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Health Highlights: Nov. 20, 2008

IKEA Blinds Recalled After Girl's Death Health Insurers Would Accept All Customers if Congress Mandated Coverage Lung Cancer Drug Trial Halted China Introduces New Rules for Dairy Industry

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

IKEA Blinds Recalled After Girl's Death

The choking death of a 1-year-old girl from Greenwich, Conn., has prompted the U.S. recall of 670,000 IKEA IRIS and ALVINE Roman blinds, the Associated Press reported.

The girl died in April when she became tangled in the inner cord of a set of blinds located above her playpen, the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission said.

The blinds were sold at IKEA stores across the United States between July 2005 and June 2008. Another 4.8 million blinds were sold in other countries, the Associated Press reported. Consumers can return the blinds to any IKEA store for a full refund.

Another recall announced by the CPSC covers about 7,300 Green Mountain Vista insulated blackout roller shades and insulated Roman shades. In June, a 2-year-old girl from Bristol, Conn., nearly died after getting caught on the beaded-chain loop on a set of the shades. The girl was saved by her older brother, the AP reported.

The Green Mountain Vista shades were sold nationwide by a number of retailers from June 2005 through September 2008. The CPSC said consumers should inspect the shades to see if the tension device is attached. If not, contact Green Mountain Vista for a free repair kit and installation instructions.

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Health Insurers Would Accept All Customers if Congress Mandated Coverage

Health insurers would agree to accept all customers, regardless of illness or disability, if Congress required all Americans to have coverage, two main industry trade associations said Wednesday.

If people aren't mandated to have coverage, many would wait until they suffer health problems before they buy insurance, said America's Health Insurance Plans and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, The New York Times reported.

The industry's position could help ease passage of legislation to expand health care coverage and control health care costs. Such legislation is favored by President-elect Barack Obama and has widespread support in Congress, the newspaper said.

However, there's one major difference between Obama's position and that of the insurance industry, the Times reported. The industry wants the federal government to require all Americans to have and maintain insurance, while Obama wants the rule, at least initially, to apply only to children.

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Lung Cancer Drug Trial Halted

A late-stage clinical trial of the experimental lung cancer drug motesanib was halted because patients taking the drug had higher early death rates than patients taking a placebo.

The trial by U.S.-based Amgen and Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. was stopped after an independent monitoring committee noted the pattern of deaths among the study's 600 patients with non-small cell lung cancer, Bloomberg news reported.

Motesanib was designed to starve tumor cells of the blood supply they need to grow by blocking a protein called VEGF, which is involved in the growth of blood vessels that feed tumors.

The clinical trial suspension applies only to patients with the squamous non-small cell form of cancer, Bloomberg reported. Amgen said the monitoring committee didn't recommend suspension of the study for patients with the non-squamous form of the lung cancer.

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China Introduces New Rules for Dairy Industry

A number of new food safety measures designed to tackle problems in the dairy industry were announced Thursday by the Chinese government. The new rules will cover all areas of the industry, including cow breeding, animal feed, and packaging and sales of milk, The New York Times reported.

The action is in response to the melamine-tainted milk powder scandal, which claimed the lives of at least four infants and sickened more than 50,000 Chinese children. Chinese milk products have been recalled worldwide, and the scandal has embarrassed the Chinese government and caused major damage to the country's dairy farmers and milk producers.

"The crisis has put China's diary industry in peril and exposed major problems existing in the quality control and supervision of the industry," an official with China's National Development and Reform Commission said in a posting on the agency's Web site, the Times reported.

The tainted milk crisis is the latest in a series of problems with China's agriculture industry.

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