Health Highlights: Oct. 7, 2007

Sometimes, the newspaper reports in an exclusive investigative article, the denial of appropriate medication is life-threatening, especially for patients with HIV and AIDS, and while Medicare officials have ordered corrections to be made when they learn about drug program errors, the problems are a long way from being solved.

The Times says it examined 91 audit reports of the Medicare drug program begun in 2006, and found that among the 11 insurance companies fined $770,000 for "marketing violations," were three of the nation's largest: UnitedHealth, Humana and WellPoint.

Yet, officials from the Department of Health and Human Services say they're satisfied with how quickly they have responded to the abuses, and that the auditing program is showing its effectiveness. "The start-up period is over," Kerry N. Weems, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told the Times. "I am simply not going to tolerate marketing abuses."


Government Grant Awarded to Find Therapy for Tinnitus

At one time or another, almost every person experiences a "ringing" in his or her ears. For many, the phantom sound known as tinnitus can be much more than an annoyance. At its worst, it can affect a person's hearing to the point of distraction.

Scientists at the New York State University at Buffalo have been studying the causes for tinnitus and have announced receiving a $2.9 million U.S. government grant to see if a therapy can be developed.

According to a university news release, researchers have spent the last 10 years training laboratory rats to signal when the tinnitus sound occurs. But humans have also been part of the research, principal investigator Richard Salvi says in the news release.

"By using positron emission tomography [known as PET scanning] to view the brain activity of people with tinnitus we've been able to show that these phantom auditory sensations originated somewhere in brain, not in the ear," Salvi said. "That changed the whole research approach."

The ultimate goal, Savli said, is to find the right drug(s) to suppress constant noise-induced tinnitus.


Former U.S. Track Hero Admits Steroid Use

Former American track star Marion Jones pleaded guilty Friday to lying to U.S. federal agents about her use of performance-enhancing steroids, The New York Times reported.

Jones pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to federal agents about her use of performance-enhancing drugs. She was also to plead guilty to one count of making false statements to federal agents in connection with a separate check fraud case. She appeared Friday afternoon at the U.S. District Court in White Plains.

Jones, 31, won three gold and two bronze medals at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. She's been under a cloud of suspicion for years, but had repeatedly denied using banned substances, the Times reported.

An admission to using performance-enhancing drugs would likely result in Jones being stripped of her five Olympic medals.


Appendix is More Than an Annoyance, Scientists Say

Of what possible use can the appendix be?

The small, lower abdominal organ, believed to have been a digestive aid in prehistoric humans, is nothing more than a sometimes-annoying appendage today, and the only time it's addressed in medicine is when it becomes inflamed.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...