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House panel bill to crack down on steroids

Drug NewsJun 30 05

Legislation to combat illegal use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports leagues won the approval on Wednesday of a U.S. congressional committee.

On a 38-2 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee approved the measure, which would create minimum standards for drug testing and provide for a lifetime suspension for a third offense.

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Vietnam bird flu toll rises to 39

FluJun 30 05

A 73-year-old Vietnamese has died from bird flu, taking the country’s toll to 39, 19 of them since the virus returned in December, state-run media reported on Thursday.

The Hanoi resident, one of four people infected by the H5N1 virus being treated in hospital, died on Tuesday after being admitted on June 23, the Lao Dong newspaper quoted hospital officials as saying.

It gave no further details of the patient, and doctors at the hospital could not be reached immediately for comment.

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Australia’s “Dr. Death” had acceptable record

Public HealthJun 30 05

An Indian-born surgeon, dubbed “Dr. Death” in Australia after being linked to the deaths of 87 patients, had an acceptable medical record but still contributed to eight deaths, a review of the doctor’s patients said.

Jayant Patel, who was banned from surgery in two U.S. states, left Australia in March after he was linked to the 87 deaths at Bundaberg Hospital in Queensland state in 2003-04, when he was head of surgery at the hospital.

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UK ambulance changes mean more treated at home

Public HealthJun 30 05

Up to a million people calling emergency services could be treated at home rather than at hospital under a reorganisation of England’s ambulance service, Health Minister Lord Warner said on Thursday.

“We are going to develop and enhance the care that is available in our communities from the NHS by using ambulance services to take healthcare to the patient, to become a mobile healthcare system,” he said in a statement.

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Health groups seek to intervene in U.S. tobacco case

Tobacco & MarijuanaJun 30 05

Anti-smoking and health advocates made a bid to intervene in the U.S. government’s racketeering case against cigarette makers, telling a federal judge the Justice Department was not being tough enough on the industry.

Six anti-smoking groups said they filed with U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler arguing that they should be made formal parties to the lawsuit so they can propose stricter sanctions against the industry.

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UK airline calls in sleep doctor to cure jet lag

Public HealthJun 30 05

British Airways has called in a specialist to find a cure for jet-lag, potentially a dream come true for sleep-deprived frequent flyers.

Sleep researcher Dr. Chris Idzikowski will spend the next six months studying the best way to snooze at 30,000 feet as well as tricking passengers’ body clocks to cope with time zone changes.

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Whistle blower says drug industry cheated Medicaid

Public HealthJun 30 05

Settlements of cases involving prescription drug price manipulation in both the U.S. Medicaid and Medicare health programs provide “evidence of systemic, industry-wide problems that need to be addressed,” U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said Wednesday.

At the second of 2 days of hearings on fraud in the Medicaid program, the Senate Finance Committee heard testimony from both state and federal officials detailing the more than $2 billion in recoveries from drug price manipulation over the past 4 years.

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Portugal Socialists seek 2005 abortion referendum

Public HealthJun 30 05

Portugal’s ruling Socialists introduced legislation on Tuesday to allow a referendum to ease strict abortion laws to be held this year, a party spokesman said on Wednesday.

The Socialists had promised a referendum during their campaign ahead of February elections. A spokesman for the Socialist parliamentary bloc said the legislation was filed on Tuesday and a vote is set for July 8.

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S. Africa acts on illegal circumcision after deaths

Public HealthJun 30 05

South African authorities are taking action against illegal circumcision rituals but were too late to save six youths who died after botched operations, a regional health official said on Tuesday.

At least 10 traditional surgeons and nurses had been arrested for unlicensed circumcisions involving young men and teenage boys in the Eastern Cape this month, provincial health department spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said.

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EU sets 2011 deadline to ban mercury exports

Public HealthJun 24 05

Environment ministers from the European Union, the world’s largest producer of mercury, called on Friday for exports of the toxic substance to be banned by 2011.

Europe also wants to phase out the use of the metal in thermometers and improve global efforts to stop the dumping of the dangerous liquid metal.

Mercury poisoning can harm the nervous system, brain and kidneys and even cause death. Pregnant women are advised to limit intake of some fish due to mercury pollution in the sea.

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Guidant tells doctors not to implant some devices

HeartJun 24 05

Guidant Corp. on Friday said it advised doctors to stop implanting some of its defibrillators, which U.S. regulators may recall, sending the medical device maker’s shares down nearly 11 percent.

Continuing reports of problems with the company’s key cardiac devices have pressured the stock and raised concerns that Guidant’s deal to be acquired by Johnson & Johnson may be in jeopardy.

Guidant shares fell to $61.20 on the Inet electronic brokerage before the market opened, down 10.8 percent from Thursday’s close of $68.60 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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ABCD predicts stroke risk after ‘mini-stroke’

NeurologyJun 24 05

A scoring system based on a patient’s age, blood pressure, clinical features and duration of symptoms - the ABCD score - can be used to estimate the risk of a full-blown stroke in the 7 days after a TIA or ‘mini-stroke’, British investigators report.

Apart from identifying patients who should get emergency care, the risk score will also be useful for raising people’s awareness of the symptoms of stroke, Dr. Peter M. Rothwell, from the University of Oxford, and his colleagues note in their report in The Lancet medical journal.

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Flu pandemic could kill half million in US

FluJun 24 05

Half a million Americans could die and more than 2 million could end up in the hospital with serious complications if an even moderately severe strain of a pandemic flu hits, a report predicted on Friday.

But the United States only has 965,256 staffed hospital beds, according to the report from the Trust for America’s Health.

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During a chemical fire, evacuation may not be best

Emergencies / First AidJun 24 05

Evacuation of local residents during a chemical air pollution incident is not necessarily the best way to prevent exposure to toxic fumes, according to UK investigators.

“Unplanned evacuations where a lot of folks are moved around have the potential for both psychological and physical problems,” Dr. Sanjay Kinra, from the University of Bristol, told Reuters Health.

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Cheese from Mexico linked to TB-like infections

Food & NutritionJun 24 05

Several New York City cases of a type of tuberculosis that normally affects cattle appear to be due to fresh cheese made from unpasteurized cow’s milk in Mexico, investigators from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.

Infection by Mycobacterium bovis, the culprit in these cases, used to be common before milk pasteurization but is a rarity these days.

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