Health Highlights: Aug. 8, 2007
President Bush in Good Health Suction Used to Remove Armpit Sweat Glands Vaccine Lab Likely Source of U.K. Foot-and-Mouth Outbreak Access to Unapproved Drugs Not Constitutional Right: U.S. Court Suspect Chinese Seafood Not Inspected by FDA States Taking Action to Get Coverage for Uninsured Young Adults
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
President Bush in Good Health
President George W. Bush is "fit for duty," doctors said Wednesday after Bush had his annual physical, the Associated Press reported.
Bush usually gets his annual physical in August at the National Naval Medical Center in suburban Maryland. But this year, he had it at the White House. The time and place of the physical were not announced beforehand.
Also Wednesday, the White House revealed that Bush was successfully treated for Lyme disease nearly a year ago. He was treated for what the White House called "early, localized Lyme disease" last August after developing the characteristic bulls-eye rash, the AP said.
Suction Used to Remove Armpit Sweat Glands
A minimally invasive procedure to suck sweat glands out of the underarms can help people who suffer from excessive underarm perspiration, says a German study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
After having the procedure, which uses methods pioneered by liposuction, most of the 51 patients in the study had a 75 percent reduction in sweating and a major improvement in quality of life, BBC News reported.
A local anesthetic is applied before a suction tube is inserted under the skin. It takes about 20 minutes for each armpit. Patients are then monitored for an hour before they're allowed to go home.
"It is easier and faster than any of the other surgical techniques currently used and it really does work," said Dr. Falk Bechara of Ruhr University, BBC News reported.
It's estimated that about 1.5 percent of people in Western nations suffer from excess sweating.
Vaccine Lab Likely Source of U.K. Foot-and-Mouth Outbreak
It's likely that a vaccine lab was the source of the foot-and-mouth outbreak in southern England and that the disease was spread by human movement, Britain's Health and Safety Executive said Tuesday. The agency said the possibility that the disease was transmitted by air or floodwaters was "negligible."
Foot-and-mouth disease has been confirmed at two farms located within a few miles of the Pirbright vaccine laboratory, which is shared by the government's Institute for Animal Health and a private pharmaceutical company, Merial Animal Health, the Associated Press reported.
The possibility that the highly contagious virus was spread by human movement will be urgently investigated and footpaths in the area of the two affected farms will be closed immediately, said Environment Secretary Hilary Benn.
A protection zone has been established around the two farms in an effort to prevent the spread of the disease to other farms in southern England, the AP reported.
Access to Unapproved Drugs Not Constitutional Right: Court
Terminally ill patients don't have a constitutional right to treatment with medicines that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday, The New York Times reported.
The 8-2 decision by the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit was a defeat for the Abigail Alliance for Better Access to Developmental Drugs, which launched its case against the FDA in 2003.
Initially, a district court ruled against the group. That was reversed by an appeals court panel. The full appeals court ruling Tuesday upheld the original district court decision. The founder of the Abigail Alliance vowed to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Times reported.
In its legal challenge, the group contended that forcing dying patients to wait for a new drug to go through the long process of clinical trials deprives them of their right to self-defense, and violates the Fifth Amendment clause that people can't be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.
The FDA argued that allowing dying patents access to unapproved drugs would undermine the entire drug approval process, the Times reported.
Suspect Chinese Seafood Not Inspected by FDA
At least one million pounds of "suspect" frozen Chinese shrimp, catfish and eel was not inspected, even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered that the food be checked for banned drugs or cancer-causing chemicals before it was allowed into the United States, the Associated Press reported.
Under an "import alert," all shipments of the pond-raised seafood were to be held until they'd passed a laboratory test. But an AP review of shipments since last fall found that one of every four shipments -- equal to the amount that 66,000 Americans eat in a year -- made it through to store shelves and dinner plates without being stopped and tested.
To date, no illnesses have been reported. But the case adds to growing concerns about the FDA's ability to ensure the safety of the country's food imports.
"The system is outdated and it doesn't work well. They pretend it does, but it doesn't," said Carl R. Nielsen, who oversaw import inspections at the FDA until 2005, when he left to start a consulting company. "You can't make the assumption that these would be isolated instances," he told the AP.
In some cases, shipments under an import alert do pass through without inspection but, overall, the system does work, FDA officials said.
States Taking Action to Get Coverage for Uninsured Young Adults
States are starting to take action to get health insurance for the 13.3 million young American adults who don't have coverage, concludes a report released Wednesday by The Commonwealth Fund.
Since 2003, 16 states have enacted legislation requiring insurance companies to provide health insurance coverage to dependent young adults listed on their parents' health plans, beyond age 18 or 19, the report said.
Many uninsured young adults (those under age 30) have low incomes, so extending eligibility for Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) beyond age 18 would be an important step in improving coverage for this group, the report said.
Currently, Medicaid and SCHIP coverage for children typically ends at age 19.
In 2005, there were 13.3 million young adults ages 19 to 29 without health insurance, compared with 12.9 million in 2004, the report said. They represent only 17 percent of people under age 65 in the U.S., but young adults account for 30 percent of the uninsured in that population.