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Health Highlights: Nov. 2, 2012

Pradaxa Bleeding Risk Same as Warfarin: FDA Planned Parenthood in Texas Continues to Receive Funding for Now More Drug Trial Data Required Under New Journal Policy

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

Pradaxa Bleeding Risk Same as Warfarin: FDA

The risk of serious bleeding among new users of the blood thinner Pradaxa is no higher than among new users of the popular blood thinner warfarin, according to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration safety review.

Blood thinners are used to prevent blood clots in patients with certain kinds of heart or blood vessel disease. Blood clots can lead to heart attack and stroke.

The FDA initiated the safety review after receiving reports of serious bleeding among patients prescribed Pradaxa. The agency said it will continue to monitor data as part of the ongoing safety review.

Doctors who prescribe Pradaxa should carefully follow the drug's dosing instructions, especially for patients with kidney problems, to reduce the risk of bleeding, the FDA said. It also said that patients with the heart rhythm disorder atrial fibrillation should not stop taking Pradaxa without talking to their doctor.


Planned Parenthood in Texas Continues to Receive Funding for Now

Planned Parenthood in Texas will continue to receive money from a joint state and federal program for the time being, despite Gov. Rick Perry's pledge to cut its funding by Nov. 1, the Associated Press reported.

A new Texas law forbids state funds from going to organizations linked to abortion providers. Planned Parenthood in the state is funded by the joint state and federal program that provides health care to low-income women.

The federal government funds 90 percent of the $40 million yearly cost of the program, but says the Texas law violates federal rules. Perry said only state money will be used to keep the program going.

On Wednesday, Perry announced that the state was ready Thursday to begin a women's health program with state-only funding. But Health and Human Service Commissioner Kyle Janek said the program will not begin immediately and may not take effect until Dec. 31 since federal funding will continue until then, the AP reported.

In addition, there are three unresolved lawsuits over the issue.


More Drug Trial Data Required Under New Journal Policy

Beginning in January, the British Medical Journal will no longer publish the results of clinical trials unless drug makers and researchers agree to provide detailed study data on request.

The move is meant to push drug companies to provide access to the huge amounts of data they collect when researching new drugs. Currently, very little of that data is made public.

Critics say that when clinical trial results are published in medical journals, they often include only the most favorable findings and independent researchers are not allowed to analyze all the data.

Journal editor Dr. Fiona Godlee said she hopes other major journals will adopt similar policies. "We expect that eventually this will become the norm," she told The Times.

The journal will publicize cases in which access to full clinical trial data is denied, Godlee said.

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