Health Highlights: July 3, 2012

Actor Andy Griffith Dead at 86 Drug Giant GlaxoSmithKline Fined $3 Billion for Fraud

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

Actor Andy Griffith Dead at 86

Andy Griffith, 86, veteran actor and star of TV shows such as "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Matlock," died Tuesday morning at his home in Roanoke Island, N.C., CBS News reported. Griffith's death was confirmed in a statement from the sheriff's office in Dare County, N.C.

While Griffith had a long career that spanned work in nightclubs, radio, movies and music, it was his role as Sheriff Andy Taylor on the 1960s' TV show that bore his name that first endeared him to millions. As sheriff of fictional Mayberry, N.C., Griffith and co-stars Don Knotts ("Barney Fife") and Jim Nabors ("Gomer Pyle") were beloved in what many critics still hail as one of the best sitcoms ever.

Griffith was born in Mt. Airy, N.C., in 1926 and earned a degree in music from the University of North Carolina. He taught music at high school in North Carolina before a move to New York City, where he quickly moved to the Broadway stage, as well as the big and small screen.

Griffith starred in "The Andy Griffith Show" from 1960 to 1968. His TV career continued to flourish in the 1970s and he had another TV hit when he headlined as a lawyer in the series "Matlock," which ran from 1986 to 1995.

According to CBS News, Griffith's health has failed in recent years, with a heart attack and bypass surgery in 2000 and hip surgery in 2007. Married three times, he had two children by his first wife: Sam, who died in 1996, and a surviving daughter, Dixie.


Drug Giant GlaxoSmithKline Fined $3 Billion for Fraud

In what government officials say is the largest health-care fraud settlement in U.S. history, drug maker GlaxoSmithKline has been fined $3 billion for falsely promoting two drugs and failing to report important safety data on a third medicine.

The U.S. Department of Justice said Monday that the drug giant promoted the use of the antidepressant Paxil for children, even though it was not approved for people under the age of 18, the Associated Press reported.

Justice officials also said the company encouraged Wellbutrin for purposes other than depression, the only condition for which it has received approval.

The government also charges that between 2001 and 2007, GlaxoSmithKline failed to report on two trials assessing the heart safety of its diabetes drug Avandia, the AP said.

The penalties include $1 billion for criminal fines and forfeitures and $2 billion for civil settlements with federal and state governments.


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