Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
New Drug Approved for Rare Disease That Causes Sudden
A new drug to treat a rare but potentially life-threatening
genetic disease called hereditary angioedema (HAE) has been
approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
HAE, which affects 6,000 to 10,000 people in the U.S., is caused
by insufficient amounts of a plasma protein called C1-esterase
inhibitor. People with the disease can develop sudden swelling of
the hands, feet, limbs, face, intestinal tract, or airway.
These attacks of swelling can occur on their own or be triggered
by stress, infection or surgery. Without immediate treatment,
swelling of the airway can be deadly.
The newly-approved drug for HAE is called Ruconest. It is
designed to restore the normal level of C1-esterase inhibitor in a
patient's plasma in order to treat sudden attacks of swelling, the
The approval is based on a study of 44 adults and teens with HAE
whose swelling attacks were treated with Ruconest. Common side
effects caused by the drug included headache, nausea and
The drug is made by Pharming Group NV of the Netherlands and
will be distributed in the U.S. by Santarus Inc., a subsidiary of
Salix Pharmaceuticals Inc.
CDC Lacks 'Culture of Safety': Director
Recent safety lapses at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention -- such as the mishandling of live anthrax and
accidental contamination of specimens with a dangerous bird flu
strain -- show that the agency lacks a "culture of safety," CDC
Director Tom Frieden said Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration delivered
disturbing news of its own as Frieden concluded his testimony
before Congress on the CDC incidents.
In addition to finding six forgotten vials of smallpox virus
recently, more than 300 other sealed vials containing biological
materials such as dengue, influenza, Q fever, ricksettsia and other
possible unknown viruses were found in the same cold storage room
on the U.S. National Institutes of Health campus.
A sweep of all cold storage facilities has been ordered,
FDA officials noted that the other pathogens listed on the
additional vials do not pose the same threat as smallpox, the
In his testimony, CDC Director Frieden said the anthrax incident
at his agency "was completely unacceptable. It should never have
"With the recent incidents, we recognize a pattern at CDC where we need to greatly improve the culture of safety," Frieden told an oversight committee of the House Comittee on Energy and Commerce. "What we're seeing is a pattern that we missed, and the pattern is an insufficient culture of safety."
Frieden said he is personally in charge of efforts to improve
safety, such as closing two labs involved in two recent
high-profile errors, the appointment of a senior scientist to be
the single official in charge of lab safety, and suspending the
transfer of biologic specimens from all the CDC's biosafety level 3
and 4 labs,
However, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., noted that many of the
measures sound like remedies the CDC said it made two years ago
after the committee investigated safety issues at a CDC lab
"Why should we believe this time things will be different?" Upton asked, USA Todayreported.
Large Rise in West African Ebola Cases, Deaths: WHO
The number of Ebola cases and deaths in West Africa rose sharply
in the past week, according to the World Health Organization.
The number of suspected, probable and conformed cases of the
disease in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone was 964 as of Saturday,
a 14 percent increase from a week earlier,
The New York Timesreported.
The number of deaths as of Saturday was 603, about 16 percent
higher than a week earlier, the WHO said. About half the deaths
have been in Guinea.
"This trend indicates that a high level of transmission of the Ebola virus continues to take place in the community," the WHO said in the update, The Timesreported.
"The respective ministries of health are working with WHO and partners to step up outbreak containment measures," the agency noted.
New agencies said that due to the outbreak, Ivory Coast border
officials prevented hundreds of Ivorian refugees in Liberia from
There is no known cure for Ebola, and the death rate among
infected people is as high as 90 percent.
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