to check their refrigerators and freezers for the recalled products and not eat them. More information on the recalled products can be found at the website of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service under "Recent Recalls," at www.fsis.usda.gov.

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