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Nation in brief: Advisers endorse cancer vaccine

Fri., March 30, 2007

Federal health advisers have approved an experimental vaccine to treat advanced prostate cancer as safe and effective.

The Food and Drug Administration advisers voted unanimously Thursday to say Provenge is safe. They then voted 13-4 to say there is substantial evidence that it works in treating advanced prostate cancer that no longer responds to hormone treatment.

A final FDA decision on whether to approve Provenge, also called sipuleucel-T, is expected May 15. The vaccine is made by Seattle-based Dendreon Corp.

Neither of two studies Dendreon submitted to the FDA achieved their primary goal in showing Provenge delayed the progress of the disease, according to the agency.

However, the first study suggested the vaccine could extend the lives of patients by 4.5 months compared with those given dummy treatment.


Diocese offers to settle claims

The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego is offering $95 million to settle more than 140 claims of sexual abuse by priests, according to financial documents.

The diocese would offer 143 individuals anywhere from $10,000 to $800,000, depending on the degree of abuse and other factors, according to documents filed Wednesday in the church’s bankruptcy proceedings.

The diocese abruptly filed for bankruptcy protection Feb. 27, just hours before the first civil trial was to begin in San Diego Superior Court.

The plan has to go through steps including the approval of a creditors’ panel containing some of the claimants and a hearing before a bankruptcy judge.


Miss America Pageant dropped

Country Music Television declined to air the Miss America Pageant, leaving the 86-year-old competition without a TV outlet for the second time in three years.

The Viacom-owned network, which had rights to air the pageant through 2011, notified the Atlantic City, N.J.-based organization that it will not exercise its option to televise the contest “in 2008 and beyond,” the cable network said in a statement issued on Thursday.

Pageant officials said they’ve begun the search for a new TV home.

The news is another blow to an American institution that has struggled to find a place in modern popular culture. After 50 years on network television, ABC dropped Miss America in 2004 when ratings fell to a record low.


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