Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
In U.S., flu vaccine worked in just over half of those who got it
CHICAGO (Reuters) - A U.S. government analysis of this season's flu vaccine suggests it was effective in only 56 percent of people who got the shot, and it largely failed to protect the elderly against an especially deadly strain circulating during flu season. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the findings underscore the need for more effective weapons in the fight against influenza, which kills between 3,000 and 50,000 people in the United States each year depending on the severity of the flu season.
Medicare drug costs to fall in 2014, but donut hole widens
CHICAGO (Reuters) - There will be good and bad news next year for seniors using Medicare's prescription drug program. Overall, enrollees can expect a year of flat or decreasing Medicare prescription drug costs, according to data released last week by the federal government. The government said Medicare's per-beneficiary drug costs fell 4 percent last year. As a result, some of the most important numbers in the program's 2014 Part D will drop by roughly the same amounts.
Most women misunderstand IUD birth control
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - In a new survey, most women had inaccurate perceptions about the safety and effectiveness of intrauterine devices (IUDs) in preventing pregnancy, say U.S. researchers, who urge doctors to talk more about the benefits of the devices. In particular, many of the study participants didn't know that IUDs are more effective contraceptives than the birth control pill and that the devices don't increase the risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease.
Male soccer players more prone to hamstring strains
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Men are more likely to strain a hamstring playing college soccer than women, according to a new analysis of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) injury records. The findings also suggest that games - as compared to practices - and preseason training are the riskiest times for hamstring tears.
Arkansas House approves bill banning abortions at 20 weeks
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (Reuters) - The Republican-controlled Arkansas House of Representatives approved a bill on Thursday to ban abortions at 20 weeks into a pregnancy and a separate measure that, if it becomes law, would be the stiffest abortion restriction in the country. Lawmakers voted 80-10 to pass the 20-week legislation that would only allow exceptions in the case of rape, incest or to save the mother's life.
U.S. funds 25 states to test new Medicaid models
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Department of Health and Human Services said on Thursday that it would provide 25 of the 50 states with funding to test new ways to lower costs and improve care within the national Medicaid program for the poor. The first states to receive State Innovation Model awards are Arkansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon and Vermont, which will implement plans to transform their healthcare delivery system under President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law, which sets aside $300 million for the overall venture.
Experts issue guidelines for gene tests in kids
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Groups representing pediatricians and geneticists issued new recommendations on Thursday to provide doctors with guidance about when to test a child's DNA for genetic conditions. The recommendations are the first collaboration between the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics. Neither organization has issued guidelines for genetic testing of kids in over a decade, according to one of the study's lead authors.
European regulators reject Vivus diet pill again 2013-02-21T230010Z_1_BRE91K1GA_RTROPTC_0_US-VIVUS-EUROPE.XML () -
New Saudi case takes SARS-like virus death toll to seven
LONDON (Reuters) - A patient admitted to hospital in Saudi Arabia with a new virus from the same family as SARS has died, taking the global death toll from the previously unknown disease to seven. The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Thursday the patient died on February 10, two weeks after entering hospital. The cause of death was confirmed by a laboratory test three days ago.
Psychological effects of bullying can last years
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Kids who were bullied and acted as bullies themselves were at higher risk for depression, anxiety and panic disorder years down the line, in a new study. Researchers have known that bullying can take a psychological toll on both bullies and victims, but it's been unclear just how long those effects would last.