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Health Highlights: Oct. 17, 2014

Joan Rivers Died of Brain Damage Caused by Low Oxygen: Medical Examiner Black Box Warning Should Remain on Chantix: FDA Panel

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

Joan Rivers Died of Brain Damage Caused by Low Oxygen: Medical Examiner

Joan Rivers died of complications while having medical procedures to check her voice box and vocal cords and to determine whether she had acid reflux, according to a New York City medical examiner's report released Thursday.

It said the 81-year-old comedian's death on Sept. 4 was due to brain damage caused by low blood oxygen, The New York Times reported.

Rivers stopped breathing Aug. 28 during a laryngoscopy to examine her voice box and vocal cords, and an endoscopy to examine her upper digestive system that was performed under anesthesia, the medical examiner report said.

An investigation found that Rivers' breathing disruption was "a predictable complication of medical therapy," and medical error was not cited as a cause of death, The Times reported.

The issue of whether medical personnel at Yorkville Endoscopy in New York City took sufficient actions after Rivers stopped breathing was not addressed in the medical examiner's report.

"We continue to be saddened by our tragic loss and grateful for the enormous outpouring of love and support from around the world. We have no further comment at this time," Rivers' daughter, Melissa, said in a statement released Thursday, The Times reported.


Black Box Warning Should Remain on Chantix: FDA Panel

A black box warning about suicide risks should remain on the anti-smoking drug Chantix until it can be reevaluated using findings from thorough scientific studies, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel of experts said Thursday.

Chantix has carried the FDA's strongest warning label since 2009 after it was linked to violent or suicidal behavior among some patients taking the drug.

Pfizer asked the FDA to drop the boxed warning, citing recent studies suggesting that patients taking Chantix were not at increased risk for psychiatric problems, the Associated Press reported.

However, the 11-member FDA advisory panel voted to retain the black box warning on Chantix. One member voting in favor of removing the warning and six favored slight changes to the label.

The FDA does not have to follow the advice of its expert panels, but typically does.

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