Health Highlights: Dec. 23, 2009

Following up on concerns raised by a patient study last year, the Food and Drug Administration examined all of the data from that study and reviewed available information from two ongoing large studies, the Associated Press reported.

But whether Vytorin, which is made by Merck & Co., is linked to a higher risk of cancer or death from cancer cannot definitively be ruled out, the FDA said.

Vytorin combines two types of cholesterol pills, Zetia and Zocor.


Disfigured Vets Could Receive Face Transplants in Boston

Seriously disfigured troops serving in Afghanistan and Iraq could receive face transplants at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston thanks to a $3.4 million contract awarded to the hospital, which performed the second face transplant in the United States last April.

Under the Department of Defense contract, eligible patients must have lost at least 25 percent of their faces and could not be helped by traditional plastic surgery, the Associated Press reported.

The Pentagon said it hopes six to eight patients could receive transplants in Boston over the next 18 months. Military officials and doctors told The Boston Globe as many as 200 veterans might qualify.

Contract provisions require the hospital to assess results and determine if a transplant seems to benefit a patient's life, the AP said.

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