Health Highlights: Jan. 31, 2011

Chinese Drywall Not Linked to Deaths: CDC Drug Maker Settles First Avandia Lawsuit Before Trial Artifical Pancreas Benefits Pregnant Women With Diabetes: Study

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

Chinese Drywall Not Linked to Deaths: CDC

There is no link between tainted Chinese-made drywall and the deaths of 11 people living in homes with the defective drywall, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

All of the 11 people in Louisiana, Florida and Virginia died due to "preexisting chronic health conditions unrelated to imported drywall exposure," according to a CDC report released Monday, said the Associated Press.

The CDC conclusion supports a previous finding by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The defective Chinese-made drywall has been linked to corrosion in thousands of homes in the U.S., mostly in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Virginia, the AP reported. The drywall was imported during a past housing boom and after a series of Gulf Coast hurricanes five years ago.


Drug Maker Settles First Avandia Lawsuit Before Trial

A lawsuit involving the diabetes drug Avandia was settled just before it was scheduled to go to trial this week in Philadelphia federal court, says drug maker GlaxoSmithKline PLC.

The lawsuit by the family of James Burford of North Carolina alleged that his fatal heart attack in 2006 was caused by Avandia, which he took for 15 months. The company settled the case to avoid the risks and costs of litigation, Glaxo spokeswoman Mary Anne Rhyne said in an e-mailed statement Sunday, Bloomberg news reported.

The company did not provide details of the settlement's terms.

The lawsuit was the first of 2,000 cases heading to court alleging that U.K.-based Glaxo hid Avandia's health risks, Bloomberg reported. The remaining lawsuits in the include at least 1,600 cases filed in Philadelphia and another 400 in state courts across the U.S.

European regulators ordered the drug off the market and Glaxo has restricted U.S. sales of Avandia and said it would stop promoting the drug worldwide. Last September, Glaxo agreed to pay about $460 million to resolve about 10,000 lawsuits alleging that the company hid the drug's heart attack risks.

In the past 12 months, Glaxo has set aside $6.4 billion for legal costs associated with Avandia, Bloomberg reported.


Artifical Pancreas Benefits Pregnant Women With Diabetes: Study

Using an artificial pancreas to maintain normal sugar levels in pregnant women with diabetes could benefit both mother and child, according to a new study.

U.K. researchers fitted artificial pancreases to 10 pregnant women with type 1 diabetes. A sensor sent continuous readings of blood sugar levels to a computer, which instructed a pump to inject required amounts of insulin when needed, BBC News reported.

The system maintained normal sugar levels in the pregnant women, according to the study published in the journal Diabetes Care.

"For women with type 1 diabetes, self-management is particularly challenging during pregnancy due to physiological and hormonal changes," said Dr. Helen Murphy of Cambridge University, BBC News reported.

"These high blood glucose levels increase the risk of congenital malformation, stillbirth, neonatal death, preterm delivery, macrosomia [oversized babies] and neonatal admission. So to discover an artificial pancreas can help maintain near-normal glucose levels in these women is very promising," Murphy said.


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