November 30, 2005 in Nation/World

Cancer drug may cause birth defects

Compiled from wire reports The Spokesman-Review
 

Washington The manufacturer of a breast cancer drug, letrozole, is warning fertility doctors that it has been associated with birth defects, a caution prompted by reports that the drug was being used to help a woman become pregnant.

Letrozole is approved for use only in postmenopausal women with breast cancer. But there is evidence some doctors have prescribed it as a fertility treatment because it suppresses estrogen and can promote ovulation. It is marketed under the name Femara.

Swiss drug manufacturer Novartis is sending letters to fertility doctors worldwide to reiterate a warning that the drug should not be given to women who may be pregnant.

The U.S. label on the drug already warns that it has been associated with birth defects, but concerns arose when a researcher in Canada published a report noting cases where the drug had been given to pregnant women.

Tunnel to Canada closed by power outage

Detroit Thousands of customers on Detroit’s east side temporarily lost power on Tuesday, and a tunnel connecting the city with Canada was shut down for about two hours.

The power outage, which affected about 20,000 customers, was caused by a malfunction at an electrical station that feeds several substations, said Scott Simons, a spokesman for DTE Energy Co.

The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel reopened after power was restored. Gordon Jarvis, chief executive of the Detroit & Canada Tunnel Corp., which owns the tunnel, said it was closed because it had no lights. Normally, it would have electrical feeds from both Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit, but the Windsor lines were shut down because of construction, he said.

New Hampshire moves to protect early primary

New Hampshire Democrats launched a public campaign Tuesday to preserve their first-in-the-nation presidential primary against intrusions from rival states and the work of a Democratic Party commission. Granite State partisans said the quadrennial presidential spotlight is as vital to the identity of their state as the Derby is to Kentucky and the Statute of Liberty is to New York.

The action came less than two weeks before a Democratic National Committee commission studying the presidential nominating process is scheduled to recommend changes to the calendar for 2008. Party officials said the commission will probably propose inserting two to four caucus contests ahead of the New Hampshire primary but after Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses.

Under this scenario, New Hampshire would still be the first primary, but its publicity and clout would be diminished.

To head off such a recommendation, New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairwoman Kathy Sullivan and former Chairman Joe Keefe offered what they described as a compromise proposal. It would give two more states, to be selected later by the national committee, the authority to move up their contests to the first weeks of the nomination battle – but schedule them after the New Hampshire primary.

The competing plans – and the stakes involved for the winners – set up a potentially nasty showdown at the Dec. 10 commission’s meeting.

Advocates of changing the calendar triggered the commission’s creation with complaints about New Hampshire’s outsized influence.


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