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Health Highlights: Oct. 17, 2010

FDA OKs Botox to Treat Chronic Migraines WHO Urges Action Against Dengue Knee Implant Approval A Mistake: FDA Judge Says States' Lawsuit Against Health Care Reform Can Go To Trial

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

FDA OKs Botox to Treat Chronic Migraines

Drug maker Allergan received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday to market its wrinkle-smoothing drug Botox for the treatment of serious, chronic migraine headache.

According to the Associated Press, the FDA approved Botox for use by patients who experience the debilitating headaches for 15 days or more per month. According to Allergan, about 3.2 million Americans fall into this category.

For use against chronic migraine, doctors are advised to inject Botox into the neck or head every 12 weeks to help ward off future attacks.

Approval was based on two Allergan-funded studies involving more than 1,300 patients received Botox or a placebo injection. According to the AP, in one of the studies patients on Botox had about two fewer days of migraine per month on average compared to those on the sham injection.

"This condition can greatly affect family, work and social life, so it is important to have a variety of effective treatment options available," FDA's Dr. Russell Katz, director of neurology products, said in a statement.


WHO Urges Action Against Dengue

Dengue disease represents a major threat to global public health, warns the World Health Organization.

The UN health agency said the number of cases of the potentially deadly mosquito-transmitted illness has more than doubled in the last decade and the situation will worsen if countries don't take immediate action, BBC News reported.

Dengue is a threat for two-fifths of the world's population. Of those 2.5 billion people at risk, 70 percent live in the Asia Pacific region, the agency said.

"National resources need to be mobilized to sustain dengue prevention and control, and the disease's profile needs to be raised on the global health agenda to stimulate the interest of international agencies and donors," said Dr. Shin Young-soo, WHO's regional director for the Western Pacific, BBC News reported. "The fight against this disease is everybody's problem."


Knee Implant Approval A Mistake: FDA

The 2008 approval of the controversial Menaflex knee implant despite objections from its own experts was a mistake, acknowledges the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

FDA scientists protested that New Jersey-based ReGen Biologics' implant, designed to reinforce damaged knee tissue, provides little, if any benefit, to patients, the Associated Press reported.

Outside pressure, including lobbying from four New Jersey lawmakers, influenced the decision to approve Menaflex, the FDA said.

The agency is taking steps to revoke the device's approval, but will meet with Regen officials to discuss what data would be required to prove the implant is safe and effective, the AP reported.


Judge Says States' Lawsuit Against Health Care Reform Can Go To Trial

A lawsuit by 20 states challenging the new health care reform law can go to trial, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson said he wants to hear additional arguments from the plaintiffs and the federal government over whether the law is unconstitutional, the Associated Press reported.

Vinson scheduled the hearing for Dec. 16.

Last week, another federal judge in Michigan tossed out a similar lawsuit, the AP reported.


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