Wednesday, August 12, 2009

New osteoporosis drug cuts fracture risk

A first-of-its-kind osteoporosis drug lowers the risk of bone fractures better than some existing treatments, two studies suggest, and could soon add a more expensive but easier option to the booming market. Amgen Inc. will stress that only two shots of its genetically engineered denosumab, which could be approved for sale this fall, are needed each year. That's important because many patients stop taking other drugs due to side effects or frequent dosing.

Still, he called the drug a "tour de force of modern molecular medicine" because it is potent and was designed specifically to block one pathway involved in the natural breakdown of bone cells. The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday released its review of denosumab, with staff citing concerns about increased rates of skin infections and some tumors. That report comes just ahead of a meeting Thursday when outside advisers will weigh the drug's safety and effectiveness and recommend whether to approve it.
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Monday, August 10, 2009

Secrecy shields medical mishaps from public view

Experts estimate that 98,000 people die from preventable medical errors each year. More Americans die each month of preventable medical injuries than died in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Meanwhile, a federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study concluded that an additional 99,000 patients a year succumb to hospital-acquired infections. Almost all of those deaths, experts say, also are preventable.

These numbers are not absolutes. There is no definitive study - which is part of the problem - but all of the available research indicates that the death toll from preventable medical injuries and infections approaches 200,000 per year in the United States.

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