March 2007 Briefing - Internal Medicine

Here are what the editors at HealthDay consider to be the most important developments in Internal Medicine for March 2007. This roundup includes the latest research news from journal articles, as well as the FDA approvals and regulatory changes that are the most likely to affect clinical practice.

FDA Panel Backs Prostate Cancer Vaccine

FRIDAY, March 30 (HealthDay News) -- A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted Thursday to support approval of Provenge, a vaccine aimed at extending survival of patients with metastatic prostate cancer.

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Zelnorm Pulled from Market Due to Heart, Stroke Risks

FRIDAY, March 30 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Friday that Zelnorm (tegaserod maleate) is being removed from the market by Novartis Pharmaceuticals because the irritable bowel syndrome drug is associated with a higher risk of myocardial infarction, stroke and angina.

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Methotrexate Ineffective in Some Ectopic Pregnancies

FRIDAY, March 30 (HealthDay News) -- In women with ectopic pregnancies who are treated with single-dose methotrexate, those with an initial human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) level above 5,000 mIU/mL are more than five times as likely to experience treatment failure as those with levels below 5,000 mIU/mL, according to a report in the March issue of Fertility and Sterility.

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Radiofrequency Ablation Effective in Lung Cancer Study

FRIDAY, March 30 (HealthDay News) -- Pulmonary radiofrequency ablation is safe for patients with inoperable lung cancer, and may improve long-term survival and slow tumor progression, researchers report in the April issue of Radiology.

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Fish Oil Plus Statin May Cut Coronary Events

FRIDAY, March 30 (HealthDay News) -- When combined with statins, eicosapentaenoic acid found in fish oil may be more effective than statins alone in reducing the risk of major coronary events in patients with hypercholesterolemia, according to the results of the Japan EPA Lipid Intervention Study (JELIS) published in the March 31 issue of The Lancet.

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Pergolide Products Recalled Due to Heart Valve Damage

FRIDAY, March 30 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and manufacturers have voluntarily recalled pergolide drug products used to treat Parkinson disease because they can cause serious damage to patients' heart valves. The affected drugs include Permax, marketed by Valeant Pharmaceuticals, Aliso Viejo, Calif., and generic versions produced by Par and Teva.

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Jet Lag Report Suggests Three Time-Zone Travel a Problem

FRIDAY, March 30 (HealthDay News) -- With international travel on the rise, jet lag is an increasingly common problem, according to a report published in the March 31 issue of The Lancet. Among the findings: Jet lag is unlikely to be a major problem if the journey crosses fewer than three time zones.

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More Chikungunya Virus Cases Reported in United States

THURSDAY, March 29 (HealthDay News) -- Travelers returning to the United States imported 26 more cases of chikungunya fever in 2006, bringing known cases to an unprecedented 37 for the year, according to an update in the March 30 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Only seven confirmed cases were reported between 1991 and 2005, and only three of those were in travelers returning to the United States.

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FDA Warns of Dangers of Buying Accutane Online

THURSDAY, March 29 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has launched a special Web page specifically to warn health care professionals and the public about the dangers of buying the acne drug isotretinoin online without a prescription. The measure is in addition to other safety measures required by the FDA including the manufacturers' risk management program iPLEDGE to ensure that women do not use the drug while pregnant.

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Verbally Abusive Calls Common for Ambulance Staff

WEDNESDAY, March 28 (HealthDay News) -- Over 80 percent of ambulance control room staff are subjected to verbally abusive calls in the course of their work, either from patients, physicians or nurses, according to the results of a U.K. study published online March 26 in the Emergency Medicine Journal.

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Previously Unknown Twin Type Discovered

WEDNESDAY, March 28 (HealthDay News) -- A previously unknown 'semi-identical' type of twin, the result of two sperm cells fertilizing one egg, has been discovered, according to a study published in the Journal of Human Genetics and reported online March 26 in Nature.

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Some Patients Prefer Emergency Rooms to Walk-In Centers

TUESDAY, March 27 (HealthDay News) -- Walk-in centers, set up next to accident and emergency centers in U.K. hospitals, are not achieving their goal of improving patient choice and satisfaction, according to a study published online March 26 in the Emergency Medicine Journal.

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FDA Expands Warning on Arsenic-Tainted Mineral Water

TUESDAY, March 27 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has expanded a recall of arsenic-tainted mineral water and issued another warning to consumers to avoid "Jermuk" brands of mineral water, which is imported from Armenia and distributed under different labels in California.

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Companies Launch Generic Versions of Norvasc

TUESDAY, March 27 (HealthDay News) -- Mylan Laboratories, Inc., launched a generic version of Pfizer Inc.'s Norvasc (amlodipine) tablets this week, prompting Pfizer to launch its own generic version of the blood pressure medication through its Greenstone subsidiary.

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AHA Recommends Statins for Child Hypercholesterolemia

MONDAY, March 26 (HealthDay News) -- Statins should be the first choice of medication for high-risk children who meet the criteria to start cholesterol-lowering therapy, according to new recommendations from the American Heart Association (AHA) published online March 21 in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

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Web Reminder Increases Mammography Screening

MONDAY, March 26 (HealthDay News) -- Use of the Web-based Preventive Care Reminder System, or PRECARES, which office staff use to remind patients to schedule a mammogram, helps increase screening rates, according to a report in the March 26 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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Regular Health Exams Increase Cancer Screening

MONDAY, March 26 (HealthDay News) -- Regular, preventive health examinations increase the likelihood that eligible patients will undergo screening for breast, prostate and colorectal cancer, according to study findings published in the March 26 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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Long-Term Aspirin May Cut All-Cause Mortality in Women

MONDAY, March 26 (HealthDay News) -- Long-term aspirin use may lower the risk of all-cause mortality for women, especially older women and those who have cardiovascular risk factors, according to a report in the March 26 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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Racing Video Games Linked to Aggressive Real Life Driving

MONDAY, March 26 (HealthDay News) -- Playing virtual racing games on a computer or video console can lead to aggressive driving and risk taking, an effect called "media priming," according to a report in the March issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied.

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Physician's Briefing