Monday, December 11, 2006

The Top 10 health stories of 2006

Harvard Health Letter has come out with what they see as the top 10 health stories of the year:

  1. A new shot in the arm against cancer. The newly approved HPV vaccine represents a different approach to fighting cancer. Instead of just screening patients to spot cancer early, doctors can use this vaccine to actively prevent it.
  2. Trans is fat non grata. This year it became easier to avoid trans fats after the FDA required food manufacturers to list trans fat content in the Nutrition Facts portion of food labels, the first major change to the label in over a decade..
  3. Has Massachusetts figured it out? Massachusetts adopted the most promising plan yet for universal health insurance coverage.
  4. New treatment for macular degeneration. A promising new approach focuses on angiogenesis, or the formation of blood vessels. The FDA approved Lucentis, an anti-angiogenic drug aimed at the blood vessels that cause wet macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness.
  5. Germ warfare—and the germs are winning some battles. Antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” are causing more trouble than ever. Virulent strains of bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile, once seen only in hospital settings, are now circulating in communities.
  6. Vaccines, kid stuff no more. “Getting your shots” is becoming a bigger part of adult preventive medicine. In 2006, the FDA approved Zostavax, the first vaccine against shingles, a condition that typically affects people over age 60.
  7. Drug approvals—with strings attached. The FDA allowed the multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri back on the market, with careful restrictions to ensure patients are closely monitored.
  8. Bird flu preparations: Don’t chicken out now. The disease continues to smolder, vaccine development inches forward, and the public and the press are showing signs of bird flu fatigue. Still, preparation is time and money well spent, because a pandemic could be horrific.
  9. Calls for FDA reform getting louder and clearer. The Institute of Medicine released a report calling for two dozen reforms. One major theme: The approval process will never ferret out all the problems with a drug, so the agency needs tough, new powers to better monitor drugs after they are on the market.
  10. D: Finally, a vitamin makes the grade. Several new studies suggest that the so-called sunshine vitamin (because it’s produced in skin exposed to sunlight) may protect against cancer.
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Chris said...

Health issues? Nooooo!
9 out of 10 of them are acutally business ethics issues!

Linda MacDonald Glenn said...

It's one of the things I love about bioethics, Chris! It's so encompassing!