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Study finds Pradaxa could make common falls lethal for elderly

The death of an 83-year-old man who checked into The University of Utah’s hospital after suffering from a routine fall raises concerns that hemorrhaging may be irreversible in patients taking Boehringer Ingelheim’s blood-thinning drug Pradaxa. A new report published Thursday in the Journal of Neurosurgery, authored by physicians in the University’s Neurosurgery Department who treated the patient, details his decline and eventual death hours after arriving at the hospital. The patient went to the hospital after experiencing a standing-level fall that left him banged up but alert and coherent. The study notes that one month prior to his fall, the ... Read More

Whistleblower sues Takeda for downplaying Actos heart risks

A U.S. unit of Japan-based Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. downplayed the seriousness of hundreds of cases of congestive heart failure linked to its diabetes drug Actos to federal regulators, a Takeda employee alleges in a whistle-blower lawsuit she brought against the company. All pharmaceutical companies are required by law to report adverse drug reactions to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Adverse Event Reporting System (AERS). This information updates the drug database and keeps regulators apprised of safety concerns that could influence how the drug is marketed. Helen Ge, a medical reviewer for the Actos manufacturer, alleges that from 2007 to ... Read More

Study finds Parkinson’s drug is effective at treating TBI

A drug used for years to treat Parkinson’s disease is speeding recovery for patients with Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) in a way never seen before, according to a study published in a recent issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Doctors have had little choice but to try different medications to help patients suffering from TBIs. Often, it is a shot in the dark with doctors having to rely on hunches or common sense over hard data. One of the medications doctors have turned to over the years is Amantadine. But, there have been no studies to prove just ... Read More

Toyota recalls 700,000 vehicles for safety repairs

Toyota announced Wednesday that it will begin recalling nearly 700,000 vehicles next month to repair potential safety problems. One recall encompasses about 495,000 Tacoma pickup trucks made in models years 2005 through 2009 and will involve replacing the steering wheel spiral cable assembly. According to Toyota, friction between the spiral cable and the retainer in the steering wheel spiral cable assembly may occur in some of the vehicles, possibly resulting in “loss of connectivity to the driver’s air bag module.” Should the electrical connection be interrupted, the driver’s airbag may be deactivated and fail to deploy during a crash. The ... Read More

Researchers hope to reduce failure rate of artificial hips

A team of researchers at the University of Limerick is working to find innovative ways to improve the lifespan of artificial hips and other orthopaedic implants. The team’s goal is timely. Approximately 750,000 orthopaedic implants are performed each year in the United States. That number is expected to jump to a staggering 4.5 million in the next 20 years. Most implants, such as artificial hips, can be expected to last 20 years or more before they begin to fail and need replacing. But some implants have shown a higher than expected failure rate at five years or less. Researchers hope ... Read More

FDA rejects Merck’s new combo cholesterol drug

Merck & Co. will have to provide more data on its experimental cholesterol-lowering drug cocktail before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will allow it to be sold in the United States. The drug, known only as MK-0653C, is designed to fight high cholesterol in two different ways to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Merck’s new drug contains a generic version of the statin Lipitor, the top selling drug of all time. Known chemically as atorvastatin, Lipitor works to reduce the amount of cholesterol naturally produced in the liver. MK-0653C also contains Zetia, known as simvastatin, a ... Read More

Group offers support network for girls injured by Gardasil

Girls who believe they have been harmed by Merck’s human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine and their families shouldn’t have to feel alone when dealing with the devastating effects many people believe the drug can have, thanks to an international outreach of volunteers who can help answer questions and provide emotional support. The Guardian Angels, a support group encompassing 23 states and eight countries (including the United States), is made up of 42 volunteers who share knowledge and even personal — in some cases tragic — experience with the Gardasil vaccine. “We would eventually like to have a Guardian Angel in every ... Read More

Whistleblowers key in the fight against fraud

Whistleblowers have become one of the federal government’s most valuable tools in its ongoing efforts to crack down on corporate wrongdoing and recover money lost to overbilling and other fraudulent activities. Healthcare is one industry that is particularly rampant with financial fraud, and it’s fallen at the center of recent bipartisan efforts in Washington to fight back. A congressional coalition beefed up the False Claims Act in 2009, making it easier for the government to use the law. Additionally, the Obama Administration has called for better fraud-busting health care laws and a bigger budget to use them effectively. Tony West, ... Read More

Study links prematurity, reduced head size to SSRI use during pregnancy

Most doctors advise their patients with depression not to take antidepressants during pregnancy because the drugs may cause serious birth defects. However, a new study shows that not treating depression during pregnancy may cause poor birth outcomes as well. The study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, involved about 8,000 pregnant women in the Netherlands who were asked once each trimester about their depression symptoms and whether they used antidepressants. The antidepressants studied in the research involved a class of medication known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), which includes brand names such as Paxil, Zoloft, Prozac, Celexa and ... Read More

Study finds common flu drug may speed traumatic brain injury recovery

A flu drug that has been around for decades may help speed the recovery of patients with severe traumatic brain injuries (TBI), according to a new study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine. A hospital study divided 184 patients with severe TBI caused by falls and car crashes randomly into two groups. About one third of the patients were in a vegetative state with only brief periods of wakefulness while the rest were only minimally conscious. One group received a daily dose of Amantadine, a drug first approved in the 1960s to help combat the flu virus, while ... Read More