Health Highlights: April 13, 2007

After eggs were harvested from Domasin, they were frozen for four months, then injected with thawed donor sperm. A fertilized egg was then placed inside Domasin.

The freezing of sperm has been done for decades but attempts to use frozen eggs have a low success rate, the AP reported.

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Senate Panel OKs Bill to Negotiate Medicare Drug Prices

The U.S. Senate Finance Committee has approved legislation to permit Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, the Associated Press reported.

The bill, approved Thursday by a vote of 13-8, eliminates a clause that forbids the secretary of Health and Human Services from taking part in negotiations between drug companies, insurers, and pharmacies, the AP reported. The bill is expected to go before the full Senate next week.

While the Bush administration opposes the measure, supporters said the ban on federal government negotiations with drug makers goes too far.

"When you're negotiating on behalf of 43 million people, that's leverage," Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) told the wire service.

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FDA Approves Ointment to Treat Impetigo

An antibiotic ointment called Altabax (retapamulin) has been approved to treat children and adults with a bacterial skin infection called impetigo, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Friday.

The drug, a new molecular entity not previously approved in the United States, can be used on people aged nine months or older, the FDA said.

The approval was based on a study of about 3,000 people who received either Altabax, different antibiotics, or a non-medicinal placebo. The most common side effect among those using Altabax was irritation at the site where it was applied. This occurred in less than two percent of people who used the ointment, the FDA said.

Altabax, which will be available by prescription, is made by North Carolina-based GlaxoSmithKline.

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Scientists Identify Genetic Mutations Linked to ADHD

Three gene mutations may be associated with cases of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), say German researchers.

They studied 329 families in which one child had ADHD, finding that about 70 percent of the children had a combination of three mutations in the gene for a dopamine transporter linked to hyperactivity, Agence France Presse reported.

"People who have this combination in both copies of the gene have a 2.5 increased ADHD risk. People with only one copy of this variant still have almost twice the risk," team leader Dr. Johannes Hebebrand of the University of Duisburg-Essen said in a prepared statement.

"Of course, this doesn't mean that everyone who has the genetic variants will automatically get the disease," he added.

Hebebrand said this is the strongest genetic evidence found to date linking the dopamine transporter to hyperactivity, AFP reported.

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