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Friday, Oct 24th

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Govt pays millions for unapproved drugs

The AP analysis found that Medicaid paid nearly $198 million from 2004 to 2007 for more than 100 unapproved drugs, mostly for common conditions such as colds and pain. Data for 2008 were not available but unapproved drugs still are being sold. The AP checked the medications against FDA databases, using agency guidelines to determine if they were unapproved. The FDA says there may be thousands of such drugs on the market.

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Study: Republicans Stymie Sensitive Medical Research

Important US research to reduce HIV infection may have been prevented in recent years because scientists have censored their funding requests in response to political controversy, according to a study published on Tuesday.

Joanna Kempner from Rutgers University identified a "chilling effect" on researchers seeking grants from the government-backed National Institutes of Health after their work was questioned by Republican lawmakers and Christian groups.

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Protests Over a Rule to Protect Health Providers

A last-minute Bush administration plan to grant sweeping new protections to health care providers who oppose abortion and other procedures on religious or moral grounds has provoked a torrent of objections, including a strenuous protest from the government agency that enforces job discrimination laws.

The proposed rule would prohibit recipients of federal money from discriminating against doctors, nurses and other health care workers who refuse to perform or to assist in the performance of abortions or sterilization procedures because of their “religious beliefs or moral convictions.”

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Cancer Drugs Make Tumors Grow

Drugs like Avastin that are used to treat some cancers are supposed to work by blocking a vessel growth-promoting protein called vascular endothelial growth factor, or VEGF. With VEGF held in check, researchers have assumed tumors wouldn't generate blood vessels and that should keep malignancies from growing. In a sense, the cancerous growths would be "starved". But new research just published in the journal Nature shows this isn't true. Instead of weakening blood vessels so they won't "feed" malignant tumors, these cancer treatments, known as anti-angiogenesis drugs, actually normalize and strengthen blood vessels -- and that means they can spur tumors to grow larger.

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U.S. trails other nations in chronic illness care

Chronically ill Americans are more likely to forgo medical care because of high costs or experience medical errors than patients in other affluent countries, according to a study released on Thursday.

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Diarrhea bacteria common in hospitals: survey

A common and sometimes deadly cause of diarrhea is far more common in U.S. hospitals than people thought, and only better hygiene and more judicious use of antibiotics will help, experts reported on Tuesday.

As many as 13 out of every 1,000 hospital patients are infected with Clostridium difficile, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology reported.

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Crestor would save lives at $500,000 each

The study, involving 18,000 patients, supplied powerful evidence that statins save lives by driving down blood cholesterol and cooling inflamed arteries, as measured by high blood levels of C-reactive protein.

The cost of saving one life, he says, would total about $557,000. 

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