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Health Highlights: July 30, 2015

FDA Warns of Name Mix-Ups Between Antidepressant, Blood Thinner Obama Marks 50th Anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid Five Distinct Groups of Prostate Cancer Identified Legionnaire's Disease Outbreak Investigated in New York City: Health Officials

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

FDA Warns of Name Mix-Ups Between Antidepressant, Blood Thinner

Confusion between the names of the antidepressant Brintellix (vortioxetine) and the anti-blood clotting medication Brilinta (ticagrelor) has led to the wrong medication being prescribed or dispensed, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

While no patients have used the wrong medication, reports of prescribing and dispensing errors are still being received by the FDA.

Doctors can reduce the risk of name confusion by including the generic name of the medication on prescriptions in addition to the brand name, along with the indication for their use.

Patients should always check their prescriptions to ensure they are receiving the right medication, the FDA said.


Obama Marks 50th Anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid

The United States needs to expand and improve health care for all Americans, President Barack Obama said on the 50th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid.

The Medicare and Medicaid laws were signed by President Lyndon Johnson on July 30, 1965 and are "cornerstones of the fundamental belief that in America, health care is a right and not a privilege," Obama said, USA Today reported.

"We must recognize that this work, though begun a half-century ago and continued over the decades that have followed, is not yet complete," he said in a proclamation Thursday. "For too many, quality, affordable health care is still out of reach -- and we must recommit to finishing this important task."

"On the 50th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid, let us not be content with the progress we have made," Obama urged. "Instead, let us summon the resolve of the generations that came before us and recommit to advancing this noble cause."


Five Distinct Groups of Prostate Cancer Identified

Scientists who identified five genetically distinct groups of prostate cancer say their findings will lead to more personalized and better treatment.

The team analyzed 482 samples of prostate tumors from 259 men with the disease and identified 100 genes associated with prostate cancer, including 94 that had not been previously linked with the disease, the Washington Post reported.

They also found a small subset of genes that predicted poor outcomes better than any current method, according to the study in the journal EBioMedicine.

The identification of the five groups of prostate cancer with distinct DNA signatures means that researchers can now begin trying to develop specific therapies for each subtype, the Post reported.


Legionnaire's Disease Outbreak Investigated in New York City: Health Officials

A Legionnaire's disease outbreak in New York City's South Bronx is being investigated by city health officials.

There have been 36 cases reported since July 10, and two deaths in patients with Legionnaire's disease, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said. Water from cooling towers and other potential sources of the outbreak are being tested.

Anyone with symptoms such as fever, cough, chills and muscle aches should seek immediate medical attention, health officials advised. Other symptoms of Legionnaire's disease include headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, confusion and diarrhea.

Symptoms typically appear two to 10 days after significant exposure to Legionella bacteria, which causes the disease.

"We are concerned about this unusual increase in Legionnaire's disease cases in the South Bronx," Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said in a city news release. "We are conducting a swift investigation to determine the source of the outbreak and prevent future cases. I urge anyone with symptoms to seek medical attention right away."

Potential sources of the bacteria that causes Legionnaire's disease include hot tubs, humidifiers, whirlpool spas, hot water tanks, cooling towers and evaporative condensers of large air conditioning systems. The disease cannot be spread from person to person.

People at high risk for the illness include middle-aged and older adults (especially smokers), those with chronic lung disease or weakened immune systems, and those who take medicines that weaken their immune system.

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