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Health Highlights: July 10, 2015

Detroit Cancer Doc Gets 45-Year Sentence for Fraud, Patient Harm House Bill Would Speed Drug Approvals, Boost Research Funding Minnesota Teen Dies of Rare Brain Infection Former Raiders QB Ken Stabler Dies of Cancer

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

Detroit Cancer Doc Gets 45-Year Sentence for Fraud, Patient Harm

A Detroit-area doctor was sentenced to 45 years in prison for fraud and harming his patients.

Farid Fata was convicted of bilking insurance companies and Medicare of at least $17 million and causing long-term health damage in 553 patients by giving them excessive chemotherapy treatments, the Associated Press reported.

"This is a huge, horrific series of criminal acts," U.S. District Judge Paul Borman said before delivering the sentence on Friday.

Fata's Michigan Hematology Oncology had seven offices in the Detroit area and an associated business that tested for cancer, the AP reported.

Fata will receive credit for about two years served in custody since his arrest, and good behavior could also reduce the amount time he spends in federal prison.


House Bill Would Speed Drug Approvals, Boost Research Funding

A bill that would speed U.S. government approval of drugs and medical devices, and increase funding for biomedical research is likely to be passed by the House on Friday.

The bipartisan measure includes provisions that would permit approval of new uses of existing drugs based on cases studies and other evidence less rigorous than traditional clinical trials. Provisions also include the approval of medical devices with shorter studies, using fewer people.

It also includes an easier approval process for new antibiotics for patients with resistant infections, and possible extra payments to hospitals in order to encourage them to use some new drugs, the Associated Press reported.

Another provision would give makers of existing drugs an extra six months of protection from competition if their drug is approved to treat rare diseases.

The bill would also boost spending for the National Institutes of Health, which bankrolls much of the biomedical research in the country. The NIH would get an extra $8.75 million over the next five years, and the Food and Drug Administration would receive an additional $550 million during that time.

Supporters say such a bill is overdue, but critics say the measure will weaken consumers' protection against ineffective or harmful products, the AP reported.

While providing "perks to the pharmaceutical and medical device industries," the bill "would put lives at risk," according to the consumer group Public Citizen.

In a letter, the White House said it supported the bill's provisions to speed drug development and increase funding for research, but said it would make some therapies available before they were proven safe and criticized the extension of competition-free periods for some drugs. There was no threat of a veto, the AP reported.

No similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate.


Minnesota Teen Dies of Rare Brain Infection

A teen boy has died of a rare brain infection he developed after swimming in a Minnesota lake, and health officials are trying to determine if it was caused by a brain-eating amoeba.

Hunter Boutain, 14, died Thursday at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, his family said in a statement, the Associated Press reported.

State and federal health officials have been trying to confirm whether Boutain's brain infection was caused by the Naegleria fowleri amoeba, a water parasite that is more common in warmer southern states.

Officials said Thursday that they don't know when they'll have an answer. If it's confirmed that the amoeba caused Boutain's death, it would be the third confirmed death from N. fowleri in Minnesota, the AP reported.


Former Raiders QB Ken Stabler Dies of Cancer

Cancer has claimed the life of former Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler.

He died Wednesday at age 69, according to a statement released by his family. They said he had been battling stage 4 colon cancer since February, USA Today reported.

Stabler led the Raiders to victory in Super Bowl XI, was the 1974 NFL MVP, and a four-time Pro-Bowl selection. His wild playing style and personality earned him the nickname "The Snake."

"He was a perfect quarterback and a perfect Raider. When you think about the Raiders you think about Ken Stabler. Kenny loved life. It is a sad day for all Raiders," former Raiders coach John Madden said in a statement, USA Today reported.

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