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Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Slow and steady can win the diet drug race 2013-02-07T203803Z_2_BRE916119_RTROPTC_0_US-OBESITYDRUGS-STRATE GY-ANALYSIS.XML () -
Longer span between mammograms okay for older women
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Screening women over 65 each year for breast cancer doesn't catch any more early tumors - but it does lead to more false positives - than screening every other year, according to a new study. The findings are based on more than 140,000 older women included in five mammography registries across the United States.
Test strip supply linked to better diabetes care
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Frequent blood sugar testing was strongly associated with better diabetes control in a large new study that concludes public and private insurers should not be limiting test strip supplies. Particularly for people with type 1 diabetes, who must test their own blood sugar throughout each day and inject insulin to regulate sugar levels, a cap on the number of test strips they're allowed to use may seriously affect their health, researchers say.
Catholic bishops reject Obama offer on contraceptive coverage
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Roman Catholic bishops on Thursday rejected the Obama Administration's latest bid for compromise over a hotly disputed health policy that requires employees at religiously affiliated institutions to have access to insurance coverage for contraceptives. Cardinal Timothy Donlan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said his group would redouble efforts to reach an agreement on the contraceptives issue after more than a year of protest and scores of federal lawsuits from Catholics groups and other social conservatives.
FDA outlines path to test Alzheimer's drugs earlier
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Proposed U.S. guidelines may make it easier for drug companies to test Alzheimer's treatments in people at an earlier stage, when scientists think they may have the best shot at working. The draft guidance document, issued on Thursday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, reflects changes in scientists' understanding of Alzheimer's. They now believe the disease begins at least a decade before symptoms appear.
Appeals court upholds patent on Merck's Vytorin
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The patent on Merck & Co's <MRK.N> cholesterol fighters Zetia and Vytorin, two of the drugmaker's biggest products, is valid, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Thursday. Vytorin combines Zocor, a member of the statin family developed by Merck, with a newer Merck cholesterol treatment called Zetia. Sales of Vytorin are $1.75 billion while sales of Zetia used by itself are another $2.6 billion a year.
Senators push to repeal U.S. medical device tax; success unlikely
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A bipartisan group of U.S. senators introduced legislation on Thursday to repeal a tax on medical devices that is part of President Barack Obama's healthcare law, although the proposal likely faces an uphill climb in Congress. The tax applies to a range of medical products - everything from bedpans and surgical tools to the expensive heart devices produced in the home states of the senators backing the repeal. It is among several new industry levies in Obama's 2010 healthcare overhaul law, which aims to provide health insurance for millions of Americans who lack it.
Birth defects in multiples on the rise: study
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The number of birth defects among twins and triplets increased nearly two-fold in 14 European countries between 1984 and 2007, according to a new study. Researchers, who had information on more than 5.4 million births occurring over the 24-year period, found that congenital defects rose from about 6 in every 10,000 multiple births to about 11 in every 10,000 multiples.
Michigan Republican governor Snyder backs Medicaid expansion 2013-02-06T214142Z_1_BRE91519B_RTROPTC_0_US-USA-HEALTHCARE-MEDI CAID.XML () -
Stomach CT scans can be avoided in some kids - study
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Not all kids need a CT scan after a blunt trauma to the abdomen, according to a new study that identifies seven key signs to help doctors decide when a scan is unnecessary. CT scans are becoming commonplace in emergency rooms, but they aren't harmless. Each scan delivers a dose of radiation that slightly increases a person's long-term risk of cancer - a risk that's especially heightened for children.