Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
FDA Approves Four-Strain Flu Vaccine
A new nasal-spray flu vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration protects against four strains of common flu, adding
one more barrier to infection.
Okayed for people 2 to 49 years old, the FluMist Quadrivalent
vaccine from AstraZeneca guards against two strains of influenza A
and two strains of influenza B, the
Associate Press reported. Previous vaccines protected against
two influenza A strains but only one influenza B strain.
"Illness caused by Influenza B virus affects children, particularly young and school-aged, more than any other population," Dr. Karen Midthun, director of the FDA biologics center, said in an agency news release.
Flu sickens millions of people a year. Annual deaths from flu
vary widely, with FDA figures showing a low of 3,000 and a high of
49,000 over the past 30 or so years, the
The new vaccine, much like the existing FluMist vaccine, carries
a weakened strain of the virus.
Reconsider Decision Not to Publish Bird Flu Research, Experts
U.S. health officials have asked government biosecurity advisers
to reconsider their recommendation that details of research
involving the spread of so-called H5N1 bird flu be withheld from
Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health on
Wednesday said new information has come to light, and that flu
experts at the World Health Organization have also concluded that
the work should be published, the
Associated Press reported.
Research conducted in Wisconsin and the Netherlands recently
triggered alarm when it appeared that scientists had devised a form
of bird flu that spread more easily from mammal to mammal. U.S.
officials, fearing a deadly flu of pandemic proportions, urged that
details of the experiments be withheld from the public so they
couldn't be used by bioterrorists.
But at a meeting of researchers Wednesday, Dr. Ron Fouchier, a
virology professor at the Netherlands' Erasmus University, and one
of the original team members, said the strain didn't spread easily
after all and that people with exposure to regular flu seemed
protected from serious infection.
Publishing the research would benefit the scientific community
and further research into bird flu mutations, vaccines and
treatment, Fouchier said.
Feds Uncover Record-Breaking Medicare Scam
A Texas doctor allegedly recruited homeless people as fake
patients in a wide-ranging, $375 million Medicare home health-care
scam, the largest ever uncovered, investigators say.
Dr. Jacques Roy, 54, was arrested Wednesday and charged with
falsifying hundreds of Medicare claims and taking millions of
dollars for unneeded or undelivered services. He could be sent to
prison for life,
ABC News reported.
"According to the indictment, Dr. Roy and his co-conspirators, for years, ran a well-oiled fraudulent enterprise in the Dallas area, making millions by recruiting thousands of patients for unnecessary services, and billing Medicare for those services," said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer.
The indictment alleges that Roy certified more Medicare
beneficiaries for home health services and claimed more patients
than any other U.S. doctor in the years 2006 to 2011,
To obtain reimbursement from Medicare, doctors must certify that
the medical services were needed and performed. Roy's operation,
Medistat Group and Associates, allegedly certified false claims
involving nearly 500 home health care companies in Texas. The
companies were reimbursed for the bogus or unnecessary services and
provided Roy with a portion of the "refund." All told, they billed
Medicare for more than $350 million and Medicaid for more than $24
million, the news report said.
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