Health Newsbrief
December 13, 2000
Vol. 1, No. 28
ISSN 1530-3616
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Bruce Maxwell, Editor - bmax@silverhammerpub.com
Silver Hammer Publishing - http://silverhammerpub.com

Instructions for subscribing and unsubscribing are provided at
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Editor's Note
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Health Newsbrief is taking a break for the holidays. The next
issue will be published Jan. 10, 2001.


The News
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U.S. SUPREME COURT TO TACKLE MEDICAL MARIJUANA
Fresh off its bungling of the presidential election mess, the
U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the
spring in a case that pits state laws allowing the medical use of
marijuana versus a federal law that has a blanket prohibition
against manufacturing or distributing marijuana. Nine states
currently have medical marijuana laws. Some people with serious
illnesses such as cancer or AIDS use marijuana to relieve pain
and nausea.
Source: American Medical News - Dec. 18, 2000
http://www.ama-assn.org/sci-pubs/amnews/pick_00/gvsa1218.htm


STUDY SHOWS ALZHEIMER'S DRUG IS SAFE, EFFECTIVE
A study of 653 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease
has found that the drug galantamine may slow progression of the
illness. Earlier studies found that the drug also improved
intellectual ability in Alzheimer's patients.
Source: Reuters Health - Dec. 8, 2000
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20001208/hl/alzheimer_1.html
British Medical Journal study:
http://bmj.com/cgi/content/full/321/7274/1445


BAR EXAM: ENERGY BARS FLUNK
Checkout lines at supermarkets, health food stores, and
pharmacies are packed with bars whose labels scream that they
provide "energy." Under federal regulations, this just means that
they contain calories - not that they actually boost your energy,
according to this study from the Center for Science in the Public
Interest.
Source: Nutrition Action Healthletter - December 2000
http://www.nutritionaction.com/nah/12_00/barexam.html


THE DEATH OF THE AUTOPSY
Autopsies are widely believed to be a key component in detecting
medical errors and preventing future mistakes. But fewer and
fewer autopsies are being performed - and it's not because the
number of medical errors is falling.
Source: Boston Globe - Dec. 12, 2000
http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/347/science/
The_death_of_the_autopsy+.shtml



U.S. LOOKING AT SMITHKLINE EFFORT TO BLOCK
GENERIC DRUG
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether the
pharmaceutical giant SmithKline Beecham has illegally attempted
to keep other companies from offering generic versions of Paxil,
which is one of the most popular antidepressants. According to
federal regulators, pharmaceutical companies are exploiting
loopholes in federal laws to extend their patents, thereby
blocking cheaper generic versions from being developed.
Source: New York Times - Dec. 7, 2000
http://www.nytimes.com/2000/12/07/business/07DRUG.html


A PILL TURNED BITTER
Using documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act,
U.S. News & World Report examines the approval process for
Lotronex, a drug for irritable bowel syndrome that was hastily
withdrawn from the market after it killed three women. It's a
case study in how today's speedy drug approval process leads to
questionable drugs reaching the market, where patients get to
play guinea pig.
Source: U.S. News & World Report - Dec. 11, 2000
http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/001211/drug.htm


U.S. DRUG RECALLS MAY RISE, SAYS FDA CHIEF
In this article, U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner
Jane Henney openly admits that today's speeded-up drug approval
process will result in drugs being pulled from the market after
they prove to be dangerous. The FDA has recalled 10 drugs since
1997, including three this year.
Source: Reuters - Dec. 13, 2000
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20001213/hl/recalls_1.html


ANOTHER PART OF THE BATTLE: KEEPING A DRUG
IN THE STORE
Questions about the safety of PPA, a drug used in dozens of cold
remedies and appetite suppressants, have existed for decades. In
this lengthy article, the New York Times looks at why the drug
remained on the market until earlier this year, when the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration announced plans to ban it.
Source: New York Times - Dec. 13, 2000
http://www.nytimes.com/2000/12/13/science/13DRUG.html


MARCH OF DIMES WARNS OF DANGERS OF HERBS
IN PREGNANCY
Women who take herbal supplements during pregnancy risk their own
health and that of their babies, scientists warned at a symposium
sponsored by the March of Dimes. Some herbs are specifically sold
as relief for pregnancy-related conditions such as morning
sickness and leg swelling.
Source: Reuters Health - Dec. 12, 2000
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20001212/hl/herbs_1.html


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Bruce Maxwell
Silver Hammer Publishing
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