Health Highlights: April 26, 2011
Doctors Perform Second U.S. Full-Face Transplant Ban Latex Medical Gloves: Group Doctors' Prescription Data Case Being Heard by U.S. Supreme Court Meningitis Vaccine OK'd for Use in Toddlers Electronic Cigarettes to be Regulated as Tobacco Products: FDA New Drug Appears Effective Against Hepatitis C: FDA Utah Health Officials Trying to Contain Measles Outbreak Some Adults Fake or Exaggerate ADHD Symptoms: Study
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Doctors Perform Second U.S. Full-Face Transplant
The second full-face transplant in the United States was performed last week by surgeons at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
The transplant was performed on 30-year-old Mitch Hunter of Indiana, who suffered serious facial injuries from a high-voltage electrical wire following a car crash in 2001, the Associated Press reported.
The procedure took more than 14 hours and went smoothly, according to lead surgeon Dr. Bohdan Pomahac.
The first full-face transplant in the U.S. was performed last month at the same hospital. The patient was a Texas construction worker, the AP reported.
Ban Latex Medical Gloves: Group
Surgical and patient examination gloves that are made of natural rubber latex or have cornstarch on them pose a serious threat to patients and health care workers and should be banned, says the advocacy group Public Citizen.
In a petition filed Monday with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the group notes the availability of safer alternatives such as powder-free, non-latex gloves.
"For health care workers, the major risk posed by the gloves is allergic reactions to latex, some of which can be serious or life-threatening. These allergic reactions can occur when health care workers wear latex gloves or when they inhale cornstarch powder bound to latex proteins that has been released from latex gloves worn by others. Breathing in cornstarch powder bound to latex proteins can cause acute asthma attacks and anaphylactic shock in health care workers sensitized to latex," a Public Citizen news release said.
"For patients, the danger is also grave. Patients can experience the same types of allergic reactions that occur in health care workers. Also, when cornstarch is deposited in tissues during surgery, it can promote infections, delay healing and cause inflammation, among other injuries," the release said.
Doctors' Prescription Data Case Being Heard by U.S. Supreme Court
The issue of free speech may prove important in a legal fight over the sale of doctors' prescribing habits being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The case pits the state of Vermont against companies that sell individual doctors' prescribing information to drug companies, which use the data to personalize their sales pitches to doctors, the Associated Press reported.
Vermont passed a law that bans the sale of prescribing information without a doctor's permission. The Vermont law was struck down by a federal appeals court and the case then moved to the Supreme Court.
At one point, Chief Justice John Roberts said the Vermont law seemed to be "censoring" what doctors could hear, the AP reported.
Similar laws in Maine and New Hampshire have been upheld by a federal appeals court.
Meningitis Vaccine OK'd for Use in Toddlers
U.S. approval for the bacterial meningitis vaccine Menactra has been expanded to include children ages 9 to 23 months.
The Food and Drug Administration decision was announced Monday by Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi-Aventis, the Associated Press reported.
This is the first U.S. approval for a bacterial meningitis vaccine for children ages 9 to 23 months, according to the company. Menactra was already approved for patients ages 2 to 55 years old.
Bacterial meningitis is rare in the U.S. but those who get can die within days and survivors can suffer paralysis, hearing loss and mental disabilities, the AP reported. The virus spreads through sneezing, coughing and kissing.
Electronic Cigarettes to be Regulated as Tobacco Products: FDA
Electronic cigarettes marketed for non-therapeutic use will be regulated as tobacco products rather than drugs, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.
The proposal is outline in a letter posted on the agency's website, Bloomberg News reported.
In December, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the FDA can only regulate e-cigarettes as a tobacco product if they aren't marketed for therapeutic use. The ruling gave the FDA the power to oversee sales of the controversial products.
E-cigarettes include a battery, heating element and a cartridge that contains a liquid suspension with nicotine obtained from tobacco plants. When a person uses an e-cigarette, the liquid is heated and a vapor is emitted, Bloomberg reported.
New Drug Appears Effective Against Hepatitis C: FDA
A new hepatitis C drug called boceprevir appears to cure more patients in less time than current drugs but there are questions about how the drug should be used with older medicines for maximum benefit, according to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration review.
The agency posted the review on its website in advance of a public meeting next week to consider whether the drug should receive FDA approval, the Associated Press reported.
Two studies submitted by Merck & Co. found that patients had undetectable levels of hepatitis C six months after they completed treatment with boceprevir, the FDA said.
Hepatitis C infects about 3.2 million people in the U.S., according to the AP.
Utah Health Officials Trying to Contain Measles Outbreak
A single unvaccinated person with measles may have infected hundreds of people at two community events in Utah earlier this month, health officials say.
So far, nine measles cases in the state have been linked to exposure to the unvaccinated person who contracted the disease in Poland, according to the Salt Lake Valley health department, the Associated Press reported.
As many as 1,000 people were exposed to the infected person at the two community events, according to epidemiologists.
State health officials are asking people who attended either event to contact the Utah Poison Control Center to determine if they've been properly vaccinated against the measles, the AP reported.
In addition, people who attended the first event are being asked to stay home until April 29 and those who attended the second event are being asked to stay home until May 1.
Some Adults Fake or Exaggerate ADHD Symptoms: Study
Nearly one-quarter (22 percent) of American adults who seek treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be exaggerating or faking their symptoms, according to a new study.
The analysis of the medical records of 268 patients found that some of those who exaggerated their symptoms did have ADHD but wanted to ensure they were diagnosed with the condition, msnbc.com reported.
Others who faked their symptoms didn't have ADHD but were having difficulty dealing with their workloads and lives, said the study published in the journal The Clinical Neuropsychologist.
"A lot of people think they have it because they are struggling, but it's not because of ADHD. Often times, it's simply depression, anxiety or lack of sleep," said lead author and clinical neuropsychologist Paul Marshall, msnbc.com reported.
Other patients fake ADHD symptoms to get stimulant medications, he added.