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MONEY-BACK GUARANTEES MAY BE THE WAVE OF THE FUTURE WITH RESPECT TO PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS

The concept of a money-back guarantee has been around for a long time and has worked with respect to all types of consumer products. Now, the idea of getting a refund for a product that does not perform as advertised is gaining momentum. Professor Claus Moldrup of the Danish University of Pharmaceutical Sciences in Copenhagen believes that such a system would be a benefit to both patients and manufacturers.

Presently, a high percentage of prescription drugs do not have the desired effect when prescribed to various individuals. The reasons for this include genetic factors, interactions with other drugs, or the drug may not be the correct choice. Speaking in the British Medical Journal, Professor Moldrup stated that: "A no cure, no pay strategy creates a win-win situation for the authorities as well as the drug industry, and thus the patients, because in a competitive environment only the best drugs will win." Although a few companies, like Novartis, Eli Lilly, and Bayer have incorporated the idea into promotional campaigns for specific drugs, the industry as a whole has been slow to embrace the concept. In fact, only eight such promotions have been offered in the past ten years. It is hoped that stiffer competition, greater scrutiny by the FDA, the move by the government to control healthcare costs, and doctors being more reluctant to be influenced by sales pitches will cause a shift in favor of refunds.

NEW EGG-FREEZING TECHNIQUE OFFERS HOPE TO INFERTILE CANCER VICTIMS

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy may save a female cancer patientís life but these therapies may also cause infertility. While freezing a womanís eggs before cancer therapy begins offers one possible option, the thawing process often renders the eggs incapable of being fertilized. Now, a team of researchers from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center has studied a freezing technique called vitrification which freezes an egg instantaneously thereby preventing the formation of damaging ice crystals which destroy about 50% of frozen eggs. In trials using mouse eggs, vitrification has achieved a 98% egg survival rate.

LEGAL AND MEDIA EXPERTS SEE POTENTIAL PROBLEMS AHEAD FOR TIVO-LIKE RADIO DEVICES

The introduction of various devices that permit listeners to record Internet radio streams and then convert them into MP3 files are making Web radio and streaming services more and more popular with the public. In the opinion of many legal and media experts, this type of recording software may violate digital copyright laws and simply promote piracy. The record industry will be faced with yet another challenge to the proprietary rights of artists, song writers, and record labels.

The Digital Copyright Millennium Act prohibits duplication of copyrighted material from a computer hard drive. Such material may only be recorded from a digital or analog device and only for personal use and not redistribution. Current software such as Replay Radio, however, permits users to perform all types of sophisticated editing functions and turn streaming music services into perfectly tagged MP3 song files.

Entertainment lawyers see this technology as a law suit just waiting to happen. Some Webcasters have already warned at least one software manufacturer to stop advising its customers that their streaming music services work with the recording software..

Personal Injury & Side Effects News

CDC STATISTICS INDICATE U.S. EMERGENCY ROOM VISITS ARE ON THE RISE

Between 1993 and 2003, there was a 14% decrease in the number of emergency departments in the United States. During that same period, however, emergency room visits increased by over 26% from 90.3 million to 113.9 million. This combination of circumstances has lead to crowded emergency rooms throughout the country.

The figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 15% of the visits were classified as emergencies (treatment required within 15 minutes), 35% were urgent (treatment required within 1 hour), and 13% as non-urgent. While children had the highest rate of emergency department (ED) visits, the greatest rate increase was among adults. Those 65 and older had an ED visit rate increase of 26% in the past ten years.

In a press release, Dr. Robert Suter, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, stated: "As Americaís elderly population continues to grow, we expect to see even more elderly patients in the coming years." Dr. Suter also expressed concern that proposed Medicare cuts will force more and more elderly patients to seek medical care at their local emergency department.

RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH WEIGHT-LOSS SURGERY ARE GREATER THAN PATIENTS BELIEVE

Although stories of dramatic weight-loss results associated with various surgical procedures have been widely publicized, studies indicate that patients would be wise to consider the potentially serious risks of these procedures more carefully. In 2004, 145,000 bariatric procedures were performed at an average cost of $25,000 each ($3.5 billion). Complications, however, may not only increase that cost to $100,000 but, also, leave the patient with very serious medical problems in addition to their obesity.

In the case of bariatric surgery, for example, one new study reports that almost 20% of the patients experienced complications after surgery. For approximately 5% of the patients, the complications were serious (including heart attacks, strokes, and severe high blood pressure). Another recent study reported a mortality rate (within 30 days of surgery) for gastric bypass surgery at .5% (1 in 200) which is higher than the death rate associated with coronary angioplasty..

Personal Injury & Side Effects News

NUMEROUS EXPERTS CRITICIZE U.S. PLANS FOR DEALING WITH POTENTIAL BIRD FLU OUTBREAK

Despite the claim by government officials that an effective plan for dealing with possible bird flu (or other) pandemic will be completed by the end of the summer, several experts have accused the Bush administration of moving far too slowly. They are also calling plans to stockpile antiviral drugs inadequate.

Lawmakers have been told that the possibility of bird flu mutating into a form that is capable of human-to-human transmission is extremely alarming since humans lack immunity to the disease. There is additional concern that the U.S. stockpile of drugs is terribly inadequate. While Britain and France have ordered enough doses of the drug Tamiflu to treat 25% of their populations, the United States has a stockpile of only 2.3 million doses which would only treat less than 1% of the population. The drug, which may lessen the severity of the disease if taken wit 48 hours of the onset of symptoms, however, is not a cure and no study has shown that it improves a personís chances of survival. An experimental bird flu vaccine is currently under development at the National Institutes of Health and the results of safety and effectiveness trials are expected soon.

In a related story, Nature Magazine reported this week that up to half of the pig population in some areas of Indonesia may be infected with bird flu (H5N1 virus) but without causing symptoms. Experts fear that infected pigs pose a greater threat than poultry of spreading the disease to humans. Testing done on pigs in both other countries and other locations in Indonesia has not shown such high infection rates..

Personal Injury & Side Effects News

STUDY CLAIMS SUCCESSFUL TREATMENT OF CHILDREN WITH JUVENILE ARTHRITIS FOR WHOM OTHER THERAPIES HAVE FAILED

The May issue of the Journal of Experimental Medicine reports on a study which claims to have found a successful treatment for children with SoJIA (systemic onset juvenile idiopathic arthritis). The report is especially significant for children with SoJIA who have not responded to other therapies. Of the approximately 250,000 children in the United States with juvenile arthritis, about 10% (25,000) suffer from SoJIA. The disease often goes undiagnosed in its early stages. As it progresses, however, anemia and other blood-related problems develop along with inflammation and joint pain. Long-term disabilities may occur.

The researchers found that they "could not only control the disease, but also allow these children to grow and carry out normal lives." The patients were given a drug known as Anakinra (marketed by Amgen) and all of them responded favorably. Persistent fever stopped, active arthritis symptoms decreased in the joints, and hemoglobin, white blood cell, and other indicators improved. The therapy restored function to 75% of the subjects and lessened the symptoms of the other 25%. These findings were also presented to a recent meeting of the Federation of Clinical Immunology in Boston.
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Personal Injury & Side Effects News

HEALTH CANADA ISSUES ADVISORY WITH RESPECT TO NEW CHOICE PREGNANCY TEST

Health Canada has advised consumers not to use New Choice Pregnancy Test which is not licensed for sale in Canada. The product uses a urine test for the presence of the hormone chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). The product, which is manufactured by IND Diagnostic Inc. and distributed by Sales Enterprises Inc., has been available for purchase in Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritime Provinces.

Under Canadian law, pregnancy tests are classified as Class 2 medical devices and, thus, require a license in order to be imported into the country. Those having purchased the product are advised not to use it. If the test has been used, the consumer is advised to consult with a medical professional if they are concerned with the accuracy of the result. The importer has been ordered to halt the sale of the product. Other compliance actions may be taken by Health Canada to stop the importation of the test.

STUDY LINKS ANDROGENS TO BREAST CANCER IN YOUNG WOMEN

A study published in this monthís Journal of the National Cancer Institute links high levels of male hormones (androgens) to an increased risk in young women of developing breast cancer. Prior studies produced similar results with respect to postmenopausal women. Although androgens are normally present in women, as a rule, the levels are far lower than those found in men.

The new study, which involved 1,096 premenopausal women, found that as testosterone and androstenedione levels rose, the likelihood of developing breast cancer increased significantly. The results showed that, in women under 40, the risk of developing breast cancer over a 10-year period ranged from 1.5% for those with the lowest testosterone levels to 2.6% for those with the highest levels.

The research team concluded that the study "provides strong evidence that the risk of breast cancer among premenopausal women is directly related to circulating levels of testosterone and androstenedione." Further studies are needed to see if this risk can be lowered by lifestyle changes or other interventions.

REAPPEARANCE OF RARE SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASE REPORTED IN SEVERAL CITIES

After an absence of several years, LGV (lymphogranuloma venereum), a rare sexually transmitted disease (STD) has returned to a number of major cities in the United States including Boston where there have been six confirmed cases of LGV so far this year. One patient in that city told a doctor at the Fenway Community Health Clinic that he suspects he caught the disease during a visit to Brazil. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is monitoring cases of the disease across the country which, at present, appear to be limited to men.

LGV spreads from genital bumps or lesions and can have serious consequences if left untreated. Among these are disfigured genitalia and permanent damage to the bowels. Symptoms include rectal bleeding, abdominal pain within days after exposure. LGV is treatable with antibiotics.

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