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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Questions for Medicare in meningitis outbreak

WASHINGTON (AP) — Medicare is coming under scrutiny in the meningitis outbreak that has rekindled doubts about the safety of the nation's drug supply. The giant health insurance program for seniors long ago flagged compounded drugs produced for the mass market without oversight from the Food and Drug Administration as safety risks. In 2007, Medicare revoked coverage of compounded inhaler drugs for lung disease.

APNewsBreak: Questions for Medicare in outbreak

WASHINGTON (AP) — Medicare is coming under scrutiny in the meningitis outbreak that has rekindled doubts about the safety of the nation's drug supply. The giant health insurance program for seniors long ago flagged compounded drugs produced for the mass market without oversight from the Food and Drug Administration as safety risks. In 2007, Medicare revoked coverage of compounded inhaler drugs for lung disease.

APNewsBreak: Tenn.’s meningitis has likely peaked

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee's chief medical officer says the rate of new infections from a deadly fungal meningitis outbreak appears to be declining in the state where it was first discovered. "I think we're on the downhill part of the epidemic curve," Dr. David Reagan said in an interview on Thursday. Still, Reagan cautioned that he expects to see new infections in the state, and there likely will be more deaths.

Study: Multivitamins may lower cancer risk in men

America's favorite dietary supplements, multivitamins, modestly lowered the risk for cancer in healthy male doctors who took them for more than a decade, the first large study to test these pills has found. The result is a surprise because many studies of individual vitamins have found they don't help prevent chronic diseases and some even seemed to raise the risk of cancer.

Dirty shoes? How did steroids get contaminated?

NEW YORK (AP) — Was it some moldy ceiling tiles? The dusty shoes of a careless employee? Or did the contamination ride in on one of the ingredients? There are lots of ways fungus could have gotten inside the Massachusetts compounding pharmacy whose steroid medication has been linked to a lethal outbreak of a rare fungal form of meningitis.

Medical marijuana advocates want drug reclassified

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court in Washington is considering whether marijuana should be reclassified from its current status as a dangerous drug with no accepted medical use. Last year, the Drug Enforcement Administration rejected a petition by medical marijuana advocates to change the classification, which kept marijuana in the same category as drugs such as heroin. The DEA concluded that there wasn't a consensus opinion among experts on using marijuana for medical purposes. The petition had been filed in 2002.

FDA: Pharmacy’s other drugs may be causing illness

NEW YORK (AP) — Two more drugs from a specialty pharmacy linked to a meningitis outbreak are now being investigated, U.S. health officials said, as they urged doctors to contact patients who got any kind of injection from the company. The New England Compounding Center of Framingham, Mass., has been under scrutiny since last month, when a rare fungal form of meningitis was linked to its steroid shots used mostly for back pain.

CDC: Meningitis outbreak growing, 14 people dead

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal health officials have tracked down 12,000 of the roughly 14,000 people who may have received contaminated steroid shots in the nation's growing meningitis outbreak, warning Thursday that patients will need to keep watch for symptoms of the deadly infection for months. "We know that we are not out of the woods yet," Dr. J. Todd Weber of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said as the death toll reached 14.

Friend describes fatal beauty surgery at Pa. hotel

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Philadelphia woman known as "the Black Madam" performed deadly cosmetic surgery on a London dancer in an airport hotel room, then used Krazy Glue to close the wounds and fled when the client went into respiratory distress, a witness testified Wednesday. A judge upheld a third-degree murder charge against Padge Gordon after the victim's friend testified about getting silicone injections to enlarge their buttocks in February 2011.

Friend describes deadly beauty surgery at Pa. inn

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Philadelphia woman known as "the Black Madam" performed deadly cosmetic surgery on a London dancer in an airport hotel room, then used Crazy Glue to close the wounds and fled when the client went into respiratory distress, witnesses testified Wednesday. A judge upheld a third-degree murder charge against Padge Gordon after the woman's friend testified about getting silicone injections to enlarge their buttocks in February 2011.

2 US scientists win Nobel chemistry prize

NEW YORK (AP) — Two Americans won the Nobel Prize in chemistry Wednesday for studies of how the cells in our bodies pick up signals as diverse as hormones, smells, flavors and light — work that is key to developing better medicines. Those signals are received by specialized proteins on cell surfaces. Dr. Robert Lefkowitz and Dr. Brian Kobilka made groundbreaking discoveries about the inner workings of those proteins, mainly in the 1980s, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.

Puncture perfect

Construction equipment rumbles outside, and Amy Shook lies on her back, her head and knees slightly elevated and tiny needles poking out of her ears and forehead, the backs of her hands, the tops of her feet and the crown of her head. She could not be more calm. Really, she couldn’t be. She’s mother to a 1-year-old and a 4-year-old, and her husband, a train engineer, often works out of town.

Alzheimer drug shows some promise in mild disease

BOSTON (AP) — Combined results from two studies of an experimental Alzheimer's drug suggest it might modestly slow mental decline, especially in patients with mild disease. Taken separately, the studies missed their main goals to significantly slow the mind-robbing disease. But pooled results found 34 percent less decline in mild Alzheimer's patients compared to those on a dummy treatment for 18 months.

Docs say spine shots for steroids are usually safe

CHICAGO (AP) — Millions of people get steroid shots in their backs to relieve pain. Now they are probably wondering if it's safe. In 23 states, hundreds, possibly thousands, of back-pain patients are being warned to watch for symptoms of meningitis because of a custom-mixed steroid solution that may have been contaminated with fungus. Five people have died and more than 40 others have fallen ill.

Intense pain, confusing diagnosis mark meningitis

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A week after her annual steroid shot for back pain, Janet Russell began getting unbearable headaches. A fever followed. Doctors admitted her to the hospital, but couldn't say what was wrong. "She is screaming and nothing is helping. They have already given her medication, but nothing is helping," said Russell's daughter, Tracy Barreiro. "It continually escalated."

Steroid-related meningitis cases rise to 47

NEW YORK (AP) — As the tally from a deadly meningitis outbreak rose Friday, health officials identified the medical clinics across the country that received steroid shots for back pain now linked to the illnesses. Authorities took the step to help identify everyone who may have gotten sick — or may still get sick — in the outbreak.

Clinics rush to warn patients of tainted steroid

NEW YORK (AP) — Health providers are scrambling to notify patients in nearly two dozen states that steroid shots they got for back pain may have been contaminated with a fungus tied to a deadly meningitis outbreak. It became apparent Thursday that hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of people who got the shots between July and September could be at risk. Officials disclosed that a steroid suspected in the fungal meningitis outbreak in the South had made its way to 75 clinics in 23 states.

Hundreds seen at risk in meningitis outbreak

NEW YORK (AP) — The potential scope of the meningitis outbreak that has killed at least five people widened dramatically Thursday as health officials warned that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of patients who got steroid back injections in 23 states could be at risk. Clinics and medical centers rushed to contact patients who may have received the apparently fungus-contaminated shots. And the Food and Drug Administration urged doctors not to use any products at all from the Massachusetts pharmacy that supplied the suspect steroid solution.

FDA: Avoid drugs from company tied to meningitis

NEW YORK (AP) — The government is warning doctors and hospitals not to use any product from the specialty pharmacy that made the steroid suspected in a meningitis outbreak. An official with the Food and Drug Administration said tests found contamination in a sealed vial of the steroid at the New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts. Tests are under way to determine if it is the same fungus blamed in the outbreak.

Research on mice suggests new fertility treatments

NEW YORK (AP) — Scientists have turned mouse skin cells into eggs that produced baby mice — a technique that, if successfully applied to humans, could someday allow women to stop worrying about the ticking of their biological clocks and perhaps even help couples create "designer babies." For technical as well as ethical reasons, nobody expects doctors will be making eggs from women's skin cells any time soon. But some see possibilities and questions about its use.