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Health Highlights: Jan. 25, 2017

TV Icon Mary Tyler Moore Dies at 80 Newer Hepatitis C Drugs May Pose Health Risks: Study

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

TV Icon Mary Tyler Moore Dies at 80

Mary Tyler Moore, best known for her namesake television show of the 1970s as well as the 1960s hit "The Dick Van Dyke Show," died Wednesday at age 80 in Greenwich, Conn.

Moore's family said her death was caused by cardiopulmonary arrest after contracting pneumonia, according to The New York Times.

The Oscar-nominated actress also did charity work for the JDRF, formerly the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which raises funds and awareness for type 1 diabetes. Moore was diagnosed with the illness at age 33, ABC News reported.

Over her long career Moore won six Emmy Awards -- four for the "Mary Tyler Moore Show," one for "The Dick Van Dyke Show," and one for the 1993 TV movie "Stolen Babies."

Moore also was nominated for an Academy Award as best actress for the 1980 movie "Ordinary People."

Moore's portrayal of the single career woman Mary Richards in the '70s show that bore her name coincided with the emergence of the women's movement, making her a role model for many women.

In a 1995 interview with the Times, she said that "I've come to the point in my life where I don't have to work. I work because I enjoy it. I only enjoy doing things that frighten me a little bit. And I am an actress. I think I am an actress as well as a personality. And I've got to keep the actress in me happy."


Newer Hepatitis C Drugs May Pose Health Risks: Study

Newer drugs to cure hepatitis C may put patients at risk for liver failure and other severe side effects, according to a new study from a U.S. nonprofit group that examines drug safety.

The study by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices is based on an analysis of U.S. Food and Drug Administration data and reports from doctors worldwide on adverse events possibly caused by the nine widely used antiviral drugs, The New York Times reported.

Two of the drugs, Sovaldi and Harvoni, are so-called blockbusters made by Gilead Sciences and priced at $1,000 a pill. Sovaldi was approved in 2013 and Harvoni in 2014. These and other antiviral drugs can cure hepatitis C in 12 weeks in many patients.

The number of adverse events is fairly small and the findings are not conclusive, but experts say the study published online Wednesday should serve as a warning, The Times reported.

The study said about 250,000 people worldwide took the newer drugs in 2015. Among patients treated with the drugs during the year ending June 30, 2016, 524 suffered liver failure, and 165 of those patients died. Another 1,058 patients experienced severe liver injury. The study also said the drugs appeared ineffective in 761 patients.

But there is no proof the drugs were to blame for the patients' liver problems, The Times reported.

Gilead's drugs were approved for people with severe liver disease from hepatitis C and some will inevitably suffer liver failure despite the best treatment, according to company spokesman Mark Snyder.

"We closely assess both post-marketing safety reports as well as safety data from our clinical trials on an ongoing basis and have found no suggestion of a causal relationship between Sovaldi or Harvoni and liver failure," he wrote in an email, The Times reported.

There have been other accounts of problems with the new drugs and further investigation is required, said Dr. Robert S. Brown, director of the Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia. He was not involved in the study.

"We don't want people to ignore it and lead to risks to patients," he told The Times. "We don't want people to overreact and not treat patients who should be treated. A lot of doctors are unclear about it, and if doctors are unclear, patients are, too."

He said problems with the new drugs might be due to incorrect prescribing by some doctors, giving the drugs to patients with liver function too poor to tolerate or benefit from the medicines.

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