Health Highlights: Oct. 28, 2011

Experts Ponder Testing Anthrax Vaccine in Children Guilty Plea in First Proven U.S. Case of Organ Trafficking Many Prescriptions Aren't Filled: Study

HealthDay News

HealthDay News

Updated on October 28, 2011

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

Experts Ponder Testing Anthrax Vaccine in Children

The question of whether the anthrax vaccine should be tested in children is being deliberated by a U.S. government advisory panel.

Supplies of the vaccine have been stockpiled in case of a terrorist attack involving the potentially deadly bacteria. The vaccine has been widely tested in adults but never on youngsters, the Associated Press reported.

The National Biodefense Science Board has been asked to consider whether testing on children should be done now in order to find out if and how well children respond to the vaccine, or if it's better to wait and use the vaccine experimentally in the event of an anthrax terrorist attack.

The board provides advice to the Department of Health and Human Services on preparations for nuclear, chemical and biological emergencies, the AP reported.


Guilty Plea in First Proven U.S. Case of Organ Trafficking

A New York man involved in the first proven case of black market organ trafficking in the United States admitted in federal court Thursday that he brokered three illegal kidney transplants for New Jersey patients in exchange for payments of $120,000 or more.

Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, 60, also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to broker an illegal kidney sale, the Associated Press reported.

He was arrested in in July 2009 after he tried to set up a kidney sale to a U.S. government informant and an undercover FBI agent.

Rosenbaum's attorney's suggested he offered a life-saving service to seriously ill people. But prosecutors said he was operating an illicit and profitable operation by purchasing kidneys from vulnerable people in Israel for $10,000 and selling them to wealthy American patients, the AP reported.

"A black market in human organs is not only a grave threat to public health, it reserves lifesaving treatment for those who can best afford it at the expense of those who cannot," said New Jersey's U.S. Attorney, Paul Fishman. "We will not tolerate such an affront to human dignity."


Many Prescriptions Aren't Filled: Study

As many as one in four new prescriptions aren't filled in the United States and cost and convenience are major reasons why people don't pick up their medications, according to a new study.

Researchers analyzed data from 280,000 patients who received new prescriptions and found that they were more likely to fill their prescription: if they lived in a high-income zip code rather than a low-income zip code; if their medication was on their insurance plan's list of approved drugs; and if their doctor had transmitted the prescription directly to the pharmacy instead of handing it to the patient, reported.

The researchers also found that patients were more likely to fill prescriptions for antibiotics to treat an infection than for medication to lower high blood pressure, which causes no symptoms.

"It may be that you're more willing to pay for an antibiotic because you don't feel so good that day," said lead author Michael Fischer, a health services researcher and primary care doctor at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, reported.

The study appears in the November issue of The American Journal of Medicine.


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